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Employee Productivity: How To Guide

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been hearing more and more about measuring and improving employee productivity. Everyone had to adapt to significant changes in the workplace. Working from home, in many cases, has created new needs for both employees and companies.

Due to computerization, employees should be skilled, trained and play a stronger role in the company. Companies, for their part, need to show respect and gender inclusiveness, so that employees feel confident. An engaged and happy employee will be the key to increased productivity.

Summary

  • Company productivity is closely related to employee productivity;
  • Employee productivity can be easily measured, and therefore, you can check where and how to improve it;
  • There are many factors that influence employee productivity, as well as many tools and techniques to make it increase.

What is workplace productivity?

Workplace productivity is defined by the formula: services or products produced, divided by the resources used. By resources, we mean working hours, equipment, and money spent. This is the basic formula, which obviously doesn’t take into account the different company-related factors.

It is a key and important concept not only for companies but also to calculate Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It helps us not only to calculate the efficiency of a company, but also of a country.

The productivity rate refers to the value produced by each worker, per unit of time. Through this indicator, we measure the efficiency of a worker. And this is where company managers try to maximize resources, to generate more efficiency, and therefore more productivity.

Why is employee productivity so important?

The world of work needs continuous improvement. For a company that wants to remain productive, the concept expressed by the equation alone is no longer sufficient. In other words, a company requires constant improvements to remain successful.

These have to come from the employees themselves. Many tasks, in direct contact with customers, as well as with machinery and equipment, are important to understand where and how to improve.

Since this key data is provided by your employees, it is necessary that they not only perform their tasks, but also maintain a high level of commitment to the company. Therefore, it is important that your employees can develop in an environment of constant growth and respect, and contribute to the improvement of the organization.

What are the components of productivity?

According to the article “How to calculate productivity with examples”, from the blog Retos Directivos of the EAE Business School, some of the factors that make up productivity are the following (1):

  • Technical factors: include computerization, correct design of equipment and work floor.
  • Production factors: planning, coordination, production control. Quality of raw materials (if we are not talking about a service company).
  • Management factors: managers must be very well prepared to perform this function. They have to manage the company’s resources honestly, and know how to take risks. They must keep staff motivated and create a good working environment. It is surely one of the most important factors in the company.
  • Personnel factors: organize staff efficiently so that employees can perform tasks effectively. The experience of your team’s professional talent has to be positive and satisfying. Provide personal development tools, and salary incentive plans, as well as internal promotions.

Here we have compiled some data on trends in Spanish companies, according to Adecco (2):

YesNo
Are work climate studies carried out?44,81%55,19%
Are productivity improvement practices carried out?65,56%34,44%
Are health promotion campaigns carried out?82,63%17,37%
Are overtime hours used?40,51%29% use in-house staff, and 30.48% use contracting
Is compensation vary according to objectives?68,97%31,03%
Are training plans implemented to improve productivity and efficiency?67,39%32,61%

For how many hours is your team really productive?

In Spain, for example, the belief that productive hours are the hours spent in the office is still very much alive. The company WorkMeter, which offers solutions and software tools to improve business efficiency, has compiled the data in a study.

It reflects the most productive months and times of the week, and more importantly, how employees allocate their time while in the office (3). They have used the data from 107 companies (3770 employees) and found out :

  • Total time in the office: an average of 9 hours and 17 minutes;
  • Active time (excluding breaks and interruptions): 7 hours and 12 minutes;
  • Actual productive time: 6 hours and 34 minutes;

We spend about 1 minute and 21 seconds focused on the same task, without being interrupted. If we add to the interruptions and breaks the average time for returning to a good level of concentration (about 2.5 minutes), then almost an hour is lost every day. Time must be optimized for reducing office hours and stress.

How to measure employee productivity?

You can measure employee productivity using a formula, similar to the one that measures the productivity of the company. Keep track of how many tasks a worker is able to perform throughout the day. This way you can estimate how much time is required for each task, and try to optimize the work.

You will be the one who will have to choose what kind of reports, or follow-ups, you want to generate: whether you want to work with a daily, weekly or monthly productivity rate. You have to check these variables according to your requirements and work plans.

