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How You Are Measuring Productivity and How You Can Improve Employee Productivity By Up to 70%

It is important to measure employee productivity to bring vital changes to your company. Measuring productivity, and improving it, can influence the micro (worker) and macro (company) level of work that gets done.

Productive Office Environment

What Is Productivity?

Productivity can be misunderstood in business. People frequently confuse productivity for production efficiency.

Production is the quantity of output based on input. Therefore, if you set out to calculate how much output you get based on resources, money, and time invested, you’re not getting an accurate picture of productivity.

Instead, productivity is all about how efficiently the time, money, and resources you put in are used. Unfortunately, measuring productivity is a little more complex than you’d think.

In the 19th century, a mechanical engineer by the name of Frederick Winslow Taylor began analysing productivity during his career as a manual worker. He saw productivity as a progression in the skill someone has for their craft.

The subject he analysed was a fisherman. The fisherman works on a boat and uses a net to catch fish. Taylor noted that there were parts of the process of catching fish that were considered unnecessary and could be removed.

By removing the parts of the process that didn’t help the fisherman, he would become more productive. Another key argument made by Taylor is that it would be possible to redesign the tools the fisherman uses to increase productivity. So, for example, it would be possible to fix the boat, upgrade the ship entirely, replace the net with a sturdier one, etc.

As a method, this has existed for generations. If we remove unnecessary steps from the task at hand and improve the tools the workers have, productivity goes up. You can improve productivity just by upgrading the office computer.

However, if we want to measure and improve productivity properly, we must work out if the company does manual or knowledge work.

Productivity increasing

Manual VS Knowledge Work

There are two types of work that a company can do.

The first type of work is called manual work. This focuses primarily on the quantity of the product produced with minimal quality requirements. You’ll see this work in assembly lines, factories, and all mass production jobs. Your staff are given tools and knowledge to do the job, using the same skill set to do the job every day.

However, knowledge work is different. Knowledge work puts an equal focus on both quantity and quality. Good examples of knowledge work include the education sector, where the number of students is irrelevant compared to the knowledge they transfer, and the health sector. Even though these “workers” are given tools, they are responsible for learning, skill-sharing, and innovation. They have more autonomy.

Each type of work needs a different kind of formula to measure productivity. Let’s use knowledge work as a basis for measuring productivity because it is the more complex of the two – manual work is calculated with a basic input/output formula.

How Do We Measure Productivity?

When trying to measure knowledge work to establish productivity, we have to look at one fundamental question:

“What is the task you need to do?”

Every worker has a different task. A project manager might find that they have other jobs to do every day – responding to emails, contacting clients, or attending meetings. Contrastingly, a store worker might have a smaller pool of tasks to do – sell the products. However, there are also other tasks to do like stock the shelves, do the paperwork for restocking, clean up at the end of the day, etc.

Therefore, it’s accepted that to measure productivity effectively, the following questions need to be asked:

What is the task?

What should your task be?

Are there challenges will you face?

Can steps in the process can be removed?

It’s only when we start to think about these questions that we can measure productivity correctly.

Only when employees reflect on these questions can they start to shed the unnecessary steps that impede productivity. These answers will help them find ways to go about specific problems, helping in productivity increase.

Using the Labour Productivity Method

Partial Labour Productivity

This specific method uses the ratio of input to output. The most common output for most tasks is the hours worked. This is a crucial metric for productivity. Other inputs can include energy costs, materials, and financial costs.

Businesses like the partial labour productivity method because it gives one input independently of everything else, making the data easy to understand and compare with other industries or workers.

Multi-factor Labour Productivity

Some companies would instead use the multi-factor labour productivity method because a single input is often misleading and doesn’t show the big picture. This method works out the output using capital and labour costs. The formula looks a little like this:

Multi-factor Productivity = Output/(Labour Input (hrs worked) + Capital Input (£ invested))

The good thing about multi-factor productivity is that it helps you to identify your output while considering essential inputs. It is also how people calculate productivity at the national level.

Using the Hours Worked Method

When calculating employee productivity, labour hours are often used as the standard input. This reasoning is because the modern workplace usually requires staff to take on responsibilities that aren’t the focus of their role.

For example, a graphic designer would have to do things like attend brainstorming sessions, answer emails, go to meetings, monitor the progress of the team, and perform other tasks. They’re not just researching and then designing the website and illustrations of the company. Furthermore, the higher up the corporate ladder we go, the more responsibilities workers have.

Measuring hours is therefore considered to be a reliable method of doing things because many employees are paid on an hourly basis.

How to Improve Employee Productivity

So, we’ve taken a look at how we measure productivity. However, how do you increase employee productivity? After all, you’ll want to ensure that you put the time and effort into getting it right. Here are some strategies to use.

1. Improve Air Quality

Healthy, fresh air has been proven to improve cognition, creativity, and teamwork. By focusing on improving air quality, you can ensure that productivity in the workplace, individually, and between employees is substantially increased.

“Research has also shown that a healthy work environment can reduce staff sickness by over 70%. “

Taking care of health indoors leads to an inclusive and communal sense of well-being that not only makes your space an attractive place to be but leads to stronger organisational performance.

Envelo provides you with solutions to measure, monitor, and manage your environment ensuring the workplace is kept in optimum condition. This enables your employees to perform to the best of their abilities.

2. Have Clear Expectations

Your team will look to you for guidance on what to do and how to do it. If you want to succeed, you need to set clear expectations on what you need from each team member.

This responsibility often involves looking at things like task lists and updating them for each new day. You should make sure that you have regular meetings and that you communicate what is expected from each person.

However, it is essential to note that you need to set S.M.A.R.T targets for your team. If goals are realistic or attainable, productivity won’t increase.

3. Avoid Micromanaging

Micromanagement is an excellent way to oversee your team’s work at the ground level, and it can be helpful in some situations. For example, if you have a team member who is having difficulty with a new role, micromanagement is a way to support them.

However, if your goal is to improve productivity, micromanagement is a detriment to your team. Your staff are all competent, trained professionals with a unique process for completing tasks. People work best when they have the freedom to approach a situation in their unique style. Trying to take that from them and force them to do things differently will only slow down productivity.

4. Focus on Improving On-boarding

Hiring new staff for your company is an excellent way to improve productivity, especially if they’re a good fit for your cultural values. However, you can quickly become frustrated if you don’t have a good on-boarding process because your new hire won’t settle in quickly.

Thankfully, there’s quite a bit you can do to ensure that your team member settles into their new role well. Ensure onboarding starts when hired – sort out documents and policies before they come into work. Make sure that you’re clear about expectations from the outset, and where possible, assign one of your experienced team members to be a mentor.

5. Recognise Success

We’re all just human at the end of the day – it can be hard to keep moving forward if we don’t feel that our success is being noticed.

Take the time to celebrate all the good that gets done in the office. When each milestone in a project is hit, make sure you take the time to let your team know they’re on the right track. When it’s all finished, take them out for drinks to celebrate.

These little touches make all the difference and help to show that you are a considerate and caring employer.

Final Thoughts...

Improving productivity is difficult for new businesses or leaders who aren’t used to the process. Ultimately, you can enhance productivity quite quickly, but it all comes down to making the right decisions.

You need to make sure that you have the right metrics in place for measuring – hours worked, comparisons to other staff – and then take appropriate steps to improve productivity.

No matter what, always try to frame your improvements and feedback in a constructive light. Productivity will go way down if you shout and complain – good leaders always focus on creating a good team environment.

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