Whether you’re launching a startup with a remote team or managing one in-house, your employees’ performance impacts your business’ overall productivity and efficiency.
On top of setting strategic goals, effective communication, and employee incentive programs, one other way to help boost employee performance is through technology.
In a 2018 report on the impact of a digitally empowered workforce, it was shown that “employees working for companies that make the necessary business apps readily available and accessible report 17% less time spent on manual processes, a 16% increase in team collaboration, and 16% faster decision-making.”
With hundreds of thousands of apps, websites, and platforms available at your disposal, it can be overwhelming to make a decision on which ones to use.
I’ve tried a lot of them, but here’s a shortlist of the best productivity tools to boost your employees’ performance.
Asana is a popular project management tool with a ton of helpful features that can help manage and boost employees’ performance.
You can choose between a variety of different workflow templates (e.g., product launch, editorial calendar, and event planning) that allow you to delegate tasks, track progress, and send feedback all in one space.
Also, these templates have been tried and tested by various teams, so you save your team the time of creating one from scratch.
Used by over 70,000 companies across the globe, Asana offers a Basic plan for free, with limited access (maximum of 15 teammates) and a Premium and Business plan for $10.99 and $24.99 per month, respectively.
Slack is one of the more popular productivity tools in the market because of its easy to use instant messaging format, easy integrations with other applications like MailChimp, Google Drive, and ZenDesk.
Slack allows you to create channels where you can hold specific conversations within specific departments and projects.
These channels make it easier not only for your team to keep track of the conversations, but also can find files shared more easily.
Slack offers a free plan with limited features such as access to a finite amount of messages and a limited number of integrations with other apps.
Paid plans start at $6.67 to $12.50 per month for larger businesses and include features like unlimited message history and video calls for large groups.
3. Google Drive
Having a centralized cloud storage system can also help drive employees’ performance forward. Google Drive is incredibly helpful for online file storage, making it easier for your employees to access and organize files by keeping them in one space.
You can also use this to create and store documents and share them with your team.
While it can be used for free, you can choose to upgrade your online storage space. It starts at $8 per active user per month, with an additional $1 per 25 GB used.
4. Google Docs
Another simple yet popular tool that can help boost employee performance is Google Docs.
Google Docs allows you to collaborate on documents online. You can draft documents with team members and share suggestions with clients without the hassle of opening multiple documents in your email first.
This easy-to-use tool not only promotes efficient collaboration but also makes file sharing simple and straightforward.
While Google Docs can be used for free, you can also purchase a G Suite plan with prices ranging from $6 to $25 per user per month.
Paid plans increase storage space and offer more features such as Cloud Search–a Vault to retain, archive, and search data, and endpoint management.
In an article published in The Wall Street Journal, it was stated that the number of software apps being integrated into businesses has increased by 68%.
The average company uses roughly 130 apps. Zapier enables you to automate a specific action that uses multiple apps.
So instead of opening and monitoring a host of apps, Zapier does the work for you.
Let’s say you want to save all of your Gmail attachments to your Dropbox. Zapier can automate that for you.
If you want to automatically add subscribers from an Excel spreadsheet to MailChimp, Zapier can also automate that.
With access to more than 2,000 apps, you won’t need to worry about opening multiple apps and manually doing the work yourself. Zapier automates your workflow, making your entire process more streamlined and time-efficient.
Zapier offers a Free plan with very limited features, with paid plans ranging from $24.99 to $748.75 per month. They have four paid plans to choose from that provide more features, the higher you go.
6. Time Doctor
Time Doctor is an employee tracking tool that helps you monitor your team’s daily activities. This is also great if you work with freelancers who charge you by the hour.
It has features like daily employee time reports, website and application usage monitoring, and pop-up alerts to prevent employees from getting distracted. This tool helps stop procrastination and ensures that your employees do their jobs.
In one of Time Doctor’s case studies, Rob Bertholf of Bertholf Consulting says:
“Before using Time Doctor, I tried all sorts of project management tools which unfortunately didn’t help me much in increasing our productivity… Several years ago I had found out about this amazing software called Time Doctor. I had everyone install it. And boom! On that very same day, I recorded screenshots and saw that some of our employees were using Facebook and YouTube. I was able to warn them and remove the logged time. This has increased our team’s efficiency and accountability and development progress with consistent employee tracking.”
