Organizational Wellness

Nine Ways to Improve Efficiency in the Workplace

Jan 16, 2024
Last Updated May 10, 2024

Is your team spinning its wheels on low-value tasks? Are employees drained by never-ending to-do lists? Is burnout from inefficient workflows weighing down your workers?

As an HR leader, enhancing workplace efficiency is a top priority — and challenge. 

The good news, is that with a few structural tweaks and management adjustments, you can streamline operations in nearly any business unit. Whether your company is distributed or in-person, you’ll discover nine techniques to:

  • Establish transparent systems for seamless collaboration
  • Prevent workflow bottlenecks before they start
  • Motivate employees through results-driven goal setting
  • Promote meaningful work by eliminating redundancy
  • And more!

Boosting efficiency requires effort but pays long-term dividends through improved moraleretention, and the bottom line. Let’s get started!

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  1. Set Measurable Goals

To maximize workplace efficiency, managers should set clear, measurable goals for their teams. Tangible targets give employees a defined endpoint to work towards, eliminating unnecessary effort. Goals should be specific, quantifiable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART). For example, a sales manager could aim to increase response times by 10% in two months. Tracking progress helps identify where teams need more support to reach objectives.

  1. Outline Expected Communication Methods

Teams work more efficiently when they know the best ways to communicate. This is especially crucial for remote employees in different locations or time zones. Managers may want to set expectations around using real-time versus asynchronous platforms.

You could also provide guidelines on response times for different tools. Expecting quick replies on Slack makes sense, but 24-hour turnaround is often more reasonable for an email.

  1. Foster Transparent Collaboration

When team members have full visibility into shared projects, transparency prevents delays. Rather than constant status updates, project management software tracks workloads, allowing managers to delegate appropriately.

Constructive peer feedback also improves efficiency. If a mistake is caught early, timely input avoids costly rework down the line. Similarly, colleagues can offer assistance to help each other progress faster.

  1. Set Daily Routines for Maximum Focus

With finite time, efficiency is all about maximizing value-adding activities. Employees should establish consistent daily schedules, dedicating specific hours for email or their most demanding cognitive tasks. Time tracking highlights where adjustments can optimize workday calendars.

Since multitasking harms productivity, staff should tackle one task at a time. Understanding when to refuse excess work is key for those striving to meet goals. This is where measurable goals come in handy — when asked to do a task, employees can evaluate whether that work would advance their responsibilities or the company’s goals. Such objective criteria helps them focus on work that truly needs doing.

  1. Embrace Digital Minimalism

Another way to make your workforce more efficient is to embrace digital minimalism, a movement championed by Cal Newport, an author and professor of computer science. This movement reminds us that our attention is finite and easily hijacked by today's technology. Whether Slack, emails, or other messaging apps, digital clutter can stress your employees as it generates a "background hum of anxiety."

To combat this, digital minimalism promotes techniques that reduce distractions and help people focus on the things that add more value to their lives. By limiting notifications, discouraging the use of social media during working hours, and encouraging employees to delete or archive old emails, your staff can increase efficiency.

  1. Optimize the Physical Environment

Your staff's work environment can also greatly improve their efficiency. If you have an in-office team, consider the ambiance of the workspace. Is there enough natural light? Is there greenery? Is it quiet? Does it smell nice? Are they comfortable? 

One way to improve physical wellness is to optimize workstations with ergonomic desks, chairs, and computer monitors. For example, adjustable standing desks allow team members to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day to reduce fatigue.

  1. Leverage Automation Tools

Automation reduces time-consuming, repetitive tasks by streamlining processes and allowing employees to focus on more strategic tasks or work more efficiently. For example, HR teams often have a lot of data entry to do when it comes to inputting employee data into their internal systems and tools. AI and other HR tools can speed that up, and help with other repetitive tasks like payroll and invoicing.

Automation technologies also improve collaboration between departments as employees can access the same up-to-date information from a centralized system. This eliminates any discrepancies or inaccuracies caused by manual data entry or other errors that may occur when dealing with multiple sources of information.

  1. Allow for Flexible Work Hours

Flexible work hours typically enable employees to work on their own schedule. This gives them control over how and when they take breaks to reset or to take care of personal matters. Research shows this type of balance and autonomy over work structure improves employee productivity by helping prevent stress and burnout.  That can lead to improved performance and reduced absenteeism.  

If you introduce flexible work hours, consider setting clear ground rules with your staff. It would not be ideal if, say, your entire customer support team took a break at the same time of day and there was no one to answer customer questions. Managers can set guidelines so business needs don't fall through the cracks. 

  1. Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection

Perfectionism can lead to wasted time and resources workers agonize over marginal improvements at the cost of diminished returns. And, to make matters worse, perfectionism is typically tied to an unwillingness to take risks. This can cause your employees to miss opportunities for creative problem-solving or innovation.

You can encourage your team members to do their work well, not to perfection. This can ultimately help teams increase their efficiency by allowing them to focus their energy on the most important functions, leaving smaller details behind.

Wellness Powers Productivity

Employee wellbeing is at the heart of workforce output. Research shows that struggling in any way can reduce productivity. Workers say they are less productive, for example, when they are lonely, feel unhealthy, are uncomfortable, or upset.

An employee wellbeing program provides workers the support they need to feel and do their best. Wellhub’ seamless platform gives employees access to gym memberships, meditation apps, sleep trackers, personal trainers, and more. 

These tools can help unlock efficiency in your workplace. Speak with a Wellbeing Specialist today to get started!

Company healthcare costs drop by up to 35% with Wellhub! (* Based on proprietary research comparing healthcare costs of active Wellhub users to non-users.) Talk to a Wellbeing Specialist to see how we can help reduce your healthcare spending!



Wellhub Editorial Team

The Wellhub Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.


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