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Few topics are as important and relevant to a business as the productivity of its workforce. When employees are engaged, they become more productive. The more productive your employees, the more your company can expand. But even though high productivity is a goal for every business, it’s difficult for most to achieve it.
 
Why do some companies tend to perform more efficiently than others? What are the factors that contribute to high productivity? Most importantly, how can you ensure your team operates at their best in the workplace? In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about workplace productivity.

 

What is workplace productivity?

Let’s begin with a shared understanding of productivity. Put simply, productivity is a measure of output per unit of input. The input may involve labor hours, dollars invested, or any other resource. The output may include sales completed, units developed, or any other supply.

In economics, productivity is an aggregate metric. It refers to the measure of a nation’s GDP to its hours worked. But in terms of business, productivity measures a company’s efficiency in its production process. Typically, the number of units produced is weighed against employee labor hours. It can also be a measure of net sales to employee labor hours or set up based on the company’s process and offerings.

 

The value of a productive workplace

The answer may be obvious, but have you ever thought about why workplace productivity is important? For one, productivity isn’t just a measure of efficiency, it’s a measure of engagement. In other words, you’re not only measuring how much work your team can complete. You also measure how involved they are in their work and how much they care. High productivity usually means high engagement.
 
Additionally, productivity leads to growth. The more productive your team is, the fewer the resources required, and the higher the output; This is crucial to achieving economies of scale. It makes expansion to other markets or locations possible. It also helps your company maintain competitiveness against new entrants.
 
Most importantly, workplace productivity is something you can manage and optimize. You don’t need a specialized degree or training certificates. You simply need to possess a willingness to do your research and implement new practices.

 

How to calculate workplace productivity

Talking about productivity goals is all well and good. But measuring your team’s own productivity is the first step to improving it. So exactly how is productivity calculated?
 
First, it’s important to understand which type of productivity we’re talking about. We briefly alluded to two definitions of productivity. But there are officially four types:
  1. Labor productivity – A measure of a single worker’s labor. This might, for example, be a measure of the effort required by a single engineer to write and implement software code. It would be calculated by dividing their total output (in dollar value) by the labor hours worked. If the program sold for $50,000 and the engineer spent 2,000 hours building it, then their labor productivity equals 25.
  2. Capital productivity – A measure of output to the input of physical capital. While it does not always hold true, the more capital investment, the greater the output. After all, more money leads to higher quality materials and more skilled labor.
  3. Material productivity – A measure of output to the input of materials or natural resources. This may not apply to technology companies since most of the materials are digital. But it plays a substantial role in manufacturing or industrial companies.
  4. Total Factory Productivity (TFP) – A measure of everything not considered labor, capital or material productivity. This may include the organization’s knowledge, management techniques, and other returns of scale.
In short, productivity can be measured by taking the output value and dividing it by the input. Output is typically measured in sales (dollars) while the input is measured in cost (dollars), hours, or materials.
 
When calculating productivity, consider the key differences between the productivity of the entire team vs. an individual. The productivity of the individual may not be significant. But when compared to the average or aggregate, you can develop a more definite sense of the value of their performance.

 

Tips for measuring employee productivity

Here are 5 actionable steps you can take to begin measuring employee productivity today.

  1. Define the input and output you will measureIs it units made? Dollar value? To measure employee productivity, you need to understand what values to track. Make sure the metric you choose is relevant to the task your employees are assigned. This may be customers served, sales calls made, or some other parameter entirely.
  2. Set SMART goals for productivityIf you want your employees to realize goals consistently, develop SMART goals. This mnemonic device stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Each quality helps to ensure that work is accomplished on schedule.
  3. Prioritize quality over quantitySome workers have the mentality that efficiency should be valued over everything. But you should never neglect to inspect for quality. In addition to defining quantity goals, you should set goals that maintain quality. Your employees should be given guidelines for producing polished products or exceptional service.
  4. Survey your end-usersWhether it’s a customer or client, you’ll want to ask the end-user directly for feedback. Critique is a hard pill to swallow. But it gives the insight that can be used to improve your product or service. It could be a starting point in figuring out which steps are essential to the end product. 
  5. Revisit your company cultureCulture defines most of an organization’s values. Included is how your company approaches workplace productivity. Productivity challenges that span across your entire team may reflect a need to tweak culture. Consider developing new training sessions and company literature that refocuses your team’s dedication to quality and efficiency. Learn more about the value of company culture in our previous post.

