Tracking your employee’s time is one thing.

Getting them to work productively while they’re on the clock, though, is another issue altogether.

Employees may be at their desk, or workstation, but this doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be putting in their best effort. Wasted time is wasted money, and increasing productivity is an essential part of profitability, but how can you keep your workers motivated –and inspire them to work, well, harder?

It turns out that the secret lies in creating an environment that’s conducive for production. When the workplace atmosphere and the right motivational factors align to encourage productivity, your team will be driven and motivated to do their best. Here are a few ways that you can get the most from your employees, and encourage them to be productive members of your workforce.

  • Set Clear Goals
    Setting clear goals is the first step towards productivity. Clear, actionable goals will help your workers to know exactly what’s expected of them, and will also show them where you’re coming from with your requests. This transparency and direction will help to prevent them from getting frustrated and burnt out, and will inspire them to work harder.
  • Express Gratitude
    In a survey by career site Glassdoor.com, more than 2,000 people were asked what motivated them to work harder. The top answer? Appreciation. Eighty-one percent of respondents said that they feel motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work. A simple “thank you” doesn’t cost anything, and can motivate the team to do their best.
  • Reward Them
    Studies show that rewarding employees for going the extra mile makes them more productive. It also helps them to feel more fulfilled and eager to contribute to the organization in a meaningful way. Even a $25 gift card can go a long way towards helping your workers to feel valued, and encouraged to keep up the good work.
  • Set a Good Example
    As a leader, it’s important to set a good example for your team. While this doesn’t mean that you should take over their jobs or look over their shoulders to show them everything that they’re doing wrong, it does mean that you shouldn’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get involved when the situation calls for it. Your employees will be less tempted to slack off when they see that you’re working just as hard as they are.
  • Make Their Jobs Easier
    Few things will free up employees to do their very best like making their jobs easier. This means providing them with the training and tools that they need to excel in their roles. Depending on your business model, you could take this a step further and give them some flexibility and freedom when it comes to their work schedule. Allowing employees to work one day per week from home, or giving them the flexibility to choose hours that work best for them can make their life easier, and in turn, motivate them to do their best.
  • Cut Meetings
    Unnecessary meetings are a huge drain on productivity. Think about it: each time you hold an hour-long meeting, you’re not just sacrificing an hour of time; you’re losing an hour per employee. If you have ten employees –or more, that’s a lot of hours that could be better spent. Consider communicating via email or in person whenever possible, and skipping the meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary.
  • Treat Them Fairly
    Finally, don’t play favorites; even unintentionally. Strive to treat each of your team members equally, and watch what you say. Avoid making negative comments about them or comparing them to each other. Nothing stalls production like a toxic environment. Teamwork, on the other hand, can boost morale and improve productivity. By treating your workers fairly, you’ll help them to feel valued, and will keep jealousy and friction out of the equation.

In order to boost your team’s efficiency, you’ll want to create an environment that encourages productivity. Start by setting clear and achievable goals, and giving workers the resources that they need to reach them. Then, make sure you set a good example, treat them fairly, and reward them for a job well done. By doing this, you’ll encourage and motivate your employees, and will be able to enjoy the rewards of a driven and productive workforce.