When you run a Connecticut small business, time really is money. Even if you are not in a service business that bills by the hour, productivity is gauged by how efficiently your employees spend their time, and how much they can accomplish in the course of a workday. However, employees encounter dozens of roadblocks to productivity every day.
As a CT small business owner, you can take proactive steps to minimize wasted time and maximize productivity.
Did you know that a survey shows that 89 percent of employees admit to wasting company time on a daily basis? A survey by Salary.com shows that 31 percent of workers say they waste about 30 minutes each day, 31 percent waste an hour each day, but up to 4 percent of those surveyed waste four to five hours—that’s half of their workday.
A separate Harris poll shows that the biggest time wasters include cell phone calls and texting (50 percent), gossiping (42 percent), time wasted on the Internet (39 percent), and time wasted on social media (38 percent), among others. That’s a lot of non-productivity that you’re paying for.
So here are five hacks you can implement as a small business owner to reduce wasted time and increase productivity:
1. Provide Structured Socializing
Gossiping in the office creates a huge drain on productivity and can be hard to manage. You can’t eliminate all office chit-chat, but you can try to put structure around it. Many small offices start the morning with an all-hands standing meeting or daily scrum to set the agenda for the day. This also is an opportunity for employees to check in and feel they have a sense of community that can reduce the need to gossip.
Be sure there is structured time for breaks, lunch, etc., so employees can gab. Emphasize that there is time available for socializing and encourage employees to use it.
2. Reduce the Number of Meetings
Twenty-three percent of workers surveyed by Harris cited meetings as their biggest waste of company time. Most workers attend 62 meetings and waste 31 hours on average each month. Develop a minimal meeting policy to cut out unnecessary meetings. The morning scrum format helps – a brief, standing meeting that is short and focused on immediate concerns.
If you decide you do need to call a meeting, be sure to ask yourself if the meeting is really necessary. Then, create a structured agenda to minimize wasted time, and be sure to include only those people who absolutely need to be there so you don’t waste employees’ time.
3. Control Time Online
Time wasted on social media, surfing the web, and checking personal email is one of the biggest drains on work time. Depending on the nature of your business, you have options. You can limit and control Internet access; some companies block the web and only open online access for an hour during lunch. If, however, online access is required for work-related tasks, then monitor and manage online access.
You can use network appliances to block specific IP addresses to limit access. In addition, be sure to have a strong security system in place to filter out malware and viruses. And be sure to discourage using smartphones and tablets for online access on the job except for work-related tasks.
4. Outsource Computer Systems Management
To promote better productivity, it’s important to minimize computer downtime. The average employee loses 91 hours of work time per year because of computer issues; that’s more than two work weeks.
Outsourcing computer maintenance and systems management can minimize downtime. A managed services provider can provide remote monitoring to head off problems before they happen, as well as offering remote security and systems management. A contract with a managed services provider can include routine systems and printer maintenance to minimize equipment failure. And a good service company is always there to lend support quickly and efficiently so your employees and IT staff can get back to work.
5. Encourage Personal Time
One of the biggest mistakes many small businesses make is expecting employees to work harder, not smarter. Demanding long hours with little time off is actually counterproductive; it makes employees feel underappreciated and can actually encourage wasted time on the job. Don’t expect your employees to share your passion or your drive. Don’t ask them to work extra hours unless absolutely necessary, and encourage them to spend time with their families and take vacation time, with the understanding you want more efficiency and productivity during working hours. If an employee can’t get his or her work done during the normal workday, assess the situation. Is it because they are truly overworked, inefficient, lack the necessary tools, or are they just workaholics and like working extra hours?
Promoting work productivity is part of a pact made between you as a small business owner and your employees. Your part of the bargain is to establish appropriate expectations, present productivity guidelines, and help your employees do their best on your behalf. In addition to assessing individual performance, remove impediments to productivity, and give your team the tools and support they need to do their best for your company.