Should You Offer Employee Productivity Tools?

Learn how certain productivity tools and perks can not only improve productivity but also increase employee happiness.

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Should You Offer Employee Productivity Tools?
How productive are your employees?

The role of employees is to execute their work at the highest level of performance. The role of business is to provide them with the knowledge, support, and productivity tools they need to do so. Business leaders provide training and upskilling to fill gaps in understanding and build competency. They offer support and assistance where needed. These resources give employees most of what they need to perform. Productivity tools can add to the mix; enhancing employee performance with resources that let them work smarter, not harder.

When employees ask for accommodation, business leaders work hard to comply. They look for equipment and tools that can help. Some employees are unsure how to ask for assistance, or unsure what tools or help is available. Other employees worry asking for help may signal weakness or inability that could put their employment at risk.

A proactive approach to productivity tools can help meet the needs of all staff members.

A proactive approach to productivity tools can help meet the needs of all staff members. It provides help to those who need assistance now and opens the door for others to ask for help if necessary in the future.

A culture of support

People Operations teams provide a culture of support for all workers in the company — from customer-facing to the C-suite. They offer the tools and resources workers need not only to provide peak performance but to reap the rewards and satisfaction of their job. When organizations put people first, workers respond with high engagement, loyalty, and retention.

Don’t wait for your employees to request accommodations first.

Rather than waiting for a request for an accommodation, proactive employers search for the newest productivity tools and leverage those already in the marketplace. Waiting for a request for assistance or accommodation may mean the employee has been under-producing or under-engaged.

A physical or environmental challenge may not rise to the level of a disability but could be hindering comfort and performance. A supportive workplace offers productivity tools widely to all staff and is targeted to those who need or may benefit from them.

Breaking the bottlenecks

Front-line managers look for bottlenecks in production: these slow output and frustrate workers. They ask for input on streamlining processes, removing barriers, and finding solutions. Some bottlenecks are less obvious. An employee who has difficulty seeing their screen or hearing through their headset might go unnoticed. Productivity may diminish slowly over time, making it difficult to recognize the problem.

Employees who face minor challenges may be discouraged by their own performance, but unsure how (or if it’s safe) to ask for help. Larger challenges may be easier to recognize and address, but small issues can have a big impact. A proactive approach to any challenge employees face can make a huge difference in company and job satisfaction as well as productivity.

When you offer your employees tools, you’re sending a message that support and help are priorities.

When a business offers productivity tools, they help employees who have an immediate need. They also let employees who may have a need in the future that there are resources available. The message to all employees is that support, tools, and help are a priority.

This small change can create a huge culture shift in organizations. When staff members understand their physical and mental wellbeing is important, they take pride in their workplace.

Common challenges and productivity tools to help

Proactive leaders let staff members know there are productivity tools available to meet their needs — even needs they’re unaware of. A computer-bound employee who feels fatigued in their wrist by the afternoon may not ask for help. Offering wrist rests or support bands — before they sustain an injury — helps the employee and the company.

The challenge may be what to offer. A 2019 Canadian study found the most requested accommodations from staff members. Broken down, they represent several areas that can be adapted.

Workspace-related accommodations

These include physical changes, including specialized desks or chairs; lumbar support; the flexibility to sit or stand as needed; designated parking spaces; floor padding for employees who stand all day; ramps; removal of barriers; or moving to a more accessible area in the building.

Non-physical accommodations

These include:

  • Changes to working hours or locations (remote work)
  • reassigning challenging or physically demanding duties
  • Allowing employees with limited mobility to eat at their workstation
  • Job-sharing or reduced hours

Environment-related accommodations

These include:

  • Adjusted lighting
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Restrictions on scented products or perfumes
  • Air filtration systems
  • Higher cubicle walls

IT-related accommodations

These include:

  • Adaptive keyboard/mouse
  • Large or specialized screens
  • Speech-recognition
  • Document reading software

Other assistive devices or adaptations to equipment

These include wrist and footrests and phone headsets.

Offering support in the form of productivity tools

These common productivity tools are frequently requested by employees but rarely offered unless there’s a request. Offering these tools, or opening the discussion that they’re available, sends a clear message. Letting employees know they’re encouraged to ask for and use these tools signals they’re being valued and supported.

Support for feet and legs

Workers on their feet all day might benefit from padded flooring — but go further. Offer staff members a footwear allowance that provides assistance to purchase shoes more suited to long-term standing.

Preventing repetitive stress injuries

Before repetitive stress injuries become candidates for surgery, offer tools like wrist rests and support bands to protect the employee. Seasoned employees may find screens become more challenging to read: they may not be aware adaptive screens or adjustments to lighting can help.

Preventing back injuries

Today we see nearly all workers who lift or carry items wearing back braces: this proactive step protects the worker and the business. There are hundreds of ergonomic and protective items available for nearly every task. Connecting them with the employees who need them or could benefit from their use is a critical first step in increasing productivity, boosting engagement, and protecting staffers.

Getting started

Make workplace safety and ergonomics a priority: beginning with messaging. Let employees know there are resources available that can help them be more comfortable on the job and they’re encouraged to request them. Send employees links to sites that offer ergonomic tips to reduce fatigue, strain, and injuries. These offer suggestions as well as links to products and services that can help.

You may find employees have a need with no readily available solution. The federal Job Accommodation Network’s Ask Jan website has a toolkit of accommodation solutions. For uncommon requests, their panel of experts can help brainstorm solutions.

The payoff — for everyone

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, the challenge is to provide the best employee experience possible. As barriers are removed, productivity rises along with employee satisfaction. When workers are able to produce high-quality output in comfort, they take ownership and remain engaged and retained.

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