Time Doctor offers a free 14-day trial, with prices ranging from $12 to $999 per month for up to 50 users.
With Swinbox’s technology, you can automatically sort your emails by priority. You can also assign tasks to other teammates, and collaborate with them through Swinbox’s comments tool.
This helps initiate smoother conversations with and within your team, leading to improving their overall performance.
To add to that, it integrates seamlessly with third-party applications like Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, and Evernote. You can also store files in the cloud.
Swinbox offers their Free plan with a limited number of users, tasks, and lists, while their Premium plan starts at $11 per month, giving you unlimited access to customize and manage your emails.
Designed for marketers, CoSchedule’s goal is to have your entire marketing team operating out of one platform.
Simply put, CoSchedule is an easy to use marketing calendar that allows you to plan, formulate, and promote all types of marketing content in one place. These help you and your employees save time, organize your workflows, consolidate tasks, and track progress more efficiently.
The Blog Calendar is priced at $24 per user per month, while the Marketing Calendar is priced at $49 per user per month, and the Marketing Suite price will depend on your specific needs.
Buffer is especially helpful for social media management.
They offer two product packages:
The features included in this product package help you and your team draft, edit, manage, and directly schedule posts on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Unlike other social media management tools, Buffer can automatically post content on Instagram instead of just sending you a reminder to post.
This product package provides unlimited reports that include in-depth social analysis, targeting performance overview, post analytics, hashtag performance, audience demographics, and more.
They also provide strategic recommendations you can use to help boost your team’s performance while integrating them into your social media strategies.
Whether you choose to avail of the Publish or Analyze service, each product will have its own merits in terms of helping you boost employees’ performance.
You can also avail of both products for a more holistic and seamless social media approach.
Buffer’s Publish services range from $15-99 a month, with the number of social accounts, scheduled posts, and users varying across three plans. Their Analyze services range from $35 to $50 a month, with the number of social accounts and other features varying across two plans.
One of the critical factors affecting 95% of your customers’ buying decisions is the overall experience and support they get from a company.
LiveAgent helps boost your customer service employees’ performance by attending to your customers’ calls, emails, and live chat inquiries in one platform.
Additionally, LiveAgent allows you to weed out potential SPAM emails and live chat inquiries. That way, your customer support team can only focus on questions coming from real-live leads and customers.
LiveAgent offers a free plan that’ll give you access to one email address, one live chat button, and one phone number.
According to a report by Demand Gen, 51% of marketers aren’t satisfied with the level of communication between teams, while 53% of sales professionals aren’t pleased with marketing’s support.
Your marketing and sales teams are like your bread and butter. They must work hand in hand to achieve your goals.
In an article published in SuperOffice, Sirius Decisions found that companies that aligned their sales and marketing teams achieved 24% faster growth rates and 27% more rapid profit growth within a year.
Pardot is a B2B marketing automation platform that can help increase employees’ performance since it bridges the gap between your marketing and sales teams.
It’s a subsidiary of Salesforce and automates everyday marketing tasks like creating digital marketing campaigns and generating leads.
You can also track your performance and predict customer behavior with Pardot’s AI-powered Einstein’s behavior score.
Pardot plans range from $1,250 to $4,000 per month, with varying degrees of access and functionality across the three plans.
In an article written in Forbes, it was stated that 20% of a sales rep’s time was used on CRM data entry and other administrative tasks. That’s roughly a whole day’s worth of work!
Whether it’s researching for leads or creating a master list of contacts, this can be time-consuming.
SalesIntel is a business intelligence software that provides accurate, human-verified contact data for sales and marketing purposes.
Used mostly by small to medium enterprises that need reliable data, SalesIntel helps boost your employees’ performance by saving hours of time going through outdated lists and information.
As a contact and business intelligence data provider, they boast a 95% data accuracy. Each direct dial number, email, contact name, title, and company is tested and verified by their research team. This comes in handy especially in areas such as lead generation and lead nurturing.
