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Boosting Employee Productivity: A Practical Guide for Business Owners


Employee productivity is a critical piece of the economic puzzle in the UK. Stagnant growth since the financial crisis and underperformance compared to other developed economies paint a concerning picture. The cost of living crisis further complicates things, with studies showing millions experiencing financial worries that drag down productivity at work.

So, how can businesses ensure their employees stay motivated and reach their full potential? Here are three key strategies to consider:

1. Invest in smart technology

While the right tools are crucial for employee productivity, simply loading them up with more apps can backfire. Studies reveal low app engagement and information overload leading to decreased productivity. According to Vertice, their database shows that the average app engagement score is only 45% — meaning companies are either over-licensing or employees are not adopting tools as expected.

To combat this, audit your existing software landscape. Identify tools with low usage or functionalities that overlap, creating confusion and redundancy. This audit can be a collaborative effort. Talk to your employees directly. What tools do they find most helpful and efficient? Are there specific tasks hampered by a lack of suitable software? This feedback will help you identify gaps and prioritise the most impactful solutions.

With this intelligence, you can optimise your software stack for streamlined efficiency. Focus on providing a curated set of high-quality tools that are demonstrably useful and actively used by your team. Don’t be afraid to consolidate or eliminate redundant software.

If new software is required, look for tools that integrate seamlessly with your existing tools. This minimises data silos and streamlines workflows, reducing the time wasted switching between applications and manually transferring information.

2. Foster a culture of continuous learning

A workforce eager to learn is a competitive advantage. The good news for UK businesses? 70% of employees are hungry for upskilling opportunities and studies show that by effectively reskilling your team, you can unlock a significant productivity boost.

The first step is to understand your team’s current skill set. Conduct a skills gap analysis to pinpoint areas where development is needed for individuals to excel in their roles and for the company to achieve its goals. This analysis can involve performance reviews, employee surveys, or skills assessments. Once you’ve identified skill gaps, work collaboratively with your team to create a personalised learning roadmap. This roadmap should outline specific training opportunities tailored to individual needs and career aspirations while aligning with the company’s overall objectives.

Cater to different learning styles and preferences by providing a variety of upskilling options. This could include in-house workshops led by senior colleagues or dedicated trainers, flexible online courses, sponsoring employees to pursue external certifications, or mentorship programmes between experienced team members and less experienced colleagues.

3. Empower through goal setting

Forget generic, top-down goals. The best approach involves your team actively participating in setting their own goals. This fosters a sense of ownership and increases motivation.

Here are the key elements of effective goal setting:

  1. Collaborative planning: Work with your employees to define achievable and measurable goals that align with both individual aspirations and company objectives.
  2. Regular check-ins: Schedule periodic meetings to track progress, offer support, and celebrate achievements.
  3. Meaningful recognition: Rewarding employees for meeting goals reinforces positive behaviour and motivates continued high performance.

By implementing these strategies, you can create an environment where your employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to reach their full potential. This translates directly to a more productive, engaged, and successful workforce.

Claire James