| 17 November, 2021 | 7 Min Read

Employee productivity: Key to creating a motivated workforce

As employees are the most valuable resource of an organization, creating a highly productive workforce is the key to organizational growth and success. Constant distractions lurk around the office, so keeping employees sharp and engaged is not an easy task. New productivity trends are popping up every year, all in an effort to improve employee productivity.

Employee productivity is a hot topic in the managerial world. It is a constantly evolving field, with new research on everything from redesigning the office to finding the correct room temperature. Studies on the impact of different environmental factors, workplace psychology, and access to new tools and technologies all try to create the perfect environment that promotes productivity.

Even the most experienced managers may have problems keeping employees motivated. Like promising big roses, and special bonuses, a financial incentive can give a healthy productivity boost. However, a more feasible and effective way to generate that drive is by increasing employee engagement.

When employees feel engaged, they perform better, have lower absenteeism, and report greater job satisfaction. Managers need to keep in mind that a fine line separates achieving peak work performance and pushing your workers to complete burnout. This article offers solutions to finding the right balance of maximizing productivity output while treating your employees fairly.

What is employee productivity?

Many different factors affect productivity, and the definition changes based on the nature of the business. In essence, employee productivity is defined as the efficiency of a worker or a team of employees. Historically, productivity was measured through an employee’s input. Meaning the more hours an employee clocked in at work, the more productive they were considered.

Nowadays, productivity is more output-oriented, and quality over quantity matters. The goal is not the amount of time he/she spent working but instead what was accomplished. Productivity can then be further defined as achieving high-quality products at an efficient rate.

Companies that track and measure their productivity have a significant advantage considering employee productivity is directly linked to its profitability.

Grove HR - What is employee productivity

How to measure employee productivity?

Let’s face it, distractions in the workplace are inevitable. Although it is normal for productivity levels to fluctuate, by measuring and tracking, companies can determine their optimal level of productivity and the company benchmark. Typically, the productivity of an employee is measured against an average employee doing similar work.

When there is a set benchmark, employers can detect any disengagement or motivation issues among the workers faster. Overall productivity is measured in several ways:

  • Measuring goals and KPIs 
  • Measuring profit 
  • Measuring the amount of work completed 
  • Measuring time spent 

Measuring performance plays an integral role in identifying if a company is accelerating or lagging behind.

Why is it important to understand employee productivity?

Having a pool of highly productive employees has numerous advantages to the organization. Therefore, a clearly defined employee productivity analysis is important to the organization and the employees themselves.

Firstly, the findings provide necessary insights on where to improve to achieve employee satisfaction. Many software tools measure the productivity and engagement levels of employees.

Secondly, it promotes the optimization of in-house workflows and processes. Technology can also help make company processes more efficient and streamlined.

Last but not least, the companies can meet the ever-changing workforce needs by identifying the training or development needs of the employees.

Some of the benefits that an organization is likely to realize having a productive workforce:

  • Improved employee engagement
  • Increased company revenue
  • Greater employee satisfaction

Grove HR - The benefits of a productive workforce

What are the top problems that affect employee productivity?

We will examine the factors that mainly affect the employees’ productivity within any business setup. These are the main factors that negatively impact employee productivity, like company culture and interpersonal relationships, and need to be reevaluated and examined.

Poor management

A survey by SHRM listed poor management as the number one factor that affects productivity in the workplace. The downfall of many managers is they start to micromanage their employees as a way to combat disengagement. Tracking the number of time employees spend socializing by the water cooler will certainly not increase workplace productivity. Micro-management strains the working relationship an employee has with their supervisor as it displays a lack of trust.

Effective leadership should inspire and motivate employees. A healthy and robust relationship with a boss positively affects an employee's wellness and fosters a positive work culture.

Lack of defined goals and accountability

Setting unrealistic goals and deadlines will only put unnecessary stress and pressure on your employees. After all, employees are not machines. Instead, assign achievable and SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals. Employees that clearly understand their short and long-term goals can prioritize and effectively time-manage their tasks. Check-in with your employees regularly, assess how they manage their current workload, and make adjustments if needed.

No feedback or reward

Giving performance feedback is crucial in fixing any shortcomings and highlighting areas of improvement. It is equally as important to recognize and adequately reward highly productive employees for their contributions and dedication.

Promotions, bonuses, and acknowledgment of their success boost productivity and motivate workers. This level of support makes employees feel enthusiastic and valued at their work. Managers need to give credit where it’s due.

Poor work-life balance

Continuously asking employees to stay beyond their working hours is a fast way to decrease productivity. Working on the weekend or overtime is unavoidable, but managers should not make it a habit. A poor work-life balance affects the well-being of employees and will make them feel burnt out.

Lack of adaptability

Some challenges come up unexpectedly, like transitioning the entire workforce to work from home. How is the company going to ensure the employee productivity remains or improves? How will employee monitoring be achieved while working remotely? Are there enough policies to ensure the employees’ productivity remains high?

These are some of the questions that every company has to weigh in and find the best solution to establish workforce productivity. Working from home has brought on a new set of challenges of keeping employees productive. It is far too easy to get distracted, procrastinate, and feel disengaged from an organization. Companies and HR professionals have to continuously adapt new working strategies to ensure productivity levels do not flop.

Whatever challenges the company encounters should be addressed and resolved immediately. If ignored, these issues will contribute to massive drains of productivity.

What are some key strategies to increase employee productivity?

Staff performance and productivity can make or break a company. Building a working environment where people aim to achieve more is not an easy task.

Although no one factor will significantly increase productivity, some approaches can improve it. Promoting employee productivity requires having a great insight into what motivates and builds the employee experience within the company. Some of these factors include:

1. Improving the workplace conditions

If you want to realize a productive workforce, it will be necessary to meet some workplace conditions. This can be especially important when you’re dealing with a heavy workload and you need to optimize the work environment for maximum focus, day-long zeal, and performance.

The workplace layout should not be congested, the ventilation, room temperature, lighting, tools, and equipment can all be used to minimize distractions and maximize employee productivity.

2. Managing the company meetings

Much of the time is lost attending frequent company meetings, which means that the company’s production time may be reduced and thus a loss in production. Therefore, it will be necessary for the company to adopt the appropriate and most effective communication channels such as emails, minimize the number of meeting attendees, or even reduce the duration of the meetings.

3. Employee training and development

Training always equips your employees with the right skills to deliver services efficiently. That means that if the employees lack the necessary training on the job, much time and resources will always be spent determining how to accomplish a specific task.

Lack of training opportunities for your employees is a downgrade to their performance, consequently affecting their productivity. Companies that continuously provide employees with career and growth opportunities will always see a return on their investment.

Grove HR - employee training and activities

4. Adopting technology

As the world is experiencing advancements in technology, adopting the right tools for the job will always boost productivity. Appropriate technologies ensure that the employees can accomplish the assigned task within the shortest time possible, thus promoting high productivity.

Once a company recognizes how vital employee productivity is to achieve success, you will need to have the right strategies to ensure the improvement of the overall employees’ productivity. That means paying particular attention to the factors affecting the employees' productivity.

Finally, it involves implementing what is essential to your employees, such as ensuring their working conditions promote maximum productivity, having shorter meetings, optimizing the communication channels, and employee training.

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