SalesIntel can also help in checking Linkedin profiles and phone numbers to identify updated ones. That gives you a steady stream of good-fit leads for the sales team, giving them a reliable sales pipeline.
The software also helps create an ideal customer profile by combining firmographic, technographic, and behavioral data points from more than 60,000 US-based businesses. SalesIntel customizes its prices to the needs and goals of its clients.
According to an article published in SaleCycle, 73% of respondents in a marketing census say that email marketing has the best return on investment compared to any platform.
Whether you’re already doing email marketing or are thinking of integrating it into your marketing plan, then you might want to consider a tool like Automizy to help you out.
Automizy simplifies your email marketing by combining essential email marketing features with artificial intelligence (AI) technology to help you increase your open rates.
They have a visual automation builder where you can design a unique emailing experience for your contacts.
You can also set up sales funnels, tag subscribers based on website behavior, run A/B tests for email subject lines, segment subscribers based on email opens, clicks, and more.
Automizy’s tagline reads, “Improve your open rate by 34%.”
UK-based Kuber Ventures is just one example of Automizy’s success stories, with a 33% increase in open rates within the span of three months.
So if you’re looking to boost performance in this area, give their free 14 day trial period a go.
Automizy’s paid plans range from $9 per month for a maximum of 200 contacts to $119 per month for a maximum of 10,000 contacts.
Evernote is a digital note-taking tool that helps you organize and share your notes with your team.
As a pioneer brand in digital note-taking, Evernote is known for its two best features: a powerful search tool that can help you find specific words in documents, files, and even photos.
Its web clipper allows you to copy and paste entire web pages into your note without having to highlight, copy, and paste.
These features can help boost employees’ performance through highly organized and centralized notes.
These make them easily accessible to and among team members and help cut down on redundant efforts of taking and sharing notes manually.
You can use this tool for free or upgrade to one of their paid plans, which starts at $7.99 per month and user.
Lifesize is the world’s first global 4K video conferencing solution.
In August 2019, Lifesize published a report predicting that nearly 50% of the U.S. workforce will be using video conferencing by 2020.
With Lifesize, you can immediately start a video or call with your colleagues by clicking a name on your call directory and simply adding more people to make it a group call.
Unlike its counterparts like Zoom and Google Hangouts, Lifesize boasts HD recording and sharing of videos via a personal video library and ensures consistent experiences across all devices.
It also has a lock meeting feature, which adds a second layer of privacy to help you avoid getting Zoombombed during meetings.
Lifesize offers a free plan which is available for six months with limited features.
Their paid plans range from $12.50 to $14.95 per host per month with access and additional features varying depending on your plan.
Another tool that can help improve employees’ performance are Gantt charts, which make it easy for tasks to be assigned and progress to be tracked. Team members are now held accountable to keep your team organized, productive, and deliver projects on time.
While you can make a Gantt chart on an Excel spreadsheet, GanttPro optimizes and automates workflows while providing better visualization to track your team’s progress.
GanttPro offers plans for individuals, teams, and enterprises. Individual plans cost $15 per user per month, team plans cost $8.90 per user per month, and they offer enterprise plans for bigger teams.
Workplace by Facebook is a tool that helps your employees connect with each other.
Previously called Workplace, it was acquired by Facebook in 2018, and follows Facebook’s own user-friendly interface.
This makes it easy for employees to connect and communicate while increasing their productivity.
It’ll be like having your private Facebook group. You can post updates to the company Newsfeed or chat with colleagues via Messenger. You’ll also be able to create Groups for your internal projects.
Instead of taking away the distraction that the popular social media platform poses, these features boost employee performance and increase morale and communication by providing them with similar features under a different environment.
Workplace by Facebook has three plans: the Essential plan is free, and the Advanced and Enterprise plans cost $4 to $8 per person per month.
Fleep is a communication tool that fills the gap between emails with instant messaging.
Fleep is user-based, which makes it not just ideal for one-to-one communication but even outside communication, such as clients and people outside your team.
While other apps like Slack might need authorizations and registrations to join a chat, with Fleep a simple invite via email can start a chat.
You can assign tasks and track progress as well as highlight or pin important conversations with teammates on Fleep.
Fleep has a free Basic plan that can be used by individuals.
