Time is your company’s most valuable asset. With every tick of the clock, opportunities emerge and deadlines close in. Improving employee productivity is critical for running a successful business. Improving employee productivity requires finesse. If you throw down the hammer, you’re going cause more problems than you solve. 57% of employees that reported feeling high levels of stress at work also reported feeling less productive and disengaged. Among employees experiencing less stress at work, only 10% reported issues with their levels of engagement. (Willis Towers Watson) Modern entrepreneurs and business leaders are using software and other technology to better manage employees, without increasing the stress they feel at the office. 1. Hoverwatch Employee Monitoring Software Hoverwatch is an app that allows employers to monitor their employee’s activity on common time-wasting sites – including WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat. Ideally, this would be deployed on company-owned equipment. Originally designed for families to monitor their children’s activity online, this is a great tool for monitoring employee usage of company-issued Android and Apple smartphones and tablets. The call recording feature is also useful for monitoring employee communication with customers. 2. Trello Task Management Trello is a free project management suite for individuals and teams. It works really well for laying out project flows when working with remote teams. There are paid upgrades available, but the core functionality is completely free. 3. Toggl Employee Time Tracking Toggl allows freelancers and teams to track time spent on tasks related to their work, or anything else. It’s easy to categorize different tasks and ensure that time is credited to the right account. With paid upgrades, you can even invoice clients directly based on the time tracking entries assigned to their project IDs. 4. Built-In Timer App A popular productivity hack that’s received some good press is the Rule of 52 and 17. A study found that the most productive employees worked for 52 minutes at a time, taking a 17-minute break in between. I’ve personally used this strategy to increase my productivity. The best part is this method doesn’t require software, other than the countdown timer built into your phone, computer or tablet. 5. Mute Google Chrome Notifications It seems like every website you visit wants you to opt-into notifications. Over time, the number of Chrome apps and websites sending you notifications can really bite into your focus at work. Your employees aren’t immune – even valid notifications (work emails and IMs) can break up a solid work session. Here’s how employees can review and modify the notifications they allow Chrome to send them: Open Google Chrome Click on the 3 dots in the upper-right hand corner. Select “Settings” from the dropdown. In the search bar at the top of the settings page, type “notifications”. Click “Content Settings” – it’s one of the results that your search will show. Review every website and app on this page. These settings can be changed at anytime by following the steps above. 6. Leverage Big Data Visualization Tools to Communicate Employee Performance Every keystroke and digital interaction can be captured. But, employee productivity reporting is most impactful when it is given context. For example, you should have a dedicated member of your team that measures the success that each employee is having. Depending on the job description, this could be measured in multiple ways – How many calls were handled? How many trouble tickets were resolved with positive feedback from the client? What revenue did the employee generate during a specific period of time? Once you know what’s important to measure, invest time into quantifying the value of an employee. Take the equations and data and generate visually-friendly, interactive reporting. Big Data analytics software – like Microsoft Azure or IBM Watson – can visualize the data in a way that’s easy to comprehend. When you make data easy to understand, employees can see what areas they’re excelling at and falling short. 7. Improve the Comfort and Ergonomic Value of Your Employee’s Workspace Does your employee spend more than five hours a day shackled to their desk? The office chair they are sitting in can cause pressure points – physical pain is one heck of a distraction, and it could prove a serious financial liability for your company. Invest in a highly-rated ergonomic office chair. Use a keyboard and mouse tray to bring input surfaces closer to a natural position – reducing fatigue on joints and wrists. If you’re worried about employee productivity, imagine what carpal tunnel will do to their ability to perform even the most basic computer tasks effectively. 8. Join.Me for Easy Presentations Sometimes an email or a phone call just isn’t enough to communicate the information that employees need in order to do their jobs. Join.Me is a free, powerful presentation tool. Your conference participants will see everything on your screen – or a specific area that you want to highlight for them. Voice and IM capabilities can eliminate the need to juggle a phone and a computer mouse. The part that’s really important for my work is the ability to send a client or team member an instant invite link. The process of getting their computer up and running is automated, with easy-to-follow instructions. This makes the software easy for tech-novices. 9. Slack IM and Communication Suite For real-time, text-based employee communication, it’s hard to beat Slack. This employee communication platform goes beyond simple text – allowing for the attachment of files and other resources. Conversations are organized the same way that Twitter allows for focused social media engagement. Hashtags can help organize chaos, and multiple conversation threads with customized participant lists makes things accessible, without overloading the end-user. The Bottom-Line If improving your bottom-line is important, employee productivity is a great starting point. With the tools and strategies I outlined above, you can improve profitability and employee engagement in just a few steps. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t let your team get bogged down in the digital jungle. I’m sure you have tips and strategies for improving employee engagement as well. I look forward to discussing them with you in the comments section below!