 

Measuring individual productivity

Most of these tips apply to workplace productivity. But as we discussed, measuring individual productivity requires a different lens with which to observe. The productivity metrics for teamwork are not always suitable for personal productivity.
 
For example, setting a dollar value is not ideal for output measurement if the worker’s function is to focus on handling customer complaints. Instead, cases resolved or positive reviews may be a more appropriate target goal.
 
Companies should strive to improve workplace productivity as well as individual productivity. The benefits of increasing individual productivity include boosted employee morale and lower overhead.

 

Strategies to increase productivity

Now that we’ve covered some of the lower-level tactics in improving productivity, it’s time to discuss the broader strategies that govern these principles. These are the top productivity strategies to implement within your organization:

 

Uncover the drivers of productivity

Instill the habits and practices that lead to higher productivity. When it comes to productivity, among the main drivers include:

  1. Accountability – Companies like Flipboard have begun taking after Apple’s example and using the DRI system. It assigns a “directly responsible individual” for every significant project or task. Tools like this are useful in project management. They can ensure teams stay efficient and accountable for all the moving pieces.
  2. Proactivity – The more that workers are encouraged to contribute to the company’s overall mission directly, the more that gets done. Encourage your team to solve problems on their own, and managers won’t have to worry themselves with putting out each fire.
  3. Technology – Humans are only as efficient as their tools and technology allow them to be. Old computers and stuttering connections can severely impede the progress made by your team. Equip them with more advanced tools so that technology becomes an aid, not an obstacle.
  4. Collaboration – When people work together, amazing things can happen. Specialization and effective management can produce high-quality products at a fraction of the time and cost. Creative solutions can arise from the healthy exchange of opposite minds.
  5. Environment – The office space your team uses can have a significant impact on their overall productivity. If it’s cluttered or disorganized, their work can suffer as a result. Learn more about how to design your space to encourage productivity.

These are just a few of the top drivers of productivity, and they will likely vary depending on the business and the nature of the team. Observe your processes to find what pushes people to efficiency.

 

Cultivate with a culture of engagement

Productivity is the result of dedicated individuals pursuing a single vision. When that vision is obscure, or values aren’t put into practice, the culture becomes a set of words on a wall rather than a guiding force.

In recent years, employee engagement has increased, according to Gallup. Gallup also reported that more opportunities for workers to develop their skills and pursue their passions can impact a company’s bottom line, worker health, earnings-per-share growth, retention, and profitability.

 

Understanding the motivation of each employee

An advantage that startups and smaller businesses have is a sense of closeness. There’s far more opportunity to get to know team members on a personal level, to truly understand their motivations and desires.
 
Over time, it becomes clear that everyone has a unique motivation; this may range from money and recognition to flexible schedules and healthcare coverage. The companies that realize these motivations and actively work to empower their workers tend to form a much deeper professional bond with their employees.

Ask yourself what your company can do to help realize some of the personal goals and ambitions of your workers. These seemingly small gestures can go a long way in building employee engagement.

 

How to establish a culture of employee engagement

So far, we’ve discussed the benefits of improving employee engagement. This has ranged from increased profits to a more positive workplace overall. Now, we’ll review the various employee engagement strategies that address the common pitfalls that can arise with these programs.

 

Schedule regular discussions with your team

Emphasize your team’s career development by discussing their aspirations with them frequently. Investing in their future while showing a clear path to progression can result in more excellent retention and engagement. The more valued they feel, the more loyal they’re likely to become to the company’s mission.

