How to increase worker efficiency

Complete guide with tips and working methods

increase worker efficiency

Index

Increasing the efficiency of workers or employees is one of the biggest challenges for any business owner or manager.
Employee efficiency refers to an employee's ability to make the best possible use of his or her resources to achieve his or her objectives. Efficiency depends on a number of factors such as motivation, skills, knowledge, experience, etc.

By getting your people to do the right things in the right way you can produce more with the same resources. In other words, working efficiently will inevitably lead to a better business result with lower costs.

Now, if you run a company you know how difficult it can be to achieve high employee efficiency. The truth is that managing a team of people with different views and temperaments is impossible without clashes and miscommunication.

So getting everyone on the same page by getting your staff to work efficiently is no walk in the park.

Efficiency is not the same as effectiveness

When developing strategies to improve an organization, decision-makers often discuss the importance of worker effectiveness and efficiency. Although these terms are often used interchangeably, they do not have the same meaning. Let's look at the difference in how each word is defined.

  • EfficiencyDegree of success of a person in achieving a desired result.
  • EfficiencyThe ability to avoid wasting resources such as money or labor to achieve the desired result.

In the workplace, an efficient worker completes a task quickly and accurately. An efficient worker achieves high-level results.

Effectiveness is the level of results from the actions of employees and management. Effectiveness is usually assessed through annual performance reviews that use key performance indicators to measure individual success.

If an employee does not make sure to work daily to prioritize important tasks, use the best resources and minimize waste, he or she is not efficient, which undermines his or her ability to be effective.

Therefore, it is essential to focus on maximum efficiency in the workplace in order for the organization as a whole to be effective in achieving its operational objectives.

The types of employee effectiveness that organizations are seeking to improve include

  • Labor productivityLabor productivity is measured by the level of production per hour, per week, per month or per year.
  • Operational efficiencyThe efficiency of key business processes, such as the delivery of a product or the conversion of raw materials into a saleable item.
  • Process efficiencyMeasure used to gauge the cost and speed of each workflow process. For example, analysis of product delivery to customers.
  • Financial efficiencyFinancial efficiency coincides with employee effectiveness because it is a measure of costs incurred versus revenues generated. If employees are not efficient in maximizing resources, the company can lose money.

Tips to increase efficiency

1. Balance quantity and quality

Quality efficiency refers to the number of products produced in a schedule. Efficiency measures the quality of the products produced.

Employees and managers who work efficiently will produce better results.. For example, an effective HR recruiter will find more high quality recruits with a lower turnover rate than an ineffective HR recruiter.

Companies should ensure that employees balance quality and quantity. Efficiency is not about doing as many tasks as possible. The aim is to perform as many tasks as possible without losing quality.

Organizations must strike a balance between the two. Proper allocation of resources, use of performance indicators to monitor employee performance and measurement of the quality of results will contribute to increased efficiency and, ultimately, effectiveness.

balance increase efficiency workers

2. Delegate

While this tip may seem the most obvious, it's often the hardest to put into practice. We get it: your company is your baby, so you want to have a direct say in everything that happens in it. While there's nothing wrong with prioritizing quality (after all, it's what makes a company successful), going over every little detail yourself instead of delegating can waste everyone's valuable time.

Instead, assign responsibilities to qualified employees and trust them to perform the tasks well. This gives your employees the opportunity to gain leadership skills and experience that will ultimately benefit your company. You hired them for a reason, now give them the opportunity to prove themselves right.

3. Focus on time-saving strategies

Efficient workers complete their projects in a shorter period of time than inefficient ones. Applying time and project management strategies is essential to achieve an efficient result. Some time management strategies include

  • Use task lists to prioritize projects.
  • Focus on high-value projects rather than lower-value projects
  • Minimize interruptions, chatter or other unnecessary communications
  • Having the resources to perform the tasks
  • Listening to employee feedback to determine where bottlenecks are occurring
  • Use a time tracking device to analyze productivity and hold employees accountable for the time spent
  • Create a policy that promotes and evaluates employee organization.
  • Ensuring that HR regularly measures employee productivity

Companies can also take advantage of new technologies that save time and resources. These include time tracking devices, business intelligence solutions such as dashboards, instant messaging systems or other automated systems and software.

Focus on the most time-consuming tasks and then look for possible software solutions to increase productivity in the workplace.

