At one time or another, we will all feel as though we could be doing more at work. Perhaps we could organize our time better, dedicate a larger portion of our concentration to a particular task, or minimize distractions at work; a clean desk will always work wonders! But what should you do if you’re a small business owner? Is it ever possible to have control over your company’s productivity?
The principles of productivity
Productivity is, fundamentally, an average measure of how efficiently a particular business is operating and that business’s ability to provide the product or service that it aims to. Measuring productivity will enable you to ascertain whether targets are being met, decide if there is anything that can be altered, and provide an overview of your company’s performance. Tracking productivity is also important in order to monitor the ways in which resources are used and to judge the competency of your workforce. It is generally measured by examining input and output; what resources are being used, and what is being generated? Of course, this task is now much harder due to the influence of computer systems and remote networks, and so it essential to have a means of testing productivity that works for you, whether that is a system that takes numerous facts and figures into consideration or a simple monitoring of profit; to remain competitive, appropriateness is key. Whether you are tracking profits versus expenditure, analyzing the amount of time it takes to create new products or services, or monitoring your team’s abilities, it is important for all small business owners to be aware of what’s happening within their company and whether anything needs to be changed.
There are a number of factors that may damage the productivity of a workplace, and more often than not, these relate to the resources on offer. For example, an office that creates unnecessary waste or operates inefficient systems is likely to be categorized as ‘unproductive’; if you are producing more waste than innovative ideas, then it is time to take a serious look at your business strategy. The very layout of an office can also be a deciding factor in its productivity. Colorful, clear spaces with minimal clutter and lots of storage options, plenty of opportunity for documenting ideas, and break areas can do wonders for a team’s morale and productivity. Back to those inefficient office and systems; do you seem to be spending more time fixing a photocopier than you do using it, or wait around for endless updates on a single computer? Then chances are you’re wasting valuable time and being unproductive with it. It is essential to maintain an inviting, workable office space, ensure that your systems are up to date and, more importantly, up to the job, and provide equipment that is both efficient and essential. Only then can you get on with the job at hand.
Productivity and people
While factors such as wastage and inefficient resources can hamper a business’s productivity, it is often that company’s own workforce that provides the biggest friction. Tardiness, for example, is one of the biggest causes of unproductivity, as are illness, stress-related health issues, and more serious problems such as drug and alcohol abuse. While any number of these factors can never be helped – staff sickness, for example – it is important for managers to be conscious of how they can help their staff to be better at their jobs. This means applying understanding, sympathizing with a workforce as individuals, ensuring that appropriate training is provided, and, in turn, becoming a better manager for it. Stress is a huge consequence of modern working life, and you, as a manager, should be prepared to provide support to anyone displaying symptoms of a mental health issue, as well as being incredibly aware of what those signifiers may be. As drug and alcohol abuse also has the ability to wreak catastrophe on any business, regular substance tests should be undertaken, if appropriate. An oral fluid lab test can confirm or allay suspicions and allow you to adopt the right response; whatever the outcome, you are tackling any productivity issues head on.
Owning a small business is, by nature, a competitive affair, and keeping tabs on your company’s productivity is absolutely vital if you want to get ahead of your nearest rivals. By understanding what works and what doesn’t, and implementing change where it’s needed, you will stand a better chance of making the most of your workforce and the resources that are on offer.