HRM Five: Simple ways to enhance employee productivity

Productive ways to produce productivity.

Amid the recent excitement in America and other parts of the world over the “Eclipse of the Century”, outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas put out a press release announcing that US$694 million would be lost due to productivity disruptions as workers step out to witness the event.

HRM Asia has already talked about why putting a number on productivity may not be the most, er, productive approach, but here are some constructive ways that are more likely to get your employees on board:

  1. Acknowledge successes & celebrate even small victories
    Most people thrive on encouragement and positive feedback. Yet it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of office life, and forget to recognise employees know when they’ve done a good job. But whether it’s for consistently replying to emails quickly or closing out a tricky client, saying “good job” or dipping into the office welfare fund to buy snacks for everyone can go a long way towards motivating employees.
  2. Help them upskill
    Life is a never-ending learning curve.  By investing in forward-thinking training and development, you can help your employees stay ahead of the game in terms of their skills and knowledge. When people feel they’re adequately prepared to meet challenges, they are confident—and less likely to struggle or shirk out of work.
  3. Give them the tools they need
    Just as human beings vary in personality and disposition, they also have different needs in terms of optimum working conditions. For example, open office spaces are great for the extroverts they’re designed for—for introverts, however, they just mean having more noise and distractions to filter out.

    Setting up a few private work areas or standing desks, or implementing flexible/remote work schemes, lets employees know that you want them to have whatever resources they need to do their best work.
  4. Be transparent & forthcoming
    No one likes to be left in the dark. Talking to your employees about your plans for their career, and for the business, will help foster an environment of honest communication that will be conducive to productive working.  Regular personal check-ins or town hall meetings may require some logistical gymnastics, but if you can make them feel that any personal investment they have in the company is mutual, they will be more likely to take interest and pride in getting good work done.
  5. Don’t stop them from having fun occasionally 
    Most of the time, it’s not actually the end of the world if your employees spend a few minutes fiddling around Facebook, or take an extra few minutes for lunch. Of course, it’s important that they remain professional and not take advantage, it’s also vital for HR members to remember that employees are people with interests and lives beyond work. Besides, it’s been proven—several times over—that taking breaks, whether it’s five minutes for coffee or going out for Christmas lunch, actually improves productivity.


Yamini Chinnuswamy offers five important points on everything you wanted to know about HR practices today, but were too afraid to ask. Check out previous editions of HRM Five here.

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