4. Matching tasks to skills

Knowing the skills and behavioral styles of your employees is essential to maximizing efficiency. For example, an outgoing, creative, out-of-the-box thinker is probably a great person to present ideas to customers. However, he or she may struggle if given a more rule-intensive, detail-oriented task.

Asking your employees to be excellent at everything is not efficient. Instead, before assigning a task to an employee, ask yourself: is this person best suited to perform this task? If not, find someone else whose skills and styles match your needs.

skills efficiency workers
employee efficiency review

5. Use good hiring practices and conduct performance reviews.

Be sure to measure employee productivity on a regular basis to maintain an efficient and effective workforce. Companies should conduct semi-annual or annual performance reviews that measure efficiency and effectiveness using specific key performance indicators. These indicators should be discussed with the employee on the first day of work.

Effective hiring practices are also critical to maintaining a quality workforce. The HR department must have parameters that compel it to seek out the best candidates with a high level of track record in other positions.

Contact references, use hiring tests and conduct background checks to weed out candidates who may later prove to be a waste of the company's time and resources.

6. Communicate effectively

Every manager knows that communication is the key to a productive workforce. Technology has enabled us to get in touch with each other at the touch of a button (or should we say, touch screen). Naturally, this means that today's communication methods are as efficient as possible, right? Not necessarily. A McKinsey study revealed that emails can take up nearly 28% of an employee's time. In fact, email was revealed to be the second most time-consuming activity for workers (after their specific tasks).

Instead of relying solely on email, try social networking tools (like Slack or Teams) designed for even faster team communication. You can also encourage your employees to adopt a more old-fashioned form of contact from time to time...voice-to-voice communication. Having a quick meeting or phone call can resolve an issue that might have taken hours of emails back and forth.

  • Block out time for e-mail only. Instruct your employees to select a time slot each day when they will deal with e-mail, and stick to it: conduct all e-mail communications during the hour after lunch or the hour before they leave work.
  • Emails should be brief and to the point. Instruct your employees to be polite, as well as precise with their questions and direct with their answers when writing an email.
  • Refrain from sending emails to your employees in the middle of the night. These late-night emails can stress your employees, increase their anxiety levels and decrease their chances of performing well at work tomorrow morning.
efficient employee communication

7. Optimize meetings

Employees spend nearly 87 hours a month in various meetings, wasting $37 billion a year as many meetings turn into unproductive discussions.

  • Send an email instead. E-mail is a faster and more accurate means of communication, so instead of holding countless meetings, send a group e-mail during the blocked hour dedicated to e-mails.
  • Reduce the number of meetings per day/week/month. Hold only essential meetings.
  • Reduce the number of meeting platforms. Some employees may be vital to your meetings, but others who are not should not be required to always attend. Instead, the most productive solution is for them to continue with their usual line of work.
  • Reduce the time spent at each meeting. 15-20 minutes per meeting is sufficient to cover the most important points.

8. Proporcionar una mejor formación a los empleados

If there is a workforce full of ineffective employees, the problem starts at the top. Lack of training materials, lack of available resources and information, and poor communication skills will lead to an inefficient and ineffective workforce.

Increase employee productivity by collaborating with HR to ensure that all policies, procedures and training documents are up-to-date and available for instant access.

The use of a knowledge management business intelligence solution is also essential to inform and train workers. Provide an easily accessible system where users can answer their questions and find information to share with others.

This will improve communication between employees and hold workers accountable for their mistakes. Make sure there is adequate training for any new business intelligence solution to avoid incidents or communication errors later on.

Training and development helps to improve employees' knowledge and, by extension, their job performance.

  • Use specialized software. Learning management programs, such as Lynda or TalentLMS, offer a number of useful courses that help employees expand their old skills and learn new ones. They also offer analytics and statistics, so you can track your employees' progress.
  • Offer hands-on training. This type of training allows employees to test the effectiveness of certain training tasks, giving them the opportunity to try them out as they learn them.
  • Allow employees to learn at their own pace. Rushing through complicated topics will not allow new knowledge to take hold, nor will it allow employees to test their new skills. It is better to allow employees time to process their training or learn at their own pace.

9. Mantenga los objetivos claros y centrados

Employees cannot be expected to be efficient if they do not have a concrete goal to aim for. If a goal is not clearly defined and truly achievable, employees will be less productive. Therefore, make employees' tasks as clear and concrete as possible. Let them know exactly what you expect from them and tell them specifically what impact this assignment will have.

