Some downtime is unavoidable. Your employees are not machines that can run non-stop and your machines will encounter occasional problems that interrupt their function. However, you can find ways to reduce the amount of downtime your business experiences.
1. Increase Efficiency
Review all of your processes for ways to increase efficiency. For example, if you have your sales team driving to locations based on when a request came in, rather than geographic location, you can cut down travel time by using route planning software to map out the most efficient way to travel to all of the sales stops on your employee’s route.
2. Figure Out When Downtime Is Occurring
Before you can tackle downtime, you first need to know exactly how much downtime you are experiencing. An automated tracker can tabulate some types of downtime. For example, you could use the software that runs your phone system to determine how much time your employees are spending on personal phone calls. You can also ask employees to keep track of downtime and report it to their supervisor. For instance, if an employee had to wait 30 minutes for a client to show up for a scheduled meeting they would record this and report it as downtime.
3. Provide Employee Training
Employees who have not been adequately trained will tend to have more downtime because they have to correct mistakes, spend time looking up how to accomplish a task or answer a question. They may also struggle to utilize tools, such as computer software, that they do not know how to use efficiently. These employees may spend a lot of time waiting for a supervisor to become available to assist them with their work. If you notice employees are making excessive amounts of mistakes or struggling with productivity, consider adjusting your training program.
4. Solicit Employee Feedback
Sometimes processes that look good on paper do not work as well in production. The people who actually do the work can often provide you with valuable feedback about what is causing downtime and how the downtime can be avoided. For example, if your employees are frequently having to stand in line waiting to get to the printer, you may not be aware of it, because you have your own printer in your office and do not see it happening. You may be able to solve this problem easily by adding an additional printer or finding ways to reduce the need to print.
5. Maintain Your Equipment
Equipment that breaks down frequently or does not function efficiently can be a major source of downtime and employee frustration. Many equipment malfunctions can be avoided by regularly maintaining equipment and promptly fixing any problems or replacing equipment that can not be repaired. You should also periodically assess whether newer versions of your equipment are available that can perform the same function more efficiently and with less downtime.
6. Consider Outsourcing
Some functions, such as IT or accounting, may be able to be performed more cost-effectively by outsourcing. Additionally, you can use outsourcing to supplement your existing staff, so that if the volume of work you have exceeds their capacity, you can call in outside help to handle the overflow. For example, if your IT department has its hands full implementing a new software package, you may want to outsource your server maintenance to avoid having the servers go down with no internal staff available to quickly get them back online.
7. Evaluate Your Performance
You can not know whether your downtime reduction strategies are working if you do not regularly evaluate your performance. By using analytical software and conducting interviews with your team, you should be able to determine what is working and what is not and change your strategies to achieve better results.
Less downtime means more profits. These seven strategies can help you boost employee morale, increase productivity and get the most out of your limited resources.