Most employers are reasonable. You expect employees to be dedicated and hardworking, but you also understand that personal lives don’t stop when they walk in the door. An employee might need to take an important personal call at work, dip out for an hour to visit the dentist, or they might even – gasp! – take a few minutes to scroll through Facebook.

None of this presents a problem unless employees are taking advantage of their flexibility. Maybe you’ve noticed that project deadlines are being missed, tasks are taking longer than usual, or the quality of work is slipping. If that’s the case, now what?

Whether you’re managing a small IT staff or you’re the CEO, keeping employees motivated requires a combination of the right tools, policies, feedback and rewards. Here are three tips for boosting productivity that’s slumping or falling short of expectations.

Set clear goals and expectations

Sometimes a lack of productivity indicates that employees don’t fully understand what’s expected of them – and when. Do you sit down with each employee to set annual, quarterly or even monthly goals? More importantly, are you tracking whether goals are met? Setting expectations doesn’t mean much without follow-through and feedback.

If you’re clear about what’s expected and there are consequences for falling short, employees will be more likely to stay on track. This doesn’t mean you need to create an iron-fist, punitive culture – that’s counterproductive – but it does mean you should create an environment where expectations are clear and employees are held accountable.

If you can, check in with employees every few weeks to find out how their goals are progressing and whether they need help. This will reinforce that you’re paying attention to productivity and progress, but it also makes clear that you’re there to assist if needed.

Use employee monitoring software

Many companies purchase employee monitoring software strictly with data breach prevention in mind. That is well and good – the technology detects and prevents insider threats by alerting you to risky or suspicious behavior. Having these tools in place greatly reduces the risk that your own employees will cause a data breach, whether maliciously or on purpose.

But the most sophisticated software can also be invaluable for monitoring employee productivity. The software can track an employee’s computer actions throughout the day, then aggregate that data to produce detailed metrics, including:

  • A breakdown of how many hours each day were spent on work-related vs. non-work related tasks
  • Customized lists of websites and applications used
  • Minute-to-minute activity monitoring, including how much time was spent on specific projects
  • Easy-to-read dashboards that help you understand how employees are spending their time and the amount of productive hours vs. non-productive hours
  • Reports on active time vs. non-active time

To some employers, this sounds overbearing The key is to be honest and transparent with your employees about the purpose of the software. It’s not a punishment; rather, productivity gains can be made simply by analyzing how time is spent and reprioritizing based on that information. You might even discover tasks that should be eliminated.

It’s important to be reasonable, of course. You’re not going to punish an employee for 10 minutes of inactivity, but you’ll definitely want to initiate a conversation if several hours each day are being wasted on unproductive tasks.

Launch incentive programs

Incentive programs aren’t just for the sales team. A simple “thank you” or “congratulations” is nice, but actually rewarding employees for extra effort and productivity goes a lot further if your goal is motivating and engaging employees

The evidence is more than anecdotal. A survey by U.K. recruiting firm Genesis Associates found that 85 percent of employees feel more motivated when incentives are offered and nearly three-quarters report high office morale during incentive periods. The study also found companies with incentive programs bring in higher profits.

You don’t have to offer employees a luxury car or a trip around the world. Even small incentives like a $100 bonus, an extra day off, or a restaurant gift card go a long way. Click below to learn more about Teramind.

Productivity