One way to do this is to make sure your objectives are "SMART" - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Before assigning a task to an employee, ask yourself if it fits each of these requirements. If not, ask yourself how the task can be adjusted to help your workers stay focused and efficient.

objectives to increase worker efficiency

10. Recorte el exceso

If possible, try not to give employees small, unnecessary tasks when they are focused on a larger goal. Take a look at the team's routine and see if there is anything you can cut out to give employees more time to focus on higher priority tasks.

For example, if employees are asked to write daily reports for their supervisors, but the supervisors often don't have time to read them, consider cutting back on the word count requirement. Doing something simply as a formality is wasting valuable time that could be used to meet objectives that actually help your company.

11. Dar feedback a los demás

There is no hope of increasing employee efficiency if they don't know they are being inefficient in the first place. That's why performance reviews are essential: measure your employees' performance, then hold one-on-one meetings to let them know where they are excelling and what areas they need to work on.

Increasing employee efficiency is not just about what they can do better: part of the responsibility also lies with you. But, like your employees, you're not a fortune teller. So after reviewing your employees, ask them what you could do to help them improve. Maybe they'd like a little more guidance on certain tasks, or would prefer a little more room for creative freedom. Asking for feedback not only gives you clear and immediate ways to help your employees improve, but it also fosters a culture of open dialogue that will allow for continuous development over time.

Index

Work methods and techniques to increase efficiency

1. Ley de Pareto

The first essential tool for getting to the point quickly and easily is Pareto's Law. Or, if you're not familiar with the Pareto principle, you may have heard of the 80/20 law.

The rule is simple: approximately 80% of the effects are the product of 20% of the causes. For example, 80% of a company's turnover comes from 20% of its customers, or 80% of the results we achieve come from 20% of our work (only).

Born from the empirical observations of economist Vilfredo Pareto and quality expert Joseph Moses Juran, who disseminated this notion in 1954, the Pareto principle (or law) is an analysis tool that recommends separating elements into two parts: vital problems and others considered more secondary.

Pareto law

In terms of management or strategic thinking, this tool can really help you analyze a situation and, of course, improve your professional effectiveness.

In the context of a business strategy, for example, Pareto's Law can be used as a relevant tool to guide the actions that will be most effective. Or, when setting up a company, it can help you to draw up your business plan by getting down to the nitty-gritty.

Here are some very different situations in which Pareto's law can be applied:

  • StrategyThe main tasks are: defining a new product range, sales targets, developing a strategic vision, choosing the most important tasks, etc.
  • ManagementThe company's strengths, etc., are also taken into account in the development of its inventory (to avoid shortages).
  • Human Resourcesteam management, competency management, development, etc.
  • OrganisationPrioritization of the tasks to be carried out, search for the causes of a problem, search for solutions, etc.

To do this correctly, it is necessary to identify the problem to be analyzed, gather all the useful data on the subject, classify them into different categories and take stock of the urgency or importance of the tasks to be performed.

The graphical representation of the results obtained, presented in the form of a Pareto diagram, allows the manager to separate the most time-consuming tasks from the least time-consuming ones. As a result, he can decide to modify his schedule, delegate tasks to his colleagues or organize his day differently (why not start the day by tackling the 20% of essential tasks that produce the 80% of his results)?

Pareto's Law is a powerful and easy-to-use analysis tool that helps you prioritize tasks. Thus, your ability to get to the heart of the matter will allow you to gain in efficiency and professional effectiveness.

2. La rueda Deming

One method of quality management, the famous "Deming wheel," popularized by William Edwards Deming, is also known as the Shewhart cycle.

It is a mnemonic that allows to easily identify the 4 steps to follow in succession for a better planning and organization of the work.

It is also called PDCA method:

  • Plan = planning (or preparing the work to be done); this part is carried out in three stages: identifying the problem to be solved, looking for the causes (e.g. with the help of a Pareto diagram) and, finally, finding solutions on the basis of specifications and a work schedule.
  • Do = to do; it is the development phase (often after a testing phase), the implementation.
  • Check = verify, check; analyze the results and ensure the effectiveness of the implemented solution or become aware of the difficulties to be understood.
  • Act (or Adjust to avoid confusion with the Do stage) = move to action; validate the change studied and implement it or start the cycle again at the first stage to redefine the process if necessary.

