Making Your Payroll Pay Off for You

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Making Your Payroll Pay Off for You

One of the most significant expenses of any business is its payroll. You certainly don’t begrudge your employees their fair pay for a job well done. On the other hand, you want to be assured that you’re getting fair value for every dollar you pay.

As the person who signs the paychecks for your employees, it’s a smart idea to routinely examine how they’re spending the time for which you’re paying them. Is it possible that some of their time is being wasted - or at least misspent? Clearly, if this is the case, you’re not getting your money’s worth and changes should be made.

Consider these potential problem areas in regard to how your employees spend their time on the clock:

Distractions - Obvious non-work activities like surfing the net, personal email, social media or texting friends and family can be easily managed with policies and rules. Over-socializing with coworkers during the day can be discouraged as well. Less obviously distracting activities can also take employees away from the tasks at hand. These can even include legitimate work activities like attending meetings. Is it absolutely necessary that every employee attend every meeting - or could the information be disseminated via reports or memos to some, allowing them to work on more pertinent tasks while the meeting takes place without them?

Also consider external distractions. Is your workplace set up to minimize employee exposure to a busy street or plaza? For those fond of ‘watching the world go by,” productivity may be enhanced by providing a less-stimulating workspace where they can focus more intently. Even a noisy factory or schoolyard can prove distracting to some people. Ambient music or even normal conversation can divert attention away from one’s own work, so take employees’ preferences into account when setting up the workspace.

Inefficient processes/workflow - It’s certainly worth the effort from time to time to evaluate the processes by which your employees get their tasks completed. Observe their workflow to see if there are places where a smooth, effective rhythm is interrupted. It’s a good idea to ask employees for their thoughts on this to discover where they feel their efficiency is hijacked. Are they spending time on the clock waiting for other things to happen (requisitions to be filled, questions to be answered, permissions to be given…) that stops progress in its tracks? Employee time spent waiting around, unable to act, is not time you want to be paying for. If there are steps you can take to remove obstacles and empower an employee’s autonomy, it will enable her to be more productive with her time.

A helpful exercise may be to have another employee take on a coworker’s duties for several hours to see how she approaches them. When embarking on a “new” job, another person has no preconceived notions of how or why things are done presently. Fresh eyes may provide insight into how tasks could be performed differently - and possibly with greater efficiency.

Outdated/inappropriate technology - It’s always good practice to have the right tools for the job. That being said, when the tools are technology, things can become outdated seemingly overnight. While it’s not necessary to always have the newest devices and latest versions of your technology the minute they come out, it’s important not to get too far behind. Old technology is generally slower and less efficient. You certainly don’t want your employees’ productivity being sabotaged by outdated technology.

Similarly, using the “wrong” technology for the job will surely lead to wasted time. If employees are forced to use technology that isn’t quite the right fit for their use, it will take more time and energy for them to get their work done. Remember, technology, although costly, should improve employee efficiency - not be a source of frustration and delays.

Unnecessary “on site” time - The modern workplace is changing rapidly. More employees work remotely than ever before. Take some time to consider if all the employees who come to your workplace for eight hours every day really need to be there to perform their work. Could at least some of your employees work from home or another location and actually be more productive in less time? Employees working remotely could be paid for exactly the time they put in, alleviating the chance of you paying for more hours than are actually needed to perform the tasks.

You’re glad to pay your employees for the time they dedicate to your business. The key to making your payroll pay off for you is making sure the time you’re paying employees for is productively spent working for your company. Cutting back on wasted - or misspent time is a smart way to maximize the efficiency of your workforce.

How do you minimize wasted employee time in your business?

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