During the lockdown, remote and hybrid work gained wider acceptability. The newer approaches to work and the large-scale adoption of remote work and work from home arrangements have necessitated a fresh look at employee productivity.
A recent study found that managers spend 62% of their time during a typical workday worrying about their employees’ performance at work. While the transition to newer work modes is underway, managers are expected to steer work so that the organization stays ahead in the prevailing, hyper-competitive business environment.
What is Employee Productivity?
Employee productivity measures the amount of work done (work output) by an employee within a specified time duration. Productivity directly impacts business results and return on investment (RoI). The success of an organization is dependent on the productivity of its workforce. It, therefore, becomes vital for organizations to improve workplace productivity.
Importance of Employee Productivity
In an organization with a productive workforce, more work gets done for the same expenditure of effort and resources. The importance of employee productivity stems from the fact that it leads to healthier interpersonal relationships among team members and higher levels of motivation.
The focus on productivity also helps identify high-performing employees. Productive employees are usually the most engaged. When productivity is high, the organization can identify the truly committed employees contributing more than their fair share to organizational goals. Higher employee productivity also results in reduced costs for the business, better customer service, and superior business results.
5 Major Factors affecting Employee Productivity
Productive employees drive business success. Productivity cannot be improved by merely increasing working hours. The factors that influence workforce productivity include
- Work environment: To maintain a working environment that fosters motivation and engagement, it is important to have transparent processes, open communication, clean and safe workspaces, and prioritizing by the organization’s leaders of a healthy work-life balance.
- Work culture: According to a recent survey, 86 percent of startup leaders and small business owners felt that work culture has a significant impact on improving employee productivity. The organization’s work culture helps employees connect to its values and mission. When employees align with the organization’s work culture, they are highly motivated to deliver their best.
- Employee engagement: The higher employees’ engagement in an organization, the higher their productivity. Employee engagement is achieved by giving employees the autonomy to innovate, offer new ideas, and support them with the tools and training to help them perform to their full potential.
- Leadership: How an organization manages its employees has an outsized impact on employee performance. Goal setting, fair work practices, openness to feedback, etc., help employees connect with the organization’s leadership. The organization’s leaders need to be trained to understand their impact on the team’s productivity.
- Learning and development: Suitable learning and development programs equip employees with the skills and competencies to fulfill their responsibilities and help increase productivity.
6 Steps to Measure Employee Productivity
It is necessary to measure employee productivity because it helps refine the organization’s goals by providing insights into what is being done right and what needs to be improved. Based on the results of the productivity measurement, the organization can undertake self-assessment, a re-evaluation of business processes, and then a re-calibration of organizational goals.
Measuring employee productivity is key to obtaining a true picture of employee productivity and getting a grip on business performance. The steps involved in measuring employee productivity include:
- Define a baseline: This step involves defining the organization’s baseline performance metrics to measure its productivity. This will require establishing the expected performance levels for each job role. An unambiguous definition of productivity metrics provides clarity to the employees and managers regarding the reference levels for assessing performance.
- Decide measurement parameters: Define the parameters that will be assessed for each job role. For example, the time taken to answer a customer query, the number of sales calls made, etc.
- List down objectives: Map the business’s goals and objectives to the objectives and goals of individuals and teams in the organization. During periodic performance reviews, measure progress against these defined objectives and goals.
- Conduct customer surveys: Poor workplace performance and low productivity finally impact customer satisfaction. Customer surveys help obtain feedback on customer satisfaction levels. This feedback can then be analyzed to identify the source of low productivity.
- Valuation of work quality: Assign a value to work that is completed on time and matches the required standard. Individual employee performance is then measured against this valuation. Such monitoring of work quality also helps identify the training needs of employees.
- Plan employee surveys: Human factors also impact productivity significantly. Factors such as absenteeism, presenteeism, work shirking, procrastinators, overachievers, etc, affect workplace productivity. Employee surveys help identify such factors and address those suitably when measuring overall productivity.
10 Super Easy Ways to Increase Employee Productivity
Employee productivity has a significant impact on organizational performance. The measures that can be taken to increase employee productivity include:
- Ensure Healthy Workplace conditions. Workplace conditions have a significant impact on employee performance. An enabling work environment can even make incentivizing other forms of superior employee performance redundant. Employee motivation and productivity increase automatically when provided with the right working conditions.
- Offer Flexible work arrangements. Understand employees and their individual requirements and, wherever feasible, provide flexibility in their choice of work schedules. Ascertain the requirements of employees and map them with organizational requirements.
Lay down essential time for organization-wide collaboration and other work completion deadlines. Outside of that, allow employees to choose work arrangements of their choice such as hybrid or work-from-home. Such flexibility increases engagement and productivity.
- Run efficient meetings. According to a Sloan Management Review article, only 50 percent of meeting time is used effectively. To increase employee productivity every meeting should have a clearly defined purpose and set agenda.
During the meeting, extraneous discussion, outside the set agenda, should be disallowed. An effective meeting involves only the required people, open discussion on the agreed agenda, and everybody working towards the defined purpose.
- Implement Productivity tools. Leverage available technology tools that enable employees to perform at their productive best. Equip the workplace with tools that enable employees to cut out infructuous work, work efficiently, and achieve set organizational goals.
- Define clear deadlines and expectations. Ambiguity in the minds of employees regarding their tasks and goals adversely impacts their productivity. Managers need to set clear goals and expectations. Clarity of purpose signals professionalism and motivates team members to also raise their performance.
- Promote employee wellness. Whether it is remote work or in-person work, employees’ mental and physical wellness is critical for their productivity. Employee wellness is hugely impacted by the work-life balance and employees should be helped in achieving this balance to avoid burnout. Leaders need to themselves model such behavior for employees to observe and follow.
- Offer Coaching and mentoring. Together with setting clear goals and expectations, it is important to guide employees on what needs to be prioritized, how roadblocks are to be handled, etc. Use one-one-meetings and performance reviews as coaching opportunities to help employees think through their tasks and align their efforts with the set goals.
- Effective time management. Effective utilization of available time through proper planning and risk assessment/mitigation help reduce inefficiencies in work processes and improve productivity. Using time management tools and techniques to efficiently use available time to complete tasks increases productivity.
- Reduce distractions and interruptions. The modern workplace is full of distractions that interrupt workflow and reduce productivity. Organizations need to reduce workplace distractions to enable deep work by the employees. Simple measures such as having an agenda for meetings, not sending broadcast messages, etc., help reduce distractions and improve productivity.
- Recognize good performance. Recognizing and celebrating good performance has a huge positive impact on motivation. Motivated employees feel energized, deliver superior work and raise organizational productivity.
Role of Performance Appraisal in Employee Productivity
Typically, performance appraisals are used to assess performance and suggest ways to improve employees’ performance. Performance appraisals need to move beyond this narrow purpose and should be converted into opportunities for dialogue with employees.
Employee performance over time needs to be tracked to understand the factors that aid higher productivity and those that negatively impact productivity. Performance appraisal discussions must be used as opportunities to guide employees on doing more of what increases productivity and eschews non-productive activities.
Employee productivity will continue to be a key determinant of organizational success. Employee productivity efforts need to be inspired and driven from the top down. For the employees to be productive requires them to be engaged and motivated to deliver to their full potential.
This objective is best achieved by promoting a culture of continuous productivity improvement through open communication by the leaders and employee task ownership. Technological tools that enable efficiency promote collaboration and help generate actionable insights to boost organizational productivity.