Their Business plan for small and medium-sized businesses costs $6 per user per month billed annually. They also offer Custom plans for large businesses and corporations.
Bit.ai is a document collaboration tool that enables teams to create, manage, and collaborate on content creation.
Instead of using multiple platforms to send documents, make proposals, and communicate with your team, you can consolidate those activities in one platform to help increase efficiency.
Think of it as a faster, more advanced version of Google Docs. You get to create all kinds of documents, insert rich media like videos, photos, and send comments from the same platform.
Bit.ai has four different plans. They have a free plan, with paid plans ranging from $12 to $20 per member per month. You can also contact them for personalized plans for larger teams.
Another time tracking tool you can consider to monitor your team’s time management to help boost employees’ performance is Harvest.
Unlike its competitors, Harvest can turn your billable time and expenses into invoices that you can send out to your clients. It also provides you with insights and data on how your time is being used.
Harvest offers a free plan for one person with a maximum of two projects.
Their paid plan costs $12 per person per month and includes unlimited people and unlimited projects.
Similar to Harvest, Toggl is another time management tool that can help you track billable time as well as your team’s productivity.
While Toggl does not automate invoices and budgets, it does have an idle detection feature that keeps track of the time your employees are spending away from their computers.
With this data, you can pinpoint which teams need more incentive to work as well as highlight high performing members. You can even create incentive programs to help motivate your employees’ performance.
It also uses the Pomodoro Technique, which encourages at least 25 minutes of uninterrupted work to boost employees’ performance.
The idea is to focus on a single task for 25 minutes straight.
After the 25 minutes are up, you can allow yourself a 5-minute break before proceeding to either the next task or continuing where you left off.
After 4 rounds of non-stop working for 25 minutes, a 15-minute break is allowed.
Toggl also provides analytics and syncs your data in real-time across multiple devices.
They currently have three plans: Starter, Premium, and Enterprise.
The Starter plan costs $10 per user per month while the Premium plan costs $20 per user per month. The Enterprise plan’s price is customizable, depending on your company’s needs.
While Evernote is known for its straightforward and professional style, OneNote’s features can be likened to a digital notebook.
You can organize your notes by notebooks, sections, and pages.
You can also include a wide variety of rich media, allowing you to write on it like a real notebook.
OneNote also makes it easier to instantly share ideas and suggest recommendations. With a simple link share, you can share your notes, consolidate information, and collaborate with your team.
Microsoft OneNote comes with the Microsoft 365, which has a variety of different home, business, and enterprise plans.
Business plans range from $2.50 to $20 per user per month with an annual commitment. Enterprise plans range from $10 to $57 per user per month with an annual commitment.
SaneBox is a simple email management tool that helps you automatically identify important messages and hides less important ones. It also sends follow-up reminders for emails that don’t receive a response.
If all you’re after is an email sorter to help you prioritize your important emails, then this uncomplicated tool is for you.
However, if you need more advanced features like email marketing tools and collaborative email management components, then check out other tools mentioned earlier like Automizy and Swinbox.
What’s great is that here’s no setup or installation required.
Simply type in your email, wait a few minutes for SaneBox to analyze your past email history, and let the email management tool help you sort through and prioritize your emails.
SaneBox has three different plans, playfully named Snack, Lunch, and Dinner. The number of email accounts, reminders, and attachments vary depending on the plan you choose.
The Snack plan costs $7 per month while the Lunch plan costs $12 per month. The Dinner plan costs $36 per month.
Boomerang is another email management tool specifically designed for Gmail. It’s primarily known to help you promptly follow-up unanswered or unopened emails within a specific time frame.
This helps boost client or contact relationships, as this platform ensures you follow up with all your leads within a specific amount of time.
It also includes a Send Later option to help you schedule emails and a response-writing engine that analyzes your emails to help you craft optimal responses.
The Inbox Pause serves as a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and stops emails from entering your inbox until you’re ready to read them.
Boomerang’s Basic plan comes at zero cost, with their other three plans ranging from $4.99 to $49.99 per month with additional features for pricier plans.
In a study done by Darius Foroux, it was revealed that 80% of salaried workers procrastinated between 1-4 hours each day.
