7 No-Cost Ways to Make Your Team More Productive

Employees will only get as much done as you let them. Smart strategies to keep your staff on track

Written by James Cowan
Yellow House Events CEO Grail Noble. Photo: Arthur Mola

As the founder and CEO of Yellow House Events, Grail Noble produces 100 events across Canada for brands including Google, LG Canada and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Working with a staff of less than 20 people, Noble is an expert at getting top productivity out of her team.

At this year’s PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Idea Exchange in Toronto on June 5, Noble shared some of the ways she keeps her team on track:

Keep meetings under an hour

“No meeting needs to be longer than 45 minutes—ever,” says Noble. Forcing all attendees to stand is excellent way to ensure they keep their thought succinct.

Create “Not To Do Lists”

Keeping track of important tasks is important, but you also need to prevent senior employees from taking on menial jobs. “Make sure you’re not paying someone $85,000 a year to do tasks that could be handled by someone that makes $40,000,” says Noble.

Plan to Take a Break

“We actually schedule breaks right into our calendar,” says Noble. To encourage both breaks and collegiality, Yellow House has a pre-paid coffee shop gift card at its front desk. “Anyone in the office can take anyone else in the coffee out for a coffee—on me,” Noble says. “The only rule is that you can’t take the same person out more than twice in one month.”

Hold a Daily Huddle

Gather your team for a regular, brief meeting. Some offices use the huddle to boost motivation; Yellow House focuses its 30-minute, twice-weekly meeting on discussing tangible goals. “It’s the best 30 minutes that we can spend,” says Noble.”

Staff members each get two minutes to say what he or she wants to accomplish, along with one challenge that’s left the person “stuck” and one thing that staff member has learned recently. “People will hear what’s left other people stuck and say €˜Oh, I can help you with that,'” says Noble. “There’s a great knowledge spillover that happens.”

Offer “No Questions Asked” (NQA) Days

Employees at Noble’s company can take a day to recharge, without having to explain why. “We don’t call them €˜Mental Health Days,’ because no one wants to call and admit that they’re not quite coping,” says Noble. Whatever hours are taken away from the company by NQA days will comes back “ten-fold,” she says.

Schedule “Pomodoros”

Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the eighties, the Pomodoro Technique involves blocking off 25 minutes for focused thought without interruption by email, phones or colleagues (it’s named after the tomato-shaped timer used by Cirillo to count the minutes).

While avoiding chit-chat in an open concept office can be hard, Noble says her staff have learned to signal when they are deep in a pomodoro. “They’ll put a little tomato sign on their forehead or the back of their chairs,” says Noble. “We schedule them right into our calendars so other people can see.” Four of these sessions per day “will change your business,” promises Noble.

Mix-and-mingle your staff

Don’t keep people on the same team from project-to-project, advises Noble, and let members of your marketing team sit right next to product designers. “Keep it fresh,” she says. Not only will it help with knowledge sharing, but it will also ensure employees have the breadth of experience needed for senior roles in the company.


What do you do to boost employee productivity? Share your strategies to keep your team on track using the comments section below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com