5 Tips to Improve Productivity and Retention

There are many factors that impact success, and one of the largest is our ability to be productive with the resources we have at our disposal. At its core, productivity and retention is a measurement of how effective a person or organization is at producing specific results. Based on recent research, when an employee increases productivity – it has spillover effects that impact co-workers’ performance. Researchers theorize that observing more proficient colleagues kindles a competitive spirit and provides a role model to emulate, driving them to new productivity levels.

Over the years at ByDesign, we’ve attempted different tactics and strategies to help improve the productivity of our team, and today I’m going to share several of the most impactful ones we’ve found.

1. Preventing Interruptions

The average employee is only productive for 2 hours and 53 minutes per day. Daily interruptions include “quick questions” that are never quick, phone calls, and disruptive tools designed to capture attention like Slack, Hangouts, Teams, text, instant messages, and email notifications.

What we’ve done:
Implemented “Magic Hours” for our Analyst & Engineering Teams

From 9:00-10:00 a.m. and 2:00-3:00 p.m. each day, our team is available for internal questions, meetings, phone calls, and email requests. The rest of the day, we focus heavily on keeping time “protected from interruptions” so team members can focus on delivering work. While everyone would love never to be interrupted, we’ve found this strikes a good balance of allowing the urgent interrupts to occur – while at the same time providing stability for a good portion of the day.

2. Eliminating Ineffective Meetings

Ineffective meetings cause employees to lose 31 hours every month. Participating in meetings that are not productive siphons off employees’ energy, creativity, and stamina. Similar to interruptions, these meetings leave employees depleted — and post-meeting time is required for them to recharge and ramp up their productivity to its pre-meeting level.

What we’ve done:
Introduced 15-Minute Meetings

There is always a tendency to “fill the remaining time” in meetings; thus, many 30-minute meetings could have been completed in far less time. We’ve found that in most cases, a quick 15-minute (or less) meeting is all it takes to align and determine the next steps on an issue. We find attendees come to these meetings prepared and get right to the point without wasting any time.

3. Ensuring Organizational Alignment

For employees to perform at their full potential, there must be organizational alignment with the company’s strategic goals. Companies with highly aligned staff grow revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable than not aligned companies. Conversely, strategic disagreement can cost a company up to 25% of its revenue.

What we’ve done:
Adopted Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

At the end of each year, we establish our top-line objectives and measurable results for the new year. From this, each of our executives, managers, and team members are responsible for developing and completing their specific key results that support the company-wide goal. Each quarter we review the progress made by each department, and the teams establish the new key results that they will complete in the next quarter. The OKR process communicates what is most important for the next quarter and the year, empowering team members to understand how their work is aligned in reaching the company goals.

4. Cultivating Workplace Belonging

Employees that feel a strong sense of belonging are 56% more productive than employees whose sense of belonging is weak. Belonging is a strong driver of employee engagement which leads to productivity and retention. We have found that when employees interact on a social level, it builds their confidence and develops a strong workplace community. Over the past year, we’ve had to work even harder to keep people connected while working primarily remotely.

What we’ve done:
Experimented with Virtual Team Building activities

We have a team member in charge of driving company events, and she’s had to get even more creative with ways to engage the team during virtual events. It seems as though all of society is trying to “figure this out,” and we’ve found that taking risks and trying new activities/events and learning from them has been vital. For example, during one of our monthly virtual happy hours, we played Family Feud and had one of our team members impersonating Steve Harvey with hilarious accuracy. We’ve found ways to build engagement in our “Town Hall Channel” by creating weekly conversation starters in our “Hot Topic Tuesdays.” We’ve tried to find ways to build engagement amongst the team in a variety of ways.

5. Breaking the Distortion Bubble 

When things seem to be going smoothly, leaders can miss the nuances that signal a disconnect between the business roadmap, its goals, and processes. The fast pace of business can create a mentality that focuses on getting things “done” and checking them off a long list of things to do. This can lead to doing what “we’ve always done,” leading to stagnation and failure to evolve.

What we’ve done:
Launched What’s Right, Wrong, or Confused

Regularly we complete a company-wide exercise where we invite each employee to challenge the “why” behind anything and everything we do. Each team member provides input on what is going right and working well, what is wrong and needs to change, and what is confused due to unnecessary complexity, a lack of communication, or other variables. We use this feedback to drive change and continuously improve in all areas of our company. This is an ideal process to give everyone a reality check and to allow staff members at every level to be heard and their input carefully consider.

I hope these tips will help you increase productivity and retention in your team.  What have you done at your company to boost productivity or increase collaboration?

Author: Daryl Wurzbacher – CEO, ByDesign Technologies, a Retail Success Company

Originally Published In: The World of Direct Selling –

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