3 Incentives to Improve Worker Productivity

By Maryalene LaPonsie | Posted January 17, 2013

Your workers undoubtedly have long to-do lists and, unfortunately, there's no magical way to extend the number of hours in the day. Instead, you need to find ways to help them make the most of the time they do have.

Here are three inexpensive ways to boost worker productivity and get more done.

Small Business Productivity Tips

1. Institute an employee-recognition program

If you don't already have one, it is time to create an employee-recognition program. Depending on how your workplace is set up, your program could recognize one outstanding employee per month or provide perks to all employees once they reach certain milestones.

In addition to publicly recognizing outstanding employees, provide them with an extra something as a thank you. Low-cost suggestions include:

  • A special parking place for a designated period of time
  • Complimentary breakfast or lunch
  • Extra vacation time
  • Pin, plaque or certificate
  • Mug or other gift

What you offer is not as important as the simple act of acknowledging an employee's efforts. Your staff is more likely to put forth their best work when they feel that you notice and appreciate it.

2. Offer flex time

Employees have busy lives and, if their job functions allow it, your workers would likely jump at the chance to work even part of a day from home. What's more, study after study shows that individuals who work from home tend to be more productive. Most recently, a 2012 survey conducted by Wired magazine and Marriott Hotels & Resorts found that nearly half of respondents report being more productive when working at home.

Offer your employees the opportunity to take advantage of flexible scheduling -- as long as they can get all their work done. Just be sure to lay out clear parameters regarding your expectations, and make sure that you have adequate onsite coverage at all times.

3. Give Facebook breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but giving employees short breaks to check Facebook and browse the Internet actually improves productivity. A 2011 report from the Academy of Management found that browsing the Internet for 10 minutes has a "restorative function" for workers.

Workers allowed to browse the Internet were found to be 16 percent more productive than those who took a non-Internet break, and they were 39 percent more productive than those who worked through the break time.

Interestingly, not all online activities were deemed equal by the research. Checking and responding to personal emails hurt productivity. However, the report found that reading news, checking social media sites and gaming online provide a productivity boost.

To keep Internet free-time in check, consider a policy that allows all employees designated online breaks, such as at the top of the hour.

Increasing worker productivity doesn't need to involve costly seminars or training sessions. A few simple adjustments to your workday may be all that's necessary to boost the number of items your employees can cross off their to-do lists each day.

Maryalene LaPonsie has been writing professionally for more than a decade on topics including education, insurance and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Western Michigan University.

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