There are several online tools that can help companies to do this type of monitoring, whether you work from home or from the office. They are automated software, which record all work ratios, breaks, meetings, etc. See the best Employee Monitoring Software

What is quality and what is productivity? Efficiency and effectiveness

One shortcoming of the productivity formula is that, unfortunately, it does not measure the quality of work. A person can perform his work efficiently, i.e. in a short time and with few resources, but not effectively. And this implies that there is also a lack of organization of time and priorities.

If you have an inefficient worker, who does not know where to focus his efforts or what his priorities are, you will first have to clarify what the company’s objectives are. It is likely that they are not clear. This way, he will be able to align himself with this vision and be more focused on generating value for the company.

Ideally, employees should develop both qualities.

What factors can affect productivity at work?

Poor communication between departments, or between you and your employees, or not providing your employees with the right tools to perform their tasks negatively affects productivity. These are just two examples of factors that detract from the productivity of your employees, and also indicate that you may not be valuing the professional talent you have.

When an employee does not feel valued and respected, he loses his level of commitment to the company’s objectives. The consequences range from absenteeism to employee turnover within the company, with a great economic cost and extra effort on the part of HR.

Key factors influencing employee productivity (Source: Simona Pistis/ Gitnux.com)
  • Employee well-being: many studies highlight the direct relationship between happiness at work and efficiency (4). A happy employee can be 12% more productive, and happy employees are reflected in 31% more productivity for the company.
  • Communication within the company: poor communication between supervisor/manager and employees will also prevent a clear definition of expectations. Cross-company communication has to be bidirectional, both parties have to make proposals, the employee has to be listened to, and his ideas taken into account.
  • Working tools: working with outdated equipment or machinery, in an inadequate working environment, are other very important elements that strongly influence productivity.
  • Adequate skills: performing tasks that are inadequate to the employee’s skills, which are difficult for him/her, will make him/her work inefficiently and unmotivated. To ensure that your team is always up to date, it will be important to offer continuous training. If you don’t have a training plan, it won’t do you any good to have modern work tools.

What are the keys to increasing employee productivity?

All companies are looking for ways to increase the productivity of their employees, without affecting the company. Working longer hours is not profitable, as it has already been proven that this only produces more stress.

Some companies are reducing working hours, although the final results of this measure are not yet known. For the moment we propose these simple solutions (5), that you can apply now, in your own work, as well as in the work of your employees.

If you want to avoid thisThen apply this
Harassment situationsDevelop a Code of Conduct (including how and where to report), and create a company values guide
Professional talents become obsoleteOffer continuous training plans, it will also help you to avoid the famous Dunning Kruger effect
Stress, lack of commitment, and low motivationTeach time management methods, don’t encourage overtime, and don’t contact your employees outside of working hours. Work on communication, and notify and congratulate your employees’ achievements
Difficulty in reconciling work and family lifeImprove teleworking, or if you have an office closer to the employee’s home, propose a transfer. Offer flexible hours

Create a good working environment

A good work environment is the result of many factors, but it is the manager’s responsibility to create and maintain it. Earlier, we have already explained 4 important keys to avoid productivity issues. Remember, we all want to be happy to go to work, not just because we have to get a salary at the end of the month.

For an employee, it is crucial to be comfortable in the office and to feel an active part of a project, to have all the necessary tools for effective work, and to feel appreciated and respected. If the organization also has a good HR department, capable of organizing a good salary incentive and promotion plan, then half the work is already done.

Offer training

Sharing knowledge is another essential factor, as well as offering a continuous training plan. According to the Adecco Outsourcing report (6) this is another key to keeping employee productivity high.

2 out of 3 respondents (67.39%) indicate that in their company specific training plans are implemented with the aim of improving the productivity and efficiency of human resources, of which 66.20% have measured the percentage of improvements, with more than 40% stating that they have improved between 6% and 10% (43.63%) and 27.91% that they have improved productivity and efficiency between 1% and 5%.

Defining objectives and expectations

The lack of clarity about the company’s objectives can influence the effective performance of the company. So we recommend that you create a plan of objectives, for example on a quarterly basis. By doing so, you can get your employees to focus better, and strive to achieve more value for the company.

Establishing a plan of objectives and clarifying expectations, without overwhelming your employees, also allows the company to check the level of productivity at all times. Setting deadlines is important not only for customers, but also for the proper functioning of the company.

