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Article 9 min read

21 ways to improve team productivity

Follow these 21 tips to improve team productivity and keep your team running like a well-oiled machine.

By Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Last updated March 29, 2024

What is team productivity?

Team productivity refers to the output and quality of work from a specific team. For example, you may measure a customer service team’s productivity by the number of tickets they close in a week.

Successful team productivity can greatly impact your organization. Productive teams make fewer mistakes, create better quality work, have increased job satisfaction, and improve customer satisfaction.

But productivity isn’t just about churning out more work—it’s about providing employees with the resources they need to do their best work. Taking steps to improve team productivity has widespread benefits like a better customer experience (CX), streamlined workflows, and improved employee experience (EX) and loyalty.

See our tips below for ways to increase your team productivity and start guiding your team toward success.

More in this guide:

21 tips on how to increase team productivity

Increased team productivity benefits both employees and customers. But it’s difficult to know which changes will have the most impact. Start with some of these suggestions to see firsthand how productivity improves customer and employee satisfaction.

1. Celebrate quality work

Employee appreciation is critical to creating a satisfied team. Positive feedback is as important as constructive criticism in guiding your team to better performance.

Even the most confident employees need encouragement from time to time. Whether it’s a quick shoutout in a meeting or a private message celebrating their win, let your team members know you see their hard work.

2. Create a healthy work environment

A healthy work environment is key to growing your team’s skills and retaining your best employees. Improve EX and establish boundaries like manageable workloads and regular work hours.

Creating a positive work environment isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s vital to team success. Disengaged employees cost the global economy more than 9 percent of global GDP, so cultivating a supportive company culture is in everyone’s best interest.

3. Address common roadblocks

Gather feedback from the team to see where they’re held up during their work. For example, is there a long delay before agents are assigned a new case? Are agents having trouble understanding customers on an outdated phone? Create a list of these common roadblocks. Then, prioritize which to resolve first based on potential impact and available resources.

4. Leverage artificial intelligence (AI)

AI helps support employees’ productivity by handling lower-impact tasks that take up a lot of time. Tools such as AI chatbots can offer customers solutions before they speak to an agent or summarize tickets so agents are better prepared to handle them. Similarly, AI call centers can automatically create call transcripts, saving agents valuable time after calls for other tasks.

Additional tools use AI to optimize workflows, prioritize tickets, or track cases so agents can stay better organized with less effort. For example, Zendesk AI helps agents solve problems faster with AI-powered insights and guidance. This includes key customer context, ticket summaries, and intelligent article recommendations agents can use to resolve issues quickly.

A graphic highlights this quote from Ashley Malsbury, community happiness Systems manager at Grove Collaborative: “The primary reason for embracing AI is we’d like to do as much as possible with limited resources to improve our operational efficiency.

5. Use workforce optimization (WFO) tools

Workforce optimization tools use workforce management (WFM) and quality assurance (QA) best practices to streamline workflows and boost team productivity. WFO tools can help teams manage scheduling, time tracking, training, communication, and more.

These tools typically have team-wide visibility, reducing back-and-forth when schedules change. For example, if an urgent project is assigned to an employee with a tight schedule, a WFO tool allows that person to review other team members’ schedules. They can then reassign tasks without contacting everyone to confirm availability.

The fintech company Monese uses Zendesk WFM to create agent schedules using advanced AI and automation. As a result, Monese has seen time savings of 82 percent.

A graphic highlights this quote from Daniel Wright, VP of customer service at Monese: “[Zendesk WFM] reduced a lot of the admin work involved in creating shift patterns and task schedules, resulting in a time saving of 82 percent.

6. Set team goals

Sharing goals is one of the best ways to build team rapport. Shared goals encourage team members to work together to troubleshoot issues and improve overall productivity. Some measurable team goals you can set include:

When unsure how to define your team’s goals, try workforce planning templates. These help businesses identify current team strengths and weaknesses and inform better workforce decisions, like what kind of training would be most helpful.

7. Grow team member independence

Independence isn’t about doing everything on your own. It’s about having the resources to work autonomously and limit interruptions to your work—and the work of your peers. Managers can help facilitate this by checking in with their team. Some employees might appreciate a quick check-in once a day, while others prefer to reach out to managers independently.

Ask employees to set their goals, take the initiative in leading team meetings, and propose resolutions. These steps can help build their confidence to become more independent and productive.

8. Share work responsibilities

Some people have different strengths, which means it might not make sense to distribute tasks so everyone is doing the same thing. Ask employees about their strengths and which tasks they enjoy the most.

Not everyone will get the exact schedule they’d like, but task distribution based on employee strengths and preferences will create more productive outcomes.

9. Take a data-driven approach

Check-in regularly with team members to see where they’re meeting, exceeding, or falling short of performance metrics. Some metrics a customer support team might track to improve productivity include:

If you can identify weaknesses and strengths, you can assign projects and tasks based on individual interests and abilities, boosting morale and productivity. Taking a data-driven approach can also enable you to quickly discover opportunities to improve your business.

