Did you know there are real tools you can use to assess productivity in the workplace?
No, not rulers or protractors – you can put those away. An employee’s productivity won’t be measured in centimeters or degrees.
Let me tell you 8 ways to actually measure productivity in the workplace.
See Related: 8 Reasons Why Company Values Are Important
#1: What Does Workplace Productivity Mean to You?
Ask yourself this question first. How can you measure an employee’s productivity if you don’t know what it means to you?
After all, productivity looks different in a nonprofit fundraising office than it does in a research laboratory. You wouldn’t necessarily use the same method to measure employee performance in both places.
Merriam-Webster defines productivity as the quality or state of being productive, or yielding results.
So, it is only natural that measuring productivity goes hand in hand with measuring results.
But be careful – the equation for productivity analysis is not that simple. Unless you’re dealing solely with robots, productivity is a human effort. Which means it is subject to human needs, emotions, and mistakes.
Be careful not to expect robot-style productivity from human beings. Expect human-style productivity.
Let’s talk about different types of productivity
There are a few ways to approach measuring workplace productivity. I’d like to introduce you to four major strategies:
Management by objectives
In my time as an event emcee, I’ve seen some managers who like to measure productivity by objectives, or goals.
- First, they set the business’ goals.
- Then, employee output is measured by how much they contribute to the company’s goals.
- This method can lean more qualitative.
This method requires frequent check-ins to observe employee progress. It is a hands-on choice, but that can have many benefits, such as increased communication.
Quantitative productivity in the workplace
“Quantitative” refers to the amount of something. So, a quantitative method for measuring employee productivity involves tracking amounts of tangible output.
Examples of quantitative productivity measurements are:
- The number of calls a call center can take in a week
- The number of jigsaw puzzles a manufacturer can produce in a month
- The number of student applications a college receives in an academic year
- The number of customers served at a fast food establishment per hour
Measuring productivity by overall profit
For many companies, profit is the bottom line. Therefore, they choose to measure employee productivity by how much money each individual employee earns (or loses) the company.
It is certainly simple to measure productivity by profit. As we discussed earlier, though, numbers alone don’t tell an entire human story.
A truly comprehensive system for measuring productivity will take a variety of factors into account.
Total factor productivity, or multifactor productivity
This is a term used in economics. It refers to the ratio of output to input. Basically, it can accurately calculate how much can be produced from a specific set of inputs.
This is a more mathematical approach, if that is how you process information most effectively. Be sure to double and triple-check your work for the most accurate measurement.
#2: Identify Units of Measurement
Let’s get back to this question of yielding results. In your business, what do results look like?This will help us identify our units of measurement.
Here are a few examples of different businesses and what units they may use to measure productivity:
- Tutoring center / Hours of tutoring completed in one year
- Summer camp / Number of children enrolled in one summer session
- Programmer / Lines of code written in one week
- Restaurant / Number of consumers served per hour
Once you identify your unit of measurement, you can set to work improving workplace productivity.
Remember, there isn’t one productivity formula
No matter which unit(s) you choose to focus on, remember to zoom out. What do I mean?
First, consider factors outside of your employees’ control. For example:
- Your tutoring center has had fewer sign-ups than it did this time last year. Could it be that more students are applying to test-optional schools?
- Fewer kids are enrolled in your summer camp this year than last. Could parents be finding more cost effective options due to the economic recession?
- The programmers on your staff are writing fewer lines of code per hour. Could this be because their company-provided equipment is becoming outdated?
Then, ask yourself how you can support employee performance:
We’ll discuss this more later, but how can you set your employees up for success? Consider:
- Are small teams being overworked to save labor costs?
- Are employees asked to complete tasks with little to no advance notice?
- Do you offer professional development to help staff learn skills like time management?
- Are the labor hours reasonable?
- Have you clearly communicated the expected output to each specific employee? They should be aware of their expected productivity level.
#3: Understand the Current Baseline
Based on the unit of measurement you select, what results are you currently yielding? What results has your team yielded for the past few quarters or years?
It is important to know this before setting out on a productivity improvement plan. Why?
If you don’t clearly identify where you started, there will be no way to reliably gauge progress.
Accounting is your friend
To measure employee productivity, and especially to measure sales productivity, you will need the accounting team.
Tell them about the criteria you want to measure. Using their databases, ask them to run reports for you so you can see how the criteria currently looks.
As you continue measuring employee productivity, ask them to run updated reports so you can track progress.
Measuring productivity is a long-term commitment
That’s right, you’re getting yourself into a long-term relationship! Ready for the commitment?
It takes time to accurately measure and calculate productivity. It takes even more time to identify trends and patterns.
