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Targeting Common Threats to Workplace Productivity

 Posted on: February 25th, 2023

A stressed employee rolls their eyes at their work desk.

Low productivity levels can create problems for companies of all sizes. When productivity decreases, revenue can quickly follow. Compromised productivity levels can quickly lead to a parallel decline in profits, customer satisfaction, and employee morale.

The specific impacts of low productivity will vary based on your industry. However, small business owners can still suffer in big ways from a productivity decline. Factors like poor communication, employee burnout, supply chain complications, and technology issues represent some of the major threats to modern workplace productivity.

Failed Attempts at Multitasking

Multitasking is a required skill for many employees. The ability to multitask is a prized skill, particularly for companies with busy workplaces. However, constantly switching between tasks can also lead to decreased productivity. Employees might find it difficult to fully focus when handling multiple priorities.

It’s important for all employees to find the balance between multitasking and feeling overwhelmed. This balance helps companies maintain productivity and avoid workplace safety concerns.

Here are a few tips on how to find the fine line between multitasking and distraction:

  • Prioritize tasks by importance and urgency;
  • Set deadlines for completing each task;
  • Take breaks to help you stay focused and avoid burnout;
  • Focus on one task for a set period of time, before transitioning to your next task;
  • Delegate tasks to others when you’re too busy to handle all of them;
  • Use time management techniques to stay on track;
  • Turn down non-critical requests to protect your workload;
  • Keep your workspace clean and organize your tasks into designated files;
  • Ask senior-level employees for advice on effective multitasking.

Uncontrolled multitasking can sometimes lead to serious workplace safety concerns. For example, getting distracted while operating heavy machinery can quickly place yourself and others at risk. Finding the balance between multitasking and distraction helps to keep all employees productive and safe.

Stress About Work

Stress can quickly decrease workplace performance. Stressed employees will lose productivity through decreased concentration and increased fatigue. Stress in the workplace can also lead to decreased motivation, further compromising employees’ ability to perform well.

Prolonged stress can also lead to a variety of physical health problems. Some employees might experience headaches or digestive issues as a direct result of increased workplace stress. Risks for heart disease can also increase because of stress.

Mental health can also deteriorate as a result of work-related stress. A stressful work environment can lead to anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges that compromise productivity. These same challenges can also affect employees’ personal lives and overall well-being.

Lack of Recognition

A workplace should also encourage employees to try their best. Without proper workplace motivation, employees might be less likely to invest in their work. By contrast, a workplace that rewards employees will often see elevated productivity levels.

Here are a few ways to promote employee recognition in the workplace:

  • Provide regular feedback: Constructive employee feedback helps all employees recognize their strengths.
  • Offer incentives: Bonuses, promotions, or additional time off can encourage employees toward better performance.
  • Show appreciation for employee contributions: Demonstrate how thankful you are for your employees. Use gestures like thank-you notes, public recognition, or small gifts to show that appreciation.
  • Offer growth opportunities: Provide opportunities for employees to grow within your organization. Employees should understand how productivity affects their ability to succeed.
  • Encourage teamwork: Collaboration gives business leaders the opportunity to praise groups of employees.

Finding proper employee recognition methods in the workplace is important. Companies should find ways to reward one employee without making other employees feel less valuable.

In some cases, the workplace itself is a reward for employees. For example, a workplace might reward employees with break rooms that offer free snacks. Other workplaces might feature ergonomic furniture or non-traditional workplaces that are more comfortable than a traditional office layout.

Toxic Workplace Culture

A toxic workplace culture can quickly threaten employee productivity. Toxic workspaces harm more than employee productivity; they can also compromise employee trust, confidence, and well-being. They lead to situations where bullying and harassment replace accessibility and inclusion.

Unhealthy competition is another common element of a toxic workplace. When individual competition becomes more important than team success, productivity can suffer. Employees might become overly concerned with their output, ignoring company morale. This can quickly leave other employees feeling unappreciated or undervalued.

Employees in a toxic workplace can also experience burnout. Excessive workloads and unrealistic company expectations will quickly lower productivity levels. Without support from company leaders, overworked employees will eventually leave for a more accepting workplace.

Some toxic workplaces eventually lead to discrimination. Employees might feel marginalized based on their gender, race, religion, or other personal characteristics. Discrimination, particularly discrimination between employees, can stop productivity entirely.

Lack of Compensation or Employee Benefits

Employees expect compensation that matches their efforts. Poor pay or benefit packages can be a major deterrent to employee performance. When employees feel they are unfairly compensated for their work, they will be less likely to maintain high productivity levels.

Here are a few characteristics of an acceptable pay and benefits package:

  • Fair, competitive compensation: Employees should feel that their pay is equal to similar jobs in their industry.
  • Generous benefits: An attractive benefits package should include health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. These benefits provide further employee motivation and can help to compensate for lower pay.
  • Opportunities for advancement: Employees are motivated when they see opportunities for advancement at their company. These opportunities should provide even higher compensation, motivating employees toward higher productivity.
  • Recognition and rewards: Employees should feel rewarded for their hard work. Recognition provides motivation to perform well and properly satisfy work responsibilities.
  • Flexibility: Flexible work arrangements like telecommuting or hybrid work can further motivate workers. A flexible workspace can also help lower stress levels and improve productivity.

Acceptable compensation should also provide employees with a healthy work-life balance. This means employees have enough time for both work assignments and their personal priorities. A positive balance of work and life responsibilities can lead to happy, productive employees.

Inaccessible Office Environment

An inaccessible work environment can have a significant negative impact on employees. Employees with disabilities are particularly impacted by workplaces without accessibility. An inaccessible workplace may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This act requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.

Inaccessible work environments can seriously harm employee productivity. Physical barriers like inadequate parking can make it impossible for disabled employees to access the workplace. Without ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps, an office might inadvertently prevent employees from entering the building.

Barriers in technology or communication can also represent ADA violations. For example, outdated software can prevent employees with disabilities from accessing important documents. Similarly, inaccessible websites can prevent employees with disabilities from participating in meetings.

Accessibility barriers play a role in compromising workplace productivity. Employees without the right accessibility cannot perform their jobs effectively. This can lead to work slowdowns, delayed projects, or increased absenteeism.

Little-to-no Project Management

Employees should clearly understand their responsibilities and assignments. Without clear direction, employees might feel less motivated to accomplish their tasks. It is the responsibility of company leaders to provide instruction for all employees. A lack of structure and guidance can quickly become a lack of productivity in the workplace.

Companies can manage projects by organizing them with productivity in mind. This process includes:

  • Clearly defining project goals and objectives;
  • Assigning tasks well before deadlines;
  • Creating and sharing project timelines;
  • Using project management tools to track progress;
  • Holding regular meetings for employee accountability;
  • Fostering communication between project members.

Companies should also provide employees with resources that encourage productivity. These tools might include documents, workflows, and even training on better project management. Clear direction from management helps employees feel more confident and coordinated in the workplace.