A graphic highlights this quote from Angie Veek, senior director of customer experience at Dutch Bros Coffee: “We started sharing a KPI report with our leadership, and that really put our team on the map. All departments now have greater insights into the trends we are seeing, which is helpful in driving improvement plans across the business.”

10. Encourage collaboration and open communication

A collaborative environment allows employees to share knowledge and get help from peers when needed. It takes more than just the right tools to facilitate open communication and collaboration—it also takes a positive company culture.

Encourage quality over quantity for employees and have upper-level employees model this sentiment. Changing company culture takes time, but your team will gradually learn to work together and naturally fill gaps, boosting overall productivity.

11. Offer training and development opportunities

Training and development opportunities keep teams challenged and satisfied. Supporting employee growth is beneficial for the employee, the team, and the company. (Hiring a new employee costs more than retaining or promoting a current team member.)

Employees want to progress through their careers and value these development opportunities, which boost employee engagement and create a stronger and more efficient team.

12. Set clear expectations

Let employees know exactly what you expect from them in their role. Communicate often with team members, giving them honest feedback and clear action items if needed.

High performers should know they’re on the right track, and team members who need help should know their next steps to improve performance. Creating feedback templates to ensure you communicate appropriately is also a good idea.

13. Hold standing meetings

Nobody likes a micromanager, but no one likes an absentee manager, either. Regularly scheduled standing meetings allow employees to discuss project wins, issues, or other work-related problems with their managers.

Keep this time flexible: Schedule enough meetings to cover team needs but also feel free to end gatherings early or cancel them altogether if everything is going well. And don’t forget to set an agenda so your team knows what to expect.

14. Provide regular and fair feedback

Feedback is an essential part of growing a team. Set a schedule and provide individual and team-wide guidance, ensuring you balance positive and constructive notes. Always pair constructive feedback with an actionable goal to improve productivity. Lastly, be sure to end the conversation positively to maintain morale.

15. Be realistic about workloads

More is not always more. If schedules are overloaded, then employees will be overworked and stressed. This can cause careless mistakes, and some people may even slow down work or freeze as a stress response.

Communicate with employees often about their workloads and adjust accordingly. This may seem counterintuitive to boosting productivity, but a realistic workload means fewer mistakes and more room to help teammates out when needed.

16. Gather team feedback

When in doubt, let your employees tell you what they need to be more productive. Perhaps an outdated program is slowing people down, or someone is burnt out after a challenging project and needs a break. Create channels and a culture where employees can ask for what they need, and then you can build productivity-boosting solutions together.

17. Hire a workforce manager

A workforce manager’s responsibilities boil down to increasing productivity. This role includes tasks like:

  • Performance monitoring and reporting
  • Resource allocation
  • Recruitment, training, and development
  • Scheduling

Because workforce managers focus on these key areas, they can greatly impact and improve their team’s efficiency.

18. Build trust among team members

Employees who trust their workplace are over 2.5 times more motivated. According to Gallup, there are a few characteristics that inspire trust from employees:

  • Clear communication
  • Confidence in the future
  • Supporting positive change

In today’s work environment, employees value authenticity more than ever. Trust trickles down, so invest in training for management and create leaders who are unafraid to be honest.

19. Define standard operating procedures

You’ll have some inconsistent results if everyone is just doing their own thing and winging workflows. If you don’t already have standard operating procedures in place, review what your employees are doing to identify how you can create the most efficient workflow.

20. Respect working hours and time off

Time off the clock is important for improving agent productivity. If your team constantly checks their messages or emails, regardless of the time or day, they’re not truly able to unwind.

Time off is essential for preventing burnout. Be strict about a no-contact policy during PTO or off hours—a refreshed team will accomplish more in less time.

21. Support employees on the channels most convenient for them

If your team is seamlessly communicating on a particular platform, then there’s likely no need to shake that up. Enable employees to reach IT or HR on the channels they’re already using—whether those include Microsoft Teams, Slack, or email. Meeting employees where they are makes it easier for everyone involved.

A graphic highlights this quote from Monica Obando, senior HR manager at LATAM Airlines: “We saw how our customer service team was working with Zendesk to become more efficient and improve the customer experience, and we decided to bring that magic to our internal employee operations.”

How to measure team productivity

Measure team productivity using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to get a complete view of team performance. To simplify this process, use metrics you already track and gather employee feedback.

Some workforce management metrics that can also measure employee productivity are:

Boosting productivity isn’t an exact science, so gathering data before and after implementing any changes is essential to identify where areas are positively and negatively impacted.

Frequently asked questions

Improve team productivity with Zendesk

Team productivity is top of mind for all organizations, but especially support teams. To lead a high-performing and impactful team of agents, support leaders require powerful tools for triaging, routing, and managing the entire service center. They also need insights and analytics to optimize their support operations, so they can stay agile and scale in a world of constant change.

Zendesk offers the complete, AI-powered team productivity solution for CX teams in a simple package consisting of the Zendesk for service solution, Zendesk WFM, and Zendesk QA. And it’s all available and ready out of the box for CX teams to start seeing the benefits from day one.

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