It's no question that leaders are always looking for ways to increase their team’s efficiency. Traditionally, companies could just use bonuses and punishments to incentivize employees to continuously improve their performance. However, as work becomes increasingly creative and knowledge-driven, you must adopt more compassionate motivational tactics to prevent your employees from burning out.
Here are four compassionate ways to make your employees more efficient:
1) Prioritize Employee Happiness
Happy employees are an average of 12% more efficient than those who feel neutral. When people enjoy work, they’re engaged and motivated to perform their best.
Here are some simple ways to foster team happiness:
- Recognize people’s effort and achievements. Employees often disengage and work slower when they feel undervalued. Frequently tell each of your team members that you appreciate their contributions. It can make a world of difference for everyone’s morale.
- Encourage Team Socialization. People have an innate need to feel like they belong so, the stronger the connections you can help people develop, the more happy and productive they’ll be.
- Remind employees why their work matters. Employees often get stuck in their daily grind and stop enjoying their work. When you check in with your team, share the big picture impact their work has and the incredible progress they’ve made.
Whenever an employee’s mood low for multiple days, check in with them one-on-one and see if there is anything you can do to support them. Your success depends on their happiness.
2) Encourage Your Employees to Use Their Vacation Time
Stanford researcher Emma Seppala found that vacations prevent burnout, increase stress resilience, and amplify creativity.
Unfortunately, most employees don’t take vacation days because they feel like they don’t have enough time. According to Glassdoor, Americans only use 54% of their PTO, and when they do take a vacation, 66% of people report working while they’re away.
Giving employees PTO is not enough. You must create a company culture where people feel comfortable taking it.
- Assure your employees they won’t be held accountable for issues that occur while they’re away. Without this reassurance, most employees feel like they have to check in regularly to prevent fires.
- Don’t let anyone send them messages while they’re gone.
- If they do time-sensitive work, such as supporting clients, assign one their colleagues to take over their responsibilities. This will help them forget about work while they’re away.
- Set the example and take work-free vacations yourself.
It may be difficult when your employees completely check out but, it’s worth the temporary inconvenience because, when they return, they’ll be much more efficient.
3) Set Clear (or Flexible) Expectations
Your employees cannot read your mind. If you have a specific vision, you must clearly describe your expectations and make yourself available to answer questions as they arise.
If you fail to do this and your employees are aware that you have distinct preferences, they will waste a ton of time trying to figure out what you want and second-guessing their work because it’s impossible for them to know if they’re on the right track.
Plus, if you reprimand them for making decisions they didn’t know were wrong, you’ll erode their trust in you. Over time, this can cause employees to disengage and drastically lower their efficiency.
If you don’t have time to support your employees in creating your vision, give them a measurable end goal (ex. Lower production costs by X%) and the flexibility to pursue their own methods for achieving it. Your team may reach the goal via activities that you don’t like but, if you didn’t give them detailed instructions, it’s only fair to hold them accountable for their results.
4) Invest in Your Team's Professional Development
The better equipped with knowledge and skills your employees are, the more efficient they’ll be. Surveys show that employees who have access to professional development opportunities are 15% more engaged and have a 34% higher retention rate. Both of those factors are tied to increased productivity.
Professional development doesn’t have to be a formal, time-consuming or expensive investment. Here are three options that are easy to implement on an ongoing basis:
- Set up a mutual mentorship program. Pair employees with different skill sets (regardless of their ranks) and instruct them to set aside a couple of times per month to discuss their goals give each advice based on their expertise.
- Host informal workshops where you and other leaders at your company spend 30-60 minutes sharing their latest insights, ways to improve upon existing tasks, or how to do new projects.
- Incentivize employees to take professional development courses. Curate a list of relevant classes through platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Udacity and others. Publicly recognize employees who take them and offer a progressive structure for cash bonuses. The additional skills your employees gain will be well worth the costs.
Taking action to increase your employees’ efficiency not only enables them to maximize the usefulness of their time at work but, it also makes your employees more committed to your organization. Rather than pressuring your team to work harder, these strategies give them the motivation and ability to perform better.
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About the Author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.