Some of the biggest problems that are costing businesses money aren’t obvious right away. These common workplace issues are easy to avoid — but many companies don’t know how to spot them.
Read on to learn how to identify and solve these six workplace problems and save your business money — no matter your industry.
1. Workplace Distractions
About 70 percent of employees say training could help block distractions and increase productivity. Short attention spans, interruptions and constant emails can all cause workers to lose focus, resulting in less work getting done.
The distractions aren’t always what you’d expect. For example, how your office is organized can be an issue. Though by now pretty well discredited by most workplace research, open-office floor plans continue to be a popular choice for workplace organization. However, these office plans can be some of the noisiest, and noise is a productivity killer.
You don’t need to remodel if your workplace uses an open floor plan, but you may need to get clever. Encourage the use of noise-canceling headphones, provide meeting spaces to avoid on-the-floor chatter and give employees a little bit of privacy.
They may not seem like much, but the four-and-a-half walls of a cubicle do wonders for making workers more productive.
There are other common workplace distractions that you can also cut down on. For example, make sure your office meetings are essential. It can take up to two hours for an employee to get back up to speed after returning from one. While they’re recovering, their productivity and capacity to work will be severely impacted — comparable to losing a full night’s worth of sleep. If you need to pull an employee away from their work, make sure you do so only when necessary.
2. Bad Communication
If your customers and clients are wading through complex sentences and business-speak, they won’t hear what you’re trying to say. Bad communication is a common problem with real costs — by some estimates, almost $400 billion every year.
You can solve this problem by making readers’ time a top priority. You want your writing to be clear and its intent to be obvious. This goes for all forms of communication — press releases, email blasts or when communicating directly with a client.
Some writing forms lend themselves to complicated sentences and a sophisticated vocabulary — like industry-specific press releases, or technical documentation and manuals. Even in professional contexts, hard-to-follow writing will still alienate your readers. No matter the case, you should devote extra time to creating copy that is clear and easy to follow.
3. Voluntary Employee Turnover
Turnover — it’s a problem that costs American businesses a shocking $1 trillion every year. When you lose workers, you also lose their experience with your specific workflow. You will have to spend money hiring a new employee, onboarding them and making sure they have all the training needed to do their job. The total cost of replacing an employee can be anywhere from one to two times their annual salary.
Much of this turnover is preventable. Most, it turns out, isn’t just natural churn. Usually, turnover is more the result of a lack of communication between management and employees about job satisfaction and how workers see themselves within the organization.
A business that tries to save money by hiring employees with less experience and not valuing their current ones won’t save any money. In fact, they’ll lose out on both valuable workers and productivity. Some companies also can’t or won’t invest in the training of new employees. The replacements aren’t fully equipped to do their jobs. That can cost companies even more in lost productivity and error.
It’s a lose-lose situation, and why so many businesses are instead focused on cultivating workplaces that encourage employees to stick around. There are other benefits to fostering the kind of work environment that makes everyone feel like they’re on the same team.
4. Poor Customer Service
Poor customer service is another big cost for businesses, because it encourages people to flip to competitors. By some estimates, it costs companies $41 billion every year. By avoiding common pitfalls — and by implementing good solutions — you can save your business some of that money.
What is the biggest customer service faux pas? There’s no one thing that will cause someone to flip to a competitor. Instead, it’s usually the buildup of many smaller slights. If a client has been redirected multiple times and spent their free time waiting for your representatives to get back to them, they’re naturally going to become frustrated.
High-quality customer service employees will be helpful, patient and good at keeping tabs on customer support tickets. These workers will try to minimize the time someone spends looking for help and know how to compensate a client for their time if they’ve had to wait.
5. Bad or no Data Safety
Phishing schemes or bad data security practices can expose sensitive data and otherwise cost your business huge amounts of money.
Data breaches cost companies $3.92 million on average. That’s primarily in the form of obvious costs, like the fines and fees leveraged by organizations like the FCC. However, businesses shouldn’t discount the loss in consumer trust and damage to client relationships that can come as the result of not properly handling sensitive data.
If your business isn’t taking steps to make sure information is protected, then it’s opening itself up to huge potential costs down the line.
6. Incorrect Bookkeeping
It’s not uncommon for businesses to underpay or overpay the IRS every year.
By working more closely with your accountant — or your accounting team — you can ensure you’re not wasting money overpaying the IRS or being forced to pay fees and fines for underpaying. Bad bookkeeping can also make it harder to get an accurate sense of what’s costing your business money. It could lead your company to make lower-quality financial decisions.
The deductibles your business qualifies for can vary hugely from quarter to quarter. If you’re not keeping on top of your taxes, you could be missing out on huge savings.
Saving Your Business Money With These Fixes
These workplace problems are a huge money-sink if not solved — but all can be fixed if you know how to identify them. By building a culture that holds on to employees and reduces distractions, keeping on top of your data safety and accounting, and ensuring your customer support is top-notch, it’s possible to save money on problems many businesses overlook.