5 min read

With many people taking time off to recover from winter-borne viruses or gear up for what is typically a stressful and busy end of financial year, it makes sense to look at how we support our employees physically and mentally. Now is as good a time as ever to look at how an overall holistic approach to work will help to engage your workforce and drive increased productivity. 

A lot of the ways to achieve this don’t cost a lot at all and working at Reward Gateway gives me the opportunity to practice what I preach. With that, here’s my five steps to better productivity in the workplace.

1. Stress isn't the enemy

A lot is spoken about how to remove stress from the workplace and, while it is definitely better to work in a less stressful job for health reasons, elements of stress can help some to focus on the work they need to get done. The key here is to make sure your employees are recovering from stress. In a world where work and life are blurring, it’s easy to take up more and more responsibilities and pile on unhelpful stress – which is why it’s essential to practice 10-minutes of mindfulness a day.

Mindfulness doesn’t necessarily mean sitting cross-legged saying 'omm' for 10 minutes, you could take a walk or take a short nap – anything which doesn’t involve technology or letting your mind race.

I primarily find work-life balance (or rather, work-life integration) by spending time with my one year old son, Viggo, who immediately puts me in the moment and gives me the chance to gather a more positive perspective on things.Two additional practices that don’t take a ton of time, but go a long way are taking five minutes to focus on my breath and listing five things I’m grateful for, and counting my steps and listening to my breath while walking from the train to work. It is all about figuring out how you best recover from stress and protecting that time. This could be exercise, meditation, or sharing dinner with a loved one.

There isn’t a one-size-fits all, but it’s critical to find that time of recovery everyday in order to keep performing at your best.

2. Don't become a techno-victim

As I alluded to above, technology can instill an always-on mentality in your workforce which doesn’t allow them to switch off when they need to, and also creates a less focused and more distracted work environment. Not to mention the impact it can have on their personal relationships outside of work if they’re always checking work emails and messages.

Encourage your people to have moments in the day when they’re not “plugged into” a piece of tech, whether that’s eating lunch away from their desk, or discouraging people from bringing laptops or phones to meetings. Having these moments of down time allows the mind to process tasks on a subconscious level and employees can come back to their desk with a fresh perspective on what they’ve been working on.

how to improve employee productivity

3. Be as flexible as you can

If the way your company works allows it – usually jobs where all you need is a laptop and an internet connection – then offer flexible working to your people. It’s the most cost-effective way to give a benefit which can have hugely positive effects on employees’ lives. The two areas that help make flexibility work best are: Having clear goals defined for employees so they know they are making a contribution to the mission and strategic direction of the company; and trusting that your people are going to do everything they can to make a positive impact on your companies mission.

Flexible working is all about trust and the remote worker being selfless. If you’re rigid and state that people must be in the office between 9 and 5 with no give, you’re telling them you don’t trust them. And in return the remote worker will need to be selfless and available for the people on their team who rely on them.

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4. Be proactive when you can't be there

On the topic on flexible working, it’s easy for me to agree to it as I run a global team and if they’re in the office or at home doesn’t change the ways I interact with them. However, this does bring its own challenge.

I have to be proactive to compensate for the fact I can’t be in the same room with them at all times.

If you have employees in different offices, whether in the same country or not, it’s important to find ways to praise good work from wherever you are. I’m fortunate as I’m able to use eCards to recognise employeesIt allows me to send a heartfelt congratulations and praise great work alongside our values, all displayed socially so the rest of the business can see the achievements as one.

This also goes for my individual teams members, who know they must over-communicate, and create the informal type of check-in and relationship they might build if they were in the same offices as someone. For example, I have a team member who works with many people in different offices, and chooses a different team member within marketing and outside of marketing to just say hi to through our instant messaging tools.

how to improve employee productivity

5. Striving for the same goals

Imagine a crew team who are rowing in the opposite direction. The only way they're going to win the race is if the other teams boat sinks! This is the same with business. You need to focus your people on the same mission or goals so that they know where the business is going and how their efforts directly support that.

There are many ways you can do this. Two key things are being open & honest with your people, and working hard to clearly align all goals and projects to the strategic direction of the company. At Reward Gateway, our CEO, Doug Butler, posts a weekly article on our internal blog which relates directly to our mission and how we are performing towards that. Managers are then able to distill that down and link it directly to how their teams and the individuals need to perform – setting ambitious but achievable goals which motivate.

How do you unwind to be your best self at work? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Jonathan Burg

Jonathan Burg is the Group SVP Marketing at Reward Gateway. If he could eat only one food for the rest of his life, it would without a doubt, be peanut butter.

Group SVP Marketing

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