Defining employee productivity

So, what is employee productivity? In the simplest terms, an employee's productivity is simply a measure of the amount of work they can do in a specific amount of time. The measurement is simple, but the things that influence productivity are complex and varied. From tools and organizational structures to employee engagement, training and more, many factors impact an individual's productivity.

There will always be some variation in productivity. For example, one person may only accomplish one really hard task each day, while another might accomplish dozens of easier tasks in the same period. They're both valuable members of the team, but their metrics on paper might look different. Additionally, a person who works in an office will have a vastly different pace than someone who works in a warehouse.

Businesses can measure productivity on an individual, team or company level. They can look at granular output rates and big picture measurements. The larger-scale assessments can be really beneficial for helping leaders figure out if they have the right mix of employees on each team. Whereas an individual output measurement can help determine how each employee contributes to the bottom line.

How to measure employee productivity

It might surprise you to learn that the average worker is only productive for two hours and fifty-three minutes of every eight-hour day. However, how you define productivity will depend on your methodology. The standard equation for employee productivity is:

  • Output (the amount of work done) + Input (hours worked and resources) = Productivity

However, this is just a baseline measurement. Most organizations have found that personal and individual productivity requires more sophisticated considerations, for example. there needs to be some sort of inputs to assess financial costs, product quality and more.

Measuring effectiveness and efficiency

One way to track productivity is to measure how quickly a job gets completed, aka the efficiency. However, what happens when the efficiency is high but the quality isn't? This is where effectiveness comes into play. Effectiveness is a measurement that aims to provide quality standards to productivity measurements.

For example, a call center might measure a rep's productivity with the number of calls completed and the customer satisfaction rating. They might require customer service reps to take twenty calls a day and maintain a customer satisfaction rating of 8/10 or above. This sort of dual measurement provides more information than a simple productivity equation, but it requires having a way to quantify quality, and that's not possible all the time.

Other productivity measurements look at the total financial investment required to get the results, not just the time it took the employee to get those results. For example, one employee might be incredibly efficient and effective after costly training from your company. On the other hand, another employee might achieve those same results but didn't require the training. In this instance, your company might determine that the second employee is more productive.

As companies begin to think about talent recruitment and training in our new work landscape, the option to make measurements like these can be important. For example, what costs your company more: hiring the right skills or training people? Is it more cost-effective to build productivity internally or buy it with skilled talent? 

Subjective vs. objective measurements

When you have a tangible output, like the number of customers served or calls made, it's easy to measure productivity because it's an objective measurement based purely on numbers.

However, when looking at more creative work or the productivity of knowledge workers, it can be more challenging to define output. In situations like these, teams usually use some sort of self-reporting or subject measurement. It's not quite as precise as objective measurements. However, studies show that self-reported productivity tends to correlate with more objective metrics.

Establishing benchmarks for employee productivity

Measuring productivity only makes sense if you know what you're aiming to achieve. Benchmarking productivity levels shows you know what success should look like and what it looks like when you're falling behind. The benchmark you should choose depends on your industry and the type of work your employees perform. Most likely, you will choose and change your productivity benchmarks periodically as your business evolves and as you learn more about your business's performance over time.

Reports for employee productivity

Productivity reports are dashboards or documents that represent a team or individual's hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or yearly productivity. Sometimes the reports are done manually, while others are built using systems or software tools.

Employee productivity reports are essential because they help you and your team see the big picture. Eventually, you can identify trends and patterns related to productivity. For example, you might find that your team gets more done at the end of the week rather than at the beginning. You might find that your employees thrive in the morning rather than the afternoon. You might also see how different employees' productivity levels compare to each other. Additionally, companies can base their productivity reports on subjective or subjective data.

5 things that affect employee productivity

Every employee is different. Some are super productive, while others might take longer to complete tasks. These differences might boil down to working style, ability and personality, aka things you can't control. However, there are several other factors that affect employee productivity that companies can work on to boost overall efficiency and effectiveness in their organization. Here are five of those factors.

Wellbeing

Employee wellbeing will have an enormous impact on an employee's ability to output. Employees who are healthy and happy and have a good work-life balance tend to be much more productive than their burnt-out peers.

Communication

Is it easy for employees to get in contact with each other? Are the communication channels easy to use? When communication is easy, it makes it much easier for employees to work efficiently and effectively.

Managers

Direct supervisors often have the most significant impact on employee productivity. Are your managers approachable and available? Do they understand their teams' strengths and have an idea of how to help each individual perform? If companies want to set their employees up for success, it starts with the supervisors.

Tools

Do your employees have the equipment and tools they need to be successful? Do they have the training they need to use these tools effectively? Access to tools is one of the biggest differentiators between hyper-productive teams and teams that struggle to meet output goals.

Training

Does your team have the skills they need to tackle daily challenges and perform tasks without oversight? Did they get enough onboarding to set them up for success? Without proper training, employees can struggle to reach their full productivity potential.

Ways to improve employee productivity

As aforementioned, things like training, tools, management style and environment all play a role in overall productivity. But what do you do if you have employees who aren't being as productive as you'd like them to be? Here are a few ideas to help get you started.

Offer encouragement

Encouraging employees when they're productive sends the appropriate message while making the employee feel good about themselves. Look for ways to provide encouragement while employees are working on difficult tasks. It's a great way to remind them they have your support and confidence.

Allow some downtime

Give your team some time off. While breaks might sound counterproductive, the reality is that tired employees can't perform. Give your team some time away to recharge and refuel, and see how that impacts their productivity.

Set clear guidelines

Make your expectations clear. If employees don't know what you expect from them, there's no way for them to give it to you. Additionally, make sure everyone knows they can ask questions if they're unsure about something. The clearer the goals and tasks are, the easier it will be for your team to accomplish them.

Inspire some competition

Get your employees excited about hitting metrics with some friendly competition. Be sure to add some rewards to help motivate and make the competition worthwhile. However, use your best judgment. Many people don't do well with competition, so you'll need to make a decision about whether this is the right way to incentivize your team.

Rewards

Many businesses have excellent results by using rewards to motivate output. For example, consider assigning a reward to each employee who reaches their productivity goal for the month. However, keep in mind that rewards generally work well in the short term but don't motivate people long-term. You'll need to incorporate the other strategies to keep people motivated to perform for the long haul.

Our workforce monitoring tools make it easy for you to measure your global team's output. Get access to the team and tools you need to thrive in the era of remote work. Learn more about our workforce monitoring here.

Posted 
Feb 17, 2022
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