Business owners are often thinking about whether they and their employees are being as productive as possible, and for good reason. Businesses in Australia are competing globally with countries such as India and China, where labour costs are just a fraction of what they are here.

Productivity is about how well a business is converting input (capital, machines, material, and labour) into output (goods or services). Increasing productivity is all about working smarter, and you can find opportunities to improve efficiency in just about every part of your business.

Here are 5 key areas to consider:

1. Give employees authority

Often managers and business owners will insist on approving each minor detail for every project- even when they have competent, experienced employees, who could easily handle those details.

Not only does this cause a bottleneck if you’re busy (these tasks can sit in your inbox for weeks and cause a hold up), but staff members don’t feel empowered or responsible.

If you’ve hired the best people for the job, part of increasing productivity is giving employees the responsibility they need to get the job done, allowing them to think more broadly instead of only executing individual tasks that you’ve signed off on. This also gives them more fulfilment at work, meaning they’re more likely to work for you for longer.

2. Improve your operations with technology

Technology enables you to dramatically improve the way that your business can operate. If you are hoping to prevent customer-service issues, improve employee productivity, or pursue greater efficiency, there are a range of tools available to help.

Production management tools range from Google Spreadsheets to off-the-shelf software, to business-specific and custom-developed software solutions and applications.

If you are looking to utilise productivity as a competitive advantage, a custom solution can be affordable way to design your business processes in a way that sets your business apart.

Keeping up to date with developments in technology and ensuring that your business takes advantage of these innovations will ensure that productivity is continually increasing.

3. Consider outsourcing

Outsourcing key tasks is cost-effective, and will allow you to focus on the things you need to do to keep your business moving forward.

Whether you choose to outsource IT, public relations, marketing, social media, payroll, accounting, or logistics, first you need to know what it is that drives both profits and costs in your company.
Assess your current costs and production so you’ll know which of your core functions are increasing revenue, along with which noncore functions are affecting your productivity and increasing expenses.

The main reasons why many business owners don’t use outsourcing opportunities is because they’re concerned about expenses or worried that they could lose control of the business. However, once you remove tasks that are time-heavy, you’ll find that the increased productivity is well worth it.

4. Ditch the things that kill motivation

Every business has factors that dampen productivity and weaken or extinguish the motivation of employees. Carefully observing the work environment and searching for problem areas that negatively affect your employee’s motivation can make a huge difference to productivity.

Motivation killers include poor communication systems, abrasive personalities, wasted time, autocratic management styles, lack of organisational vision, a feeling of lack of appreciation, and an absence of opportunities for professional development.
Recognising you have a problem with these issues in the workplace will allow you to tackle them head-on.

5. Focus on continuous improvement

Improving productivity should be an ongoing activity, which is why it’s a good idea to set up a continuous improvement plan.

Assess both the best practices in your industry and your competition (this is also known as benchmarking), so you know where you stand. Next, consider getting external help so you can assess both the strengths and weaknesses of your business.

This will allow you to have an objective viewpoint, so you can take a step-by-step approach and focus on a few key priorities. It’s important that the changes you make can be measured so you’ll know if productivity is increasing. Regularly refer back to your plan so you can keep your top priorities in mind, and share your vision with employees so they can also get onboard.

If you’d like to learn how we can help you use technology to increase your productivity, get in touch today.