Like most managers you probably think about employee productivity a lot, but have you ever considered that you may be the one hindering your staff’s productivity?

Here are a few ways you may be inadvertently hampering your work force’s efficiency and what you could do to inject some motivation back into your team.

Problem: You are not providing on-going feedback

Solution: One reason for low employee productivity is a lack of advice and guidance from managers. Giving effective feedback is a vital part of communication. If employees are not given feedback, positive or negative, they will simply continue as they always have, potentially repeating mistakes.

In a Forbes article Vice President of Marketing & Communications for HALO Recognition Cord Himelstein explained, “Positive feedback loops are a fundamental concept in psychology, and the science behind them is simple: Give people feedback about their actions in a timely manner without fear of reprisal, and it gives them a healthy opportunity to work toward better behaviours.”

You will get better work from people by giving regular feedback, helping them to identify strengths and weaknesses and devising actions that can be taken to improve performance.


Problem: You are not delegating responsibilities

Solution: “If you want something done right, you must do it yourself.” This attitude is often seen in managers afraid to entrust their staff with real ownership and responsibility.

Delegation creates opportunities for employees to use their skills and develop new ones. Trust your staff with those important and challenging projects, they will feel a greater sense of accountability and commitment and you will be rewarded with greater motivation. After all, if you don’t trust your employees to do a good job, why did you hire them in the first place?


Problem: You are guilty of micromanaging

Solution: If you want to destroy initiative and extinguish productivity, there’s no better way to do it than by micromanaging your employees. Micromanaging your team stifles them and means they’re less likely to produce their best work.

A study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business looked at how stress and levels of control affected 2,363 employees. When comparing highly demanding jobs, those that also gave employees less control were associated with a 15.4% increased chance of death. Empower your staff and give them the freedom to manage their own workload and use their own initiative, it may even save their lives.


Problem: You are not conveying clear goals and expectations

Solution: You can’t expect employees to be efficient if they do not have concrete goals to work towards. Set specific aims, issue clear directives and define key objectives, that way employees will understand what’s expected of them and potentially produce their best work.

Business Psychologist Simon Kilpatrick spoke to People HR about the benefits of implementing SMART goals, “SMART goal setting lets you give your employees a degree of flexibility and control, while making sure they are working towards a specific end result. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time scaled.

If you structure regular performance appraisals using SMART goal setting, employees will feel more like they are making a relevant impact on your organisation’s success. And because of the nature of SMART goals, they will feel more in control of their actions, accountable for achieving the agreed results, and more motivated to succeed.”


Problem: You are failing to offer training and development opportunities

Solution: Training your employees is not only a good way of upskilling them, it’s also a great way of keeping them interested in their role. Consistently offering training sessions, encouraging staff to attend industry events and conferences and offering coaching can also increase profits.

According to the Association for Talent Development (ATD) companies that offer comprehensive training programs enjoy a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on training.


Problem: You are not communicating effectively

Solution: Effective communication is what separates a poor leader from an excellent one. When you communicate with your team it helps to ensure accuracy, reduces the potential for errors, improves productivity and increases morale. Social networking tools such as slack are great for quicker and more informal team communication.

A report from Gallup entitled State of the American Manager found that “engagement is highest among employees who have some form (face-to-face, phone, or digital) of daily communication with their managers. Managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone, and electronic communication are the most successful in engaging employees. And when employees attempt to contact their manager, engaged employees report their manager returns their calls or messages within 24 hours.”


Problem: You are not recognising achievements

Solution: Recognition for achievements in the workplace can act as a great morale booster, which in turn can increase productivity. It’s simple really, recognise and praise your staff for a job well done and they will be incentivised and motivated to produce more good work.

Behavioural Science specialist Dr Ashley Whillans from the Harvard Business School summarised this issue in a 2019 article saying, “Cash matters in people’s lives, but it’s not all that matters. What really matters in the workplace is helping employees feel appreciated... Many managers feel awkward showing gratitude and shy away from it. That’s why organisations need to make a push to help managers with this. It can make all the difference in whether a talented worker stays or goes.”


Problem: You’re not rewarding your staff

Solution: 79% of employees prefer benefits to a salary increase. Having a great employee benefits package can motivate employees to go that extra mile for their organisation.

Providing death in service insurance could offer several benefits to both you as an employer and to your employees. Also known as group life insurance, death in service insurance is intended to pay out a lump sum to employee’s loved ones in the unfortunate event of their death.

A death in service insurance policy covers employees at no cost to them and may offer some peace of mind by ensuring their loved ones will be looked after financially in the event of their death. It is a low-cost way of providing a desirable benefit for your employees, which shows you care about your staff and their loved ones.

You may wish to consider death in service insurance to help protect your employees and help towards ensuring their loved ones are looked after financially should the worst happen. We provide the means for you to compare quotes from leading providers, quickly and efficiently.


Becoming more conscious about your role in employee productivity will allow you to make changes that could result in big improvements, not only in productivity but in the happiness of your team. If you would like more tips on how to make your team more efficient take a look at our article on how to increase employee productivity in the workplace in 2020.