Ticktock. There are 8 hours in the typical American workday, and 40 in the full week. Now, suppose you are in the categories of middle or upper management. Then, according to SAP Concur, 14-20 hours of your time on average are spent in meetings. Go ahead and tack on 4 hours to prepare for those meetings. Now, let’s factor in impromptu discussions. Add about 3-5 hours. What’s left? You want to lead a workforce that gets it done. But how can we run lean, increase margins, and be competitive when there’s so little time to work with? Maximizing productivity by ensuring your workforce is fully engaged is key.

Because we survey roughly 800,000 employees, representing approximately 6,000 employers that face the very same dilemma, we’ve been giving is some thought. Read on to learn how to increase productivity, and maximize that very precious time in the workplace.


Be the Example

If you hope for your employees to be engaged, motivated, and productive, then set a good example. Show them how it’s done! Following your own instructions makes you trustworthy. Seeing success in real time is inspiring.

Leadership is about embodiment. Mahatma Gandhi led a nation of people to independence with sentiments on leadership such as, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.” Imagine what your team could do, if they knew what it looked like. Live the values of your organization. Demonstrate success.


Provide Framework, Not Control

It can be tempting to control your employees. We sometimes worry that if we don’t require our employees to work, they’ll take advantage of us and do the bare minimum. Instead of giving into the temptation to lord over your reports, show them what it looks like to be engaged and valued by and for a job well done.

Make an example of any employee doing great work. Do it often. Reward good judgement. Talk about what’s awesome. Solve problems around what needs fixing. Share context. Make decisions using the company’s values. Do it together.


Encourage Happiness at Work

Our employees are people, not just business assets. They have children and hobbies, joy and pain. When you invite a whole person to be a valuable part of your team, you invite all of her to join you. Work with that!

Get to know your employees by asking them about themselves. Implement a flexible work schedule, so employees can more effectively balance their responsibilities. Make meetings worthwhile by engaging all of the minds in the room. Encourage breaks, so employees can be at their best. Collect employee feedback, to increase employee satisfaction and engagement. Check out this post blog highlighting practical policies that make employees happy.


Set Clear Goals and Provide Feedback

It’s nearly impossible to meet expectations if we don’t know what they are. Are you sure that your employees are certain of their goals and how they’re performing against them?

Start by setting clear goals. Share how his short-term goals fit into the company’s long-term strategy. Goals should be measurable. How else would your employee know if he’s meeting your expectations?

Always provide feedback. Rewards, like praise, not only feel good for everyone involved, but also reinforce the behavior(s) you want repeated. Because feeling valued at work is the #1 key driver of employee engagement[i] in the U.S., showing appreciation for great performance makes a huge impact on productivity.

In turn, correcting poor performance is an investment in your team members and should be handled as such. When you provide criticism, make it constructive by being specific, connecting the review to the measurable goal, and committing to correcting the problem together. As a manager and leader, this is your chance to be a developer of people.


Final Thoughts

More than ever before, employees must be equipped to handle an increasing number of daily and seasonal distractions that deter them from their work. In order to push back against this, companies are working to create a more human workplace culture that puts employees first, seeks to recognize great performance year-round, and helps employees to feel proud of their contributions to a company’s overall goals. In return, employees will be more inspired to do great work, resulting in increased productivity throughout the year.


Learn More

It’s powerful to know what your employees think! You can identify problems like poor supervision, communication breakdown, and mounting plans to leave your company before expensive turnover affects your business.

When you’re ready to learn more about employee survey timelines, process and pricing, schedule a time to meet with one of our employer coaches. We’ll get all your questions answered.


[i] Best Companies Group. (2015). U.S. Benchmark Report: Best Places to Work. Harrisburg, PA.


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