Leadership often pushes employees to churn out more work in shorter periods of time; faster employee productivity seems like a cost-efficient way to reduce the bottom line. Constantly raising the bar on your staff has negative consequences as well: You can demotivate employees by striving for impossible heights or increase errors by promoting quantity over quality.
Someone once said that you can only type so fast; the same premise applies to any area of production. Some people are faster than others, but at some point, the human body can only do so much. So, how do you increase employee productivity without burning through your staff? One answer is to use technology.
Encourage Keyboard Short Cuts
Almost any software has a series of macros or hotkeys that make work faster. Microsoft Word has dozens of keyboard commands that reduce dependence on a mouse. It may seem like a small thing, but every move of the mouse can take an extra second or two. Staff who work in a data-entry environment may complete the same task hundreds of times every day. One second saved on a task that is repeated 200 times in an average work day saves between 13 and 15 hours of work a year per employee. Identify common tasks and related short cuts, and then teach them to your staff. If you have proprietary software, ask about the possibility of creating customized shortcuts.
Never let your staff do work that can be automated. You don’t need sophisticated software to boost employee productivity through automation; you can build your own templates to boost efficiency on numerous tasks. Anytime your staff must answer questions, write documents, or fill out forms that are repetitive in nature, design a common-use form; reinventing the wheel every day takes time and opens the door for misunderstandings and errors.
Use macros in Excel and Word, and ask about the option for built-in macros for in-house systems. Use macros to boost employee efficiency on simple tasks like data entry. Medical data entry often involves long medication or procedure names. Identify the most-used words and create keyboard shortcuts. Instead of keying ten or more letters, employees can strike three keys. You can also build macros to handle more complex tasks like mail merges for shipping or daily reporting. Employees should never pull manual numbers when the option for programming automatic reports exists.
“Working smarter and not harder” may sound like a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Look for ways to increase employee efficiency using tools and software you already have. Often, throughput is boosted by a bit of creativity and education and not by large expenditures.
As business owners, we are good at outsourcing to our employees, because we simply do not have the time to do everything. However, what about some of the menial tasks that you can outsource to another company that can free up your employees to be more productive. Bookkeeping is one great example of a task that can easily be outsourced to a professional and can free up your employees to help you to build your business. One more example is hiring a 24-hour answering service (like PCNAnswers) to answer some or all of your calls. Imagine if your staff was not bogged down with time-consuming phone calls and were actually able to spend more time on the tasks that you have assigned them.