7th July 2020
Times are tough, and many of us have had to find our way around working remotely without much warning – and it’s difficult to tell if or when that will change for many companies navigating the impact of COVID-19. But one challenge that hasn’t changed in all of this uncertainty is the time and focus that staff spend on things that are not work-related while they’re on the clock.
With a staggering 89% of employees’ admitting to procrastinating and wasting time during their working day, it’s no wonder than employers sometimes feel overwhelmed with the struggle of getting their staff to focus what they are being paid to do.
In our previous post, we looked at the statistics and main distractions that find employees doing anything but work. Now, it’s time to establish methods to harness that energy into something more productive – work.
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Set your staff goals with clear expectations. This will provide them with direction, motivation and a conclusive way to measure progress for your business and employees alike. In doing so, you will see improvement in teamwork and help everyone understand the part they play.
Employees need to clearly understand their responsibilities and how they are expected to be fulfilled. Make a point of meeting individually with each employee to establish goals that are realistic, measurable and timely, and periodically review their progress toward and focus on achieving those goals. Both you and your employee can track whether expectations have been met.
Know Your Staff
Employees who waste their time on personal tasks or social media scrolling are often bored, lack the focus and incentive to work or are dissatisfied with their jobs. Not ideal for an employer trying to run a successful company!
Making a point of getting to know your employees will allow you to build good relationships with your team. This will help you to relate to your staff and recognise these signs before they become a bigger problem that impacts negatively on productivity. Engaging with your staff will put you in the prime position to respond to issues in a proactive way.
If your staff have done a good job, no matter how big or small it might be, give them immediate feedback. A simple ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’ can go a long way and will help to strengthen the loyalty your staff have for you.
Offering constructive feedback when staff have made mistakes or aren’t quite there is also very important and can help employees to understand what is expected of them. Allowing them the opportunity to get it right boosts confidence in their ability and increases the respect that staff have for you as a manager or employer.
Ensure your staff know that you are always happy to talk to them if they need you by adopting an ‘open door’ policy. You might not be available whenever employees want to meet with you, but if they know that you are happy to set time aside for them when you can, will really go a long way to earning their respect, which will, in turn, merit productivity.
Help them meet their goals while also encouraging their autonomy. If they’re seeking more responsibility, offer new assignments that challenge their initiative, decision-making ability and creativity. You’ll have a more engaged staff because you’ll have a relationship that is built around trust with honest, ongoing communications.
Offer Paid Time Off and Flexible Work Schedules
We all need a break from time to time. Sure, we need to work and the contributions your team put into the business effort is invaluable. However, if you don’t accommodate staff when they need to take time for themselves, be it to nurture mental health, manage personal responsibilities or to just spend time with family, you’ll soon see a decrease in productivity and work output.
Offer paid time off and flexible schedules so employees can take time off when they know they need it. Policies for both paid time off and flexi-time should be as accommodating as possible, so the people who work for you can make decisions for themselves about what kind of downtime they need.
Flexible working is now just as well sought out by job searchers as salary and other benefits. Not all businesses can offer flexi-time, but if flexible hours are an option for your business, both you and your employees will enjoy the benefits. Studies have shown that flexi-time leads to improved employee morale, increased engagement, and reduced absenteeism and tardiness.
Also, encourage your employees to use their holiday allowance. A staggering number of employees in the UK fail to take their full holiday entitlement, leaving an average of 4 days unused each year. Taking annual leave gives employees a much–needed rest from work demands—essential for renewed focus, energy and productivity.
It’s a very simple way to show your staff that they are cared for and valued – something that all employees want to feel from their employer.
Focus on Rewarding Productivity
On the topic of feeling valued, your staff will put so much more effort into their work if they feel appreciated. We mentioned that positive feedback for a job well done can go a long way – especially when delivered publicly (be sure to tailor this to the employee, though. Some people may not enjoy being made the centre of attention and this could have the opposite effect).
Address Problematic Employees
Some people are just productive beings by nature. There are others, however, who can’t make a cup of coffee without getting distracted. You’ve done all the right things—provided goals, offered guidance, given them to-do lists—but at some point, you have to take a step back and ask how profitable this person is for your business.
Have a very frank discussion with your employee, informing them of their unsatisfactory performance, coach them on what they need to do to improve and allow a probation period for the improvements to materialize. Document everything and if performance doesn’t improve, follow up with a written notice before taking action.
As hard as it may be, you may decide it’s time to let an unproductive employee go if these steps haven’t helped in turning their performance around. It’s one of the tougher parts of management, but if you want to put your business first, it’s sometimes a necessity
Implement an eNPS System
It seems that the biggest cause for employees wasting their time during the workday is usually down to how they feel about some aspect of their job – be it the work itself, management or something else. Whatever the reason, keeping a handle on how your staff feel about your company will go a long way to increasing their focus and helping you manage the work they deliver and the overall success of your business efforts.
Start a free 14-day trial of Staff Squared Pulse today and engage with your staff to really understand how they feel about your company.
Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Care Team to provide our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software and is responsible for our day-to-day marketing activities and strategies.