65 Ways to Maximise Your Business Efficiency
What Is Business Efficiency?
Business efficiency refers to how much output a firm can produce from a single unit of input. The higher the output, the higher the efficiency. Efficiency can be boosted in two ways: either by reducing input, or by increasing output per unit of input.
However, efficiency is not just about cutting costs and increasing productivity: whichever strategy is implemented, efficiency has to be sustainable in the long run to really bring value. In addition, certain implementations will require higher investments, and others may take a longer time to produce results.
For example, investing in an advanced office telephone system with relevant features will naturally incur costs, however the benefits will pay off in the long run and make a business more efficient in their internal and external communication.
On the other hand, you can easily boost your business efficiency with more affordable changes. For example, integrate a chatbot function within your ecommerce web design to take care of basic customer questions in an instant, or purchase a contactless card payment machine to swiftly manage transactions in your store.
Finding the right balance between investing in efficiency in the short-run and in the long-run is often the real challenge. In this article we cover 65 different sustainable ways to maximise business efficiency, covering all aspects of the business. They are split up into three categories:
Check out our infographic below for a full list of our 65 tips to boost business efficiency.
Use the Right Technology
Technology has become a game-changer when it comes to business efficiency, as it can drastically reduce costs and increase output within extremely short timespans.
This is especially the case for larger businesses, where due to economies of scale, the smallest improvement on each unit of input can lead to massive savings in costs when considering the whole production.
Therefore, larger corporations often chase the latest state-of-the-art technology to stay competitive and to gain an edge over competitors.
In smaller businesses, shortage of liquidity is often an issue, and it may not always make sense to invest in new expensive technologies. On the other hand, technologies are often easier and faster to implement in smaller businesses due to fewer bureaucratic processes compared to large corporations.
The technologies listed in this article have been selected while still keeping the financial constraints that affect small businesses in mind. Therefore, they have all low entry costs and should be rather easy to adopt and integrate within the business.
1. Invest in a fast internet connection. Avoid employee frustration and ensure that every online task is carried out smoothly and with no interruptions.
2. Improve customer experience with chatbots. Integrate chatbots on your website, as they can answer common queries automatically. And, if the case needs human attention can swiftly provide background information.
3. Equip your office with the right phone system. Improve internal and external communication with an auto-attendant feature, speed dial, conference call features, switchboards, on-hold music, etc.
4. Optimise your writing with AI-based software. Automatically proofread your writing, fix spelling and grammar mistakes, and save time with AI-based software. Software can be used to proofread both internal communication as well as content for marketing emails.
5. Backup, store, and match data online with a cloud system. Access data from anywhere and from different devices. Lift the pressure from your own hardware and servers by transferring data to online platforms.
6. Purchase a cloud-friendly printer. Digitise documents and access files directly from the printer. Having a business printer that is connected and accessible will vastly improve your business efficiency.
7. Get the help of a recruiting software when hunting for talents. Skim through thousands of CVs and find the profiles that best match your queries. Some software integrate a personality assessment feature to help identify the personality traits of the candidates during the interviews.
8. Speed up workflow and effortlessly take notes at meetings with Speech-to-Text software. Transcribe both live voices and digital records. This lets you focus on what is being said in the moment, and you’ll never miss a key message from a presentation.
9. Save the money of hiring an accountant and manage salaries in-house with payroll software. Payroll management is important, but does not have to cost a fortune. There are various software out there that can make your duties easier to manage.
10. Use social media to conduct surveys. Market research can be done cheaply on social media and enables you to reach out to a broad segment of customers. Various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin enable you to create or share polls with your audience.
11. Stay organised with task management applications. Make it easier to prioritise work, track which tasks are in progress and their stage of completion. Applications like Trello and Workzone are intuitive and easy to use.
12. Install web browser extensions to pause notifications and temporarily block social media. Limit constant interruptions and distractions.
13. Use CRM software. Store data about your sales and customers, create and keep track of different metrics, personalise one-to-one customer journeys.
14. Exercise your finger coordination to type faster. Try out some online games developed for the purpose. Good examples are Barracuda and Fingerjig.
15. Invest in software for email marketing campaigns. Cover a broad target at low costs, create customer databases and schedule activities. There are many software available and different packages to choose from: MailChimp, GetResponse, AWebest, Constant Contact.
16. Use AI software for emails. Categorise emails, set priorities, set automatic responses, follow up on leads, and arrange appointments with salespersons.
17. Organise your inbox with folders and tags. Keep your inbox tidy to ensure you don't miss emails. You can also auto-filter incoming emails to streamline where certain types of emails will go, so you have all similar emails in one place.
18. Track web analytics. Monitor how users interact with your website and measure which sites and/or campaigns generate most traffic. The most popular tool is Google Analytics, and there are many online courses you can take to make yourself proficient in it.
19. Use project management software. Oversee workforce, tasks and time management, communication, custom roles etc. Process Street is a platform that suits both startups and large corporations.
