"We're at a significant juncture in terms of how to reconfigure the way that we work and the sort of working hours and working arrangements that we enter into” - Professor Peter Gahan, Director of Melbourne University's Centre of Workplace Leadership
Recently we saw Sweden officially introduce the 6-hour working day. This decision was backed by numerous studies linking workplace flexibility to higher levels of employee productivity and happiness.
Sweden’s example has thrown Australia’s workplace culture into the spotlight and employee productivity levels have shown to be deteriorating alongside our work-life balance. A whopping two-thirds of Australian’s admit they do the bare minimum at work and only 20% think they should be more productive.
Taken together, these statistics challenge the Australian ‘hard yakka’ self-perception and suggest that our productivity levels can improve. Zaki Ameer, the founder of DDP Property, leads a staff of 25 and uses some simple, yet effective strategies to ensure his team remain happy and productive.
Here are his 10 essential tips:
- Work-life balance. Recent studies have shown that Australian’s put in 6 hours of unpaid overtime each week which ends up costing our economy around $305 billion each year. There are a great number of benefits to ensuring a healthy work-life balance for your employees. Their personal health and happiness will increase, leading to improvements in their workplace productivity. Fewer hours can mean greater progress.
- Performance-based pay. Money is a great motivator, no doubt. Many organizations structure their payment systems to provide financial incentives for all levels of employees, not just senior executives. Not only will this ensure dedication, but it will make employees feel valued. Furthermore, this system demands recognition for good work, something that is a very powerful motivator!
- Meetings of gratitude. Many organizations use meetings exclusively for communication and problem-solving. It’s important to use these meetings to celebrate success and congratulate your staff. For every mistake that is brought up, be sure to mention success. Build constructive momentum within your team and create a sense of accomplishment.
- Break down goals. It’s important to set ambitious yearly goals. However, breaking down these goals into divisions and shorter time periods will boost productivity as smaller goals are met and the sense of accomplishment grows. This strategy also allows you to track and measure your productivity more precisely.
- Daily critical goals list. Encourage every employee to start their day by creating a list of critical goals they must achieve by day’s end. Breaking up tasks and organizing your day ensures efficient time management and high productivity levels.
- Allocate creative time. Granted this strategy may not suit all businesses, but when done right, it does wonders for productivity. Every week, allocate half a day for each employee to work on a project that excites them (of course it must be relevant to your business). They’ll take greater ownership over their role and work harder as a result. Some of their ideas may even be the new direction your business needs.
- Ditch the motivation killers. These include structural flaws such as the absence of opportunities for professional development and poor communication systems, but also rude or toxic personalities with autocratic management styles. Even much smaller things, such as excessive ‘email conversations’ can reduce productivity. If the conversation is detailed and important, emails can become messy, confusing and slow down the process.
- Regular constructive feedback. Two of the greatest motivators are respect and recognition. Regular and constructive feedback provides these as well as directly improving employee productivity by helping them learn from mistakes. If you provide feedback consistently, even the lowest level of employee will feel valued.
- Team building. Allow time for regular team building and bonding activities. Creating a positive group identity not only improves workplace happiness but will see a sense of horizontal accountability to emerge in which employees will go the extra mile not only for their superiors but also for each other.
- It’s their job, not life. Simply recognizing that employees have families, friends and a million other things going on in their lives ensures you and your senior staff won’t become over-demanding. Increasingly, many organizations are ‘going the extra mile for their staff by providing support services. In return, the employee ‘goes the extra mile for your business.