The concept of the wheel is that the loop is closed. Thus, you go back to the first step until you reach the final goal. To avoid stagnation or regression, a new planning is started and the wheel moves forward a quarter turn with each new cycle. If there is a chock under the wheel, it is to prevent it from going down again (to prevent it from going backwards, thanks to regular audits, for example) and to accumulate the experience gained.

Today, some specialists are changing the concept to OPDCA: adding an "O" for "Observe" at the beginning of the cycle, because it is necessary to observe well before establishing any action plan.

3. El método Smart

The method SMART is essential to improve work efficiency: it consists of formulating objectives as clearly and simply as possible so that they have the best possible chance of being achieved.

These should be SMART, an acronym that takes the first letter of the following words: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. SMART stands for "smart" and is presented as follows: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. 

smart method

Specifically, SMART means that the objectives should be:

  •     Specific (or simple): for example, to develop sales of a product range in a new segment. Specificity ensures that objectives are positive, clear and easy to understand. If an objective is too complex, break it down into several.
  •     MeasurableIncrease sales by 30%. Based on predefined quantitative or qualitative indicators, the objectives must be clearly measurable.
  •     Reachable (or ambitious): for example, +15% in year 1, +12% in year 2 and +10% in year 3. The objectives must be set in stages and be shared by those who will have to achieve them; this is the basis of management (listening, convincing and signing a pact of objectives with colleagues).
  •     RealisticFor example, by reinforcing commercial action in the field through operational marketing and promotional offers. An objective is realistic if it is given the means to achieve its ambitions, in the sense of Relevant.
  •     Temporary (or time-bound): for example, three years, with objectives set at intermediate dates. Setting a time-bound objective means giving yourself a deadline for the final goal. Without a time limit, teams will be unable to measure and value their effort, which could lead to demotivation.

In companies, too many objectives are unclear: either they are not linked to performance indicators that allow them to be monitored, or they are not realistic or even achievable, or the budget that would allow them to be achieved is not controlled. Applying the SMART method avoids demotivating employees and reinforces their sense of control.

4. La técnica Pomodoro

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, the Pomodoro technique is a time management solution. It consists of dividing the workday into timed work periods. In homage to the kitchen timer that its founder used to perfect his method, its name means "tomato" in Italian.

How do you plan your time? This technique is simple to apply and very effective in terms of productivity.

pomodoro

Its basic structure is as follows:

  •     Choose a task to perform.
  •     Set the Pomodoro timer (or phone alarm).
  •     Work for 25 minutes in a Pomodoro.
  •     When the timer sounds, indicate that you have completed this work interval.
  •     After each session, take a short break (5 minutes).
  •     After the fourth session, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
  •     Reset the timer and repeat the process.

At first you will get used to working in 25-minute intervals and develop your ability to concentrate. By increasing these intervals over time, you will end up cycling for 60 to 90 minutes. But don't forget to take breaks, and don't stand still for too long, move from time to time!

In an age where offices are often organized in open spaces, the Pomodoro technique can help you improve your workspace and really motivate your teams by helping them stay focused. You can even imagine group Pomodoros to collectively improve your time management!

Although the Pomodoro technique is not for everyone, it is a valuable tool for effectively achieving small goals. In practical terms, in your work, try allocating 25-minute blocks to the most important tasks first thing in the morning to make sure you manage your priorities well. Or, set up one Pomodoro session a week and block it in your schedule.

There are also applications that allow you to track reports, indicators and dashboards, or limit the use of social networks or block phone calls, for example. If you focus on managing your time, you will maximize your effectiveness at work.

5. Método GTD

The GTD method is one of the most popular work organization techniques: if you feel overwhelmed, paralyzed by all the tasks you have to do and don't know where to start, clear your mind. Download your thoughts, projects or ideas and organize them. This way you will be able to process them more efficiently and it will help you move forward.

GTD stands for "Getting Things Done". Invented by David Allen, this method saves time on a daily basis by allowing you to better capture your work, organize it and determine what needs your attention. This time management aims to increase your productivity by improving your workflow.

GTD method

This method works as follows:

    Step 1The Inbox; it captures all the things that need to be done and takes the pressure off your mind.

    Step 2Is it "actionable" (do you know what actions to take to do it) or not? If so, is it actionable immediately or in stages?

A task that is not feasible should be discarded if it is not relevant or set aside in the hope of returning to it later when the idea has matured.

