It may come as a shock to you, but financial incentives are no longer the leading method of increasing employee productivity in the office. Fairly paid employees are, of course, more likely to put extra effort into achieving their goals, yet recent research shows that workplace productivity stems from something incredibly simple.
Researchers at the University of Warwick found that happy employees are around 12 percent more productive than others. Google has put these findings to the test by doubling down on employee satisfaction and investing heavily in employee support. Their efforts paid off as employee satisfaction rose by 37%, giving the tech giant a significant boost in productivity.
The benefits of keeping employees satisfied are clear-cut: happy employees are more efficient, are more collaborative, and generate more profit for the company.
So what steps can you take to increase employee productivity beyond financial compensation?
Offer Irresistible Workplace Perks
Successful employers recognize the importance of showing appreciation for their employees and offer unique benefits that keep their staff engaged and motivated. We’ve all heard of examples like Google that offer employee perks like sleep pods and celebrity guest presentations. These may not be in the realm of possibility for your brand, so instead focus on benefits that add value to your employees’ daily lives.
This could include anything from adding a monthly gym allowance to employees’ paychecks to providing childcare support, to offering free healthy snacks in the office. You could even introduce an employee recognition program using tools like Perkbox or LifeWorks to ensure every employee’s extra effort on the job is appropriately commended and incentivized. Mentioning the perks your company offers in the hiring process can also help you attract top talent.
Create a Collaborative Atmosphere
It’s common knowledge that employees who bond and look out for each other make for stronger, more productive teams. They are more open to sharing ideas and trusting one another, no matter what obstacles they’re facing as a team.
Shawn Achor, an author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage, has done some remarkable work demonstrating the benefits of building a strong social support network. He found that, “… Social support is the greatest predictor of happiness during periods of high stress.”
But more interestingly, his research has demonstrated that providing social support to co-workers is even more important to sustained happiness than receiving it. Those who proactively go out of their way to help others, pick up the slack, organize team activities, and go out for lunches with their colleagues are 10 times more likely to be engaged at work and are a whopping 40 percent more likely to get a promotion.
Creating a safe and collaborative atmosphere in the office can not only improve employee productivity, but it can also eventually trickle down to your bottom line.
So what are the secrets to creating a ‘second family’ at work? It’s all about balance. You can’t force a culture; it’s either there, or it’s not. But you can foster a friendly vibe by enabling your employees to interact and mingle more. Encourage team lunches and outings, bake-off competitions, charity events, and pub Fridays. After all, the best ideas are always born outside the office.
Focus on Functional Workplace Design
When it comes to workplace design, the solution is obscure. Although many experts advocate for open space offices that allegedly increase employee collaboration, some studies indicate that workers prefer a quiet, distraction-free space when they want to hit maximum productivity.
To encourage organic collaboration among your staff, you might create a lounge area (think foosball tables and bean bags) and a cozy lunch space, but also set up some cubicles, since privacy and focus are essential when it comes to maximizing your team’s productivity.
And if your employees want to work from home because you can’t provide desirable working conditions, get over that sense of panic—people can be productive outside the office and remote work is here to stay. Telecommuting is another fantastic incentive to make your employees work even harder for the privilege.
Implement Professional Training
Investing in your staff’s training, developing their skills, and helping them nurture their talents can increase your business’ profitability and efficiency. But you knew that already, right?
One thing that’s changed in the workplace climate is the balance between professional and personal development. Many successful companies are shifting towards a unique management style that takes into account both an employee’s personal career goals and a company’s long-term targets.
The logic behind this is very simple. A manager that takes a genuine personal interest in her employees’ futures builds a loyal team. Loyal employees are naturally more engaged, and more engaged employees are, of course, more productive. Simple.
If you want your employees to stick around longer and work their hardest for you without having to offer financial incentives, consider adopting a training system that helps them expand their skill sets beyond their current job responsibilities. Ask what they’re interested in learning, and then facilitate training in that area.
Employees who feel professionally engaged at work and who see a possible path upward within the company can be more motivated to get involved in projects outside of their day-to-day responsibilities, and are less likely to look for challenges elsewhere. There’s no better motivator than to show your employees that they can own and self-direct their professional futures based on their personal aspirations.
In recent years, many successful companies have embraced the fact that recruiting and retaining strong talent takes creative thinking. We’ve seen Netflix announce unlimited maternity and paternity leave for the first year. Meanwhile, Airbnb offers $2,000 a year to travel anywhere and Amazon is testing a 30-hour workweek. Time after time, we’ve witnessed that having a happy team pays off. After all, productivity is all about creating more impact with less work.