A good employer gets the best out of their employees. Productivity can be due to a number of factors including offering good incentives and having a positive work environment. Here are a few ways that you can get your employees to work to their full potential.

Get to know your employees

You don’t have to make friends with your employees. However, making some steps to get to know them on a personal level could help establish a mutual bond of trust. They may be more willing to tell you problems as soon as they happen and they may also be more willing to do tasks without being told. Make sure that you speak to your employees on a one-on-one basis – having a session to discuss progress every few months could be advantageous for both of you.

Delegate work based on employees’ strengths and weaknesses

By getting to know your employees better, you’ll develop an understanding of each of their strengths and weaknesses. This will allow you to delegate tasks and roles more effectively. If someone is more creative minded and do well at admin and work with figures, it could be beneficial to put them in a role that allows them to explore these skills. Try not to focus too much on people’s weaknesses when discussing your decision with them – instead of saying ‘I don’t want you doing this role because you’re not good at it’, say ‘you’re good at this role, I think you should do this’. This will inspire more confidence and positivity.

Encourage teamwork

Your business won’t work if no-one is working together. People need to feel comfortable communicating with each other, which means getting people to bond as a team. There are lots of ways to encourage a bit of camaraderie. You could get everyone to go out for lunch together once a week or play a team building game in the office. You could even book a team-building event day – these involve team exercises in which you may compete against other teams.

For something more formal, you could simply arrange regular brainstorm sessions in which everyone has a chance to contribute and bounce ideas off one another. Having group catch-up sessions can also keep everyone on the same page allowing for better communication.

Some workplaces may experience conflict between people, in which case you have to find a way of diffusing this conflict. This usually involves finding the ‘problem employee’ and talking to them one on one, although there may be two people who are both as bad at winding one another up. What you don’t want is people dividing themselves into groups – this playground behavior in the office will cause major problems in communication and could have people blaming one another. Be the mediator and try to solve such conflict before it gets out of hand.

Emphasise the real-world reward

People need an incentive to work hard. This incentive is most commonly a goal and a reward. Most businesses offer monetary bonuses or offer the chance of promotion in exchange for meeting a goal. Whilst this may work for some people, research suggests that millennial employees are becoming less motivated by these kinds of goals and rewards and more spurred on by the real-world positive impact of their actions.

Your employees may not care about the company’s success and may be more interested about the personal difference that they can make. By emphasising this and making people feel good about what they’ve achieved (i.e. helping a client achieve their goal rather than meeting a sales quota) this could have more of a boost to their productivity.

Help your employees out with new technology

The phrase ‘a poor workman blames his tools’ is true in some cases, but this doesn’t mean you should expect your employees to work as hard as your competitors using tech that’s ten years behind them. Make an effort to embrace technology and new trends. Tech doesn’t have to be expensive and can sometimes save you costs.

For example, opting for more Skype calls over phone calls could save you money on phone bills whilst giving your employees the chance to talk to people face to face which could help to display visual information (it could even save further costs of having to travel to meet up with some employees). If you’re of an older generation and have young employees, ask them what they’d do to modernize the business. Some professional advice too may help when helping to keep your business secure or handle the admin more smoothly. Such tech could make your employees lives easier and allow them to get more done each day.

Allow some flexibility

Too much routine can limit creative thinking. If your job is creative, consider loosening the boundaries a little. Allow people to take breaks when they choose. You could even get rid of fixed nine to five working hours and instead set tasks to be done in the week, allowing staff to take as few or many hours to complete these tasks as possible. You may still have to have set times for meetings to keep everyone on the same page – without these, the boundaries will be too loose. Most people will get the work done, with some even working above and beyond to achieve results. If people do take advantage, tighten the reins a bit so that you can keep a closer eye on them, requiring them to work more set hours so that you know they’re not slacking.

Feed your employees’ productivity

Food can make an excellent incentive. You can offer it as a reward such as a free lunch for champagne for reaching a goal. Alternatively, you could simply use it to brighten up people’s day and put people in a more positive mood – this could include bringing in doughnuts or supplying a good quality coffee machine. You can also use certain foods to boost people’s concentration such as walnuts and avocado. Quite how much of an effect these foods will have is disputable, but it could be worth trying just to see the result on people’s mood.

Make the workplace a stimulating environment

You and your employees spend a good portion of your waking hours in the workplace, so don’t make it a place they come to loathe and dread. Give people a few comforts such as snacks, music and the option to put their own belonging on their desk. Set up an area that people can go to on their break to get away from the hustle and bustle.

You should also put some through into the décor. Blank white walls may make people lost for ideas, whilst too much clutter could be distracting. Use bright colours and put up displays that are likely to inspire people. On top of rewards that the company has gained, show individuals have achieved. You could even put cuttings from newspapers and magazines showing inspiring stories on intuition and success.

Meanwhile, to stop people feeling penned in, introduce some plants to bring a touch of outdoors in. Studies have found that plants can also boost people’s concentration by providing fresh oxygen into the air. These could be places in the corners of the room or on people’s desks.

You should also make sure that the workplace is well ventilated and not too hot nor too cold. An office that’s too stuffy or too chilly will be distracting. Keep everyone cosy and they’ll be able to focus more on the job at hand.