An actionable task must be processed:

  •     Immediately, if it takes less than 2 minutes.
  •     Delegate, if you are not the right person to do it.
  •     Or include it in your "to do" list according to a defined schedule.

By following this path, you will be able to effectively take care of all the things you need to do.

To get the most out of the GTD method, here are 5 pillars to keep in mind:

    CollectMove what's on your mind to your inbox to download it. This relieves stress and confusion.

    Process: making things "actionable" in order to work efficiently.

    Organizeorchestrate the sequence of events by category and priority and establish a plan of action.

    ReviewFollow-up is essential to monitor the progress of tasks and adjust the organization if necessary.

    ActNow is the time to get down to work and tackle each task one by one and move forward.

To optimize your work efficiency, do not hesitate to rely on a method that has proven its effectiveness, without profoundly modifying your daily operations.

6. Agrupación por lotes (Batching)

Batching is the art of grouping similar tasks together to increase productivity. Unlike multitasking, which consists of performing several tasks at once, batching allows you to gain efficiency.

For example, instead of shipping your customers' orders as they arrive, you group them together and ship them all at the same time.

Another example: you give yourself one hour a day (and only one) to respond to comments left by Internet users on your social networks instead of reacting as soon as a new message appears. The same goes for emails.

Since batching is extraordinarily effective in saving time and being more productive, you should be able to organize yourself more easily and serenely. This has three advantages:

  •     Planningby better managing your daily work schedule, you are more efficient and less stressed.
  •     Time savingsGrouping activities together reduces the time required to start a task.
  •     Free your mindThe division into batches reduces your mental workload.

Batch setting requires you to be fully focused on a given activity. You can take breaks, but avoid distractions as much as possible. Depending on the tasks to be performed, "batches" can be carried out once a day, once a week or once a month. It is up to you to decide the nature of the tasks, their urgency and their importance. For greater work efficiency, it is advisable to draw up the next day's schedule every night (or the next week's schedule every week).

Digital tools

Ideal tool to manage your projects and distribute them to your team visually. At a glance, you can see which tasks are in progress, which are urgent and which are completed, according to deadlines. Planning your and your team's time is essential for the success of your projects: by helping you to delegate, much more than a list of tasks, monday.com will allow you to be more efficient at work.

monday preview
todoist

Todoist is "the best to-do list out there" (according to The Verge https://www.theverge.com) for efficiently planning and organizing work by getting employees to collaborate on projects of all sizes.

On a day-to-day basis, this application gives you a strategic overview of everything you have to do. The free version is already very useful: quick creation of to-do lists and a navigation bar with direct access to today's tasks and those of the next 7 days. With a clean design, Todoist is the ideal tool for managing the tasks you have to do.

Trello, a collaboration tool designed to organize tasks, has established itself as one of the leading project management tools. As a web application, Trello is feature-rich and the free version of the tool is convenient and powerful. Used by a large number of companies, it is ideal for managing your tasks and planning your time. Your goal is to check off tasks and reduce your to-do list.

trello
google keep

It is Google's tool par excellence: free and very simple to use, Google Keep is easy to use on a computer, a cell phone or a tablet, and synchronizes quickly and efficiently on all your devices. This note-taking application offers a post-it note interface that allows you to organize your personal tasks intuitively and thus gain in productivity.

Formerly known as Wunderlist, Microsoft To Do is the new completely free tool that helps you focus on your personal and professional activities.

Create your own tasks or import them from Outlook with seamless synchronization. You can then customize your lists, share them and assign tasks to your colleagues. Don't forget to use smart, personalized suggestions such as color coding or deadline reminders.

With its clean and efficient interface, Any.do is a web-based tool for managing tasks and smart to-do lists.

Since managing your work schedule is essential, Any.do allows you to easily organize all your to-do lists. Get your team to collaborate by adding notes or even PDF files, videos, audio recordings, photos, etc. With Any.do, productivity becomes an addiction.

EasyNote is a free 100% task management software. It is also a project management tool thanks to collaborative work and a file storage capacity of up to 1 GB. Easynote is easy to use and requires no special technical knowledge.

In short, it's not easy to control your work time. But, as you can see, there are solutions to help you keep pace, be more efficient and always be more productive. Whatever the method, choose the one you find most effective in reducing stress and improving the quality of your work. Knowing how to manage your time, planning and organizing your day in the best possible way are the keys to your professional fulfillment.

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