Employees are one of the most important investments a company can make. Through time and money, you pour significant business assets into finding and hiring the right people.

But are you doing enough to help your employees do their best work?

The right support — whether it is feedback, training or building a better work environment — is proven to make a huge difference in employee productivity. This increased “return on investment” (ROI) can be a bonus for your business. Dialing up employee productivity is a matter of creating an environment and culture that keeps employees happy, innovative and fully contributing to your business.

Use these tips to improve employee productivity to get the best return on your employee investment.


Provide the right tools

Without a comfortable workplace and the right tools in place, even the most motivated employee will slow down. Research suggests a strong link between worker comfort and increased productivity. For example, a Cornell University ergonomics study found that raising the office temperature from 68 degrees Fahrenheit to 77 degrees correlated with higher productivity — errors fell by 44 percent and typing output jumped 150 percent.

To identify the top priority changes for your team, ask for team feedback. Are employees waiting on slow Internet connections? Do they struggle to use outmoded document-sharing tools, or experience dropped conference calls? The up-front cost of upgraded tools will quickly be swallowed up by greater employee productivity.


Create an open dialogue

Keeping employees in the loop increases their level of workplace engagement, according to a 2012 Towers Watson Global Workforce report. Employees want to understand their business’s overall goals and how their work contributes to the bigger picture, so make communication a core value.

Have regular update meetings or send emails informing employees about recent company developments and company objectives. Empower managers to share information with their teams on a regular basis. Remind employees that their questions are always welcome, and make yourself available for one-on-one conversations. If you solicit feedback, be sure to communicate that you are serious about wanting a two-way conversation by acknowledging input and making changes where you can.


Put people in the right roles

Team members work best when they feel like they’re using their strongest skills in their daily work. “Opportunities to use one’s skills and abilities” consistently ranks as one of the top factors contributing to job satisfaction in the Society for Human Resource Management’s annual Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement research report.

When you have employee reviews, don’t just give feedback; ask questions about which tasks are most rewarding for that employee and why, and then strive to put employees in the roles where they’re most engaged. Keep in mind that people want to build skills and evolve their role over time, so ask questions at review time about aspirations and areas of interest. This kind of movement keeps engagement and productivity high.


Provide professional development

Employees are more engaged if their workplaces have mentoring and leadership development opportunities. Making these resources available to your workers can boost employee engagement and retention. Many training and development options can be pricey, but there are low-cost options out there, such as free online webinars and low-cost community education courses. Meet with employees to find out how they hope to grow professionally and develop a plan to help them achieve their goals. Match up newer employees with more experienced workers who can mentor them.

If you have the resources to invest in training, it could help your bottom line. A survey of 2,500 firms conducted by the American Society for Training and Development found companies that offer comprehensive training have a 24 percent higher profit margin than those that spend less on training.


Show your appreciation

Workers will not want to stay at a job where they are not valued. While monetary recognition is always a plus, don’t underestimate the power of positive feedback. Recognize workers for everything from innovative ideas to smart decisions to a job well done. Recognition can mean simply saying “thank you” or rewarding workers in another way, such as treating them to lunch or allowing them to leave early after they have been putting in long hours.

If you take the time to learn how to make your employees happy and put that knowledge into practice, you will be rewarded with a loyal and hard-working team and your business will benefit.

It’s a smart idea to approach all aspects of your business with an ROI mindset, even when looking at employee productivity, to get the best return on your biggest investment.

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