Productivity is a priority for many small business owners. Completing projects and tasks on time can correlate with hitting your business objectives. The key to meeting your goals is collaboration. Without it, you run the risk of missing valuable opportunities to grow your business and your workforce.

This post takes a closer look at the financial impact of collaboration on your business and also offers actionable tips to engage and empower your workforce to take on more complex projects.

How does collaboration impact a small business’s bottom line?

Disengaged employees can drag your business down. In the United States, disengaged employees comprise 34 percent of the workforce and cost businesses between $483 and $605 billion dollars each year in lost productivity. As a small business owner, it’s important to effectively collaborate with your staff to keep them engaged. Here are other reasons why every small business needs a workplace collaboration strategy:   

  •  More engaged employees: Disengaged employees can negatively impact your bottom line. Instead of struggling to retain or terminate disengaged workers, take the time to establish practices that actively engage employees from the get-go.
  •  Improved customer service: An exceptional service culture relies on collaboration. For example, resolving a customer complaint often goes beyond a single customer service representative. Service reps and key employees at your business have to work together to nurture meaningful relationships with customers that keep them in the sales funnel.
  •  Increased profitability: Everyone likes money. As a small business owner, staying afloat means generating sales and leads and being able to scale the business. Finding ways to improve communication among employees, vendors, and customers can help your business grow.

Creating a collaborative workplace culture

In order for your business to succeed, you must improve workplace collaboration and overcome productivity gaps. Strategies like the ones below help you gain valuable cross-functional insights and get the most out of routine processes such as meetings.

Learn to delegate

Project management is the driving force behind a collaborative environment, especially within your small business, which relies on a smaller team to get things done. More and more business owners are deploying “agile” methodology and creating weekly sprints (think of these as a “to-do” list for the week), keeping everyone abreast of what their responsibilities are.  Companies who use this methodology can reap the benefits of limiting work in progress, prepping for large-scale projects, and building a network of reliable freelance or contract workers.

Once your project management framework is in place, it’s the role of the business owner to lead the project by delegating responsibilities. You have to decide when it’s worth delegating internally or contracting to someone outside your organization. Outsourcing can lift a burden off of weary entrepreneurs, but it’s crucial to keep an eye on important projects to make sure they’re aligned with your ultimate business goals.

Free up information

Disconnected data can lead to poor strategic decisions, miscommunications, and missed opportunities, which can be disastrous for your small business.  Regardless of whether you use a marketing-focused CRM or a finance-centric ERP system, all employees should be populating business-critical data within systems that can integrate with each other. This way, if your accountant needs to access data from your sales rep, it’s not the end of the world to retrieve and report on it. End-to-end, everyone in your company should have access to relevant data they need to do their jobs.

Make meetings count

We’ve all been in that one meeting that should have been an email. Pointless meetings are one of the greatest productivity killers, and time is money as a business owner. There are only so many hours in the day, so meetings have to center around business-critical discussions. You should be thinking about how to maximize your time, while also making sure you’re coming up with fresh strategies that will advance your business.

Collaboration tools like Slack or Google Hangouts can holistically connect your organization, from the CEO to a remote worker. Project management platforms also help organize and track resources against more complex projects. Processes and tools like these instill a sense of undeniable accountability, ensuring everyone is actually working during meeting times and putting forth actionable ideas.

As a business owner, you have a lot of things on your plate. Constantly worrying about productivity shouldn’t be one of them. Collaboration tools, project management processes, cross-functional communication, and an engaged workforce keep your small business running at full speed.