Six ways to improve workplace efficiency

An efficient organization makes good use of all its investments, turning a higher profit with less expense. And when people feel like they’re part of that winning team, they feel empowered to do what needs to be done for the organization’s mission.

Six ways efficiency

On the flip side, inefficiency causes more work for employees. It results in poor performance for individuals, teams — and the organization. When employees see inefficient processes and procedures, it can be a big source of frustration for them. This is especially true when they have no way to address it.

In the workplace survey administered to employees, one of the statements we ask employees to react to is “At this company, we do things efficiently and well.” Execution is one of the 15 key culture drivers measured by the survey.

Only 52% of employees at average organizations responded positively to the execution statement on the survey. But at Top Workplaces, positive responses jump significantly, to 75%, with some able to achieve as much as 91%. Clearly, these organizations are doing something right.

If improving workplace efficiency is a goal of your organization, here are six recommendations:

  • Empower employees to share feedback about the processes they use every day.
  • Make sure employees have a way to call out when they don’t have what they need to work effectively.
  • Encourage departments to collaborate with each other to provide fresh eyes on common processes.
  • Celebrate people who call out inefficiencies and improvement ideas.
  • Facilitate forums and relationships that enable teams to share best practices.
  • Set aside dedicated time and resources for process improvement.

Here’s what great execution sounds like: Our management team encourages us to submit ideas that will lead to better efficiency. Then they actually respond and take action on your ideas.”

Beware of practices that can harm workplace efficiency. Watch out for these four warning signs and consider what to do instead.

  • Leaders who try to solve problems they don’t interact with daily. Generally, the people closest to the problem are closest to the solution.
  • Getting stuck in “tradition.” Listen for phrases such as: “It’s how we’ve always done it,” or “It was like that when we started.”
  • Thinking the most efficient way is always the best way. Remember, you also need quality output, new ideas, and high morale to achieve your goals.
  • Failing to document efficient processes. Clearly communicating what works can help reduce duplicate effort and being open-minded will encourage even more improvement.

Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based research and consulting firm that surveyed more than 2 million employees at more than 7,000 organizations in 2019. Energage is The Washington Post’s research partner for Top Workplaces.

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