Employee productivity is the amount of work someone can complete in a given time. Essentially, it refers to an employee’s or group of employees’ efficiency at work — and it is vital to the success of your business. Generally, the more productive your employees are, the more successful your business will likely be.
The importance of productivity extends far beyond your bottom line. If an employee is struggling, they could be experiencing issues, such as burnout or disengagement, that require further attention and support. What’s more, if multiple employees are struggling, it could be indicative of systemic problems, such as outdated or inefficient processes, that threaten the very existence of your business.
For this reason, it’s crucial to continuously measure, monitor, and improve productivity in your workplace. This is an investment in your employees that will take dedicated time and effort, but it will benefit your organization and each person who is a part of it.
How to Measure Employee Productivity
To increase productivity in your workplace, you first have to measure it. You can’t make improvements if you don’t know how you’re currently performing or even what, exactly, you’re trying to improve.
Measuring productivity requires you to look at the work that your employees accomplish and compare it to the amount of time, labor, and other resources needed to complete that work. However, in the modern business world, it isn’t quite that simple. There are several other steps you should take to get a full, comprehensive understanding of your employees’ productivity:
Create a Baseline
Create productivity standards for every position in your workplace. You have to know what you expect from each employee. Conversely, your employees need to know what is expected of them if they are to succeed in their roles.
Determine what metrics you will use to gauge success for each position. You can then collect data about your employees’ performances and see how they compare to the standards you’ve set.
Though the exact metrics will depend heavily on the nature of your business, focus on quantifiable, tangible metrics These metrics should reflect your employees’ output or completed work, such as the number of deliverables they can produce, rather than the amount of time they spent on a task.
Track Individual Employees’ Performance
It’s helpful to have a standardized baseline for all employees in the same position, but you should still take the time to track each of your employee’s personal performance. While it helps to have a holistic understanding of your team’s productivity, your employees are unique individuals.
If you don’t look at your employees as individuals, you may struggle to keep track of who is or isn’t improving. Each person will face their own challenges in the workplace and need different types and amounts of support from you. What helps one person increase productivity may not work for another. To improve overall productivity, you have to give each of your employees what they, specifically, need to do their jobs.
When it comes to productivity measurement, it’s easy to overlook the quality of your employees’ work and focus exclusively on the quantity. However, you need to help employees meet productivity goals without sacrificing the quality of their work.
It doesn’t matter how much your employees get done if the work they produce is poor. Your clients will notice if something was rushed or an employee has just gone through the motions, which can be far more damaging to your business than a dip in productivity. Additionally, your employees will not be able to live up to their full potential if you don’t bring out their best work.
Use a Tracking Tool
Use a tool to track projects and employee’s time. This will help you gather data about employee productivity. You can also refer back to this data when assessing their historical performance.
Further, it can be difficult to monitor the productivity of each of your employees, especially if you manage a lot of them. Using a tracking tool can automate some of the detailed aspects of productivity measurement, ensuring you don’t miss any important information. This will allow you to give all of your employees the support they need to succeed in their roles.
Reassess Your Metrics
Finally, continually reassess the metrics you use to measure productivity. Productivity measurement requires a certain amount of trial and error. As time goes on, you may find that you need to make some adjustments to this process.
Some metrics that were initially promising may not be as useful or accurate as you anticipated, or vice versa. You may discover others that you didn’t even think of tracking at all. And if you make changes to your business structure, processes, or product offerings, your productivity measurements must be updated to account for and reflect those changes.
How to Increase Employee Productivity
Once you understand how to measure productivity, you can then work to improve it. This is an equally complex issue that will require creativity, patience, and persistence on your part to solve.
The following best practices are a great place to start in your efforts to boost productivity in your workplace:
Learn What Impacts Productivity
Learn more about what factors and issues can affect an employee’s productivity. This can include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Their personal lives, health, and wellbeing;
- Your management style;
- Their experience with onboarding and training;
- The company’s culture;
- Their access to workplace tools and technologies;
- Interpersonal conflicts with other employees;
- Their own opinions and attitudes about their work.
Most of these factors are beyond your control, but you should still be able to identify and understand them. If you know what the problem is, you can then work with your employee or team to address it. As you work to overcome the issue, their productivity will likely increase.
Encourage, Praise, and Celebrate
Encourage your employees to do their best work through praise and appreciation. It’s thought that positive reinforcement is more effective than negative reinforcement when motivating employees to take a specific action, such as improving their performance. This is also a simple but significant component of building a trustworthy, successful workplace.
Celebrate your employees and all of their victories, no matter how small. Your employees may also derive a greater sense of accomplishment from this recognition, further encouraging them to do consistent, productive, high-quality work.
Give Employees the Right Tools
Make sure your employees have access to the tools and technologies they need to get their work done. Without the necessary equipment, employees may need to use roundabout ways or inefficient processes to complete their work — if they’re able to do so at all.
Continually check in with your employees to see if they know about and have access to all the tools you can provide them. Ask employees for feedback about these tools to see if they are truly effective; search for alternative solutions if there’s significant room for improvement. You can also see the areas where your team consistently struggles and look for new tools or pieces of equipment to help ease those pain points in their workflow.
Cultivate Work-Life Balance
Prioritize a healthy work-life balance in your workplace. Employees who work too much or too hard will experience high levels of stress and burnout, ultimately becoming less productive despite their intensive efforts. Employees who disengage from work to take care of themselves and tend to their personal lives will feel refreshed, happier, and better equipped to tackle their work once they’re back on the job.
As a company leader, there are countless ways to help employees maintain work-life balance:
- Allow for remote work and flexible schedules;
- Remind employees to take breaks throughout the day;
- Consider expanding your PTO policy or offering more vacation or sick time;
- Offer additional support to employees who need it, such as those with children;
- Model the behavior you’d like your employees to exhibit.
Keep in mind that the proper work-life balance may be difficult to achieve, looks different for every employee, and may change over time. While you can do your best to support your employees, it is still up to them to find their appropriate balance and work with you to achieve it. Once they do, however, your employees will be set up to do their best possible work.
Foster Employee Growth
Finally, help your employees grow and develop in their roles. Knowing the basics of the job is enough to meet baseline productivity standards, but to go above and beyond, they need to be empowered to do more.
With more experience and knowledge, your employees can come up with new ideas and experiment with different processes or tools. This can help your team discover even more ways to increase their productivity, as well as the quality of their work.