No business process is perfect. This is why companies are constantly on the lookout for business ideas and ways to improve. By streamlining their workflow, they can do more with less. They may reduce business costs, increase revenue, and drive growth.
Therefore, businesses need to strive to be efficient. This means doing the same work in a shorter time.
One key aspect in making businesses more efficient are employees. They make your company run. By providing them with proper skills, autonomy, and technology, they can drive your company forward.
However, there are always bottlenecks to achieving streamlined business processes and workflow. Below are 10 tips to help you on your journey to ensure business efficiency.
1. Embrace Flexible Working
Flexible working means allowing employees to work the way they want by choosing where and what time they start and finish.
For example, a tech company might work from 9 AM to 5 PM. However, their programmers might feel that starting work a couple of hours later is more efficient. They are naturally more focused later in the day.
Some defined schedules are sometimes necessary for customer service, product returns, and retail roles. However, they can demotivate employees who don’t need a rigid structure.
Flexible working can make employees feel valued. In the same vein, it improves worker satisfaction. Flex work boosts retention. It also attracts potential recruits. Employees work when they feel most focused. In short, this improves the quality of output.
2. Review Technology Regularly
Create a flexible workforce by:
- Doing employee surveys
- Introducing time-management software
- Reviewing where flexible working has positive impacts
Technology is a core element for business success. However, using outdated hardware or software can negatively impact your efficiency.
Do not hang on to aging hardware and unsupported applications. You risk cyberattacks. This prevents your employees from working to their full capabilities.
Therefore, you need to regularly review your business tech. Reduce bottlenecks in your workflow or processes. It may mean investing in new technology options. Think VoIP system for small business or new employee workstations.
Consider using automation where you can, like chatbots for customer service. This way, your employees can do the same amount of work in a shorter time, improving efficiency.
Carry out a technology audit every time you see output quality drop and replace aging hardware.
3. Design Training Programs
Regular training reduces the frequency of errors, improves the quality of employee output, and makes employees feel valued, boosting their morale and inspiring productivity. Additionally it:
- Enhances employee satisfaction
- Refreshes old skills and teaches new ones
- Provides employees with new efficient methods to incorporate into their workflow
- Develops a sense of employee purpose
- Provides career progression and personal development opportunities
Consider the following to develop training to give employees the skills and knowledge they need to work confidently to their full potential:
- Assess training needs with surveys and skills audits
- Set training objectives, both company-wide and individual
- Create a comprehensive training plan with content and resources geared to different learning styles
- Engage employees with the training program and monitor progress
- Evaluate employee training and assess how to improve future training programs
4. Use Employee Engagement Strategies
Global employee engagement is around 20%, leaving 80% of employees watching the clock or doing the bare minimum. This has massive repercussions for businesses, such as stagnant growth, missed company goals, and low resilience at times of crisis.
Therefore, engaging employees is vital to your business health. Using employee engagement strategies to increase employee satisfaction and retention can boost business output and efficiency.
While there are many strategies to improve wellbeing and re-energize employees, here are a few to get you started:
- Give employees a sense of direction by finding out what they want to achieve and setting goals
- Take an interest in employee work. Award them for a job well done, and regularly check-in
- Don’t micromanage. Train employees with the tools to work independently to solve problems, boosting their satisfaction
5. Set SMART Goals
Creating well-defined and meaningful goals is essential. Businesses can measure their efficiency and drive growth upwards.
For example, it’s not enough to say you want to increase ecommerce sales. You must be SMART when outlining your goals. This ensures your employees knows the target they have to hit. You can measure their progress. This means making your goals:
For the example above, a SMART goal would be to increase online sales by 10% in the next three months using ecommerce discount strategies.
Ensure any goal you create considers the capabilities and limitations of your workforce. While the example above meets the SMART criteria, if the timeline changes to one week, employees may become demotivated due to the unrealistic expectations they face.
6. Use Task Management Software
Using task management software can improve efficiency by replacing constant back-and-forth emails or meeting online to go over daily tasks. It saves time, limits employee interruption, and keeps everyone on task.
Additionally, through task management software, you can track how long it takes employees to complete specific tasks and how they’re prioritizing their work. It can provide vital data to improve your workflow and make your processes more efficient.
