By Meredith Wood

You want your workers to put their noses to the grindstone. You want them firing on all cylinders. Because that’s how your company can fly as high as a Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture (the highest flying bird in the world).

Okay! Enough of the metaphors. Let’s discuss the bigger goal here: Getting your employees to be more productive.

Here are six things bosses can do to improve worker productivity:

1. Offer incentives

According to a GloboForce survey, 78% of employees would work harder if they were regularly recognized, and 60% of employees who don’t receive regular recognition are actively looking for new jobs.

So, feedback is certainly welcome because employees want to improve. And everyone likes getting a pat on a back or hearing they did a super job. But what employees really want is to be recognized—AKA rewarded—for their hard work. That typically means salary bonuses or some other sort of perk, like VIP parking, gift certificates, or a pet Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture.

Simply put, employees who feel appreciated work harder and perform better. They’re happier and care more.

2. Improve communication and collaboration

Consider these survey findings from Clear Company, a talent management software company:

  • 86% of employees and execs cite lack of communication or ineffective collaboration for workplace failures.
  • 90% believe decision-makers should seek other opinions before making a final decision.
  • 96% think lack of alignment within a team impacts a project’s outcome.

Clearly, improving collaboration is crucial to improving productivity. To improve collaboration, companies should not only use collaboration tools like Slack or Trello to build transparency and trust and get work done faster, they should encourage idea sharing, solicit feedback from group members, and resist the urge to dictate direction.

Additionally, you should also record key discussions and decisions and make sure everyone is clear about the road ahead. Because when people aren’t on the same page, it’s easy to get lost.

3. Utilize the right tools and cloud technologies

Did you know that carrier pigeons used to be an effective way to deliver messages? Well, they’re not anymore. Your business should be using the latest tools and cloud technologies to be as productive as possible. Otherwise, you might as well be training carrier pigeons.

The good news is there are many free tools to improve productivity at your business. For instance, Google Analytics can help you understand where your marketing is (and isn’t) working. WordPress can make managing your blog easier. Doodle can make scheduling events simpler. And Gusto (formerly ZenPayroll) can quicken the payroll process.

4. Make atmospheric changes

Have you smelled the flowers lately? Perhaps they made you smile. After all, a study from Exeter University found that workers perform better when household plants are placed in the office.

Beyond plants, there are other environmental changes you can make to boost employee performance, like:

  • Letting employees design the office: Research shows that, when employees have control over the office environment, they can be up to 32% more productive.
  • Hang artwork on the walls: Sure, a creepy clown photo may not help productivity, but beautiful or creative artwork will reduce stress and encourage a positive work environment.
  • Make the lighting better: Incorporate natural light where possible, add task lighting in certain work areas, and make sure light wattage is suitable. Working with bad lighting is counterproductive, plain and simple.

5. Promote health and wellness

Now, you don’t have to dress like a famous fitness trainer and constantly talk about the benefits of eating kale and whole grains (though you can if that’s what you’d like to do). But you should offer ways for your workers to live a healthier lifestyle.

Why should you do this? First, healthier workers equal less absenteeism, which costs employers $1,685 per employee. Second, research has shown that those who exercise and eat healthy foods on a regular basis can be up to 25% more productive during the workday.

There are many ways you can encourage your team members to live healthier lifestyles. You could implement a company wellness program, one that rewards employees for things like completing mini-marathons or burning calories. You could offer gym membership discounts, hold yoga sessions, and encourage breaks to relieve stress.

Also, stock the company kitchen with healthy snacks. Brain foods like blueberries, nuts, avocados, whole grains, and dark chocolate can boost focus and memory.

6. Give more paid time-off

Consider offering more vacation days to your employees. Because science has proved that vacations and breaks make us more productive workers.

If your company doesn’t have the resources to allow more paid time off, what you can do is allow for flexible scheduling of work when possible and let employees work from home some days. If you’re not running a business where workers have to be with customers during certain times, focus not on hours worked, but on productivity.

Allow those who finish assigned tasks time away from office and computer screen.

There’s no magic recipe, but you can increase productivity today

Building a truly productive team requires having good company policies, embracing the right tools and technologies, and encouraging the right habits (like getting your seven to eight hours of sleep). You can improve productivity and achieve long-term success.

That’s how you get your team to fly as high as the Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture.

Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. Meredith is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.