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Every organization wants to get the most out of its employees. But viewing employee productivity as a simple equation of how many tasks are performed over X hours or days won’t get you very far. Real insight into productivity — and how to improve it at your company — requires assessing harder to measure aspects of each employee’s work, accounting for their specific role and responsibilities. Let’s dive into what employee productivity really means and 9 actionable ways to start boosting it at your organization.
What is employee productivity?
Employee productivity is a measure of how efficiently and effectively employees perform tasks and contribute to the goals and objectives of an organization. Every company wants to achieve maximum output — whether in the form of tasks done, deliverables completed, or some other unit of production — for minimum input — in terms of time, cost, and other resources.
Of course, if you’re only looking at the quantity of work an employee produces, you’re going to miss many other key aspects of productivity related to the quality of what they deliver. Does their work satisfy internal and external stakeholders? Does the employee consistently meet personal and organizational goals? Organizations must capture and analyze a wide variety of metrics related to these and other important questions to get a comprehensive, accurate picture of employee productivity at both the individual and team levels.
Understanding the importance of employee productivity
Employee productivity directly impacts the overall performance and success of an organization. When employees are productive, they complete tasks in a timely manner, meet targets, and contribute to the achievement of business objectives. This, in turn, enhances the company’s profitability and ability to compete in the marketplace. Productive employees also optimize the use of valuable resources, including time, materials, and technology. By working efficiently, they help minimize waste, reduce operational costs, and improve an organization’s bottom line.
Employee productivity impacts the quality of products or services delivered to customers as well. Productive employees are more likely to deliver high-quality work, meet customer expectations, and provide excellent customer service. With higher customer satisfaction, organizations are likely to see more repeat business, referrals, and, of course, revenue.
How to measure employee productivity
Measuring employee productivity is a difficult but essential task for any organization that wants to maximize value and see its workforce succeed. By tracking various factors that contribute to productivity, businesses can identify areas for improvement, make more informed decisions, and better optimize resource allocation.
For many jobs, focusing solely on quantity-related metrics provides limited insight into actual productivity. As noted above, organizations should also track quality-related metrics, like error rates, customer satisfaction ratings, adherence to relevant standards, and feedback from internal stakeholders. They should also tailor metrics to particular roles and responsibilities to help better identify and assess individual contributions.
Here are a few types of metrics organizations can use to get a better grasp on the many aspects of employee productivity:
- Time spent on tasks. Analyzing the time employees spend on different tasks and projects can help identify parts of a process that are causing inefficiencies. Time tracking tools and project management software can assist in monitoring time spent on specific activities and provide valuable data.
- Utilization rate. The utilization rate measures the percentage of time employees spend on productive work compared to non-productive or idle time. Low utilization rates may indicate underutilized employees or inefficient task distribution.
- Cycle time. Cycle time refers to how long it takes to complete a specific process or task, from start to finish. Measuring cycle time helps uncover opportunities for streamlining workflows and reducing bottlenecks.
- Key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are specific, measurable targets that align with organizational goals. They provide a clear framework for evaluating individual performance and productivity. KPIs can vary across departments and roles, and may include sales targets, customer retention rates, or project completion milestones.
9 ways to improve employee productivity
Given the many factors that contribute to employee productivity — and how these factors vary from company to company and role to role — how can you take tangible steps towards improving productivity at your organization? The answer is a combination of removing blockers that keep employees from realizing their potential, keeping team members happy and engaging, and frequently incentivizing those behaviors that contribute to productivity. The 9 strategies below are simple, effective ways to start doing just that.
1. Prioritize employee engagement
Employee engagement reflects how much employees are committed to and excited about their role and their organization as a whole. Engaged employees feel valued, have a sense of purpose, and feel a genuine interest in what they’re doing on a daily basis. It should come as no surprise that employees who lack passion for their work and a belief that their voice or actions really matter are less likely to be motivated, productive members of an organization.
There are many drivers of employee engagement, so finding out which ones matter most to employees at your company — along with which drivers team members currently feel are particularly lacking — should be any organization’s first priority when it comes to engaging its workers. Leverage an employee engagement platform with easy-to-use feedback channels like AI-powered chatbots and anonymous pulse surveys to get a full picture of employee sentiment. Ensure your platform also has robust reporting and analytics features so your leaders can quickly unlock relevant insights and implement collaborative action plans with their team members.
2. Provide recognition and rewards
Recognizing and rewarding employees for their efforts and achievements is a powerful motivator and contributor to sustained productivity. Employee recognition is actually the top driver of engagement. A real culture of recognition encourages team members to provide appreciation in many forms, from a quick message of thanks to a teammate, to public recognition during a work anniversary celebration, to redeemable reward points sent using a mobile-friendly employee recognition platform.
