What happens when your company reviews mattresses and you always have at least 80 of them in the office? Well, we’ll let Jeff Rizzo tell you! He is one of the co-founders of Slumber Yard - mattress review company.

Although they have a small team, him and his partner have figured out the best way to measure and improve productivity within their team. Find out how they did it in the video below!

Workpuls: Hi everyone, Bojana here from Workpuls and we are in another episode of Workpuls Productivity Talks. Today we have here Jeff Rizzo from Slumber Yard. He is going to share with us some of the tips regarding productivity in their workplace, how are they doing it, how are they measuring productivity, what is everything that they are doing in the company to try and increase employee productivity and keep their employees working on a high level so they can keep the company running. So Jeff, tell us first a little bit about your company and what you guys do.

Jeff Rizzo: Nice to speak with you, thank you for having me. At a very high level we review mattresses. Every brand of mattress you have ever heard of, we have tested, tried out, slept on, worked with and we tell people which ones are best suited for particular types of sleepers. So, at the highest level that’s what we do. We probably have 80 mattresses at our office at any given time.

Workpuls: Okay, sounds like an interesting business actually testing mattresses, and sleeping.  When we first spoke you mentioned that productivity is one of the most important KPIs for you and your partner. But let’s start off with how do you define productivity – how do you measure it and what are you doing to improve it, then we can to that part? 

Jeff Rizzo: That’s a great question. We have actually two segments of our team, we have a video component and then we have a written component and for the writers we usually measure it in the number of words written. Now, it’s not something that we track to a team, we want general ranges, as long as the quality of the content is high and it’s in a specific range that’s how we measure success there. And then on the video side it's the number of videos and then within those videos it’s watch time, so how much retention those videos are getting. So we kind of have two and four major KPIs for productivity and now we have some smaller ones but they aren’t nearly as important to us.

Workpuls: And what do you do to try and to maintain a high level of productivity. I am guessing that all businesses want that - for their employers to perform highly all the time to keep those metrics and everything in. What is it that you guys do to maintain and even increase productivity in the workplace?

Jeff Rizzo: I think the first thing is it starts with the employees that you get as long as you have solid employees that trust you, you respect them, you love working with them, then you are probably setting yourself up for success. So the first thing is just getting the right people and I think that’s obvious. The second part is just setting them up for success. So clearly laying out the boundaries, creating a very systematic workflow for them. Essentially giving them all the tools to be as productive as possible so that’s step kind of step three, or step two. And then step three would just be making the work environment the best it could possibly be. Making them want to be at work, making them enjoy working with their employees. So for us we think about it in three tranches: getting the right people, setting them up with the right tools and then continuing to keep them happy so that they want to work for you. Because it’s always a balance of getting the most out of your employees, retaining them for the future so that you can continue to get production. I don’t think those things need to be at all odds but you do need to balance them for sure. 

Workpuls: I have been talking to people and we are seeing unlined everywhere a lot of different methodologies people use for time management in order to maximize their productivity or the tools they use and things like that. Are there any things like that that you are using in the workplace?

Jeff Rizzo: We have a number of different software items that we use and that we love. We have some project management software stuff, to me I consider that a little bit more boring to talk about and some of the other things that we have implemented. I’d say two of the ones that come to mind that you probably heard from other folks, one of which is Matt and I, the operators of the business try to take a little bit of a hands off approach and just say, “We trust you, do your best work, we’ll reevaluate on a week or a monthly basis.” And so given them a lot more control than they would otherwise have because we found out that they are a lot more creative than us. They know what we are doing as a business and our incentives are aligned. So, giving them a lot more control than I think a lot of people would give them. Then the other thing is that we are just constantly providing feedback. Anytime there is something positive just completely trying to reinforce the positivity. And then I have two X factors that I think Matt has probably teased with you already but they are sort of off the wall and I think they are fun. The first of which are Recharger Rooms and I know that you have a recharge patio so you kind of already beat me into the punch. The Recharge Room is, luckily we have got a lot of beds, we have got a lot of furniture at our office and so we lean into it and say, “We are not going to hide these things, let’s show them off. Let’s allow our employees to use them to recharge at the office.” And so basically it’s small bedrooms that people can sleep on or use the adjustable bed frame and work on and just areas of the office that they can recharge at. Now, obviously we are not Google, so we don’t have billions and billions of dollars but it’s kind of a mini version of what some of these big tech companies do.

Workpuls: Yeah, that’s what I found very interesting, it’s not something every company does and I mean of course the nature of your business also allows you to have that, to have a bunch of beds there and have that in the office at all times so people can use it. That’s really different from a lot of companies and I think it something I would definitely, I think anybody actually, would definitely appreciate that they can have a room where they can go and recharge.

Jeff Rizzo: Yeah, and it’s such a low cost thing to invest in. For $800 you can get your own recharge room and people absolutely love it. And the other thing I was going to tell you is that we have set up parameters on when people can work. We feel like most people are productive in the meat of their day between the 11 AMs and four PMs of the day and sort of the outer edges of the barbell, they are not as productive. So we just wholesale restricted company emails after a certain time of the day. So typically after 7 PM  we don’t allow company emails. We say, “Look, do it tomorrow. There are very few things that need to be done right this second.” We have exceptions but we basically have a blanket ban from 7 PM to 5 AM, no company work, no company emails, come back and do it tomorrow. Because I would rather have them really investering, like I said the meat and potatoes of their day then getting subpar productivity towards either outer edges of the barbell.

Workpuls: That’s an interesting approach as well because a lot of employers just want their employees to keep working. It doesn’t matter if you received an email, especially if they are working in sales, or customer support ,maybe like a bit of a position that is more hands-on and they expect them to be there all the time to answer those emails all the time, but the thing is as you said, very few of those emails are actually urgent and need to be handle straight a way. That’s another approach that I really like. Is there any advice you would like to give to employers such as yourself or generally owners or managers who would like to do something for their employees’ productivity besides the things that you already shared, that you are doing? Are there any others that you maybe planning to implement, that you have tested and tried, and maybe they work for a while but these are working better?

Jeff Rizzo: We have experimented with different work weeks, four day work weeks, three day work weeks, five day work weeks. For us it’s just been, it’s kind of the standard in the United States to do five day work weeks, so we have experimented with some other things. But there is only so much that you can really test, because the more and more that you test for the employees the more you kind of throw a wrench into their system. So you would mostly, you needed testing for, call it 30 days and then let things settle for a while, maybe not run another test for six months or something. There is only so much you could do if you are a small business. So to tell you the truth we have only run maybe 10 tests, 10 different things because again there is only so much that you can do, but we have been really successful with it. I just take the approach: hire the right people, set them up to be successful, continue to make them happy, because for a small business it is extremely expensive to hire so I don’t want to burn out somebody. If I train them up I do not want them to leave and so far we have been really successful, we don’t have a lot of people leaving. I don’t even think we have anybody quit ever; so it’s been largely positive.

Workpuls: That good, that’s great, those are some great metrics actually. I think the tips you shared are quite simple, any company can do it. You don’t need a huge budget or whatever to hire the right people. You just need to set up your interviewing process maybe in a bit of a better way. Okay, I think that will be all. You shared the interesting stuff, the unusual stuff that I really liked, Recharge rooms and banning late night work.  told you that the patio we have is our recharging room and we all love it. I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today. It was very nice meeting you and thank you for being part of Workpuls Productivity Talks and maybe we will speak again soon.

Jeff Rizzo: Sounds good, thank you.

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