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3 Ways to Increase Productivity Using Workers’ Personality Types

In office environments, balancing work and small talk, focus, and idle chit-chat can sometimes feel like an uphill battle in a desk chair. Maybe that’s why the web is stuffed with productivity articles outlining how to be more deliberate, engaged, and focused at work. Going down that rabbit hole — and we share your enjoyment of the irony here — could lose you a few productive hours all on its own.

But at the end of the day, what do we really know about productivity? And more importantly, what do we know about unproductivity? What distracts employees the most? Beyond what you already know about everyday distractions like text messages, online shopping, news alerts, social media, and everything else our smart devices are begging us to pay attention to, the real office productivity killer might be much more personal. In a recent survey by TSheets, respondents ranked talkative co-workers and co-workers who interrupt as the top distractions at work.

But despite what you may have heard, politeness still matters. So this new revelation of unproductivity and chatty co-workers could make addressing distractions a little … awkward. HR managers and people leaders should be deliberate when embarking on productivity quests, considering different personalities and how they can work better together, ultimately, to produce more.

Personality Types and Productivity in Noisy Environments

Perhaps you’ve administered or taken some version of a personality test for work, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a well-known assessment that assigns respondents to one of 16 personality types. Contrary to popular opinion, the MBTI doesn’t simply determine who is shy and who is outgoing. The test assesses how individuals get their energy (whether they are energized by groups or by being alone).

Now, we don’t need to go into detail about the test itself but, rather, discuss the ways people who are inherently introverted or extroverted might react to noise in their environment. In this case, we’re talking about noise created by co-workers such as background chatter, side conversations, and small talk. You know, typical office banter about Mondays, coffee, and what’s for lunch.

In the Journal of Environmental Psychology’s “Mental Performance in Noise: The Role of Introversion,” researchers tested the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire on medical students to determine their levels of introversion and extroversion before asking them to perform mathematical tasks in noisy and quiet conditions. In conclusion, the extroverted students were more productive in the noisy environment compared to the quiet, whereas more introverted people experienced concentration problems and fatigue in noise. “Correlation analysis,” the researchers explain, “revealed a highly significant negative relation of extroversion and noise annoyance during mental processing.”

While it’s unfair to categorize employees based on their introverted or extroverted tendencies, the information on how different personalities work can help managers ensure the highest productivity levels for their teams. Even small changes to the office environment and workweek can improve focus for a range of personalities working under one roof.

  1. Restructure Breaks

The TSheets unproductivity survey also showed that while productivity experts encourage people to take seven breaks per day for maximum output, 3 out of 5 workers said it’s unlikely they would be able to take seven breaks per day. Meanwhile, 60 percent of respondents said they feel taking a daily lunch break helps boost their productivity. That said, 1 in 5 workers admits to powering through the day without taking a lunch — and they find themselves more productive for it.

Whether employees are eating lunch at their desks or getting away for an hour, one thing is for sure: Breaks should be for re-energizing. And depending on where workers get their energy, whether it’s from socializing or having alone time, not taking proper breaks can really drain a person.

HR managers should encourage leaders and employees to see the value of social breaks and quiet, solo breaks. And employees should feel empowered to take the solo breaks they need or to organize activities and lunches with others during breaks, so they’re re-energized before returning to their work. To emphasize the importance of knowing how workers re-energize, HR managers can have employees take a personality test (like the Myers-Briggs assessment) upon hiring or ask questions about the types of downtime workers find most refreshing.

  1. Offer Flexibility and Remote Working Options

TSheets respondents said the flexibility to work remotely is the No. 1 factor that would make them more productive. Whether introverted or extroverted, sometimes being in a comfortable, familiar environment can help foster creative thinking. This option was second only to more flexible hours, which 61 percent said would be the biggest productivity booster. So flexible hours and the ability to work remotely when possible or appropriate could be a game-changer for productivity.

HR managers who don’t have a remote workforce can first look into the feasibility of employees working remotely. If it seems possible, send out a companywide survey to gauge how much employees might value the option. With enough interest, consider a policy wherein employees can work remotely a specific number of days per week, month, or quarter, or allow them to pick the days they work from home so long as they notify their manager and aren’t needed on site. This flexibility will show trust, and managers can monitor productivity should the privilege need reversing. Since the survey respondents marked remote work as something that would make them the most productive, it could be worth a shot.

  1. Reduce Noise Pollution

If remote work and flexibility or lenient breaks aren’t possible for your specific office environment, there are things you can do to encourage a quiet workspace for those who are distracted by their co-workers. For more introverted employees, noise-canceling headphones are a good investment. It’s also helpful to have areas around the office where employees can work quietly, without interruption. That way, when the volume turns up and people need to focus, they can politely excuse themselves and go to a room with less noise. Offices with an open-office plan can use partitions to block out both noise and visual distractions, so employees can get in the zone.

