Employee productivity is essential in improving businesses profits and achieving organizational goals.
But what factors impact employee productivity?
It’s the efficiency of employees, usage of efficient tools and equipment, workplace culture, and continually looking for innovative ways to improve performance.
So, this blog will shed light on the concept of employee productivity, factors that affect productivity, and various ways to improve it.
Read on to discover all this and much more.
What Is Employee Productivity?
Employee productivity or workplace productivity refers to the amount of work an employee can do in a stipulated period of time. It measures an individual employee’s output against the given input.
For instance, if a furniture manufacturing company needs to know the productivity of its employees, it can check the number of chairs an employee produces in a certain period.
However, employee productivity measurement may become complex depending on the type of work or industry involved.
For example, an employee working in a manufacturing industry and churning out a large number of simple products in a specific time will have a specific parameter of productivity. On the other hand, the method of measuring productivity will be different for a corporate employee who works in a creative field and spends a great deal of time creating an extraordinary piece of work.
Simply put, the number of goods produced shouldn’t be the only measure of high productivity, but the quality of work should also be considered in the equation.
How Do You Measure Employee Productivity?
The most popular way to calculate productivity is using this formula:
Productivity = Output / Input
However, as mentioned above, the type of work differs in each industry; thus, different methods are used to measure productivity in order to assess the quality and competence of the outcome.
The easiest way to evaluate productivity in terms of output generated is to find out how quickly the job is completed.
But what if the job gets done quickly and the quality of the work done is poor?
For instance, a firm that manufactures tables measures employee productivity by calculating how many tables were made in a particular span of time. Suppose its employees were engaged in manufacturing a large number of tables in a specific time span, but the quality of the tables manufactured isn’t up to the mark; then their productivity can’t be considered as high.
Note: If you’re looking for a method to calculate workplace productivity for your employees, consider using this formula for productivity.
Objective and Subjective Measurement
This is the reason why, depending on the industry and work type, organizations must opt for either subjective or objective measurement methods. Let’s understand these terms before moving on to the ways to measure productivity.
Objective or Quantitative Measurement: When the output generated is quantifiable, then the productivity measurement used is objective. For example, the number of customers served in a restaurant can help in estimating a restaurant worker’s productivity.
Subjective or Qualitative Measurement: The quantitative method can’t be used for the knowledge workforce engaged in creative fields where the outputs generated aren’t tangible.
So, we need an alternative measurement method that emphasizes the quality of work instead of the quantity of work. For example, if a team works on the development of an Android application, the productivity measurement method used will be subjective to see how well it functions post successful completion of the project.
Here are a few ways to measure employee productivity as per your industry’s work type:
Measure the Work
Measuring Parameter: Number of completed tasks
Here, you assign a certain number of weekly tasks to the employees. After a week, you can compare the result (total tasks completed) with the total tasks assigned. If the employees can complete all the tasks in that duration, then productivity is high; otherwise, it’s low.
Measure the Overall Profit
Measuring Parameter: Half-yearly or annual profits
Here, you can use the generated profit as an indicator of employee productivity levels. Consider setting a benchmark of profit for your company that you would want to target in a year or 6 months. If you are able to meet that benchmark, it defines the employee productivity as optimum. However, if you fail to achieve that goal, then it’s a clear indicator that productivity needs improvement.
Measure the Goals Achieved
Measuring Parameter: Project-based or weekly, monthly, quarterly, half yearly or annual milestone or goal achievements
You can set a specific number of goals for employees to achieve and compare the number of goals met against the goals set.
Measure the Output Quality
Measuring Parameter: Internal quality assessment or customer satisfaction ratings
You can define a parameter to assess the quality of the product. Then, check whether or not all the products pass that assessment. For instance, if your team is developing an app, then quality assessment will ascertain if the app is functional and fulfilling all expectations of the client.
Measure the Timeline or Time Spent
Measuring Parameter: Hours spent for work completion
You can set some timeline in which employees need to deliver a certain number of tasks. If your team can accomplish all the tasks within the predefined timeline, then it’s a mark of optimum employee productivity. For this, you can leverage any efficient time tracking software, such as Replicon powered by ZeroTime™ to record the number of hours spent on any task or project to get the productivity measurement. Based on the number of hours each employee takes, they can optimize the task allocation and improve productivity.
Factors Impacting Employee Productivity
Employee Well-Being and Wellness
Healthy and happy employees are more likely to produce better outcomes. Thus, employers should check on employees’ well-being and wellness from time to time.