This app can help improve your employees’ performance by ‘locking them out’ of distracting, non-work related websites and apps.
You can also sync the app across multiple devices, which might help against time-wasting phone scrolling.
Freedom can be used for free with limited access and features.
They also have a monthly plan that costs $6.99, a Yearly plan which costs $2.42 per month, and a one-time Forever plan that costs $129.
Forest is a gamified task app that uses trees to symbolize tasks.
An independent study done by Badgeville revealed that gamification can be considered as one of the solutions for workplace engagement and motivation.
With Forest, starting a task is equivalent to planting a tree. The more focused you are on your work, the more your tree will grow. If you are less focused, your tree might begin to wither.
If your team works mostly on their laptops, Forest also has a Google Chrome extension which you can download and use similar to the app. This can help boost your employees’ performances by having your team stay focused and be more productive.
The tree planting isn’t just symbolic. Forest partners with Trees for the Future, and with the help of the tree-planting organization, they have planted over 760,000 trees as of writing.
The app can be purchased on iOS devices for $1.99.
Writing is an essential skill so much so that according to an article in Forbes, the average employee receives approximately 200 messages a day. That’s roughly 2.5 hours each day.
Grammarly is a digital writing tool that uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to check grammar, detect tone, and alert you in cases of plagiarism.
It saves employees’ time by easily serving as a grammar checker. It also suggests the best words for your emails, reports, and proposals. This gives you the best chance of communicating your point across.
You can also integrate it easily and use it across different platforms such as Gmail, Google Docs, Slack, Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.
Grammarly is a very helpful tool to boost employees’ performance, which can be used by individuals and teams. Their Free plan comes with basic writing corrections while their Premium plan with advanced writing feedback costs $11.66 per month, billed annually.
Their Business plan for teams with up to 149 members costs $12.50 per month per member, billed annually.
According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report, 43% of small businesses are the targets for cyber attacks.
As of October 2019, cyber-attacks can cost businesses up to $200,000, putting a majority of them at risk.
With this imminent threat around, it’s important to make your password secure on each platform.
LastPass makes it easy to generate and remember multiple passwords for different accounts.
You won’t need to worry about remembering complicated passwords or getting locked out of your accounts.
You can throw away your notebook with written passwords, and keep them instead in your LastPass ‘Vault’.
LastPass uses the same encryption utilized by the military and by banks. It also has other security measures such as end-point encryption and a private master password in place for your peace of mind.
LastPass is free for single users, with other plans for families, teams, and businesses that range from $3 to $8 per user per month.
Like Freedom, StayFocusd is also a time management tool.
However, StayFocusd shows you the amount of time you spend on specific sites.
You can dictate time limits for as many websites as you want. Just make sure you don’t spend too much time on a website that isn’t work-related. Otherwise, StayFocusd will automatically block your access to that site for the rest of the day.
StayFocusd can also be used on your phone to help you avoid useless scrolling time.
RescueTime is similar to Toggl and other its competitors in that it helps you track your time.
But what sets RescueTime apart is that it also indicates which websites or programs your team spends the most time in. It can also identify peak productivity hours, days, or months.
Knowing this type of information can help you and your team dissect how much work is being done. You can then come up with solutions to boost your employees’ performance based on the calendar of productivity.
It also offers the added feature to block distracting sites, and set smart goals and real-time alerts. It also integrates with other apps and platforms like Slack, your Calendar, and more.
RescueTime offers a Lite plan for free with limited features and access. Their Premium plan costs $9 per month. If you pay for the platform annually, it will cost $72.
Equipping your team with the right tools can do wonders in improving your employees’ performance.
The right productivity tools can boost employee performance by ensuring smoother communication, organizing workflows, or managing time.
I recommend isolating the most time-consuming tasks which might help you identify the type of tool you’ll need.
Try reviewing your teams and processes by sending out surveys, interviewing employees, or conducting meetings. This will help you pinpoint which area or department needs the most help.
Take advantage of the free trials that most of these tools offer so you can try before you buy. These will also allow you to find the right tools that before making a financial investment.
Have you tried any of these tools? Are you using a productivity tool that I haven’t mentioned yet? Feel free to share them in the comments.