Mr. Richard Milam, founder, EnableSoft, Inc.
It’s a sad but true fact that it can be difficult for employees to focus on work over the holiday season, even while more and more of them take less time off. A 2013 survey by CareerBuilder revealed that about half of all employees planned on doing some of their holiday shopping online at work. Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported productivity among U.S. workers is actually up more than one percent from Q2 of 2013 to Q2 of this year. Let’s look at three ways you can maintain or even improve productivity in a race to finish 2015 strong.
Rethinking Work: You don’t need to be sitting at a desk all day.
Evaluate your organization and do a productivity audit. By this we mean, rethink how we work. For many employees, work is a destination. These days there are virtual offices, open offices, and traditional 9 to 5 rarely exists. Rather than hold employees accountable for hours spent in their chairs, create a culture of accountability for results. It’s a process that starts with the CEO. Start viewing work as deliverable, not a physical location, and measure workers’ output and quality. Best Buy’s “results-only” work environment is credited with improving individual productivity by 35 percent even though employees often leave the office at 2 p.m. or earlier if their “work” is done.
Stop Doing That
Warren Buffet once said “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.” The same holds true for your employees. One of the keys to helping your employees be more productive lies in what they don’t do as much as what they do. It sounds simple, but part of improving your organizational productivity involves empowering your employees by not inundating them with mundane tasks.
The idea of “stop-doing” lists is one that has gained traction in many entrepreneurial circles in recent years. Allow your employees to periodically offer ways to streamline their own jobs by eliminating time-consuming or redundant tasks. Set up a box in a common area or break room and encourage employees to submit ideas, consequence-free. You don’t have to approve all of them, but your job as a manager is to put your people in the best position to succeed and produce. Eliminating the redundant reports, e-mails, or meetings from their schedule so they can do more of what matters can be an important step.
Yes, You Can Automate That
Employers can immediately improve organization-wide productivity by adopting one of a number of intelligent automation technologies. These software applications replicate the business processes and behaviors of human workers, effectively growing your workforce without actually adding people. Such innovations are most useful in data entry and maintenance applications where workers tediously enter information into Microsoft Excel or some other system of record. Foxtrot from Orlando-based EnableSoft, for example, is designed to help the end user automate the most routine parts of their own job to save time and build value elsewhere. Users “teach” the software how to perform a job by creating a series of steps called a script. The software then executes each step in the process. Other options for automating tasks include VBA scripts, or macros, which are mostly effective but require some technical knowledge to create and run. Whether it’s automation software or macros, removing the more repetitive parts of employees’ jobs and allowing them to focus on more important tasks is an important and inexpensive way to increase productivity without making any major overhauls to your team or corporate structure.
The key to getting more quality productivity out of your team is to simplify and clarify their jobs so that there are as few distractions and misconceptions as possible. Productivity is not about working harder, it’s about working efficiently. As you look ahead to 2015, consider how to streamline your processes and help employees tie productivity to results and make next year a more productive one.
About Richard Milam
Richard Milam is the Founder and CEO of EnableSoft Incorporated (www.enablesoft.com). EnableSoft, is engaged in offering game changing software products and services to the business and financial services industry, healthcare and a dozen other markets. EnableSoft serves over 500 corporate clients worldwide. Prior to founding EnableSoft in 1995, Richard was a partner and served as Senior Vice President of FiTech PLUSmark, Inc. Richard designed and implemented a business plan to offer bank merger data conversion services which resulted in the successful merger of over 50 financial institutions.