While there have been some outlier stories of success in some industries, according to United States Census Bureau, more than 66% of businesses report that the pandemic has had either a moderate negative effect or a large negative effect on their business.
If your business falls within this camp — or if you’re just eager to boost your growth in 2022 — you’re probably looking forward to the end of the pandemic as a way of kicking up your production and revenue.
A lot has changed over the nearly two years that saw the pandemic rock our world. This means ramping up productivity is likely going to require some different strategies than you’re used to. Here are some practical ways to improve your team’s productivity as we move into the waning days of the pandemic and beyond.
Reduce Stress with Cleaning and Safety Best Practices
In a study by the employee well-being experts at Limeade, the number-one source of anxiety about returning to the workplace (revealed by 77 percent of respondents) was being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. And no matter how much work needs to get done, it’s likely that this anxiety will have a negative impact on productivity. As Francesca Gino explains in the Harvard Business Review, “When the level of stress becomes too high, performance decreases.”
With COVID-19 variants and lagging vaccination rates in some areas, you can expect your employees to remain anxious even as we emerge from the pandemic. One way to reduce stress is to show your employees that you take health and safety seriously. Maintain your advanced cleaning and safety protocols and consider investing in additional ones to make your employees feel comfortable.
According to a survey by the office cleaning experts at SERVPRO, businesses all over the country have been implementing more rigorous cleaning and sanitization practices since the start of the pandemic. Here are some of the most popular protocols:
- 92 percent place limits on group meetings
- 63 percent ensure that the office is cleaned several times a day
- 51 percent provide extra hand sanitizer or hand sanitizing stations in the office
- 35 percent take employees’ temperatures every morning
- 34 percent use a CDC-approved cleaning company as well as a janitorial service
“Employers who recognize and prioritize psychological safety alongside physical safety in their post-pandemic operations can help employees’ mental health and their own efforts to cultivate inclusive workspaces,” a McKinsey article reports. “The support can have concrete effects on critical workplace outcomes, including employee well-being, satisfaction, productivity, and absenteeism.”
Consider adopting these safety protocols above to help improve your team members’ well-being and make it easier for them to focus on work instead of worrying about getting sick.
Retool Your Culture for the Digital Workplace
No longer willing to work in low-paying, high-stress, or unfulfilling positions, people around the world continue to quit their jobs in the wake of the pandemic, a movement known as the Great Resignation.
Reworking your culture for the new post-pandemic environment — especially if your business, like many others, has gone hybrid — is an essential way to retain your top talent and increase their morale. This spells less turnover, higher engagement, and lower burnout for your organization, which means higher productivity overall.
Here are some tips for retooling your culture from the communications experts at 4PSA:
- Redesign your meetings to make them smaller and more productive
- Set meeting-free times throughout the week so employees can get more done
- Create a high-empowerment environment which enables managers to act on their good ideas more quickly and easily
- Encourage lunch breaks to boost higher job satisfaction, morale, and general productivity
- Celebrate your associates to boost mental health and team morale
Rethink Your Project Management Style
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s the power we have to adapt and innovate. As your team returns to the office on even a part-time basis, consider changing up your processes, even if they’ve been in place seemingly forever.
For instance, consider starting each day with 15-minute scrum meetings to review the priorities for the day. This is a time for employees to ask questions and gain clarity on their most important tasks. By focusing on production one day at a time, teams can understand priorities and make sure they’re on the same page for what is expected of them. This is especially important if some or all of your team members are remote.
Invest in the Right Technology
With the majority of businesses adopting a hybrid work model, digital tools have become essential for staying in touch and facilitating collaboration. If you haven’t yet, upgrade or streamline your project management software and internal communications tools to help your production teams get work done more quickly.
Moreover, consider adopting intranet software as a way of boosting connection and keeping your company culture alive despite the new digital environment. For instance, ThoughtFarmer’s intranet software makes it easy to acknowledge employees for their contributions with shout-outs and to tell companies stories using video to build emotional connections.
According to a report by Workfront, 49 percent of workers said they were likely to leave their current job if they were frustrated with their workplace technology. This means ignoring technology needs could cost your business valuable talent. Conversely, when your team feels connected and engaged and they have the tools they need to complete projects smoothly, you can expect productivity to soar.
Develop a Remote Work Policy That Benefits Everyone
According to a study by Quantum Workplace, 68 percent of workers want a hybrid work environment where working from home is an option part of the time. While many businesses are embracing remote work, not everyone is aligned on exactly what it should look like. Some employees want to be fully remote, some employers want a fully in-house staff, and most people want something in between.
Take some time to learn your team’s needs and expectations and balance these with what’s best for your company as a whole. If collaboration is essential to your business, your policy may require employees to show up in the office as much as three or four days a week. Or, if you’re looking to attract top talent that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to, consider opening up your business to 100% remote workers from out of state or even out of the country.
Perhaps you may want to allow flexible hours so associates don’t have to stick to the traditional 9 to 5 schedule, allowing them to work at times of the day that are more optimum (or in other words, productive) for them. If you’re 100% remote, consider holding quarterly in-person team-building events to rev up morale and engagement.
The sooner you finalize your remote work policy, the sooner your team can adjust to the new schedule and get into the groove. And the sooner your business can start attracting employees who are the perfect fit for your workplace.
Focus on the Needs of Your Employees
While it’s important to look at revenue and growth year-over-year, keep in mind that, just like many other parts of our lives, the way we work has likely been permanently impacted by the pandemic. Focus on your employees and meeting their new needs, and an increase in their morale and productivity will surely follow.
About the author:
Jesse Relkin is the founder and CEO of C-POP Content Marketing. She has been a freelance writer for more than a decade.
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