On any given workday, there are multiple factors that can kill the productivity of your employees. These include factors relating to available resources, physical and emotional well-being, external factors such as traffic and weather conditions, and the activities of other employees. Proper on-the-job training and clear processes can help new employees become productive sooner, however, it is impossible to avoid all productivity killers, even as an engaged business owner. Productivity is something that can increase and decrease over a business's life cycle for both new and existing employees. For a wholesale distribution business, productivity killers can result in long lead times from order to shipment which hurts customer satisfaction and impacts the success of the business. Therefore, as a wholesale and distribution business owner, it is important to ensure you’re not contributing to a lack of productivity by addressing the following issues.
We’ve all had those moments where we want to throw our computers out the window. But unreliable technology can actually be a huge productivity killer when it takes away from meaningful work. Issues with technology can stem from outdated software and equipment, slow systems and trying to use the wrong tools to accomplish a task. As a business owner, it is important that you supply your team with the best tools for the job. The wrong systems (or no systems at all) can result in a variety of issues including:
- Too many manual processes such as data entry, which are prone to human error and time-consuming
- Lack of reliable data when operating multiple standalone solutions – when systems are not integrated it requires constant management and means a lack of synchronicity of business data across the entire company
- System crashes due to transaction volume or data volume issues which can leave employees (and sometimes customers) standing around waiting
- Duplicate entry such as entering information while onsite with a customer and then again when back in the office, which is time-consuming and delays the order to shipment process
Limited flexibility with work schedules.
Having specific working hours (such as the 9-5 grind) is the norm in most traditional business places, but providing some flexibility can actually increase productivity. This is especially true as younger generations continue to enter the workforce, with one study indicating that 35% of millennials have quit their jobs due to a lack of work flexibility. Allowing employees to work remotely, or at different times, or from different locations not only increases morale, but also productivity. Flexibility means employees can still accomplish their tasks when needing to stay home because of sick family members, injuries, bad weather and traffic issues.
Lack of reporting.
Business software is only as good as the data within it and without proper reporting and analysis tools, it is impossible to monitor business health. Access to real-time data across departments allows management to identify opportunities and threats that can help a business succeed. Insight into information such as which products sell the best, which customers buy the most and when, how many shipping errors occur in a given time period, how much product gets returned and why, the average time from order to shipment etc. can all help improve processes, increase customer satisfaction and grow your business. Understanding where time is being wasted, and which processes are draining resources can help improve productivity.
Too much multitasking.
Although there is still debate as to whether or not multitasking has productivity benefits, it’s safe to assume that when working on multiple complex tasks at the same time, it can cause employees to lose focus and diminishes work quality. However, when working on more mundane tasks, this becomes a non-issue. Therefore, be aware of what employees spend their time doing, and provide guidance on how to manage multiple tasks within a day. Burnt out employees are not productive employees and can contribute to higher turnover rates.