Among the many things that need to be improved upon in the workplace is the productivity of employees.
As an employer, there are a lot of things that require your full attention in your organization.
We can talk about increasing your customer base, which in itself is very important.
You might also have the “little” matter of improving sales and generating profit at the back of your mind.
All these are essential to business growth, and as such must be taken seriously.
However, as important as the aforementioned areas of business management is, there are more important things.
Your employees are your greatest assets in your establishment.
And as such, what they do or do not do has a very great impact on your success or failure in business.
Little wonder there is a great emphasis on hiring good employees that can positively impact growth and development.
One area where a lot of organizations struggle with employee management is the area of productivity.
This isn’t something to take lightly though, as a lack of productivity is the beginning of an end for any business establishment.
As a matter of fact, many of the things you are looking to improve in your business still boils down to productivity.
If you want to acquire more customers and/or retain the existing ones, employee productivity counts.
Also, if your goal is to generate more sales and make more profit, you cannot count out the role increased employee productivity plays in this.
You can clearly see then that improving employee productivity should rank highly on the list of tasks for business owners in an organization.
What Does Employee Productivity Means and How to Measure it?
Employee productivity can be defined as the amount of work (input) and results (output) that an employee working in an organization produces in a specified period of time.
If the organization produces goods, for example, you can define the workers’ productivity as the number of goods or products they can manufacture during a specific duration of time.
It is usually used interchangeably with efficiency in the workplace, as it measures how well employees are able to make use of available resources to get results.
When talking about employee productivity, a lot of business owners focus on how fast employees are able to work.
Others put emphasis on how hard their employees work.
While these areas are obviously very important and count in productivity, it goes more than that.
Consistency is the actual measurement or determinant of productivity in employees.
Therefore, in order to ascertain that your employees are really productive, it goes more than just getting things done speedily.
Neither does it involve doing many things at the same done.
In fact, being able to do the few things in record time on a consistent basis is what productivity is all about.
That means that when creating strategies to improve employee productivity, it helps to focus on not just the short-term but long-term.
Measurement of Employee Productivity
Employee productivity is dynamic and means different things to different organizations.
Your type of business and the goals of your business establishment goes a long way in determining what the productivity of employees means to you.
Are you sometimes unsure whether or not your employees are being productive enough?
There are different ways to measure the productivity of employees and we will look at a few of them now.
That way, you can stop guessing and know when the productivity of your employees needs to be improved.
The ability of your employees to meet up with the company’s set goals, both short-term and long-term is a determinant of productivity.
In order to do this, you would need to set company goals either at the beginning of the year or the beginning of a quarter.
Then you can monitor the progress your employees are making towards reaching such goals and review this at the end of the set period.
This can reveal a lot about employee productivity and if it needs improvement.
Labor Productivity Calculation
This formula is regularly used in measuring employee productivity in the workplace, as it relates to labor.
This puts into consideration the input of employees in terms of time spent working and the output in terms of what they are able to achieve in that period of time.
The formula goes thus; Labour Productivity = Total Output/Total Input
Take, for example, you run a manufacturing company where employees are required to manufacture certain products in a specified period of time.
Let’s say the employees are about to manufacture 10,000 units of the product and the time spent is 10 hours.
To get the labor productivity value for your employees, you will need to divide the output which is 10,000 by the input in this case, which is 10, the result being 1000.
That means the productivity of your employees stands at 1000units per hour.
At other times, you can calculate this while putting the number of employees into consideration instead of the time spent.
That means your input becomes your total number of employees.
What values you decide to use largely depends on the insight you want to get regarding productivity.
The important thing is to have an input and output value to use in this calculation.
Quality of Work Measurement
Many times, the quantity of work done might easily be used as a yardstick to measure productivity.
While this is definitely not out of place, there should be more focus on the quality of work done over quantity.
If for example an employee working on a production line manufactures a record high thousands of products in a short time, but more than half turn out defective, then you cannot say that such an employee is really productive.
While considering the quantity of work done, it is also important that you give consideration to the quality of output.
This is equally a way to measure employee productivity.
This is another measure of employee productivity that is carried out by fellow employees.
It is a sort of peer-to-peer feedback or evaluation where you allow the colleagues of the employee to make contributions on the individual level of productivity.
These ones might be those who work in the same department with them, share the same job functions, work below or above them, or even in different departments.
In as much as those being asked to provide feedback regularly interact with the employee whose productivity is being measured, this can be a very effective measurement of productivity.
Importance of Improving Employee Productivity
We understand that there are a lot of things on your to-do list as a business owner, and rightly so.
There is the important matter of growing your business in the areas of expanding customer base and increasing sales.
However, it is important not to neglect the area of employee management, and for good reasons.
Your employees have a very big impact on your success or failure as a business enterprise.
The decisions they make, and how motivated they are would either make or mar your business.
