Efficiency is such a strong and overused word in companies that it can be intimidating. We understand that it has a positive aura and, at the same time, it is so worn out that it even makes some people cringe (as well as words like "resilience" and "ownership").
We are here to show you objectively what efficiency is to help you understand how to be more efficient without working non-stop. We've said here before, and it should be repeated: it has to do with how you do things and not devoting an unhealthy number of hours to the business, ok?
What is efficiency in a company?
Looking at what interests us within a company, we have two definitions found in the concept of efficiency, according to Oxford:
- 1. The quality of doing something well without wasting time or money.
- 2. Ways of wasting less time and money or of saving time or money.
Why start with the definition of what efficiency is from the dictionary? Simple: To help you understand that efficiency is simply doing a job well, with good performance, and without wasting time.
When you understand that being efficient involves using your time well, avoiding silly mistakes, and delivering something suitable, it's less intimidating. This isn't about being the best in everything or living in competition, but doing your part well.
Examples of efficiency
If you find the definition still very abstract, we'll explain with examples of efficiency to illustrate - and you'll see how simple it is.
- Deliver tasks on time
This is an example of efficiency. You are planning and organizing to do what needs to be done within the expected time. This is efficient because it shows that you can do what is requested properly.
Read more - We have tips to help you organize your work routine here
- Complete tasks without mistakes (or with few errors)
Without mistakes is not always possible - after all, we are human. Inefficiency is always making the same mistakes. A task delivered with expected quality and few errors (not the same old mistakes) is still efficient.
- Understand your way of working and use it in your favor
Some people work better in the afternoon; some are rock stars early in the morning. Understand how you work, at which time you do something best, and try to adapt your work schedule to it. Your deliveries will be, consequently, faster and practically without error because of it.
Differences between efficiency, efficacy, and productivity
Now that we have gone through the concept and examples of efficiency, let's take a step further and tell you how it differs from efficacy or productivity because these three concepts are used side by side so often that it can be confusing, right?
As we have seen, efficiency is doing things as well as possible, as long as expected, to finish work within adequate time, and using a reasonable amount of resources (without waste), using the best of your skills.
Efficacy covers the other side: it does not look at time or used resources, but at quality, at reaching the goal. That is, an effective team delivers quality and achieves the desired result.
Productivity is something we have already explored here in several posts - it is related to both the quantity and the quality of delivery. To have productivity is to deliver as much as possible, with quality, within the expected time, and adequately using resources. A mix of efficiency and efficacy.
6 ways to increase work efficiency
Our focus here is to increase work efficiency, but you will notice that these steps will also help you have more effectiveness and productivity:
1. Establish/know the processes
All repeated work tasks need a clear step-by-step. Part of the time wasted in companies is precisely looking for who does what or how it's done. Avoid this with clear and mapped processes for the whole team to see.
2. Give meaning to tasks connecting them to goals
No company lives only on processes. The tasks and step-by-step cannot be justified with "we always did that." Therefore, connecting what is being done with the goals and objectives of companies helps to give them meaning.
For management, it is the clarity that a task is necessary. For those who work on it, it is the certainty of doing something that matters - and this is a big motivator.
3. Increase the interaction and communication between teams
Clear processes and goals are a great start. Now let's get people talking, which helps them have visibility into processes, transparency in operation, and knowledge of the cause. It avoids errors and improves quality.
4. Decrease interruptions and encourage short meetings
Yes, people need to interact, but an overly busy week of meetings to discuss what will be done means no one is doing their tasks. When the team finally gets to them, it's rushed, and more mistakes happen. Communication, yes - but let's not overdo it.
5. Promote doing one task at a time
It is a common mistake to think that people do multiple tasks simultaneously, and this is requested in job descriptions.
Actually, what we do is jump from one task to another, losing concentration and speed, leading to errors and delays. One task at a time is the best trick for more agility and quality.
6. Review your processes
It is essential to know processes and, from time to time, revise each one to understand whether all the planned steps still make sense, or if any new guidance needs to be added. This helps maintain efficiency.
We know the importance of mapping your processes; if you need help with this particular point, see how Qntrl works.
Now, how about sharing this post to help more people understand how to increase work efficiency?