When you're running a small business, the productivity of your employees can make or break you.
That's why it's so important to optimize work environments, using tools and technology to avoid roadblocks that could keep your people from accomplishing their daily goals. The smartest managers continually work to eliminate those roadblocks to make sure easily solvable problems don't get in the way of progress — and to show workers they're fully supporting their efforts.
Why does this matter? When employees become disengaged from their work, they cost their employers $450 billion to $550 billion each year in the U.S. alone, according to Gallup.
"Most small- and medium-sized businesses are lagging behind in terms of productivity — and to a surprising extent," writes Erik Day on Thriveglobal.com. "On average, employees at small and medium enterprises are productive for about 15 to 20 percent of the workday; the rest of their time is punctuated by minor distractions, busy work and organizational drag."
Day also notes maintaining high levels of productivity can be more challenging for small businesses in which managers and employees typically juggle multiple kinds of tasks at once.
Consider these four workplace mistakes that could be killing productivity at your business.
- You're not keeping your PCs fast and nimble. Employees can easily become frustrated when they're trying to work at full speed, but their clogged computer systems are sluggish and slow to respond. Invest your time and/or money in updating memories and operating systems so they're always as fast and efficient as possible.
- You're not minimizing computer service disruptions. The time required to choose products, complete downloads and implement other upgrades may be keeping your people from delving into key tasks, which may be delaying other company functions in a domino effect. Consider assigning your peripheral and docking station selections, installations and troubleshoots to an around-the-clock service like Dell's ProSupport, which can complete such work around your staff schedules.
- You're hanging on to an open office plan. Many employers still favor partition-less (and office-less) environments that let them keep a close eye on what their workers are doing. However, research shows the extra stimuli and discomfort of feeling "on display" can distract and stress out workers. Open floor plans can also impact office communication; workers tend to email more as a defense mechanism, which can reduce face-to-face interaction by some 70 percent. Don't want to invest in cubicles? Consider allowing employees to work remotely one day a week. A Dell Small Business Technology Advisor can guide you to the right technology to empower your employees to work from home.
- You don't encourage disconnecting. Contrary to what our labor-intensive culture would have us believe, studies show taking regular breaks from work boosts our work performance by helping us de-stress and recharge. You'll be counterproductive if you're the kind of boss who (even subtly) imposes guilt on your people for disconnecting.
The success of your small business could hinge on your ability to make the changes and upgrades that allow your workers to do their jobs well. Make sure your technology and culture are in order so they have a chance to shine.