Maximising employee productivity is high on every business agenda. What methods are you using to get the most out of your staff? Crack the whip and tell them to get on with it? Block distractions such as access to social media sites? Give them time management training and tools to use?

Greater staff happiness can significantly increase productivity at work. It increases 12% according to researchers at Warwick University. The New Economics Foundation found that it rises up to a staggering 50%.

There are lots of different ways to make your team happy without raiding the HR budget. Perhaps the fact that my 5 productivity hacks are a bit off the wall will make everyone sit up and take notice – and smile.

1. Let them sleep

Many reputable studies have proven beyond doubt the beneficial effects of taking a short nap during the day. A 20-minute ‘power nap’ in the afternoon can restore worker alertness. This is especially true when productivity nosedives after lunch or after a bad night’s sleep.

Did you know that many companies in China have mandatory nap times for their employees? Harness the power of the catnap; encourage staff to take 40 winks when their body tells them to. A quiet room with comfy chairs and a blackout blind may be all that’s required.

2. Look at cute cat pictures

There’s plenty of serious scientific evidence to suggest that spending time looking at adorable animal photos (it doesn’t have to be cats) lowers stress and increases happy feelings. It’s all to with what the behavioural biologist Konrad Lorenz called the ‘baby schema’. Disproportionately large eyes, round faces and small noses, bring out our soft side.

Interestingly, researchers at Hiroshima University also discovered that perusing images of fluffy kittens can make us more productive. So, why not tap into this insight and display baby animal pics around the office? Alternatively, use them as computer background images, and share the occasional funny puppy video. In terms of company benefits, this is a low cost, high reward strategy.

3. Everybody stand up

A simple yet effective method to reenergise your workers is to get them off their office chairs to stand up. We’re constantly told that sitting down all day is bad for our health. Some of the serious long-term consequences include shoulder and back pain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. On a daily basis, it also makes you more tired than being up and about.

One solution is to equip your office with standing desks. These are now gaining popularity as a convenient way to switch between sitting and standing at work. An ergonomically adjusted desk will allow you to stand with the correct posture. And continuous small movements will keep your body energised and the brain cells activated. If your office set-up isn’t suitable or the budget doesn’t stretch, how about investing in standing meeting tables or schedule walking meetings as an alternative?

4. Let the dogs in

Most people tend to relax around pet animals, so what could be a better productivity boost than bringing your dog into work? Pets in the office have a calming and relaxing influence, while taking an interest in the animal provides an excellent opportunity for the whole team to bond and better co-worker relationships to develop.

Several studies show that taking a pet to work can have substantial benefits including increased motivation and better productivity. Researchers at the International Journal of Workplace Health Management also found that pets at work boost morale and lower stress levels, regardless of who the animal belongs to.

While the introduction of a ‘pet at work’ policy needs careful consideration, particularly in the context of pet allergies or fear of animals among your staff, it could be the perfect solution for your company.

5. Make it fun

According to a recent survey, over 90% of executives thought that a sense of humour is important for career progression, while 84% thought that a GSOH help you do a better job. Workers who are up for more laughs, along with managers who encourage them, are more motivated and productive.

A bit of banter in the office goes a long way. Did you know that a good belly laugh works as an effective stress reliever, offering some welcome light relief from the daily grind? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sharing your favourite funny YouTube video has the power to lift the mood in the entire office. And once you have restored the upbeat atmosphere, productivity will be at a high!

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