It goes without saying that the performance and productivity levels of your employees will greatly influence you to meet your goals and objectives.
And that is why it is very essential that you give attention to improving employee productivity.
For one thing, the level of productivity of your employees will determine the amount of profit you make as an organization.
And this doesn’t only apply to those working in the sales and marketing department but in every department.
In fact, whatever your employees are making in terms of profit to the organization should be more than what they are being paid as salaries/wages.
That is the only way in which an organization can stay afloat and make tremendous progress.
Another area that improving employee productivity impacts is in building your customer base.
Many organizations invest so much time and effort in different marketing strategies for customer acquisition.
However, it would interest you to know that the secret to this might actually lie in the performance and productivity of your employee.
Employees with high productivity are always resourceful and also develop good customer relationship skills, which would help you in both the acquisition and retention of customers.
Employers who work on improving the productivity of their employees also help to contribute to the fulfillment and job satisfaction of these ones.
When an individual is performing at the highest level and seeing how their contributions are positively influencing business growth and success, there is a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
And such ones attain greater job satisfaction than unproductive ones.
Lastly, a big plus that comes with increased productivity is the ability to retain your best talents.
With increased productivity comes job satisfaction as mentioned earlier.
That means that your employee doesn’t feel like a failure and sees the need to leave.
Instead, they are happy with their job and willing to stay in order to get better.
How To Improve Employee Productivity – Factors Affecting Employee Productivity
Before we go into the various practical ways in which a team leader or manager can improve the productivity of his employees, it is good to understand what might cause low productivity in the first place.
A clear understanding of this can form the foundation upon which the strategies for improving productivity can then be built.
Here are some of the factors that affect the productivity of employees:
Stress and Burnout
There seems to be a general agreement among all business owners that it is important to give a lot of tasks to employees in order to “make them serious”.
Some go the extra mile by demanding that employees not only do more work but work long hours, more days in the week, and even overtime.
Well, business structures differ and so do individual employers, however, you need to understand the effect of stress and burnout on productivity.
Humans are who they are; humans, not superhumans.
And this understanding would let you properly manage the tasks you give to your employees and the length of time they work.
Even the most hardworking and strong employee can suffer from stress and burnout if the workload is overwhelming.
And of course, there should also be provisions for rest to avoid stress affecting productivity.
Lack of Recognition
Very few things demoralize a person like doing so much and not being recognized or appreciated for it.
And when there is a lack of motivation from your employees, it is a recipe for a lack of productivity.
Some business owners are also guilty of this; failing to recognize their employees for what they do and/or taking all the credit to themselves.
In such work environments, productivity will be running at a very low level.
Toxic Work Environment
Productivity doesn’t just come down to the individual employee or the organization’s policy but also the people they work with.
And that is one reason why you need to be very cautious while hiring employees.
You need to make sure you are getting the good ones, not just technically but morally.
When the team has members with toxic behaviors, this can negatively impact the productivity of the team.
This is because it breeds discords and disunity, and in such conditions, productivity cannot thrive.
A lot of organizations request the ability to multitask when rolling out their requirements for recruitment. You probably do too.
Well, there are varying opinions on what the effect of multi-tasking really is on employees.
Many believe that it helps to prevent laziness on the part of employees as they are able to do more than one thing at a time.
While there is no disputing that multitasking can help you get more than one thing done in a short time, it is worthy of note that it also affects productivity.
One way it does this is by increasing the time it takes to complete tasks.
And another effect it has is reducing the quality of output.
You would definitely agree that the quality you will produce while focusing on one task is not the same as doing two or more at the same time.
Being Unfit for a Position
Getting the best out of employees requires more than just recruiting people and fixing them in positions as you desire.
It is important that you put employees in positions where they fit best.
That requires understanding their qualifications and expertise to make this decision.
When employees are working where they are not a good fit, they would most likely struggle to get results, which would in turn sap motivation and affect productivity.
Some other factors that might negatively impact employee productivity are the lack of proper system and infrastructure, poor working conditions, poor work-life balance, plenty of meetings e.t.c.
How To Improve Employee Productivity – Practical Measures That Help
The sole responsibility of improving employee productivity rests on the shoulders of you as the employer and/or manager.
The performance of your employees and how productive they are depends solely on the actions, decisions, and structure you put in place in the workplace.
Therefore, if you notice a drop in productivity from a particular employee or the team as a whole, you need to take quick decisive action.
Additionally, even if you feel the productivity of your employees is high, there is always a chance to improve on it.
With that in mind, here are ten (10) practical ways in which you can improve the productivity of your employees right away:
1Hire Good Employees
Hiring good employees might sound cliche but we cannot overemphasize the importance.
Whether you will have employees that would be highly productive or not depends largely on how your hiring process goes.
During recruitment, it is good to focus on those with a demonstrated history of hard work and smart work, and also commitment.