Do different personality types respond to noise distractions differently? Almost certainly. Will the office environment ever be completely distraction-free? Doubtful! But employers and HR managers can take the time to configure the environment for flexibility and more energizing breaks and give workers a choice between noise and quiet.

To learn more about how to engage the modern workforce, check out Achievers e-book: “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Kim Harris headshotKim Harris is a copywriter and blogger based in Boise, Idaho, who has been putting her journalism background to good use telling true stories and helping businesses grow since 2008. When she’s not writing for TSheets by QuickBooks, you’ll find her queuing up entertainment and plotting her next escape.

 

 

 

 

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What Employees Really Want from Their PTO Package

Paid Time Off (PTO) Is More Than a Privilege

Hard work and determination are as American as Jersey Shore reunions and bacon-topped desserts. And to make ends meet in our highly competitive, ultra-consumerist society, U.S. employees often find themselves putting in long hours, taking fewer lunch breaks, and even getting side-gigs to keep pace. Well, worth it or not, thou who burneth the candle at both ends burneth out entirely. That begs the question, is all the tenacity balanced with sufficient PTO and the ability to stay home when you’re sick? And what’s more, do workplaces feel the need to encourage those hours with cold, hard compensation?

Are 11 Days of PTO Too Many or Not Enough?

A new study by TSheets found employees are, for the most part, getting their hard-earned PTO, as 84 percent of employees said they receive PTO. On average, American workers receive 11 days of PTO per year, which includes both sick and vacation pay. That said, around 16 percent of the employees surveyed said they aren’t receiving any PTO this year, and 21 percent said they get somewhere between six and 10 days.

Be it work reflecting life or life reflecting work, employees who do have time off with compensation are still leaving precious PTO hours unused at the end of the year. In fact, the survey found that 65 percent didn’t use all of their PTO last year — five days, on average, were left unused.

There are reasons for the leftover PTO hours, of course. Some employees have hours that roll over into the next year, and some felt the pressure to work. Others simply didn’t take the time. When you look at respondents in certain age groups, those reasons became more varied.

Although younger people were more likely to have leftover PTO (61 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds versus 39 percent of the 45-and-up crowd), the reasons didn’t quite match up. Less than half (42 percent) of employees aged 55 and over said they didn’t take their PTO in full because of their workload, whereas only 18 percent of the younger employees gave the same reason.

Employees Under Pressure

As much as we’d like to believe our work-life balance is, well … balanced, most employees want to do a good job and put in a hard day’s work. That could be why the majority of the people surveyed (60 percent) gave work-related reasons for not using their PTO, and nearly a third of the respondents said they felt pressured to work instead. To make matters even more confusing for those of us who love a good vacation, almost half of employees admitted to working during vacation or on sick leave.

And what does pressure add to the mix? Well, stress, for one. Without that PTO, employees feel more stressed. Over half (58 percent) of employees who said they didn’t use all of their PTO said they’d describe their stress levels as “unhealthy.”

The PTO Employees Really Want

Since people occasionally need time to recalibrate and take care of personal items without thinking about work, time off isn’t just about vacation days. Nearly half of the employees who participated in the TSheets survey answered that they’d like to get more time off.

But when they were asked to choose between more PTO or a raise, 74 percent said they would take the money. Despite historically high levels of employment, more than 1 in 3 workers (39 percent) said they would accept a job without PTO.

In terms of the type of time off benefits employees desire, paid holidays tops this list, with 91 percent of employees ranking it as the No. 1 benefit. A close second (88 percent) value sick leave, and paid vacation came in third with 87 percent. Interestingly, fewer people said maternity and paternity leave are the most important benefits.

One in 5 said employers shouldn’t provide maternity leave, and 28 percent said employers shouldn’t provide paid paternity leave. With all that said, almost half of the respondents replied they’d take a lower paying job if it meant having more flexible working arrangements.

Choosing the Right Benefits of Employee Health and Well-Being

From what we’ve seen, it’s obvious that PTO is incredibly important for employees. And whether providing the 11-day average is a possibility, employers are responsible for determining whether PTO is a privilege or an integral piece of a compensation package that values an employee’s well-being, rest, and personal time.

So what’s in it for the employer? Happy employees, of course! Use holiday leave, sick leave, and vacation time as a recruiting tool and as a way to retain the best employees. As hardworking as our nation may be, technology has indeed made it easier to do our jobs and has given us the potential to arrange, plan, and track PTO when we need it.

Are you looking for new ways to incentivize the modern workforce? Get started with Achievers’ Incentives eBook.

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About the Author
Kim HarrisKim Harris is a copywriter and blogger based in Boise, Idaho, who has been putting her journalism background to good use telling true stories and helping businesses grow since 2008. When she’s not writing for TSheets by QuickBooks, you’ll find her queuing up entertainment and plotting her next escape.

 

 

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