10 simple labour productivity improvement ideas

Simple labour productivity improvement ideas


What’s labour productivity?

Long-term, your business depends on the productivity of its labour force. Whatever type of industry your business is in, more productivity equals more profits. With that in mind, it’s not surprising our government keeps motivating and incentivising SMEs here to improve on their productivity.

Increased productivity doesn’t necessarily mean increased work though, it can be more complicated than that. Overworking your workforce to increase output is a sure way to decrease motivation and burn out your employees. Instead, productivity can be increased by more efficiently using resources available to your business. Effective business practices can edge your productivity that little bit further, which results in higher profitability for the company. This can translate to increased salaries for the workforce or greater investment put into training to help employees become even more skilled and efficient at their work.


Why does your labour productivity need to increase?

Small businesses must be super productive in order to achieve the growth necessary to withstand the difficult economic conditions of today’s working world. Mid-sized to large enterprises are filling up more and more space in various industries. This means that smaller businesses need to be able to make their mark and consistently meet demands to have hope of continuing to expand and grow.

The more productive your workforce is, the more products they’re able to make available for sale or services they’d be able to render. The more sales you get, the more profits you earn and the money can be used to expand the business. It’s a circle, and one that starts with time and labour.

10 ways to increase labour productivity

There’re many, many recommendations out there on how to go about increasing labour productivity in your workforce and for yourself. We’ve put together a list of our favourite – and most effective – ways to see results.


1.   Be the role model you want your employees to imitate

There’s nothing more inspiring than a motivated and productive leader. Your employees will respond better to instructions from you if they can see that you’re authentic and responsible for your own actions – in essence, if they respect you. The same goes for any other senior management. If your employees see that no matter what level they’re within the company, they’re treated respectfully and fairly and are rewarded appropriately by you, they’ll give their best.


2.   Incentivise your employees so that company success benefits them

It may seem cold, but employees aren’t going to be as devoted to your business as you are, unless they’re involved in its success in some way. Benefits don’t necessarily have to be monetary; there’re plenty of schemes you can weigh into, for example providing employees with discounts at nearby lunch spots. You could implement a bonus scheme or a way of tracking individual output and rewarding high efficiency. You could turn productivity into a competition with a prize every month. It’s up to you to design the incentive programme that suits your company, just know that the majority of employees will work harder if there’s a tangible reason to do so.


3.   Set realistic goals and help your employees reach them; then reward them

A target can seriously help your employees increase their labour productivity. After all, the target states exactly what’s required and by when, serving as a constant reminder against tangents and distractions. Regular check-ins with employees can help to keep them on track while also serving to identify their unproductive habits. Once you know an employee’s distractions, you can work with them to eliminate the habits and become even more efficient.


4.   Delegate work as needed for efficiency and keep employees accountable

You’re not going to achieve your productivity objectives by simply asking for more work to be accomplished. When tasks are delegated based on the individual’s abilities and they’re made accountable for the work they produce, employees will work harder to prove to you that your trust in them isn’t misplaced. That said, don’t just leave them to their own devices, do follow up and check in regularly to make sure their motivation remains high.


5.   Have your employees best interest at heart

Make sure your company policies are geared towards your employee. Protect them from workplace bullying, be there for them when they require flexible hours due to a family emergency, and keep a friendly atmosphere at the office. Your employees spend a large portion of their day at your company, so they need to feel safe, secure, and valued in order to do their best work. By understanding their motivation to work for you, you’re in a position to make work a meaningful part of their life and not an all-consuming chore or mindless task completed merely in return for a salary.


6.   Foster workplace relationships and activities

There’s a line to be drawn here, but some flexibility can work wonders for an employee’s overall happiness in the workplace. The happier an employee is, the more productive she can be – and happiness stems from having friends. Introduce bonding activities to create a closer team, even if it’s just a shared breakfast once a week or a full team building weekend. The more confident an employee is around her fellows, the more likely she’s comfortable and productive in her work environment.


7.   Relax your restrictions on what an employee can and can’t do

Obviously, this one has to be within reason. There’re many elements that can affect an individual employee’s day and these factors will affect their mood and their productivity. For example, a strict ‘No Internet’ policy may seem like it would prevent people from surfing online for leisure all day, but it’ll likely chafe at their sense of freedom.


8.   Allow regular breaks away from work

Your employees can reach maximum efficiency but then crash into unproductive, wasted hours if not given the appropriate amount of time to relax away from their work. Regular breaks to get away from their station, get outside, have a snack, chat with friends, are all necessary to the ultimate well-being of your employee and their productivity. Short break times, as well as holiday-time throughout the year, are proven to aid the human brain in functioning better all-round.


9.   Provide opportunities for learning

Your employees can become more efficient by learning to be more efficient – provided they’re given the initial investment of time to do so. Create opportunities for extra training and encourage your employees to learn on their own time, as well as offer support whenever it’s appropriate. When employees know how best to do their work through proper training and guidance, and when they can make improvements using the new knowledge they’ve acquired, they’ll definitely be more productive. Read about the Continuing Education and Training (CET) Masterplan initiated by our government.


10.   Make sure all your equipment are working properly and well-maintained

Keeping all your critical equipment in good working order is a must for any business, especially for an SME that can be adversely affected by even a single day of malfunctioning machines. Ensure all your employees know who to contact in a situation where faulty equipment is slowing their processes down. And when you have the financial capability to do so, don’t be afraid to invest in better technology that can guarantee you real productivity gains.