Also, the personality of those you recruit equally matters, as toxic employees make unhealthy work environments and reduced productivity.
Therefore, if you want to get highly productive employees, try to get it right from the hiring phase.
2Fit Employees in the Right Positions
Putting employees in positions where they are not a good fit is like trying to fix a round object into a square hole.
The results are the same; it is a futile and unproductive endeavor.
These ones might work hard and conscientiously, but might still be unproductive simply because they are not the best fit for such positions.
You as the team leader or employer have the responsibility of studying individual employees, knowing their areas of strengths and weakness, and using this information to place them in the right positions in your organization.
Only when you do this can you ensure that each employee is utilizing their skills properly and adequately, which would, in turn, translate to improved productivity.
3Appreciate, Recognize and Reward Employees
“Success they say is a recipe for more success”.
What that means is that when someone sees how his/her efforts yield the best results, there is an encouragement to either replicate the process that led to that or improve on it.
Hence, make it your goal as a business owner to always be generous with the appreciation and recognition of employees.
When you find areas in which your employees are doing well and performing at their peak, be quick to identify and recognize this.
Practice giving rewards also for the top-level productivity of your employees.
This can propel them to always maintain that level or even go a step better in their productivity.
4Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance
In the same way, you face a lot of pressures, both at work and outside of work, so are your employees.
Because of that, you need to be vigilant and know when to afford your employees’ much-needed rest and time to unwind.
While you can always encourage them to create time for rest and other social activities, it begins with you.
You would do well to create a flexible work schedule, and also one that does not unnecessarily drain your employees and sap them of their strength.
Unless it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable, take out working overtime from your work structure.
Ensure you give your employees the opportunity to rest and relax either during work hours or outside of work.
This will go a long way in improving the productivity of employees.
5Give Incentives When Appropriate
Incentives serve as a propelling force that drives employee motivation and of course productivity.
There are a lot of incentives you can use to put your employees on their toes and make them work more efficiently.
What works for one organization or one employee might not work for another.
Hence, the onus is on you to identify what incentives can drive productivity in your workplace and implement this.
When it comes to motivating employees, it is worth noting that you can motivate without money.
And even if you have to offer cash rewards, it helps not making this the primary source of motivation.
In fact, there are many ways to motivate employees without money.
6Provide Them With the Right Tools
Imagine giving a farmer the responsibility of making heaps for plantations and providing such a farmer with a cutlass to work with.
Definitely the productivity you will get from that farmer will not be the same as when he is provided with a hoe to work.
What is the message? The tools that people have to work with greatly influence how productive they are.
Having that in mind, you want to keep pace with the changing times.
You also need to use modern technologies to assist your employees.
Giving employees enough tools to work with won’t make them lazy, but on the positive side, it will actually make them more productive.
7Foster an Environment of Open Communication
Open and free communication is very important in the workplace, and it is one of the drivers of employee collaboration.
When those in management positions openly communicate with their subordinates, and employees also communicate freely and openly with themselves, people are more engaged.
Also, there is more unity of mind and purpose and everyone works together towards the common goal.
It is this collaboration, unity, and oneness of mind and purpose which results from open communication that helps to improve productivity in the long term.
8Plan Meetings Well and Keep Them Brief
Meetings are great for an organization.
It is during such meetings that you discuss important matters, and brainstorming sessions take place.
However, if not done properly, meetings can be more harmful than beneficial.
A lot of organizations admit to losing so much time that they can use for more productive endeavors to meetings.
In order to avoid this, you need to properly plan every meeting beforehand, drafting an agenda and sticking to it.
Also, as much as possible, try to keep the meeting brief.
This will enable your employees to quickly go back to their assigned tasks.
That way, you are not losing a lot of productive hours to unproductive and draining meetings.
9Set Clear Goals and Milestones
Setting clear goals and milestones doesn’t only help you to improve employee productivity, but also offers a yardstick to measure productivity.
When there are no clear goals for your employees to work towards, it can really take out efficiency.
People just turn up to work every day doing the same routine.
This too without anything tangible to work on or look forward to achieving.
Setting goals and milestones though will keep your employees on their toes and make them productive.
Another thing that might be affecting the productivity of your employees is distractions.
Some of these distractions they create for themselves, such as gisting during work, use of phone, social media e.t.c.
There are some though that you as a manager can help to prevent or remove.
Taking this necessary step will help you improve the productivity of your employees.
Conclusion – How To Improve Employee Productivity
The benefits of increased productivity in employees are well defined.
When you have productive employees, these ones will make a difference in your organization and push you a lot faster and closer to your business goals and objectives.
Because success is very desirable, improved employee productivity help your employees reach job satisfaction easily.
And this in turn will help you retain your best talents.
Start today, putting the right measures in place to drive work efficiency, performance, and productivity for your employees.