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Rikke Diget Fuglsang Jul 28, 2022 11 min read

The Employee Morale & Productivity Spiral: How Office Inefficiency Kills Firms

Inefficiency in the office causes more than just slow progress and wasted salary dollars. Inefficiency directly impacts productivity, which is inextricably linked to the all-important element of employee morale.

When offices are inefficient and people feel they are unable to do good work for reasons that are beyond their control, it wears down employee morale and productivity. This hopelessness and inability to make an impact leads to worse and worse work—creating a dangerous, downward spiral that is hard to break out of. But it does not have to be that way.

Let us explore how important efficiency is to employee morale and productivity —and all the tactics you need to know to improve efficiency and build an upward spiral of productivity and positivity.

 

Office Inefficiencies That Slow Employee Morale and Drain Productivity

Various studies and theories have established that employees who are happy with their organization’s environment—and thus high in morale—are more productive.

Low Employee Morale = High Employee Morale =
  • Distrust
  • Autonomy
  • Silos
  • Collaboration
  • In-Fighting
  • Productivity
  • Need for micromanagement
  • Ownership
  • Inefficiency
  • Flexibility
  • Rigidity
  • Enjoyable culture
  • Lack of creativity
  • Achieved goals
  • Wasted salary dollars
  • Good communication
  • Stagnation
  • Confidence
  • Low employee retention
  • Delegation
  • Stunted growth
  • Trust

If you notice any of the following practices or problems at your office, they could be what is causing inefficiencies that hurt productivity and overall morale.

 

Outdated Processes and Tools 

Still printing and mailing valuable invoices, using email to collect signatures for important contracts, or developing complex and time-consuming workarounds for your departmental technology? Then you have got physical tasks that need to go digital, manual measures that should really be automated, and tools that lag behind the times.

If your office is suffering from outdated processes and tools that are hampering efficiency, effectiveness, and are downright annoying to boot - that may certainly be the cause of low employee morale and productivity. 

Unnecessary Checks and Balances

Checks and balances are a great precaution when the stakes are very high. However, if you are having three different employees take time out of their days to sign off on a vacation request form, that is probably unnecessary. These redundancies, sometimes planned and oftentimes not planned, tend to develop as an organization increases in size and individual employees lose autonomy and ownership.

Poorly-Managed Meetings

Meetings themselves are not the enemy of efficiency—it is poor management that creates low employee morale and productivity. Unfortunately, poor meeting management happens a lot. Meetings are a constant source of wasted resources and gives frustrated office workers. In fact, according to recent research, meetings are considered the No. 1 time-waster at the office.

The average US office employee spends over four hours preparing for them. That is more than an entire working day devoted to meetings. For managers, it is even worse. They report an average of 12 to 14 hours a week attending meetings. Add it all up to 62 hours a month that the average office worker spends sitting in meetings, 37% of which are ranked as having no value and being unproductive. Just as frustrating as an unnecessary or low value meeting is the inefficient tasks that are required to meet in the first place. These poorly-managed meetings are inefficient and have a negative impact on employee morale and productivity.

unproductive meetings statistics

Read more in the meeting management software buyer's guide

Office Distractions

Noises reverberating through an open office, employees “popping in” to each other’s offices unannounced, constant emails and notifications from inter-office messaging programs—distractions abound in the modern office setting. And, when unacknowledged and unchecked, they can kill efficiency. You should really try to avoid distractions from killing your employees' morale and productivity.

Morale-Damaging Culture

Culture has a large impact on employee morale and productivity. An efficient office is extremely difficult to build when your organization suffers from the hallmarks of poor culture like ineffective or toxic leadership, an unwillingness to cope with different work styles and schedules, and a lack of mobility or training.

But, as said earlier, it does not have to be this way.

 

5 Ways to Improve Efficiency by Creating an Upward Spiral of Employee Morale and Productivity

In an office where employees are encouraged and empowered to do their best work, morale soars. And with it, so does productivity. Use these five tactics to encourage employees to work efficiently and create an upward spiral in which positivity, productivity, and even profit abound.

 

Number 1Adopt Tech That Empowers Efficiency

Today, giving your team the tools they need to get the job done means investing in the right technology. We are not saying you need to outfit the entire office in expensive, cutting-edge tech that you don not necessarily need. What we mean is that it is important to put the right underlying systems in place to power efficient processes that will ensure your competitiveness in the modern business environment.

When it comes to the important task of streamlining communication both within and across departments, consider upgrading from email to enterprise-ready chat-based applications such as Microsoft Teams. Need to set up a face-to-face meeting to make an important business decision, host a big client meeting, or onboard a new hire? Improve the efficiency of planning and managing your meetings with AskCody, create and share your agenda with Agenda Maker or Minute, and delegate tasks afterward with e.g. MeisterTask.

Looking to improve efficiency when it comes to sales and marketing? Luckily so many aspects of customer relationship management can be automated today with a CRM tool such as Hubspot. Or, if you need to improve efficiency, productivity, and morale across the entire business; consider bringing all your information together into a single, accessible knowledge portal. This empowers employees to easily access information so they can more easily do their jobs and more readily serve customers.

Number 2

Strike a Stable Work/Life Balance

An employee who has ample time away from work to rest and recharge is sure to inject their office with energy and high morale. Strike a balance between work and life—using your leadership team as a shining example—and watch efficiency spiral out of control in a good way. For example the implementation of hybrid work can improve employee morale and productivity.

 

Number 3

Clean Up Your Company Culture

You do not have to just take our word for it when we say that company culture is super important. In a study of U.S. executives, over half agreed that corporate culture impacted their company’s productivity, creativity, profitability, value, and growth.

Most people can subconsciously detect when something is not quite right with their company’s culture. If you feel that, chances are that you are not the only one—and it may be bothering enough employees to eventually bring down overall employee morale and efficiency. If you are getting that feeling at your workplace; it is time to root out toxicity, install flexibility that frees up everyone to do their best work, empower workers to pursue training and advancement, and campaign for other positive cultural changes. For example a dezentralized workplace can help create positive workplace culture.

Number 4

Reward and Recognize Efficiency That Goes Above and Beyond

There is really nothing like publicly rewarding a job well done to inspire others to do the same! It goes for all employees but we know that for especially Millennials this is a key factor to keep them happy. We recommend recognizing and rewarding desirable employee behavior with non-cash incentives. Gift cards, bonuses, and cash require little thought and are quickly spent; so try rewards like tickets to a local event or attraction, a cool new piece of tech, or even a paid day off!

Number 5

Promote Autonomy

The feeling of being trusted builds morale which, in turn, beefs up productivity and overall efficiency. But how does one convey that feeling of trust in the first place? Through autonomy.

Giving employees the tools and permission to act autonomously shows them that you trust them to get their work done and get it done well. Empowering employees with autonomy helps them feel ownership and pride in their work—meaning they may even go above and beyond your expectations and set a new record for efficiency, thus, contributing to positive workplace behavior.

 

Start Reversing the Inefficiency Spiral with Meeting Management Software

You have to start somewhere when it comes to killing inefficiency before it kills your workplace. Build the first step of your upward spiral of employee morale and productivity with AskCody meeting management platform. It is easy to integrate, very user (and training) friendly, and makes resource planning easy even when it feels like you are managing a million of them all at once. What's even better? You can get a unified platform IT will love who you can minimize the toolbox and have all in one. 

Intigrated meeting management platform

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Rikke Diget Fuglsang

Content and Communications Lead, AskCody