For example, if your employees are working while dealing with any severe illness, injury, depression, or burnout, it’ll likely backfire on their productivity.
Most importantly, after the Covid era, employers are giving utmost attention to employee’s well-being and are using various approaches to improve their work-life balance.
On top of that, employees who worked remotely are facing challenges while resuming the normal office routine after the Covid period. To deal with this, employers are keeping a tab on employee wellness and ensuring that employees can face this transition easily.
As a good practice, you can ask managers to stay in touch with employees about their well-being. They can even conduct a short survey to ask the following questions:
- Are you able to maintain a good work-life balance?
- Are you able to avail PTOs, or are you facing some challenges?
- Do you feel confident and exuberant at work?
- Do you feel satisfied with the work culture and environment?
Also, if you observe extensive absenteeism patterns in some employees, they may be dealing with some issues. Make sure to have a one-on-one meeting with these employees and ask them if you can help them in any way to sort things out.
Workplace Culture and Atmosphere
“As per a report from the American Psychological Association, businesses lose 550 million workdays each year due to job stress.”
The kind of culture a company follows impacts the productivity of its employees. Human-centric organizations that emphasize employee wellness, offer flexibility to work, and provide ample opportunities to grow are more likely to have engaged and productive employees.
On the other hand, workplaces with a toxic work environment that support favoritism, discrimination, or antagonist behavior tend to have the least productive employees.
For example, Google’s corporate culture is renowned for its perks, bonuses, and flexibility, such as free meals, employee vacations, cash bonuses, gyms, a pet-friendly atmosphere, and employee recognition systems.
Workplace Environment and Ambience
In the office setting, an optimum workplace environment stands a chance to have more productive employees and vice versa. Employers should ensure the office environment helps employees focus on their work and adds to their productivity and creativity.
For example, check:
- Does the office have access to sufficient natural light and ventilation?
- Do we have equipment to keep the office temperature in control?
- Is the workplace too noisy?
- Is the workplace hygienic and organized, or does it look cluttered?
- Does the workplace have any hazardous elements?
Such factors can hamper productivity in employees to some extent, so do ensure that your workplace environment helps foster creativity & productivity, and doesn’t degrade it.
Also ensure that employees who work remotely have a dedicated office setup where they can focus on work.
Tools and Equipment
Employers must ensure employees have the right tools and equipment to do their jobs easily. Moreover, they should make sure that employees are well-trained to use these tools.
Before deciding on purchasing any equipment for your employees, ensure that the tools are intuitive and don’t require lots of time to understand how to operate.
Though employee productivity has no direct relation with communication, clear communication between project manager, and team members impacts the workflow, work progress, and, thus, overall productivity.
Whether it’s spelling out the work clearly, helping teams understand their work responsibilities, assisting employees when they face any roadblock or apprising employees of any updates, good communication is vital to a team’s productivity.
Managers who want to pivot to the micromanagement culture should know that this management style could do more harm than good. It’s a common misconception that micromanaging can help keep employees on their toes or minimize the chances of time wastage. In fact, this approach is more likely to backfire on employers.
Hovering over someone, repeatedly asking them about their updates, constantly telling them what they should do – this approach stifles creativity in employees and leads to an unproductive work environment.
Training & Guidance
When employees are skilled in performing their tasks, their productivity is automatically better. Thus, check if your employees are skilled and trained enough to perform their daily tasks. If they aren’t able to complete their tasks at all or face some challenges in completing their work, provide them with adequate training and guidance.
This can help improve their understanding of what the job entails, upskill them to match the job requirements and even help them with time management to improve their productivity, efficiency, and performance.
Some Surprising Facts About Workplace Productivity
- It has been observed that a person is least productive between 4 pm and 6 pm and most productive between 10 am and noon. However, these hours can vary from person to person. Thus, it’s essential that employees ascertain their productive hours and arrange their work schedules accordingly.
- According to InsuranceBusiness, Tuesday has been observed to be the most productive day of the week. So, in case employees have to work on a task that requires a lot of creativity and productivity, they should save it for Tuesday.
- According to a study published in Inc.com, an average employee is productive for two hours and 53 minutes only in an 8-hour workday.
- As per Hubstaff, around 86% of workers prefer to work in solitude, whether they work from home or the office. Their survey revealed that when working alone, employees face fewer distractions and attain better focus.
