By Derek Dawson

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, employees spend an average of 8.8 hours at work every day. As you know from experience, more hours don’t necessarily translate to greater productivity. In fact, one study suggests that in an eight-hour workday, employees are only productive for two hours and 53 minutes.

It’s always a good idea to create strategies that boost employee productivity. Aside from improving customer satisfaction and company metrics, increased productivity can make the difference in whether your company succeeds or not.

As a boss, what can you do to motivate employees who aren’t as productive as you’d like them to be? Here are five strategies to help you increase employee productivity.

1. Get Rid of Motivation Killers

You need to eliminate common killers of motivation in your place of work. You can accomplish this by carefully observing the work environment for problem areas. Usually, motivation killers are associated with abrasive and toxic personalities, poor communication, lack of organizational vision, autocratic management styles and absence of opportunities for professional development.

To get rid of them, do one or more of the following:

  • Implement policies that discourage toxic behavior in the workplace.
  • Make sure every employee has ample opportunity for professional development and career growth.
  • Show your employees that you value their time. Your employees are likely to feel frustrated if they work in a culture where emails are sent to everyone regardless of their importance, and meetings are called for no real reason.
  • Set a clear vision that helps employees understand the bigger picture.
  • Reward your employees. It can be as simple as saying, “Thank you.” People become apathetic and demotivated when they feel that their efforts aren’t appreciated.
  • Make sure there’s a clear flow of communication. When communication is poor, critical tasks aren’t performed properly, since people spend most of their time second-guessing what exactly it is you want them to do.

2. Clearly Outline Company and Create a Reward System

If employees know what they’re trying to accomplish, they’re more likely to be motivated. In particular, short-term goals are a great way to help employees pace themselves at work. For example, agents who work for a property management company typically measure their performance based on the number of deals closed successfully.

According to the theory of goal setting by Locke and Latham, goals affect individual performance in four ways:

  1. Goals motivate employees to use their existing knowledge to acquire more knowledge.
  2. Goals affect employees’ persistence levels.
  3. Goals energize employees.
  4. Goals direct action and effort away from unproductive activities towards results-oriented ones.

It’s also important to create a reward system. When a goal is accomplished, it should be recognized, and failure in meeting goals should be addressed. To reward your workers and ultimately increase their productivity, you can:

  • Take employees out for a treat once in a while.
  • Organize team building sessions where employees can strengthen their professional relationships with each other.
  • Provide additional paid time off without using up sick or vacation time.
  • Send handwritten notes or personalized emails thanking employees for their feedback and input.

3. Allow Pets at Work

It might sound strange, but studies suggest that taking Fido to work can help boost productivity. Companies with pet-friendly policies include search giant Google and pet food company Purina.

When you have pets in the workplace, you enjoy the following benefits.

  • Improved morale. Employees who work in a pet-friendly environment tend to have less stress, better work-life balance and are generally more productive. Also, they tend to have fewer absences and work longer hours.
  • Reduced expenses. Allowing your employees to bring pets could be a great financial perk for them. They can save money on dog walking services or doggie day care if they can bring Fido into the office instead.
  • Bigger pool of young talent. There‚Äôs a growing trend among millennial employees to bring pets to work. Since millennials are young enough to be energetic, but old enough to be experienced, you’ll want to attract and retain this particular demographic.
  • Better workplace interactions. Generally, a pet-friendly workplace promotes an atmosphere of communication and teamwork. Pet owners love to share tips and tales with each other about caring for their furry friends.

4. Use Gamification for Motivation

Monotonous routines can bore even the most energetic employees. Likewise, employees who are already unmotivated may be further discouraged by tasks that they perceive as challenging. Using gamification techniques can be an effective way to motivate employees. Gamification uses challenges, points, leader boards and ranking rewards, and badges to make tasks exciting. You can purchase gamification software online, some of which can be integrated with enterprise applications like ERP and CRM.

Gamification engages employees through:

  • Prompt communication. Studies suggest that intra-organizational communication and employee engagementcan improve by as much as 13% through the use of gamification platforms.
  • Knowledge updates.With gamification, your employees are 68% more likely to understand facts and discover content to help meet business goals.
  • Social sharing.When your employees share their rewards on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, your company gets a reputation boost.
  • Ease of learning. Most gamification software is bundled with e-learning modules.
  • Clear goals. Gamification can help employees understand their incentives, rewards, work planning, and work targets better.

5. Use Technology Wisely

Technology isn’t just for data analytics, marketing, and customer acquisition and retention anymore. In this day and age, how you utilize technology can make a huge difference in how productive your workplace can be.

To utilize technology efficiently, you should:

  • Do away with manual work processes (e.g. filing papers). Instead, use Internet-connected computers to get things done.
  • Use cloud-based solutions to organize and execute projects from any location.
  • Hold video conference meetings. The nice thing about video conferences is that you can let your employees in on important company matters anywhere and anytime, without putting them through the hassle of commuting to the workplace.
  • Create employee portals and/or team sites online for better communication and efficiency.
  • Train your employees on how to use the new technological changes put into place.

In a highly competitive market, boosting employee morale and retention is everything. If you’re serious about taking your company to new heights, make use of the strategies above. By doing so, your employees will be more motivated and invested in helping your business succeed.