 

Recognize exceptional work by employees

According to Galluptwo in three employees believe their work goes unappreciated. This is unfortunate, as even the smallest praise can go a long way. Of course, monetary compensation is valuable, but there’s nothing like having your peers compliment you on a job well done. It doesn’t take much effort to highlight one’s accomplishment. But the empowering effect can reverberate throughout the organization.

 

Invite feedback and criticism

Engagement means developing a sense of control. For employees to feel empowered to suggest improvements to processes, they need to believe their voice matters. Create platforms that collect employee feedback and criticism, while ensuring you follow up with their concerns as you would a customer complaint. 

Check out OnPoint Consulting’s post on other successful strategies for building employee engagement.

 

Top software tools for productivity

We didn’t want to close out our guide without offering a few productivity app suggestions to help you with boosting productivity and employee engagement.

 

Asana

Asana has quickly become one of the most popular project management apps in use today, largely because of its sleek and intuitive interface. You can view projects in the list view or timeline, develop reports on project progress, and comment on the work of teammates. Today, Givenchy, G2, Sony Music, Stride, and many other brands rely on Asana to keep their teams and tasks organized.

 

Adobe Creative Cloud

If your business deals with photography or video in any capacity, then Adobe Creative Cloud is a quintessential enterprise productivity software. For a set price each month (which depends on the apps you intend to use), you can have access to Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere Pro, and much more. These applications are among the best you can find in the image and video editing category.

 

Slack

Get your communications in check with Slack, a messaging app (and employee engagement platform) that combines the immediacy of instant messaging apps and the detail and support of a full email client. Channel customization can allow your teams to organize their discussions based on project or discipline. Slack is a must for companies with overseas or remote workers, as it streamlines conversations and integrates with third-party apps in ways not many other messaging apps can do.

 

Trello

For more visually-oriented project managers, Trello remains unmatched. Using a Kanban-inspired system with cards, Trello can be used in any way you see fit, from a project pipeline to an organizational hierarchy. Trello also plays well with other third-party apps, which comes in handy since the app can feel underpowered compared to its alternatives.

 

G Suite

G Suite is a collection of Google’s most useful work apps: Gmail (email client), Docs (word processing), Drive (cloud storage), Calendar, and Meet (video calls). Each one is free for use, has a variety of features offered by paid alternatives, and it works symbiotically with other Google products. For example, store your Google Docs on Drive. Schedule a Meet through Calendar, then send a client a Gmail invite. In terms of value and functionality, G Suite is unmatched.

 

Grammarly

If you write or edit, Grammarly is a must-have tool. Despite your attention to detail and writing experience, Grammarly, a free writing assistant app, can catch mistakes that you otherwise might miss. These range from simple typos in spelling and grammar to more suitable stylistic writing decisions. Grammarly has dozens of premium features that study how you write in different situations to give you the best suggestions.

 

Dropbox

Although Drive has already been mentioned, Dropbox is so good it’s worthy of receiving a mention of its own. The cloud storage app has been around for years, and it’s because of its greater reliability and sleeker interface compared to its Google counterpart. Best of all, you can continue to get free Dropbox storage for accomplishing simple tasks, like referring other users. With Dropbox, your team will never have to spend hours searching for a single file.

 

Sprout Social

Social media is one of the most important outreach and engagement platforms for your brand. But it can also be one of the most time-consuming endeavors. Fortunately, apps like Sprout Social have made it easier than ever to manage multiple social accounts under a single roof. Find out what your competitors and customers are talking about, schedule your posts, and discover how your audience interacts with your content. Their blogs are also among the top productivity sites to follow, with tips and guides on developing an effective social media strategy.

We’ve covered how to measure and calculate productivity, the strategies involved in improving productivity, and finally, the tools and technology to promote productive habits. Even then, these steps are merely starting points for much larger productivity initiatives. In the following years, we may yet find new drivers of productivity, new ways of accomplishing our tasks.

Until then, it falls upon business leaders and entrepreneurs to properly care for and understand their teams. The smallest of gestures, such as developing two-way communication, can influence how generations of workers in the company approach their work. If you want your business to succeed, start by engaging individuals on your team.