One of the biggest challenges companies face is stagnant productivity. Staff performance often plateaus when people get comfortable — and bored — in their roles. Even employees who started out bright-eyed and ambitious switch into autopilot if they don’t feel challenged. And as soon as employees become unmotivated, businesses can see productivity drop.

So how can you improve employee productivity? Simply giving employees more work won’t help. If they’re already bored and complacent, an increased workload is unlikely to relight their fire. They might feel overwhelmed and, therefore, even more disengaged. Or they might resent you piling on more of the same when they’re already struggling.

When considering how to improve employee productivity, you need to empathize with your people. Once workers fall into a professional rut, they need to become excited about their jobs again. There are several ways to approach this, including coaching and mentoring employees, as well as providing better logistical support. We’ll cover all of those in just a moment.

Before you can reignite employees’ dedication to their work, you need to consider your own mindset. As frustrating as it is to see workers slack off, remember that you want the same thing — a fulfilling, energized workplace. When you come at the problem from that perspective rather than a punitive one, you stand a better chance of inspiring your staff.

Strategies to Increase Productivity in the Workplace

You need a multipronged approach to the problem of performance stagnation. Use the following tips for increasing employee productivity to boost outcomes in your office:

1. Align assignments with employees’ long-term goals.

If you notice that an employee seems unmotivated or is underperforming, schedule a meeting to discuss where she wants to be professionally five years from now. Perhaps she’s lost her drive because she feels like her current responsibilities don’t align with her long-term career aspirations. Work together to identify which areas most interest her and how she can get more of those types of assignments.

Consider how you can help employees grow as well. Does your organization offer skills training or education incentives? Make sure employees know about any internal programs that will help them reach their goals, and create a road map for how they might progress through the company. Having clarity on where a current role fits on the path to career fulfillment can be a powerful way to improve employee productivity.

This is also critical to staff retention. A 2018 Randstad report found that 69% of employees surveyed want their employers to better leverage their skills. And 57% feel like they’d have to leave their current company if they want to advance professionally. Investing in employees’ development will yield better productivity and retention outcomes.

Read next: EnSight Plus CEO Lee Schwartz Presents: How to Strike the Best Balance Between Employee Autonomy and Accountability

2. Upgrade your in-office tech.

Obsolete technology begets stagnant employees. If outdated tech causes staffers to spend eight hours a day doing mindless data entry tasks, no amount of career planning or skills training is going to energize them.

Talk to your IT team about where you can improve, and look beyond big-name software vendors such as SAP and Oracle. Smaller providers are often more nimble and cost-effective, and they deliver a product that is as high-quality as public companies. They might also provide more personalized, agile support as your team transitions to the new programs.

Employees will appreciate that they can focus on projects that challenge and intrigue them rather than battle old tech programs every day. They’ll likely feel a renewed commitment to their jobs and might even offer new ideas to move the company forward.

3. Promote from within whenever possible.

Productivity suffers when people don’t see opportunities for growth. If you hire externally every time a position opens up, current employees will see no reason to excel. What’s the point if they’re never going to be rewarded for it?

A 2018 survey found that although most employees surveyed are satisfied at work, only 26% are pleased with their companies’ promotion policies. Happy workers quickly turn into complacent ones if they don’t see their efforts paying off in the form of new opportunities.

The next time you need to make a new hire, consider existing team members first. A history of internal promotions inspires loyalty and hard work, and it is all but guaranteed to increase employee productivity.

Learn more: Why Workplace Efficiency Makes Employees Happier and More Engaged

4.  Reassess your bonus structure.

Bonuses can incentivize strong employee performance, but only if they’re structured in a way that benefits all departments — and the company’s overall growth trajectory.

We’ve spoken with several managers who implemented bonus structures based on the amount of revenue collected, but that motivated employees to disproportionately service the largest accounts. Needless to say, smaller clients were dissatisfied, which jeopardized the businesses’ long-term stability and reputations.

Make sure you’re using a bonus structure that rewards good performance at all levels of the company and caters to each department’s priorities.

The good news here is that you can prevent employee stagnation. Talk with your team members about their ambitions, and coach them in the direction they want to go. The more engaged you are in their goals and in their day-to-day work experiences, the more likely they are to stick with the company — and, even more importantly, the more likely they are to tie their happiness and success to that of the organization. That will keep them motivated for years to come.

If you’re searching for a partner that can help you upgrade your business with the latest high-tech solutions, get in touch with EnSight+. Our team would be happy to answer your questions.

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