15 Actionable Ways To Improve Productivity In A Business
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15 Actionable Ways To Improve Productivity In A Business

Post Author - The Toggl Team The Toggl Team Last Updated:

Once upon a time, business owners and COOs of professional service companies struggled with:

  • Inefficient processes, missed deadlines, and reduced output
  • Stress from constantly managing crises
  • Low team productivity and fear of business failure

Then they met a guide, this article, that taught them how to deal with these issues and improve productivity in their business.

By the end of the article, they learned how to optimize work processes and build more efficient workplaces. 

Want to follow in their footsteps? Let’s get started. 

How to improve business productivity in 6 steps?

Improving business productivity can be a complicated process. It requires auditing your current processes, setting clear goals, and improving outcomes. 

Here are  six essential steps to make your team more productive:

Graph showing the six steps to improve business productivity.

1. Conduct a productivity audit

First,  do some self-assessment across your entire business. Thoroughly audit your current workflows, your employees’ tasks, and the overall output. 

This is necessary to improve productivity, identify inefficiencies, and find areas for improvement. 

Toggl Track can help with your productivity audit in three ways:

  • Tracks time accurately for a project and its tasks so you get a clear picture of where and how your team spends time.
  • Helps you identify bottleneck tasks by comparing the estimated time against the actual hours tracked. 

2. Implement technology solutions

Tools like project management software, time tracking apps, and automation platforms can cut your manual work and boost productivity. 

These tools can also speed up processes and reduce errors, helping teams deliver high-quality work more efficiently. 

A time tracking tool like Toggl Track can improve business productivity as it: 

  • Helps you categorize and manage clients, projects, and tasks to keep your work organized and transparent. 
  • Uses data from past projects to create more accurate estimates for new projects, helping you plan better and allocate resources effectively. 
  • Compares estimated vs actual time spent on tasks to monitor project progress and get insights into productivity. 
  • Integrates with Google and Outlook calendars. Toggl Track records time spent in meetings and other calendar events to ensure accurate time tracking records.
  • Tracks and reports billable and non-billable hours for accurate invoicing. 

3. Invest in employee training and development

Training and developing employee skills like communication abilities or technical skills can improve business productivity and efficiency. 

If you too want to get started with investing in employee training, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Assess skill gaps and identify the areas where your employees could improve or need new skills. Use performance reviews, direct observations, and team leader feedback to conduct a skills audit. Surveys and skill tests can also help you spot employee strengths and weaknesses. 
  • Develop your training plan that addresses these skill gaps. Your plan should have specific goals and timelines. Also, think of the type of training sessions (online, in-person, on-the-job) that would be the most suitable for your team. 

4. Revise work processes

Low productivity can sometimes be the result of poorly managed work processes. 

Revising and optimizing workflows across the entire organization can improve this. This could be changes like rethinking how you allocate resources or eliminating unnecessary tasks to reduce employee burnout and turnover.

Here are two workflow optimization best practices to help you:

  • Automate routine tasks: Are there any repetitive and time-consuming tasks within your workflow? It’s time to automate them using specialized software. For example, let’s say your team has weekly check-up meetings every Monday morning. You can use Zoom to automatically schedule these meetings so nobody misses them. 
  • Standardize processes: Create standardized procedures for repetitive tasks to ensure consistency and reduce training time for new employees. For example, identify common tasks and develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for each of them. SOPs usually include step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow. Create templates or checklists for repetitive tasks like email responses, reports, or proposals to speed things up.

5. Set clear goals and metrics

Clear goals and metrics lay the foundation of productive businesses. 

Goals are specific objectives that a business or project aims to achieve. Metrics are measurable values used to track progress toward these goals. 

Some tips for you to establish clear, measurable goals are:

  • Set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 
  • Use key performance indicators to identify key metrics that are indicators of success. These could include sales targets or customer satisfaction ratings. 
  • Schedule regular check-ins and review sessions to track progress against goals. 
  • Use visual tracking tools like Toggl Plan to track your metrics regularly with detailed reports. 
  • Ensure that the goals you set for team members and teams align with the overall strategic goals of your business. 

6. Foster a culture of communication

When your team communicates effectively, it shows in their performance and productivity. 

Here’s how efficient communication might look like in a team:

  • Members feel safe and encouraged to express their thoughts and ideas openly without fear of judgment. 
  • They hold regular feedback sessions where they express their concerns and discuss work issues. 
  • They receive training on communication skills, including constructively giving and receiving feedback. 
  • Transparency and open communication are rewarded in the workplace. 

Toggl Plan has a Comments feature that promotes efficient team communication. You can leave comments on tasks from Toggl Plan and mention any person in your workspace. 

Screenshot of Toggl Plan.

What can a business do to improve its productivity?

