Tips to improve your firm’s efficiency

No matter what sector your company operates in, the aim of pretty much all businesses is to run with the greatest efficiency, producing the best products possible with the least outlay. Efficiency drives profit which, in turn, leads to growth, so improving your firm’s productivity levels should be top of your agenda.

Most company directors would agree that efficiency is the holy grail of running a firm, but how can you streamline operations to improve productivity? Read on for a few tried and tested tips proven by industry experts which could see you generating better throughput and increasing your profit margins.

Improve employee productivity with in-house training

When you’re recruiting staff, you likely have a range of requirements you want each applicant to have for the particular job on offer – whether that be in the form of training, experience, or qualifications. However, regardless of how well qualified or experienced the successful applicant might be, they’ll still need to learn exactly how you work.

All companies – even those working and operating in the same sector – have their own in-house procedures and practices and ways of doing things that are unique to them. Often this is one of the most daunting parts of starting a new job. However, investing just a little time and money in onboarding and Employee Training will see your staff get up to speed quickly and working more effectively. Also, don’t forget the benefits of continued training and refresher courses – even for your more experienced members of staff.

Help your staff gain additional qualifications

While in-house training is undoubtedly important, helping employees learn additional skills through external learning and courses could see you diversifying their skills base and possibly making sideways moves into different markets. A company is only as good as its staff, so the more skilled you can make your team, the better your company will become.

One of the major reasons disgruntled staff leave a job is a lack of training, so offering your team the opportunity to gain additional qualifications will also increase morale and reduce staff turnover. There is considerable evidence that shows happy employees are more productive, so offering training incentives could also have the knock-on effect of improving team output.

Automate repetitive, routine tasks

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have both come a very long way in the last few years, and you might be surprised just how much of your day-to-day operations you could move to automation. In particular, many routine office tasks such as payroll, project management, or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) duties could be done more effectively by machines. In fact, recent research found around 60% of the tasks performed in most jobs could be carried out quicker and more effectively through automation.

Schedule a daily, 10-minute, start-of-day meeting

You can’t possibly expect to get the best from your staff if they don’t know what’s expected of them. Holding a daily 10-minute briefing with your team will allow them to understand the bigger picture and learn exactly what they need to do, what stage projects are at, and what you hope to achieve that day.

Through the recent Coronavirus and the enforced home-working caused by lockdowns, companies increasingly moved to arrange daily, start-of-day video meetings to help staff feel more involved and in the loop – a practice that helped maintain overall productivity. It was also found that holding a short meeting at the start of each day builds team spirit, a sense of collectiveness, and group morale.

Forget trying to multitask

The idea that multitaskers are more efficient is a myth. Indeed, there is considerable evidence that suggests that, even if you’re able to do more than one thing at once, you’re likely doing so less effectively. Instead of trying to split your attention across multiple tasks, try splitting jobs by priority and concentrate on them one at a time – in effect, single-tasking.

Prioritize tasks by urgency – write a list and stick to it

At the start of any given day, you’ll have a set of goals you want to achieve. Rather than taking a haphazard approach and attacking them gung-ho, take a second to write down and organize the tasks into a prioritized list. Having a list to work to through the day helps focus the mind – particularly if you get distracted by another new supposed ‘priority’ (as you almost inevitably will).

Use project management/task management software

Modern software allows teams to collaborate more effectively by placing files in a central repository that can be accessed by any team member, anywhere they can find an internet connection. Moreover, logging software can now record and note changes so all team members can be kept aware of updates and alterations. The best project management platforms also now include video and voice conferencing, text messaging, task lists, and milestone markers to show staff exactly where they are in a project and what they need to do to reach the final sign-off.

Learn to delegate

One of the most common problems faced by business owners and bosses is learning to accept that they don’t need to do everything themselves. Most firms start small – perhaps with one or two directors in the early stages – so there’s a temptation to believe that you or your partner are automatically the best-qualified and most experienced to perform every task your company needs to operate. This often leads to owners and bosses getting bogged down in the minutiae of running a firm rather than taking a macro view of the business and helping guide it to future successes.

It’s important to remember why you hired your staff and assign them tasks best suited to their skills. This will allow you to have more time steering the company’s direction rather than working for it.

Realize your company’s limitations and know when to stop

Efficiency is the aim of all firms, but that doesn’t mean you should let the goal of improving productivity overshadow everything else you do. Like so many other aspects of life, the key is to find balance – to attain the sweet spot between working with the greatest efficiency and providing the best goods or services possible.