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When we invest in something, it’s reasonable to want to see an equal or better return. This mindset also applies to employers investing in the professional development of their staff. Employers want the best quality and quantity of work that their employees can deliver. In the workplace, demanding efficient productivity from employees, while still maintaining an environment that is both engaging and comfortable, can be a challenge. You want your staff to like you as a superior and enjoy where they work, but at the same time, they must also take you seriously. So, how do you get the best of both worlds? What is the best way to achieve high productivity while maintaining an upbeat workforce?

The general rule to keep in mind when managing employees is that they need to feel valued. You can have all the right business plans, training sessions and tools available, but if your employees don’t feel as if their work is appreciated, it can sour their motivation and productivity.

Here are some helpful tips to keep employee productivity up at work:

1. Schedule a check-in with each individual employee
One-on-one time with staff members is vital to helping them feel valued and important. As someone in a managerial role, this is an easy way to track the deadlines and progress of all of the projects you have running as well as to provide you a good sense of the dynamics within the office.

2. Learn your employees’ interests and unique skillsets
Many times, new hires are thrown into projects without a full assessment of their passions, goals and unique talents. Finding the time to get to know more about your individual employees will help you assign tasks to the right people and develop new, creative ideas.

3. Offer incentives
Giving employees a reward to work toward is a great way to motivate productivity at work. This could be a gift card, a pass to come in late to work one day or buying lunch for the entire team. Work incentives create a fun, competitive work environment, while paying acknowledgment to the employees that went above and beyond their requirements.

4. Balance constructive criticism with compliments
Constructive criticism is a necessary part of the creative process to ensure project expectations are met. However, it's easy to forget to add a positive comment along with the feedback, which can make the worker feel valued—the number one rule to remember. Workers can start to feel bogged down when all they hear is what they did wrong. Offering a well-timed compliment, along with your constructive feedback, can go a long way in keeping the energy of your staff high.

5. Communicate clearly
Everyone processes information differently. The way we explain things doesn't always resonate with everyone, so establishing clear expectations on assignments is a key way to ensure employee productivity is at it’s best. In order to do this effectively, get a good read on what information people need to fully comprehend the task at hand and incorporate any accommodating learning styles, such as visuals, outlines, workshops, one-on-one or group discussions.

6. Create a focus on the main objectives
When projects start to pile up on everyone's plate at work, it is easy to forget about an assignment deadline. To clear up confusion and keep everyone focused, it may be helpful to schedule a department meeting and do a reset. This way, you can check in on the status of all running assignments and projects to make sure everyone is on the same page. Even something as simple as a five-to-10-minute meeting to give updates can be beneficial and ease the tension and stress in the office.

With the new knowledge you’ve discovered on managing your workplace’s productivity and overall environment, it’s time to get out your calendar and start planning how you will use this information to slowly introduce new strategies in your office. Turning an office’s structure 180 degrees all at once can be overwhelming for everyone, so remember it’s a process that takes time to perfect.