- Meetings are not always productive and can waste a great deal of employees’ time. In fact, 91% of employees daydream during meetings, while 39% of employees sleep in the meeting.
How to Improve Employee Productivity
Have a Recognition and Reward Policy
Recognizing employees publicly and rewarding them for their hard work always goes a long way. It increases their morale & motivation and reinforces positive behavior.
So, appreciate employees for their efforts and reward them whenever they accomplish a major goal, as it’ll work as a testament to their contribution and affirm that they are valuable to the company.
You can also acknowledge their efforts by giving rewards in the form of incentives, such as cash, gift cards, travel tickets, or other vouchers.
Note: It’s a good practice to allow your employees to work on high-responsibility tasks and provide them support and encouragement whenever possible. This approach will remind them that you have confidence in them that they can do justice to that job.
Encourage the Use of Time Blocking Technique
When employees juggle multiple responsibilities at work, they may likely have a hard time organizing the tasks as per their priorities, leading to frustration, procrastination, and lowered productivity.
On top of that, meetings, emails, chatty coworkers, social media, or ad-hoc tasks are the greatest distractions that derail employees from their main work, leading to hampered productivity.
To avoid these distractions and make the most of their day, you can ask employees to leverage a time-blocking technique. It’ll divide their entire day into smaller blocks of time, and each block of time will be dedicated to completing one task at a time as per the priority.
This technique prevents context switching, eliminates distractions, and encourages focusing on one task at a time, improving their overall productivity.
Be Specific About Your Expectations
One of the most important things you can do to maintain good productivity levels is to define the requirements of the work clearly and concisely to the employees. You can do this by:
- spelling out clearly to employees what task they need to complete, by when, and how.
- ensuring your team or individual employee fully grasps what they’re supposed to do.
- keeping an open line of communication so that they can clear any doubts later.
You can also consider breaking down any major task into smaller tasks and ask your employees to work on each chunk individually. This approach will weed out the ambiguity and confusion in employees and will simplify the work that needs to be done.
Make Sure Employees Are Taking Ample Rest
When a person is deprived of optimum sleep levels, they may witness fatigue, poor performance, and low productivity down the road.
Employees can’t give their best when they are sleep impaired or feeling low. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, workers with conditions like insomnia and insufficient sleep are significantly low on productivity and performance in the workplace setting. So make sure that your employees get ample time to rest and recharge.
As an employer, you should ensure that your employees:
- are taking at least 7-8 hours of slumber daily. You can share surveys to get clear insights.
- get some rest or a small nap while working the long shifts.
- take a regular assessment to check their well-being if they work in clopening or rotational shifts such as 2-2-3.
- avail of the PTO policy and don’t feel hesitant or guilty about using the leaves.
Moreover, after a hectic project, always ensure that your employees get some brief break time before hopping on to the next one. This is to avoid consistent workloads that can increase the chances of burnout in employees.
You can also implement some measures to help employees feel productive at work, such as having a napping pod or resting rooms where employees can rest whenever they feel tired and low on energy.
Encourage Employees to Take Adequate Breaks
The mind needs brief breaks from time to time to revitalize creativity and productivity. Thus, make sure that your employees take brief breaks at some intervals.
“Employees who take breaks are more productive and creative. Adequate breaks help workers focus on their current tasks, thus increasing the chances of timely work completion with fewer errors.”
Thus, encourage employees to take breaks in a fixed interval and set a minimum and maximum limit for taking breaks.
Foster a culture where employees can completely disconnect from work during their break time and do anything that can help them charge their batteries, such as:
- Take a walk for 10-15 minutes
- Take a short nap in the restroom
- Chat with their coworkers
- Munch on mid-meal snacks or have coffee
Introduce Friendly Competition
‘‘It has been quoted that injecting friendly competition in teams spurs innovation and creativity in employees.’’
Employers can introduce friendly competition to boost productivity, improve engagement, and support employee inclusion. The competitive environment increases psychological activation that stimulates employees to put in extra effort to yield better outcomes.
You can divide resources into groups and ask them to create a checklist for a day or week. Alternatively, consider setting a rule that whoever checks off the most tasks from their to-do list will be the winner. You can even set a small prize for the winner to boost employee morale.
Similarly, employers can consider dividing the resources into two teams and assigning them tasks such as creating an effective website or application within a certain date. The team that will outperform will be rewarded with some incentive. This way, team members will work together and put their innovative ideas on the table to edge over another team.