20. Improve Search Engine Optimisation. Boost organic traffic to your website by increasing your ranking on search engines. This is not a quick-fix, as SEO is a long-term game. If done correctly, you will see huge benefits in increasing your visibility in the search engines.
21. Invest in fast ePOS systems. If you run a retail business, or are in the hospitality industry, having a contactless payment machine will shave off seconds in the checkout process. This will not only lead to happier customers, but will also result in easier work for your employees.
22. Don’t neglect social media. You can boost awareness, build communities, and convert clients with social media. The power of social media is often left unexploited, so be sure to have a thought-out SoMe strategy for your business. SoMe platforms also offer highly customisable paid campaign plans.
23. Increase exposure with affiliate marketing. Collaborate with industry professionals to boost your exposure and generate more leads. This is an efficient way to garner more online traffic, and to connect with leads you may not have on your own.
24. Outsource projects you cannot handle. Use online platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and GetFriday, that have a community of professionals and freelancers that can take up some of the work from you.
25. Automatically monitor the quality of your employees’ phone calls. Create statistics on performances and get live signals when something unusual is being detected during a phone call. This can save supervisors hundreds of hours of work listening to phone records. Two good options for this type of software are Callminer and Cogitocorp.
26. Secure your business against viruses and hackers with firewalls and antiviruses. Small businesses, in particular, are more vulnerable to attacks than larger corporations due to limited finances. Ensure your data is safe by investing in the right antivirus programmes - it will protect you in the long-run.
27. Install good office lighting. Being able to read well may seem like a basic tip, but poor lighting can radically undermine productivity. Ensure your employees can work in optimal light conditions in order to avoid eye strain.
Optimise HR Management
Employees are at the heart of every company: they are the source of creativity and innovation, and are also the ones representing the company when meeting with clients, partners, and suppliers.
Managing employees is always a challenging task for the HR department and managers in general. Firstly, the competition for the best workers on the job market is very high, and retaining employees should be at the forefront of every management teams’ objectives.
In addition, it is difficult to set expectations in terms of productivity. In fact, pushing employees to increase their performance might boost productivity in the short term, but might also tire them out in the long run.
In our list of 65 ways to maximise business efficiency, we have dedicated a section to HR management, sharing a set of practices and tips that businesses can implement to get the best out of their employees, in ways that are sustainable also on a long-term basis.
28. Figure out which organisational structure is best for your business. A flat structure stimulates self-reliance, creativity and collaboration, while a more hierarchical structure makes it easier to exercise control and maintain clarity. Once you have settled on a structure, be sure to find employees that are well suited to your company’s structure.
29.Complete challenging tasks first. Generally, productivity is highest in the morning, so you should keep the least demanding ones for the afternoon when productivity decreases.
30. Set clear and measurable goals. Ensure ensure the whole organisation proceeds in the same direction and at the same pace. By setting clear goals that are measurable, you make them more attainable.
31. Perform one task at a time. Multitasking can often compromise quality and may still take longer than dealing with tasks one by one. Try to instill this in your employees to avoid drops in productivity.
32. Encourage teamwork. Employees should be invited to share their thoughts and feedback on improvement. Some tasks, such as brainstorming and idea creation, are better performed in teams.
33. Enforce the 2-minute rule. Any task that requires less than 2 minutes should be performed right away. If you receive a task that you know can be completed right away, it’s best to get it done so you don’t have to worry about it in future.
34. Encourage employees to use breaks wisely. Studies suggest short breaks should be held for every 90 minutes of work. Ensure your employees feel comfortable taking breaks. This could be in the form of a walk after lunch, a coffee break in the afternoon, or other ways that fit into your company culture.
35. Allow working from home. Employees that have the flexibility to work from home will be grateful and can ultimately perform better.
36. Use the last 2 hours on a Friday to plan the upcoming week. Winding down at the end of the week, it helps the mind to adjust to plan ahead for Monday, and means employees can actually enjoy the weekends because they feel prepared for it.
37. Avoid unnecessary meetings. Ensure meetings have an objective and invite only necessary employees. Consider if an email is more effective than a meeting.
38. Don't always aim for perfection. Rather, employees should aim to find the ideal balance between the importance of a task and the time spent on it. Being stuck on a task can be counterproductive as it takes time away from other tasks.
39. Plan team building events. Boost employee cooperation, improve morale, and potentially reduce friction.
40. Listen to employees and obtain feedback. Invite them to share thoughts on what could be improved within their projects.
41. Provide financial rewards and bonuses. Increase employee motivation and a healthy competitive spirit.
42. Consider making anonymous surveys. Every six months, to get feedback on what is not working well within the company and what can be improved.
43. Prioritise attitude over skills. In the recruiting process, when possible and depending on the job, give more weight to attitude - it will pay off in the long run. Naturally, relevant skills matter, but a positive attitude that fits well within the company culture is crucial.
