At small businesses, there is always a lot to do, so it’s not hard to stay busy. But are your employees staying productive? You invest a lot in your employees, so you want to ensure they are investing a lot in you as well. So how you are you measuring the return on that investment? Below are some tips to measure the productivity of your small business employees and ways to ensure they meet their potential.
- Map out goals. While you may have a clear understanding of your business’ short- and long-term goals, they may not be clear to your employees. Communicate these goals clearly to your employees and then work with them to create individual performance goals that tie directly to the business’ goals. Employees who see how their work contributes to company goals are more engaged and, therefore, more productive than those who don’t see that connection, research shows.
- Measure tasks completed, not hours logged. Sure, employees are logging 40-50 hours a week, but are they being productive? As CareerBuilder research has shown, time spent at the office isn’t necessarily time spent working (meanwhile, nearly half of employees do work outside of normal office hours). While it’s tempting to want to track employees’ activity online and when, how often and how long they take breaks, this may not be the best measure of productivity. Not all employees work the same way. While some workers like to work on multiple projects at once or take frequent, short breaks, others prefer to work in longer blocks and knock projects out one at a time. Others may find they work best during off hours or remotely. If you’re only tracking hours logged, you may be missing more important metrics, such as deadlines met, projects completed, or results achieved.Divide work into projects with deadlines according to how long the task should take. Ask employees for their input on how long certain tasks may take and why, and have them log their time spent on projects. Asking employees to log hours will likely be met with some resistance – after all, it may feel as if you do not trust them or are simply adding one more step to their to-do list. Explain to them that logging hours on projects will enable you to get a better understanding of how long it takes to complete certain projects and help you set deadlines moving forward. It will also ensure you are not overloading them with too much work.
- Check in often. Ask for daily or weekly status updates to keep tabs on what projects employees are working on, how much progress they are making and if they are running into any challenges. These can be in the form of group emails or in-person, “team huddles.” Share this information with the whole team. While no one wants to add another meeting to their agenda or another item to their to do lists, these status updates not only keep your staff accountable to one another, they will give everyone on the team a better understanding of who’s working on what and where there might be opportunities to collaborate.
- Take advantage of free software. While employees can use spreadsheets to track productivity, there are plenty of free or low-cost software options to quickly track and manage productivity. Some to try include iDoneThis, a program that sends email reminders for employees to list their daily accomplishments, which are then compiled a daily digest of the whole team’s accomplishments. With 15Five, employees take 15 minutes each week to answer questions regarding their work, which managers then review and provide feedback on. With programs like Basecamp, Trello and Asana, employees can add their tasks for the day/week/month, check them off as they’re completed and share them with others.