BLOG: Keep your worker bees buzzing

Kirsten Hawke

Keeping productivity levels buzzing is proving problematic for a lot of small to medium Kiwi businesses and the nation lags behind other countries for getting lots of stuff done, efficiently.

Several different factors improve productivity including keeping up-to-date with technology, investing in research and development and connecting with other businesses.

BLOG: Keep your worker bees buzzing

Without a doubt, the one thing that has the most positive effect is investing in your staff.

Up-skilling your workforce, ensuring they feel positive about their working environment and the future they have in the company, makes for happy, hard working staff.

Here are a few pointers BUSINESS buddy recommends.

Team spirit
Create a happy inclusive environment, where people work together towards a common goal. Not everyone will get on all of the time, but ensure that negativity is at a minimum. Let staff know that the boss always has their best interests at heart.

An employee will be more productive when they know exactly what they need to do, and have received training in that role. Technology changes and it’s important to keep up-to-date.

For new employees, one-on-one training with a senior staff member can build relationships that inspire respect and confidence.

When an employee is learning something new, it keeps them engaged, stops them from becoming bored.

Encourage everyone to asking questions. Many workers will to do something wrong rather than ask for advice, if they feel insecure or intimidated.

Small incentives can go a long way, quite often they are worth a lot more than the money spent on them. Identifying a communal goal to strive towards builds team spirit, and shows appreciation. Producing the company’s millionth kiwi fruit flavoured chocolate fish is celebrated by a night out to see Goodbye Pork Pie at the movies.

Listen to the suggestions of your employees. This will show them they are part of the team, their opinions are valued, and give them a sense of contributing to the company. The more invested they feel, they more productive they are.

Of course, not all suggestions should be considered. Installing a lap pool on the roof is probably taking things a little too far.

Be respectful
While the company is possibly the be all and end all for the owner, it is important to remember that employees are people too, and have their own stresses outside of work. Be supportive and as understanding as you can.

Keep on top of equipment breakages and technology
Make sure equipment is ship-shape. The most willing employee in the world will have trouble being productive if their computer constantly crashes or the delivery van is constantly being repaired.

The company has had a great month? Celebrate. Jill from accounting has passed her final university paper? Celebrate. Geoff from dispatch has reached his 10th year on the job? Celebrate.

When an employee sees their achievements acknowledged, they know they are appreciated.

Lead by example
If staff see the boss slacking off, they will follow suit. When things get manic, the boss that lines up on the production line to lend a hand earns a lot more respect than the one that stays put in their office.  

Make sure staff in supervisor roles also have a can-do attitude. Dispatch may find it amusing when the production manager leaps into the delivery driver’s seat when the regular driver is out of action, but they will also respect them for it. 

Use the numbers

Productivity measurement tools are only as useful as the team’s willingness to use them correctly and for someone to analyse the reports.

It takes discipline and it is an area many New Zealand businesses fall short on – perhaps because they are too busy running around putting out fires.

Think outside of the workplace

Kiwi employers frequently bemoan the difficulty of finding quality staff with a good work ethic. Numerous secondary schools operate careers academies that give young people hands-on experience in a potential career. Businesses can give back to the next generation by giving senior school students an opportunity to experience real work.

Don’t think the students are those who are causing their teachers grief. Generally, they show some promise for the school to support them with workplace experience. These students could be looking for anything from experience in engineering to accounting or performing arts.

Keeping workers buzzing happily not only increases productivity short-term, it also increases staff retention, which is turn increases productivity long-term.

It is better to keep staff who have bonds of loyalty and respect, than have a constant stream of new employees coming through, all of which will need training, and have no incentive to stick around for long.

Talk to your BUSINESS buddy about how they can help keep your business hive buzzing with happy employees and great productivity levels.

Kirsten Hawke