44. Offer educational courses. Ensure that your employees stay up to date and that everyone can access and utilise the newest technologies available. If possible, create an ‘educational budget’ that can be used by employees for relevant courses to boost their industry knowledge and skills.
45. Evaluate performances. Feedback is crucial, and dedicating meetings where supervisors spend time with employees to pinpoint what has been done well, and what can be improved, can have long-term benefits on productivity and motivation.
46. Stimulate involvement. Provide an overview and details on the project so that employees will know how their tasks contribute to the whole picture. This will increase their sense of responsibility, loyalty, and productivity level.
47. Incorporate CSR principles. Increase employee and customer loyalty by making CSR a core part of your business.
Managing HR in an efficient way will resolve friction, favour creativity, innovation and will improve productivity and talent retention. And these factors will all reflect on business efficiency, either with immediate effect or in the long-run.
Creating the Right Work Culture & Environment
Work culture refers to employees’ habits, practices, attitudes, and values. Work environment is the physical place in which the culture evolves. Culture and environment are closely linked and interdependent, and constantly shape one another.
The different practices performed within the company, and often initiated by the employees themselves, are key in building and shaping the work culture and the environment.
A positive work culture can boost employees satisfaction, which in turn reflects on the level of productivity. A positive work culture also promotes cooperation and communication flow.
A series of measures can be pursued to build cooperation, boost satisfaction, and increase productivity. In turn, these measures can result in a more efficient business.
48. Consistently communicate company values. This will ensure that employees feel more integrated within the company and pursue the same direction. Ensure this is done often and through multiple channels, so they are top-of-mind for employees.
49. Gather for 5-10 minutes every morning to chat over a cup of coffee. Having a ‘soft’ start to the day helps break the ice and strengthen positive relations between employees. If this isn’t feasible on a daily basis, introduce it as a weekly plan.
50. Encourage video calls over phone calls. Visibility increases empathy, cooperation and mutual respect. If you have remote workers, video calls can have a more positive effect, as it can foster feelings of inclusivity and community - despite being physically apart.
51. Avoid strict dress codes. A positive correlation has been identified between the lack of a dress code and employees’ happiness. In some instances, such as client meetings, formal dress codes may be required. However, if a role is not client-facing, allowing more business casual attire may lead to more comfortable and therefore productive employees.
52. Arrange social gatherings on Fridays - outside the office. Meeting co-workers in a different environment, changes the social dynamics and offers a chance to get bond with each other.
53. Discourage working overtime. A good work-life balance pays off in the long run in terms of productivity and reduces the risk of burnouts. Every employee has a life outside of work, and recognising this will certainly be appreciated by your staff.
54. Provide gym memberships or set up an in-house gym. Being physically active is known to maintain mental sharpness, and it is in a business’ interest to have healthy employees. Encourage physical activity by having an office gym, or offer memberships as benefits. Alternatively, you can start a company running club to get a boost of endorphins.
55. Build power napping corners. Studies show how a 10-15 minutes nap in the afternoon increases brain function and improves memory.
56. Free coffee culture. Coffee boosts concentration and energy level. Plus, we all like to give ourselves a little reward after completing a task.
57. Avoid loud music. Research shows people are likely to get distracted by loud office music - whether they like the music or not! In some settings, like receptions or break rooms, music may be appropriate, but otherwise steer clear of music that could potentially cause distractions.
58. Free fresh fruit policy. Provide a healthy snack to keep your employees sustained and focused.
59. Furbish the office with plants and flowers. It improves the aesthetics of the office and is said to increase concentration and productivity.
60. Hang art on the walls. A study revealed that having something nice to look at while working increases creativity and productivity, while reducing stress.
61. Learn how to say no. Employees should feel entitled to say 'no' to avoid overload and drops in productivity levels. Supervisors will then take into consideration the case and decide whether to skip or proceed with assigning the task.
62. Allow headsets to avoid distractions. Although loud office music can be distracting, listening to music through earphones can have a positive effect.
63. Implement a Do-Not-Disturb system. When an employee is in high need for concentration to solve a difficult task, a signal to tell coworkers not to disturb them can be useful. This is particularly necessary in some open-plan offices. Of course this should not be for hours at a time, but working for 20 minutes without interruptions can be hugely beneficial.
64. Empty your inbox by the end of the week. Not only does this ensure that the company is highly efficient in responding to emails, it also helps employees clear their mind during the weekend.
65. Be flexible with working hours. Depending on the company structure, employees that can customise their working schedule can be more productive than if you hold a rigid schedule.
A positive work culture and a positive work environment guarantee that healthy and satisfied employees cooperate more efficiently with one another, and show a higher commitment at work also in the long run.
Drive Up Your Business Efficiency
As business structures, resources, and cultures can vary so much, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to maximising business efficiency. Our 65 tips are meant as a departing point and inspiration to understand which implementations can benefit your business.