Celebrate Small Wins
In a long-term project that may last for months, employees working on it may start slacking off after a while. As a solution, the project manager can set milestones in between the projects that will serve as visible indicators of the project’s progress.
Whenever the team achieves any milestone, it’ll give them a sense of accomplishment and progress. Moreover, project managers can celebrate these small milestones with their team members by providing some small rewards and applauding them for their work done so far. This practice will improve their morale, restore energy, and improve their productivity.
Have a Feedback and Training Program in Place
At any workplace, constructive feedback is important as it helps employees learn from their mistakes and become aware of where they’re lagging.
Managers must track individual progress and create a feedback loop to let employees understand how they’re performing as per the expectations.
Providing feedback isn’t just about letting them know when their performance isn’t up to the mark but praising them for their efforts whenever they perform well too. You can provide assistance, guidance, or some sort of training to underperforming employees so they can become better in their jobs and upskill themselves.
Provide Flexibility to Work
Each individual has their own ‘Einstein Window’, during which their productivity is at its peak and they can easily solve any challenge.
So, sticking to a strict 9 to 5 schedule can be highly unproductive at times. To better cope with such a situation, you can try alternative work schedules such as Flexitour, which requires employees to work 8 hours each day and 40 hours each week. However, employees get the flexibility to choose their start and end times.
You can also experiment with some other alternative work schedules, such as 4/10 or 9/80, that provide an extra day off in return for working extra hours each work day.
Create a Positive Work Environment
When employees are happy and satisfied with their office environment, they’re more likely to show vitality and enthusiasm for their work.
Regular surveys, one-on-one meetings, conducting employee wellness programs, and checking on employees’ well-being can help in establishing a positive environment at the workplace.
Managers can have an open door policy for employees, too, so they can reach out to the management if they’re facing some issues that are hampering their productivity.
HR can host some casual get-togethers, facilitate employee outings, or organize team-building activities from time to time.
You can also have a session with teams, where you can apprise them of the significance of their contribution and how it plays a crucial role in the big picture. This will improve their morale and make them more committed to their job responsibilities.
Optimize Workplace Conditions
It has been found that workplace conditions directly correlate with employee productivity and performance. Positive work conditions can work as a game changer by boosting employee mood and, thus, productivity.
In fact, according to research published in the Harvard Business Review, incorporating small natural elements at the workplace helps boost employee productivity, morale, and creativity.
Not sure how to improve workplace conditions? Here are a few tips:
- Make sure the office space has access to ample natural light and air. In case your workers work the night shifts, make sure to use the light that mimics the natural light.
- Adding plants in the office workplace can help improve air quality, stimulate creativity, reduce stress, and act as a mood stabilizer. Besides, such natural elements have a calming effect on the eyes and help increase concentration.
- The colors used in the office space (walls and cubicles) have a significant impact on individual productivity and mood. Thus, being strategic about the usage of colors in the office can do wonders in terms of dialing up productivity. It’s recommended to use light colors such as light blue, pastel yellow, lilac, and light sage to paint the office walls.
- Most employers nowadays are creating a common space for employees where they can congregate, unwind while munching on some snacks, or chit-chat with coworkers. These spaces can have a unique interior, floorplan, and layout and include amusing elements such as artwork, motivational quotes, etc.
Remove the Unnecessary Meetings
According to an Atlassian study, employees waste 31 hours a month in unproductive and pointless meetings!
Employers must ascertain if the employees are attending unnecessary meetings as it steals their precious time.
They can take measures where they can ask managers to schedule only essential meetings for employees. Also, they should ensure that these meetings are effective and short enough to cover the most important discussion.
Use Automation Software
As per a survey from SmartSheet, around 40% of workers spend at least a quarter of their workweek on manual, repetitive and administrative tasks, such as sending emails, data collection, and data entry.
Thus, to save employees’ precious time and leverage their potential to the fullest, employers should empower their employees with automation software and tools. This will save time and boost their productivity by eliminating human intervention in repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming tasks.
Employee productivity is essential to organizations’ feat and competitiveness. In order to improve it at the workplace, make sure that you start by understanding which factors specifically impact the productivity of your employees. Then you can use appropriate methods to measure productivity, and then see what measures can be taken to improve it for better outcomes.
But all in all, the best way to foster productivity is to cultivate a positive work environment, empower employees with the necessary tools to streamline their jobs and improve the workplace conditions.