Improving productivity in a small local business

When running a small local business one of the most crucial issues in sustaining cost-effective practices is ensuring optimum productivity levels. There are many ways by which productivity can be improved though it is ultimately dependent upon one factor, the individual employee.

In Edinburgh, small businesses are finding ways to increase their productivity using knowledge gained from studies around the world. Having a free-flowing, open communication system is proven to be a particularly important aspect in ensuring productivity levels are maximised. A knowledgeable workforce becomes a participative workforce and encourages everyone to pull in the same direction. This theory also extends to encouraging employees to take more responsibility for their own productivity.

By adopting a positive managerial attitude where praise is openly apportioned and rewards based on achievement are randomly awarded, productivity has been shown to increase dramatically. Having a focused, reward-based structure, as opposed to a surprise reward such as an extended weekend off or tickets to a forthcoming show, can be counterproductive as targets become routine and less meaningful. It has been shown that, with surprise rewards, productivity increases and employee job satisfaction rises, the latter factor also being crucial in optimising productivity.

It is not only interpersonal techniques that can impact on employee productivity. Employees themselves have to take considerable responsibility in ensuring that they are both able and willing to maximise their productiveness. It has been shown, for example, that employees who are even slightly dehydrated are less productive and companies installing water coolers have noticed a dramatic rise in staff productivity. Having a heavy lunch is also a factor that can disrupt staff efficiency and output, as can the consumption of alcohol and medication. Some companies monitor staff consumption using methods such as oral fluid testing, an easy-to-use, discreet system that can test for the presence of substances that might impact negatively upon employee output.

Oral fluid testing procedures are becoming increasingly valuable within the workplace and can be used randomly, as part of a pre-planned programme of testing, or where there is a suspicion of productivity being impaired by alcohol or other substances. Unlike alternative systems such as urine sampling, oral fluid testing is a subtle and minimally invasive procedure that can be conducted discreetly by simply running a swab over the inside of the mouth. The procedure is quick, painless and extremely accurate and has a capping system that significantly reduces the opportunity for samples to be tampered with.

There is an argument that being productive is not necessarily about being as busy as possible but is about removing the distractions that can impact upon efficiency and focus. There are multiple apps that monitor productivity and even calculate where business efficiency is being lost in terms of what is distracting employees, what is driving them and what is holding them back.

Edinburgh is a beautiful city and a thriving and important business centre where small businesses are backed by strong government initiatives and encouraged to blossom. These businesses are only sustainable if productivity is assessed, addressed and optimised.

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