Your choice to measure employee productivity will reveal extremely useful information about your business. But, it will cost you time. Trust in the process and it will be worth it.
Because then, you can hire an emcee for your next event to tout just how great a year you all had!
#4: Gain Context from Employees
Accounting reports will tell you the numerical story. But to truly understand why your baseline numbers look the way they do, communicate with all employees.
Your team is full of knowledge that they would love to share. Start by asking managers to report on each member of their teams’ individual progress.
Then, distribute a survey to the full staff and get their feedback on:
- How do they feel about their current productivity?
- If they feel their productivity could improve, what are the barriers in their way? How can you help dismantle these barriers?
- What are realistic expectations for their productivity in the workplace?
Barriers to employees’ productivity can look like:
- Outdated machinery or technology that slows down processes
- Unhealthy company culture (more on that later)
- An inaccessible work environment for disabled employees
- A lack of resources available in the languages that employees speak comfortably
Employees spend lots of time with each other
With that comes invaluable knowledge! Investing in employees’ feedback means you will learn about a person’s individual performance and that person’s productivity.
Consider distributing a peer assessment, as well. For large corporations and small businesses, I have learned as a corporate emcee that it is helpful to hear the company’s productivity story from multiple narrators.
#5: Hold a Mirror Up to Company Culture
While you take the time to ask employees about productivity, gather intel on company culture, as well.
For some, the biggest barriers to workplace success have nothing to do with resources. They have to do with quality of life.
Someone on your staff may not be reaching their full potential because of important factors such as:
- Discrimination demonstrated in the workplace
- Loneliness due to a lack of bonding amongst the staff
- Being required to work in the office when they have better focus when working from home
- Gossipy colleagues who create an uncomfortable atmosphere
These are just a few examples. Ask your staff to share their personal experiences with workplace culture. Their responses will probably inspire you to make a few changes and redefine “productivity” as a whole.
#6: Define Your Goals
Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to define your goals!
Let’s talk about KPIs.
KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator. These are quantifiable performance measures over time. Here are a few examples:
- A fundraiser’s KPI might be how much money they raise in a fiscal year
- A teacher’s KPI might be the percentage of students who pass their final exam on the first try
- A hairdresser’s KPI might be the percentage of 5-star reviews they receive in one calendar year
Define your KPIs based on your business, your results, and your employees’ feedback. Don’t pick too many to measure at once – that can be overwhelming and discouraging.
Communicate goals to the employees
Employee effectiveness has been defined as the ability to achieve set goals. Without goals in place to keep employees motivated, a company’s productivity can drag.
Most employees enjoy the feeling of completing individual tasks and achieving a goal. Let them know how expectations are adjusting.
To prepare for success, they may need to:
- Rethink how much time they spend on specific tasks
- Create a designated schedule for completing smaller tasks to make room for larger ones
- Track the tasks performed during your chosen observation period
#7: Track Progress – But Avoid Micromanaging
I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: trust your employees.
We’ve established that they should be kept informed of the productivity measurement project as a whole. So, be sure to inform them of the KPIs you are tracking, as well.
You will probably need their help in order to track them effectively. And by giving staff ownership of tracking their KPIs, you demonstrate trust and avoid micromanaging.
As we know, micromanaging can lead to employee dissatisfaction, which can subsequently stifle productivity.
#8: Check in with your customers
It’s easy to think of a company’s productivity as a purely internal conversation. But an effective way to know if you’re accomplishing your goals is to communicate with your clients!
If things are running smoothly on the inside, customer surveys will reflect things like:
- Excellent and punctual service
- Pleasant interactions with employees
- Dependable and consistent deliverables
If total output is lagging, a customer survey might mention:
- Frustration with late or unsatisfactory deliverables
- Unpleasant or rude employee interactions
- Unpredictable and inconsistent results
You want your customer lifecycle to be long and fruitful. Invest in their feedback to not only get ideas for increasing productivity, but also gain client trust.
Let’s review my tips for improving workplace productivity!
There are many ways to measure a company’s growth and productivity. I recommend starting here:
#1: Define what workplace productivity means to you.
#2: Identify the metrics you will use to measure workplace productivity.
#3: Understand the current baseline of your employees’ productivity.
#4: Gather context from employees about how to improve workplace productivity.
#5: Hold up a mirror to the company culture and see how it impacts labor productivity.
#6: Define your specific goals as you measure each employee’s productivity.
#7: Track progress – but avoid micromanaging to increase productivity.
#8: Check in with your customers.
Keep Reading: So, What Does An Event Planner Do?
Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetings, special events, gala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.