There are many ways you can improve your business productivity. Small changes, like culling pointless meetings, are a good start. Strategies like better delegation, remote work, and optimal resource allocation can also help your business be more productive. 

We will cover these nine essential steps:

Graph showing how to improve productivity in a business.

1. Cut off unnecessary meetings

Many meetings can be redundant or inefficient and take more than they give. To avoid and reduce unnecessary meetings, you can optimize the impact of team meetings with the following strategies:

  • Can the meeting be via email, memo, or quick phone call instead? Consider if you can achieve the meeting’s objectives in a faster way.
  • For necessary meetings, clearly define the agenda ahead of time to keep the discussion focused and time-efficient. 
  • Invite only those team members whose presence is needed to discuss agenda topics.
  • Start the meeting on time and set a strict cut-off to respect everyone’s schedule and keep things efficient. 

2. Give feedback

Feedback helps employees understand what they are doing well and where to improve. 

However, not all feedback is created equally. Negative feedback may hurt your team’s productivity.  

The key to using feedback as a productivity tool is to take a constructive approach that focuses on growth rather than criticism. 

All constructive feedback sessions that motivate and engage have these things in common:

  • Timeliness: They offer immediate feedback to ensure it is fresh and relevant. 
  • Constructive: They acknowledge employees’ hard work and offer actionable advice on how to improve. 
  • Goal-oriented: They align feedback with the broader goals of the team and business.
  • Reciprocal: Constructive feedback sessions are a two-way street, encouraging employees to provide their feedback and thoughts. 

3. Organize the projects into smaller tasks

Giving your team clear, manageable milestones to work on has many benefits, including:

  • Simplifies tracking progress
  • Reduces overwhelm
  • Improves focus and team morale
  • Boosts productivity and efficiency

Using a Work Breakdown Structure, you can easily break down your projects into smaller tasks. 

A Work Breakdown Structure is a project management tool that divides a project into manageable sections. 

👉Here’s How to Create a Work Breakdown Structure in 6 Steps.

With Toggl Track, you can easily visualize all your tasks through the Project Timeline and Project Board features. 

To use these features, enable both Timeline and Board views when setting up a new project.

Toggl Plan screenshot.

On your Project Timeline, you can see:

  • All the project’s tasks as color-coded and easy-to-move-around Gantt charts
  • Who’s responsible for each task
  • The task’s deadline and status
  • Any notes and checklists attached to the task
Screenshot of Toggl Plan.

The Project Board view shows your tasks at a glance on Kanban boards, which you can easily edit using drag-and-drop. 

Screenshot of Toggl Plan.

4. Ensure your employees are not overworked

Burned-out employees are more likely to skip work, make mistakes, and work inefficiently. 

A study published by Frontiers in Public Health showed that participants who scored high on the burnout scale had absentee rates 2-3x higher than employees with low burnout levels.

Ensuring your employees have the right amount of work on their plates can cut burnout rates and increase productivity. benefits. However, burnout can be challenging to avoid without the right tools to view and manage team workloads. 

Toggl Plan has the solution to this: the Availability Overview feature. 

Screenshot of Toggl Plan.

In this view, you can see at a glance:

  • Over or under-booked team members
  • Booking percentages and available hours for each employee

This visibility lets you assign tasks more efficiently to ensure everyone has the right amount of work.

5. Don’t micromanage

Although micromanagement may look like it improves productivity, employees do not like it. 

Micromanagement makes team members feel less empowered to make decisions and take initiative, which can lower their motivation and productivity. 

Instead of micromanaging employees, business leaders should create a collaborative company culture built on trust and teamwork. 

As Sir John Whitmore states in this popular Coaching for Performance masterpiece: “A manager must be experienced as a support, not as a threat.”

6. Delegate when it makes sense

Effective task delegation allows managers to focus on the most important tasks while shifting responsibilities to team members who are capable of handling them.

When leaders delegate tasks, they provide employees with opportunities to develop new skills, so it’s a win-win situation. 

Here are some key points on how to delegate effectively:

  • Choose suitable tasks that are not your core responsibility.
  • Assign the task to someone with appropriate skills and experience. 
  • Communicate expectations and deadlines.
  • Use productivity methods like the Eisenhower Matrix 
  • Empower your employees by giving them your trust that they can handle the task.
  • Check-in periodically, but avoid micromanaging. 
  • Give them constructive feedback after they complete the task.

7. Reduce time spent on non-billable tasks

Non-billable hours are the time spent on tasks necessary for business operations but do not contribute directly to revenue. 

Examples of non-billable tasks include:

  • Administrative work like scheduling meetings, managing emails, and organizing files. 
  • Internal meetings, training sessions, or company events that don’t involve client work.
  • Business development activities like networking or proposal writing. 

Unlike billable hours, businesses have a habit of not tracking non-billable time, which can leave them in the dark about how they spend work hours. 

