Creating a work environment which encourages high productivity is essential to an organization’s success. All it takes is one de-motivated team member to throw the proverbial monkey wrench into even the best-oiled machines. So, what are the signs of an unproductive workplace and what can companies do to turn low productivity around?

Signs of an Unproductive Workplace

Barriers to workplace productivity include problems with measuring workload, working conditions, management style and employee motivation. Employers need to be in a position to recognize the signs of low productivity so they can start formulating solutions. The following signs should indicate that the workplace isn’t operating as productively as possible.

  • Meetings that don’t start or end on time, don’t have an agenda, don’t have the correct decision makers in the room (sometimes have too many people in a room), have too many meetings and the meetings are too long.
  • Excess electronic communication including too many emails on the same subject, poorly written emails that don’t state action required and copy too many people; voicemails that don’t indicate why the person called and what they need; instant message being used incorrectly
  • High employee turnover because people don’t feel included, valued or clear on their goals.
  • Lack of focus due to increased distractions that include social media, the internet and numerous interruptions from colleagues.

A lack of leadership is also a sign that the workplace is not being productive. This includes not providing direction, support, and encouragement to meet objectives. Not sharing critical information for the completion of goals and inadequate training and awareness on how to be a leader. Insufficient training and development on software, systems, and processes can also lead to counterproductivity. This lack of education wastes time and, at worst, can result in reduced revenues and increased expenses.

Motivating Employees


When workplaces begin to show symptoms of low productivity, managers need to make immediate changes. It is important to remember that humans feed on incentive and respond well to positive energy. To turn low productivity around and start motivating staff employers should take the following steps.

  • Review the company goals and objectives and share them with the entire team. Reward high performers through verbal recognition and additional recognition if possible.
  • Reduce meeting times and frequency to allow employees more time to achieve their goals.
  • Create guidelines for the office environment (whether offices or open plan) that everyone respects and understands.
  • Reduce internal communications and provide guidelines for frequency i.e. email.

Enforcing vacation/holidays is another good way to inspire team members. It encourages them to make a good effort during their work hours and allows them to enjoy their time away from work. Asking staff for their involvement in developing procedures and increased efficiencies to be implemented is also a fantastic way to support employees, making them feel like they are part of the process.

Sharing good news stories and reporting positive customer feedback can also contribute toward’s an employee’s feeling of importance. Implementing stress management guidelines and healthy workplaces (exercise and eating with healthy food choices) to ensure employees have the maximum energy to complete their daily work as well as providing training for those who feel they need additional help in certain areas will provide employees with the support they need.

Low productivity in the workplace can have a dramatic effect on the company but the moment managers see the signs there are immediate changes they need to make to help turn the situation around. Incentives such as improved training, holiday time and rewards can help increase an employee’s sense of job satisfaction. This will, in turn, make the workforce happier, healthier and more productive.