7. Manage Documents in the Cloud
Employees can be frustrated by not having access to vital documents. It could be due to waiting for approvals to access a file or a file being stored locally instead of on a company server.
For example, if an employee is working from home on SMS remarketing strategies and needs an updated file sent to them, it could take several minutes before they’re ready to get going.
This massively limits what employees can do in the time allocated, slowing their workflow. By transitioning to a cloud solution, like Google workspace, employees can quickly and easily access documents from anywhere in the world. It removes obstacles and boosts efficiency by:
- Giving employees access to the latest document versions
- Enabling real-time collaboration
- Eliminating unnecessary communication and admin tasks
- Granting/removing permission for new/former employees
- Having documents centrally located
While it’s recommended you always keep an offline backup, incorporating the cloud into your workflow can help improve flexible working and the technology tips mentioned earlier.
8. Reduce Meeting Length
A typical one-hour meeting involves:
- Pre-meeting preparation
- The one-hour meeting
- Post-meeting tasks
- Switching from meeting mode back to work mode
So, one meeting could take up to two hours out of an employee’s workday, assuming the meeting stays on agenda and doesn’t drift.
While meetings are vital to plan strategies and keep everyone on track, they can be time-consuming. But, by reducing meeting lengths, employees can reallocate time to tasks that matter.
For example, a meeting on sharing ideas to reduce the customer exit rate is valuable and engaging. However, meeting to announce the exit rate and hold a general discussion is not.
You can take a few steps to improve meeting efficiency:
- Always consider if the meeting is necessary
- Have a specific meeting purpose
- Use an agenda and stick to it. It may be helpful to use approximate timings
- Have a chair that keeps the meeting moving and ensures all points are met
9. Outsource When Required
How do you achieve your business goals and success? It’s essential to have the right people for the right jobs. It often means recruiting new employees to fill a skills gap. Moreover, outsourcing can be more efficient.
Recruitment takes time. You may need to wait months before you have the talent available for your project. On the other hand, outsourcing can provide you with experts in a few days. Additionally, outsourcing is better for short-term projects. It is also ideal if you need a specialized skillset.
For example, you may require a video editor. This editor pieces together a promotional ad for your video conferencing equipment. As it’s a single project, it’s easier and cheaper to hire a freelance editor instead of a permanent employee.
Other typically outsourced tasks include payroll, website server hosting, and product photography. By outsourcing where you need to, you can make your business more efficient.
10. Promote Open Communication Culture
The tips given here will work in almost any organization. However, your business will have specific challenges blocking your struggle to become as efficient as possible. That’s where your employees come in.
They’re the cogs in your business, so it makes sense that they can identify the issues that prevent them from turning. But it can be difficult for employees to voice opinions or give feedback, especially when directed at a particular employee or long-held working practice.
An open communication culture can prompt employees to express problems and improvements, allowing you to enhance business processes and workflow.
Success is in Your Workforce
In each of these tips, one business aspect kept coming up time and again: your workforce.
Whether you’re trying to keep them happy, engaged, well-trained, or productive, employees are at the heart of ensuring business efficiency. Therefore, your success depends on focussing on their wellbeing and motivation and making them feel valued.
Monitor the success of your strategies through KPIs and metrics. You can continually improve your methods and boost your workflows and processes. This helps ensure efficiency.
However, don’t let your drive for efficiency take over your business. Being efficient is about doing the same work in a shorter amount of time, but some tasks can’t be done quicker, no matter how skilled or fast your employees or technology are.
Listen to your workforce. They are well-suited to identify possible bottlenecks. Employees understand inefficient processes that need resolving. They know when to stop. By working to support them, you can ensure strong business efficiency.
Severine Hierso is EMEA Senior Product Marketing Manager for RingCentral Office. This is the leader in cloud communications solutions and cloud solution architect. She is passionate about creating value, differentiation and messaging, ensuring a better experience for customers and partners. Severine has gained extensive international Product Marketing, Market Research, Sales Enablement and Business development experience. This is across SaaS, Telecommunications, Video Conferencing and Technology sectors within companies such as Sony, Cisco, Cogeco Peer 1 and Dimension Data/NTT.