Being aware of your non-billable hours gives you the power to reduce or outsource them and leave more time for completing paid work. 

Toggl Track’s reporting features clearly show where teams spend time and how much time they track for specific activities and tasks. The Summary report lets you easily see billable and non-billable hours and filter your reports by team, client, project, task, and more. 

Screenshot of Toggl Track.

Or you can generate Detailed reports for a more granular breakdown of all your tracked tasks.

Screenshot of Toggl Track.

8. Encourage breaks and time off

Work breaks and time off prevent burnout, increase engagement, and improve employee productivity. 

A recent study around micro-breaks found stopping work for up to 10 minutes can help employees increase performance, decrease fatigue, and improve well–being.

To help support this best practice, Toggl Track has a built-in Pomodoro Timer feature that lets you do productive work in 25-minute focused sessions followed by 5-minute breaks.

Screenshot of Toggl Track.

Toggl Plan also has a Time Off feature that makes it easy to track and manage employee days off, such as annual leave, public holidays, and sick leave. 

This feature clearly shows who’s available and who’s off to improve project planning and resource allocation. 

Screenshot of Toggl Plan.

It also sends scheduling conflict warnings whenever a task and time off overlap to help you avoid scheduling conflicts.

9. Allow for remote work

According to Owl Labs’ 2022 State of Remote Work Report, 62% of workers say they are more productive when working from home. 

Besides improving productivity, remote work can also:

  • Reduce overhead costs: Businesses can save money with remote teams by cutting costs like office space rent, utilities, and supplies. 
  • Broader talent pool: Remote work enables companies to hire the best talent no matter where they are based. 
  • Improve work-life balance: Working from home gives employees flexibility to manage their time, which can lead to better work-life balance. 
  • Employee retention: Many employees today value the flexibility that remote jobs offer and are more likely to stick with businesses that offer this benefit. 

What hinders productivity in a business?

Here are some factors that can lower business productivity:

  • Unclear goals and objectives: If your team doesn’t have clear goals and objectives, they may not understand what they are supposed to achieve. They work blindfolded, and their confusion can lead to inefficient work and low productivity. 
  • Stressful work environment: It’s no secret that stress impacts employee morale and productivity. Excessive workloads, tight deadlines, and poor work-life balance are work-related factors that can lead to stress. 
  • Poor communication: Ineffective communication is a major barrier to productivity. Teams that don’t communicate well make more mistakes, miss deadlines, and work inefficiently. 
  • Inadequate tools and technology: Using outdated tools can slow down work processes and do the opposite of what they’re expected to do. Invest in the right tools for your business to streamline tasks and avoid wasting time.
  • Lack of employee training: Employees may not perform at their best without proper training, which reduces their productivity. 

What are the benefits of improving business productivity?

Improving business productivity reaps many benefits, including:

  • Increased efficiency: More productivity directly improves efficiency, which means businesses achieve more with less effort and resources. This speeds up operations and reduces labor and operational costs. 
  • More profitability: With increased efficiency comes higher profitability. By maximizing output while minimizing input costs, you get higher profit margins and more profitable business. 
  • Higher client satisfaction: Higher productivity often leads to faster services and higher quality products, which keeps clients happy. Satisfied customers are more likely to return and recommend your business to others. 
  • Improved team morale: When productivity improves, the work environment becomes more streamlined and less stressful. This can improve team morale, reduce turnover, and increase engagement. 

What tools can I use to increase business productivity?

Using the right tools can help teams become more productive. 

Some types of tools you can use to improve company productivity are the following:

  • Time tracking tools: Time trackers like Toggl Track let employees record the time they spend every workday. Managers can use these time records to analyze productivity, spot areas where time may be wasted, and take corrective action to improve time management. 
  • Project management tools: Project management apps like Toggl Plan, Asana, or Trello help teams plan and track projects, tasks, and deadlines. These tools improve team collaboration and productivity.
  • Asynchronous communication tools: Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Basecamp enable asynchronous communication. This is particularly helpful for remote or global teams that work across different time zones to streamline messaging and communication. 
  • AI tools: AI tools like Grammarly for writing assistance or automation platforms like Zapier can streamline many routine tasks and improve productivity. 
  • Communication tools: Zoom or Google Meet make communicating easier through video conferencing and virtual meetings. 

Now it’s your turn

Things like feedback, delegation, and flexible working can improve a business’s productivity. You are now aware of how powerful these strategies can be, but what’s next? 

To maximize your productivity, see how to combine what you’ve learned with a productivity tool like Toggl Plan.

You can sign up for a free Toggl Plan account and start to:

  • Implement the actionable steps from this article to create more efficient work processes
  • Manage project timelines and schedules, and optimize resource allocation
  • Focus on business growth, not just managing day-to-day inefficiencies
The Toggl Team

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