Managers often find it hard to engage employees and maximize productivity, but what is it exactly that gets in the way?  

When employees do the bare minimum this can be detrimental to your company’s bottom line. 

Engaged employees show up to work, stay longer, and are more productive. 

You probably know that having engaged employees is the ultimate goal, but you might still be wondering how to get there.

Here are some changes you can make to your workplace that could help you engage employees and maximize productivity. 

Let Them Learn 

Do you offer opportunities for ongoing learning? If so, is it relevant to their jobs, careers, and interests? 

People get bored when they aren’t using their brains. Some employees might seem to thrive on routine, mundane tasks, and these are necessary parts of almost any job. 

But offering ample opportunity to learn new skills that fit in with the context of the work and the company can do a lot to improve employee engagement and maximize productivity.  

This doesn’t mean you need to foot the bill for expensive university courses. But making sure they have adequate training on new software or offering lunchtime workshops of interest, can go a long way towards keeping them productive and engaged. 

Adjust the Workspace and Environment 

From temperature to furniture, a workspace can make or break your employees’ productivity. It might be their desk setup, the lighting, the temperature, or even having a nice place to sit at lunch. 

When people are sitting all day, ergonomics are important to physical health. Have professionals come by to evaluate workspaces if people have complaints about physical symptoms such as back pain. 

Other changes you can make include: 

  • Setting the temperature between 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Investing in ergonomic desk furniture
  • Adjusting your lighting to mimic natural light with blue-enriched bulbs
  • Providing stations of soft seating and standing desks
  • Installing white noise machines
  • Consider adding a station with a standing desk 
  • Encouraging staff to listen to music with headphones if desired and appropriate
  • Ensuring the workplace is clean and allergy-free
  • Make sure tools and resources promote efficient workflows

Incentives and Perks 

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on high-end perks to maximize productivity and foster the kind of environment necessary to foster success. 

What you do need to do is put yourself in your employees’ shoes and look at what improvements your culture needs.

Choose incentives based on interest — just ask them what they want. 

Some ideas: 

  • Gift cards 
  • Free courses
  • A free monthly lunch
  • Flexible work weeks 
  • Paid time off 
  • Low-key events 
  • Lunchtime fitness activities 
  • Gamification 

You need more than just a “well done” here. You want to show appreciation and offer activities that lead to improved morale and lower stress. 

The most important thing here is to offer them perks that truly make them feel valued, and aren’t just anonymous offerings.

Wellness & Work-Life Balance  

If employees are struggling with mental or physical health problems, this will show. It’s important to understand where they need extra support. 

This may mean something simple like flexibility for child care or flexible work weeks. You may have the opportunity to offer them to work from home some days to save on travel expenses or be able to get discounted gym memberships. 

Just be sure that they feel they have what they need to manage the stresses of everyday life outside the office. 

Give Informal Feedback 

Annual or monthly performance reviews are the traditional route often assumed to maximize productivity.  

These are important but can feel formal and intimidating. Consider instead offering informal, conversational feedback sessions on a weekly or bimonthly basis. 

This can encourage employees to share information about how they are doing without the pressure of “performing.” 

Some tips for feedback:  

  • Make all feedback constructive 
  • Try to frame everything in a positive light 
  • Tell employees “why” they need to do tasks in a certain way 
  • Connect what you say to the company’s mission and business goals 
  • Ask if they need support regarding wellness, time, or resources. 

Employees should know enough to work independently and make decisions on their own. They should also be allowed to take appropriate risks and sometimes fail, without being punished or criticized.

Be Patient 

With time and effort—and the tips explained above—you should start to see employee productivity rise.

No matter what happens, supporting employees and making them feel fully valued will go a long way and help them be happy and engaged in their work.  

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