Friday, October 31, 2014

7 Ways to Increase Employee Productivity

Employees in America are less invested in their work than ever before. A staggering 70% of workers are disengaged. 70%!! It's amazing that we get anything done!

This problem is costing employers upwards of $550 billion dollars a year in lost productivity, because disengaged employees perform their jobs 20% worse than their engaged and productive counterparts. These numbers make the idea of increasing productivity seem pretty hopeless. However, employees are easier to please than one might think. All it really takes are a few inexpensive moves to improve company culture and the workplace environment, and employees will be happier and more productive in no time. Below, we have outlined 7 easy ways in which you can improve employee engagement, and therefore productivity, starting as soon as tomorrow.

1) Give more praise than criticism. Constructive criticism may be warranted at times, but if this is all an employee is getting from his or her boss, it can leave one feeling drained and unappreciated for the positive work they do. Make it a point to personally offer praise or encouragement to employees who perform well, and be specific about what they have done right.

2) Celebrate! This one goes along with number 1. Whether it's an employee birthday, work milestone, or project success, little acknowledgements help employees to feel as if they matter to their employer. It doesn't have to be anything costly or grandiose. Simply sending out a company-wide monthly newsletter via email or hard copy is enough to make an employee feel celebrated. Hey, we all love to see our name in print! If you want to go above and beyond a newsletter, there are many fun ways to do so (certificates, awards, monthly birthday celebrations with cake, etc).

Don't forget to acknowledge holidays as well. Having the office decorated for New Year's or the 4th of July can raise levels of excitement (and possibly even urgency to get work completed) as employees begin looking forward to the approaching holiday.

3) Create an environment that feels good to be in. It can be extremely depressing and uninspiring to work in a place with no windows and bland walls. While you may not be able to control whether or not your office has windows, you can make it into a place conducive to encouraging creativity and positive feelings. Potted plants, photos from the last company picnic posted on a bulletin board, and colorful decor can all contribute to employee happiness.

4) Provide healthy lifestyle incentives. Being invested in the health and wellness of your company means also being invested in the health and wellness of your employee. Physical activity and healthy eating are major contributors to stress reduction. Whether providing reimbursement for gym memberships, or simply organizing company-wide outdoor activities and health challenges, promoting health and wellness is always a good way to make employees happy. Vacations are also another aspect of the health and wellness picture, which leads us to our next point...

5)  Encourage the use of vacation days. Most full-time and salaried jobs come with some sort of vacation policy. However, many workers feel pressure to not use all of these days. According to a 2014 study conducted by OfficeTeam, 30% of workers were afraid of falling behind in their work if they took time off. 3% of workers felt as though their boss would frown upon it. Taking a vacation is a major contributor to stress reduction, along with healthy living. Taking vacations and maintaining a positive work/life balance is a little-credited aspect of achieving a happy and healthy lifestyle. In fact, for each additional 10 hours of vacation time an employee takes, their year-end performance ratings went up by 8%. Additionally, these employees were less likely to leave the company and more likely to be engaged.

6) Provide exciting benefits, above and beyond the ho-hum basics. Unique benefits packages will make your company stand out to potential and existing employees. Having exciting options also speaks volumes of a company's culture. Everyone wants to work somewhere like Google, where fun is encouraged and creativity is cultivated; a play while you work mentality. But not every company can provide pool tables and arcade games in a large common area. This doesn't mean you can't still make your company a fun and inspiring place to work.

Outski's 401(Play)™ is an excellent option for adding a unique benefit to a new or existing health and wellness program. Additionally, sponsoring a 401(Play)™ program at your company is the best way to communicate to employees that you want them to use their vacation days. This is a win/win. They decompress and unwind, and you get better and more satisfied workers when all is said and done.

7) Engage in volunteer efforts within the local community.  From sponsoring a company team for a charity race, organizing efforts to volunteer at the local food bank, or even having an on-site blood drive... employees will feel good to work at a company that cares about the surrounding community, and will be proud to be engaged and associated with such a workplace.

By applying these methods of improving company culture, you are certain to increase employee happiness and productivity... and then your bottom line. What methods has your company implemented to improve company culture and employee satisfaction, while increasing productivity? Do you have any other ideas besides those mentioned above?


1. Smith, J. (2014, August 14). Here's Why So Many Americans Don't Use Their Vacation Days. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from

2. Chatroop, L. (2013, November 13). Workplace Happiness: The High Cost of Unhappy Employees (INFOGRAPHIC). Retrieved October 30, 2014, from

3. Tam, M. (2013, July 31). A Happy Worker Is a Productive Worker. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from

4. Schwartz, T. (2013, February 9). Relax! You'll Be More Productive. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from

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