As seemingly successful high street chains continue to go bust, the disquieting atmosphere amongst businesses is all-pervasive. Sometimes, small changes really can make a difference - you don't have to re-structure your business in order to improve efficiency to stay ahead of competition.

The main target for improving efficiency should be employees, as they are likely to be the most expensive and valuable resource to your business.

Short meetings

Many businesses have realised the benefits of having short, efficient meetings, as they can eat up employees' time. Dragon's Den's Duncan Bannatyne said in a recent interview: "as a rule of thumb, I limit business meetings in my company to 20 minutes".

In an interview with a national newspaper, an organisational behaviour specialist recently said: "Most meetings are fruitless, and they are extremely expensive in terms of time and energy. When a meeting begins, the workflow of every team member stops. All progress comes to a halt."

Entrust employees with a little freedom

It was been reported that engineers at Google are allowed to spend 20% of their time, i.e. one day a week, on projects that they are passionate about. Of course, Google can afford to do this, but the basic idea behind it is trust. And before you write off this idea, this generous endeavour of Google has led to several of their newer services, such as Gmail and AdSense.

Lighten up

Running a company that people really want to work for and enjoy working for is crucial. The best route to efficient employees is by ensuring that they genuinely want to work hard for the good of the business.

Consultancy firm 'Bain & Company' has been voted best employer to work for many times over - their secret? The Bain Band (and what it demonstrates), a band consisting of employees of the London office. They say on their website: 'We work hard, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. We enjoy what we do and we laugh a lot...most often at ourselves.'

Speed up

One great way to improve the efficiency of employees is to let them go at a faster pace. Many people may work a little slower than they are capable of, being scared to make mistakes. 'Facebook' allegedly allows employees to take big risks, and 'move fast and break things'. Other ways to speed things up is to always opt for next day delivery when sending parcels and invest in the highest speed internet connection possible.

Stay put

Just as with meetings, travelling can waste precious time. Meeting with clients is sometimes unavoidable, but when it can be sidestepped - opt for video calls. Aforementioned Bain & Company limit travel only to cases where it is clearly beneficial and useful.

Clever employment

Arguably one of the most recognised business men in the UK, Alan Sugar, says that experience is the most important factor to consider when hiring someone. In a recent interview he said: "the most important thing is the experience the person has amassed in what jobs they've been doing up until now, what they've achieved up until now. These certificates and qualifications, all they tell any employer is that the person's got a brain."