Good daily planning

Another important key to your employees’ productivity, as well as your own, is efficient time management. Determine the priority activities, the pending ones, and the ones that are finished. There are many time management techniques, you can train your team to optimize their own time. See the Best To Do List Apps

Time management is extremely important for meeting deadlines and avoiding stressful working conditions. Here are some practical examples to avoid procrastination, lateness, or the overload of tasks.

  • Establish a to-do list, and keep it in sight. You can use post-it notes, so that once they are finished, you can move them around and put them together in a list of completed tasks;
  • Establish a list of priorities, and order them according to their importance;
  • Plan the day: we are not equally productive at all times, therefore, work on the tasks that need more concentration, in the hours in which you feel more productive. Leave the more repetitive or administrative tasks for another time of the day;
  • Automate processes, such as using some application for the organization of the work agenda; you can use Google Calendar, Google Keep for example, for your notes, and reminders;
  • Create work spaces without distractions, this is surely one of the most important measures. Do not try to be multitasking, nor pretend it to your workers, in the long run it is not productive. Being able to work on a task without losing concentration will allow us to be effective and efficient;
  • Plan breaks: taking a short break every hour is recommended to improve productivity. Clearing the mind, having a coffee, or simply socializing with others, are very important things throughout a work day;
  • Plan correctly the times in work meetings, this is another key moment, where you can lose a lot of time.

Offer flexible hours and encourage self-care

Offering flexible working hours to your employees, according to their needs, will allow them to work independently, while combining family and personal life with work.

Encouraging personal activities and self-care is extremely important. A healthy lifestyle must be encouraged, reducing the level of stress. According to the XI Absenteeism Report 2022 (7), the gross cost of absenteeism is around 37,000 million euros, 3.1% of Spain’s GDP.

Compliment the results

Last but not least, it is important to follow up on the work and results of your team. Never forget to congratulate the objectives achieved, and the work done. You can do this during personal feedback, or send a thank you note. You can also talk to your employee and try to find out more about him, and what motivates him. This way, you will know better how to motivate him.

Conclusion

The productivity of your employees is a crucial factor for the productivity of the company. We have explained how to measure employee productivity rate. Through this data, you can analyze it and see where to optimize the company’s resources.

You should create a good working environment, one where employees can grow and share values. You need to know how to recognize talent and value it. Time management will be a great ally against stress. It is a challenge for all managers, but by opting for the right solutions, you will be able to obtain the results that all companies are looking for.

References

1. Managers R. How to calculate productivity with examples [Internet]. The blog of challenges to be a manager | Challenges of Business Management. 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 13]. Source

2. Tramontin D, editor. I Adecco Outsourcing Barometer on productivity and efficiency [Internet]. www.adecco.es. Adecco Outsourcing; [cited 2022Aug14]. Source

3. Annual Workplace Time Management Survey [Internet]. WorkMeter; [cited 2022Aug13]. Source

4. Oswald AJ, Proto E, Sgroi D. Happiness and Productivity. J Labor Econ [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2022 Aug 13];33(4):789-822. Source

5. Blasco Luna FJ, Merino Nájera ML, Sanz Casado PPSCPP, Lastras González S. XI Adecco Report on Healthy Company and Absenteeism Management [Internet]. www.adeccoinstitute.es. The Adecco Group Institute; [cited 2022Aug14]. Available from: https://www.adeccoinstitute.es/gracias-por-descargar-el-xi-informe-sobre-empresa-saludable-y-gestion-del-absentismo/ Annual Study on Time Management at Work [Internet]. WorkMeter; [cited 2022Aug13]. Available from: https://www.equiposytalento.com/contenido/download/estudios/Estudiogestiontiempo.pdf

6. Tramontin D, editor. I Adecco Outsourcing Barometer on productivity and efficiency [Internet]. www.adecco.es. Adecco Outsourcing; [cited 2022Aug14]. Source

7. Blasco Luna FJ, Merino Nájera ML, Sanz Casado PPSCPP, Lastras González S. XI Adecco Report on Healthy Company and Absenteeism Management [Internet]. www.adeccoinstitute.es. The Adecco Group Institute; [cited 2022Aug14]. Available from: https://www.adeccoinstitute.es/gracias-por-descargar-el-xi-informe-sobre-empresa-saludable-y-gestion-del-absentismo/ Annual Study on Time Management at Work [Internet]. WorkMeter; [cited 2022Aug13]. Available from: https://www.equiposytalento.com/contenido/download/estudios/Estudiogestiontiempo.pdf

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