What’s Trending: Employee Productivity

What’s Trending: Employee Productivity

What’s Trending: Employee Productivity
Reading Time: 4 minutes

In all rungs of society, productivity has been king for generations now. The idea that we must always be working, having a second hustle, has been thoroughly criticized, deconstructed, and reconstructed, but even through all of that, the question remains: how can we be more productive?

Employee productivity is a key performance indicator for many companies to measure and improve performance. Some companies even go so far as to implement employee productivity trackers and other tools and methods to get every little detail of how their workers spend their time.

Even employees try to increase their productivity through various self-imposed methods, such as the Pomodoro method, eat the frog, and other various techniques.

Keep reading this short article to find out what top publications say about employee productivity and how to measure and improve it.


Now, what does it mean to be productive? In rough terms, Elizabeth Perry for BetterUp says that productivity is a measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, factory, or system. Although accurate, she argues that this definition is reductive since people can have completely different but true definitions of productivity.

Think about it, when some people talk about productivity, many times they think that it’s just ticking things off your to-do list. But that’s not true; personal tasks can be too little to matter for a business goal, so Perry breaks down productivity into different types.

“Checking off our to-do list is not what productivity is all about. While personal productivity contributes to business productivity, these two types of productivity are defined very differently.”

These are some points of view of productivity:

·  Personal productivity: How consistently and efficiently one person completes tasks.

·  Business productivity: How much revenue divided by hours worked is created.

·  Workplace productivity: How much each team contributes to the business’s success.

·  Organizational productivity: How much revenue employee labor hours generate per quarter.

·  National productivity: How well a country turns goods and services into GDP.


But how can you improve employee productivity? Meta’s Workplace platform has a piece on how you can measure employee productivity.

First, you should know what you want to achieve and your ultimate goal for employee productivity. As part of that, you should know what to look for and how it can be measured. The truth is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for measuring productivity, so you might need to use different tools and measurements to find something that aligns with the answers you need. 

The first measure can be efficiency vs efficacy. Efficiency can be defined as how quickly the job gets done; efficacy is the quality of the work. Let’s say you’re working at an IT help desk; some days, you might want to resolve the biggest number of tickets in the shortest time possible, while others, you might get stuck on complex cases for a longer time.

These can also be measured as subjective vs objective goals. Objective goals are those that can be measured, in this case, the number of tickets solved, but what about subjective goals? These goals can’t be measured so easily, like those in knowledge or creative industries. In this example, measuring how complex the tickets are can be difficult. A junior specialist may struggle with something that a supervisor or senior IT consultant would find easy. Still, managers should be clear about what they want and can achieve in each employee’s particular case to avoid placing unsuitable expectations across different levels.

“One of the reasons that productivity levels vary within a team might be down to personality, working style or ability – things you can’t always control.”

Harvard Business Review

According to Kate Northrup of the Harvard Business Review, the best way to improve productivity is actually to decrease the amount of things you should be doing. In her article, she cites the work of author David Rock, who argues that you are only focused six hours per week on your work—contrasting to the 40-hour workweek.

“Evidence supports that if we want to ramp up our productivity and happiness, we should actually be doing less.”

She argues that as people with full lives, we must know how to prioritize results—including scheduling breaks and drawing a line. This is a literal line in this case, as she devised a method to find the non-essential tasks in your personal and professional life. The first step is to draw a line down the middle on a piece of paper. Then, you must decide an area of work or life where you’d like to improve and write all the tasks related to it on the left side. Then, on the right, write all the wins related to it. Afterward, connect all the wins to the task that had to do with it.

This method, she says, will help you balance your life in the areas that you use it. That way, you will be able to improve productivity while removing stuff that doesn’t add up much to your goals.

The takeaway

There are many ways to measure productivity, from advanced tools and methods to simple pen and paper. But whether you want to improve your personal life or professional life, you’ll always need to weigh the pros and cons of any decision to get to your goals. When you’re looking at your own employee productivity, weigh in what the goals and achievements you and your company need while maintaining your own methods, personality, and work-life balance.

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