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Here at Five Interviews we are not all about teaching you how to conduct an interview. We also like to provide you with useful information that will help you manage your employees and create an incredible workplace. In this article we look at some simple, cost effective ways to keep your staff productive and engaged.

Every business owner or manager struggles looking for ways to keep their staff motivated. Unfortunately when it comes to productivity a one size fits all approach doesn’t work. You need to utilize many different tools to keep the various personalities in your business moving in the right direction.

For those of you who have tried to increase productivity you know it is easier said than done. Many organizations spend a lot of time and effort researching and developing strategies to better motivate their staff. For example motivation can range from something as simple as saying “Great work!” to far more elaborate and costly rewards and incentive programs.

The difficulty with productivity initiatives is that they tend to be long term and strategic in nature in order to be successful. Time, cost and complexity (to name a few) are all factors that can impact long term initiatives. Not to say you shouldn’t invest in these areas. Some of the best companies to work for go to great efforts to positively motivate their employees to be productive. However, many organizations spend all their time on these big initiatives and overlook some very simple, cost effective ways to boost productivity. Let’s look at 6 crazy simple ways to boost productivity in your employees.

Chewing Gum

I’m an avid afternoon gum chewer. I never really knew why but I did find that it helped me stay focused, especially as my energy lagged at the end of a long day. Well it turns out I may have been on to something without even knowing it. Researchers at Cardiff University (UK) found that workers who chew gum were able to complete a greater workload. They also found that those who chewed gum had reduced levels of stress. With results like this you might want to consider handing a pack of gum to your staff each week as part of your productivity repertoire.

YouTube Breaks

I hate hearing about employers who block employees from using the Internet at work or at least block certain popular sites (i.e. YouTube, FaceBook etc.). I’ve always found this approach heavy handed on the few who abuse their privileges, while punishing the majority who respect them. If you are one of these employers you may be missing out on a very easy way to increase productivity. Researchers from the National University of Singapore found that surfing the web can actually refresh employees from the monotony of day to day work, allowing them to be productive for longer periods of time. If you are an employer who limits use of the internet, you may want to relax your stance and instead clearly set expectations around usage. A quick break to watch the latest Justin Beiber video may be all your employees need to recharge.

Video Games at Work

We’ve all heard of those companies that have video games at work. The image that comes to mind is a Silicon Valley tech company with a bunch of 20 something nerds vidding out. Well your impression may be correct as to where the trend comes from but this has picked up steam over the years. There may be more to it than a goofy perk at a tech firm. A study from Penn State University has found that video games increases problem solving and the ability in making accurate decisions. Both key attributes for a productive work environment. Not to say you should allow your employees to play video games on their computers every day, but you may want to consider an Xbox or Wii in the employee lunchroom. It may be the perfect tool for employees to use at break time. They have fun and you have a more productive workforce.

Coffee

We all know that a boost of caffeine not only makes you feel good but people in general feel more productive. Why is this? Caffeine, the main active chemical of coffee, blocks adenosine, a chemical that makes you naturally drowsy, increasing concentration and reaction speed. What is equally important with coffee is the ritual of getting a cup of Joe. Getting coffee gets people up and out of their desks. For the mind numbing drone of sitting in front of the computer, this is a good thing. Regular mini breaks are always recommended to get the blood flowing through your body. Getting up from your desk to grab a cup helps facilitate this. So for all you cheapo employers who either provide no coffee or buy the real cheap stuff, you may want to reconsider. A small investment in coffee will go a long way.

The Water Cure

Staying with the theme of beverages, how about water? Such a simple productivity tool but so often overlooked. Why is water important? Check out these stats:

- 75% of Americans live in a constant state of dehydration

-  2% drop in the bodies total water percentage can lead to short term memory loss and analytical thinking including basic math

- The same 2% loss will decrease ones physical performance by up to 7%

- Ability to visually focus, moodiness, fatigue, irritability and false hunger are all effects of a dehydrated body

As you can see, none of these stats support a productive work environment. Between 8-13 cups of water are recommended a day. Encourage water consumption at work. Have a water drinking contest, bring in good purified water or send out daily water reminders. Do what you need to do to encourage your staff to stay hydrated.

Healthy Snacks

Food is the ultimate source of staying productive. Without it fatigue, lack of motivation and moodiness sets in (at least they do with me). Snacking throughout the day helps your employees stay charged and focused. Unfortunately most employers do not provide their employees with food to snack on and if they do it is junk food from a vending machine. I’m not going to get into a rant about junk food. I can safely say that we all know it is bad for you and only temporarily increases blood sugar levels for brief moments of productivity.

What employees need are snacks that keep them productive for long periods and are healthy choices at the same time. Here are some snack choices that you could provide to your employees as healthy motivators:

- Almonds: These little gems are great for brain power. They are packed with nutrients that boost brain activity.

- Raisins: High in energy, low in fat and calories and as an added bonus are packed with antioxidants.

-  Carrots: Another great snack to give you a nice steady blood sugar level for your brain.

-  Dark Chocolate: For all you chocolate lovers, this is the snack for you. It is full of antioxidants and keeps up your sugar levels.  This is only good in moderation of course.

- Sunflower Seeds: These little seeds have been a proven to beat fatigue. Stick to the raw, unsalted ones as they are the healthiest choice.

This list could go on and on as there are many foods that are considered super foods for a productive work day. I just wanted to highlight a few so that you can start to think about offering (or at least encouraging) some food choices that will keep your employees humming along.

These are just a few ideas to increase productivity in your workplace. Best of all for the most part these productivity boosters are simple to incorporate into the workplace and they cost very little. It almost makes you wonder why more businesses don’t do them.

If you are a follower of the Five Interviews system you know the importance of marketing your organization to attract top talent. Innovative and fun productivity practices are great ways to keep your employees happy which in turn will keep them saying good things about you as an employer. Remember the best form of marketing is word of mouth. Productive employees are happy employees and happy employees will do the promotion for you.

So what are you waiting for? Start your employee supply of free gum today. You never know until you try!

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