There are plenty of solutions bandied about to solve the never-ending problem of employee inefficiency.

A recent study combined with additional research indicates it’s not a matter of just throwing technology at the problem, but making sure companies know exactly what they’re trying to fix.

Too often, companies take a haphazard approach toward trying to elevate how well everyone uses their time. Leaders want to tap into technology. Others want the time spent in other efforts to improve morale. What’s the right solution?

Another Study, Similar Results

Company executives don’t all have one answer. For example, the recent Powering Productivity study from enterprise portfolio management company Planview points toward the usual suspects when it comes to killing time: too much paperwork, an excessive number of meetings and general inefficiency.

The study surveyed 515 business leaders and “key decision makers” across the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany and Nordic countries. The survey found 96 percent believe “technology helps drive organizational efficiency.”

However, there was wide difference about how the technology should be used.

Over half (56 percent) of the survey respondents described themselves as “rechargers,” wanting to see employees reinvest more time into their own development. And just under half (44 percent) would reinvest the time by putting it back into their business.

The right answer (if there is a “right” one) is to do what fits your culture best.

A lot of vendors worry more about selling software than making sure the solution will be used, The Projectplace blog argues. That means companies must choose their solutions carefully.

Can Slack, Others Boost Productivity?

So what’s helping to turn the tide? Projectplace certainly has its own ideas, which includes its own software solution (there’s even a handy calculator to help parse out your return on investment).

The movement to speed up workplace efficiency is pretty widespread. Slack has exploded into a popular replacement for corporate email. The company also recently revamped its Posts feature, which gives users the capability to write longer messages.

Hipchat, a competitor from Atlassian, isn’t sitting still either. The work-focused chat client recently announced a ton of new features to try and catch up.

They Have to Like It to Use It

Projectplace emphasizes that employees need to like their software if they’re going to embrace it. And when they do, that time spent on the computer may actually be more productive.

The software must also address employee needs. According to the “Guide to Greatness,” a publication from the Great Place to Work institute, a global consulting firm that creates the annual Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list, companies should start with a needs assessment.

If what’s necessary is to help with the deluge of email, then Slack, Hipchat or another communication-focused tool might be the right option.

But if it’s too many meetings or other issues that require a recalibration of best practices, then that’s where to start.

There’s no cookie cutter approach, but the good news is with the right amount of research and diligence the solution to improving efficiency is out there for your company. You just have to dig in to find it.

Title image by Kyle Ryan.