Building an employee recognition program dedicated to acknowledging and celebrating individual team members in ways that actually matter to them is the best way to fuel productivity with effective appreciation. Power your company’s program with an employee recognition and rewards solution that can be used easily from anywhere, supports both social and points-based recognition, and includes a rewards catalog filled with exciting items and experiences to suit every employee’s taste.
3. Provide the right technology and tools
Giving employees access to top-of-the-line tech — and training them on how to use it — is one of the most direct levers organizations have for enhancing productivity. By investing in modern and user-friendly technology, organizations enable employees to work more efficiently and reduce the risk of frustration and time wastage caused by outdated, unintuitive tools. In addition to the engagement and recognition solutions described above, consider project and portfolio management platforms to streamline workflows and boost alignment, time management software to increase efficiency, and learning management systems to help employees continuously improve.
4. Educate leaders on how to empower employees
Your workforce will have a hard time maximizing their productivity if they lack the autonomy to efficiently proceed with their assigned tasks — or if they don’t have the resources they need to get those tasks done quickly and well. That’s why any organization that’s interested in improving productivity should train leaders on how and why to empower employees.
The process starts with giving employees the tools, training, and resources they need to thrive. But real employee empowerment also encompasses trusting team members with additional responsibilities, encouraging them to innovate and try new methods, and using mistakes as an opportunity to build up and support employees rather than a time for criticism. Team members who embrace the new atmosphere of empowerment and mutual trust will take more initiative and contribute more to organizational success.
5. Improve employees’ work environment
An employee’s physical and psychological work environments have a significant influence on productivity. A well-designed, comfortable workspace with minimal distractions can enhance focus and efficiency, whether in-office, at home, or elsewhere. Organizations with remote or hybrid workforces can provide stipends for improving a home office or pay for shared workspaces near employees’ homes to ensure that team members always have somewhere to get the job done.
A positive work culture and an environment of psychological safety are even more important components of productivity. You can’t expect employees to work efficiently if they see evidence of a toxic or unwelcoming culture on a daily basis. Ensure that every team member feels like they belong by supporting a truly diverse, inclusive workplace. And clearly communicate the qualities of your organization’s ideal culture to both leaders and staff while implementing initiatives to help realize that vision.
6. Embrace a coaching approach to management
Effective leadership and management practices are an essential part of employee productivity. Strong leaders provide clear direction, set realistic goals, and give regular feedback while welcoming input from employees in turn. Above all, they embrace a supportive, coaching approach to management, rather than either micromanaging or neglecting their employees. This managerial style is dedicated to empowering employees instead of holding them back from realizing their full potential.
7. Build a talent development program
The knowledge, skills, and experience of employees directly impact their productivity. Organizations should invest in training and development programs to enhance employees’ capabilities and help them adapt to new trends. The best talent development programs adopt a holistic approach to supporting employee growth, including paying for continuing education, offering online learning resources tailored to individual team members’ needs, and providing opportunities for every employee to advance in their career and take on new responsibilities.
8. Support work-life balance
Consistently assigning employees more tasks than they can handle — or failing to honor established work schedules by communicating with employees and assigning them tasks whenever the urge strikes — only leads to stress, burnout, and decreased productivity. Employers should instead promote work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, encouraging employees to take breaks, respecting boundaries, and establishing wellness initiatives. When employees have time to recharge and attend to personal commitments, they can better maintain their focus and energy levels, helping them stay highly productive over the long term.
9. Practice clear communication
Effective, transparent communication is the foundation for sustained productivity. When leaders explain goals and expectations in a consistent, understandable way, employees have a much better grasp on their responsibilities and are far better equipped to effectively prioritize tasks and collaborate with others. And when team members at every level of an organization, starting with the C-suite, make a point of being honest and transparent about matters large and small, employees will be more likely to trust what’s being said and truly give their all to whatever task is put before them.
Organizations should also establish channels for two-way feedback between managers and their direct reports, from a regular cadence of one-on-one meetings to anonymous team-based pulse surveys. This helps better align individual goals with organizational objectives, gives employees another opportunity to exercise their voice, and gives managers more insight into how they should adjust their style of leadership to meet the needs of their team members.
Boost employee productivity by delivering an exceptional employee experience
Taken together, all the strategies above will put your organization well on the way to establishing a high level of employee productivity — and an employee experience that makes your company stand out from the competition. While implementing these practices takes time and effort, you can accelerate your path to improved productivity by adopting the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. With a focus on the primary driver of employee engagement — enabling widespread, meaningful employee recognition — along with gathering and analyzing the employee input needed to inform your productivity initiatives, it’s a science-driven solution that offers a comprehensive answer to the needs of today’s workforce.
Try a free demo of the Achievers Employee Experience Platform™ today and see the impact it can make on your company for yourself.
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