Harnessing Employees for Workplace Productivity

CoachHub · 27 December 2022 · 7 min read

Productive employees are critical to the success of any organization. It’s not enough to expect that every employee will know what to do on the job just because they’re paid to do it. A lot of factors come into play when employee productivity is involved, that’s why you can’t just focus on expertise alone.

Employees who do better with teams are likely to be less productive if they find themselves working with teammates who would rather go solo. How then do you ensure that all the right factors are in place to ensure employees are harnessed for maximum productivity? This guide explores all important factors to measure, calculate and harness employee productivity.

What is employee productivity?

Workplace productivity or employee productivity describes how the overall output of an employee is measured. It describes the totality of effort and results gotten from an employee in terms of their expertise, available resources, and job description.

It’s easy to measure productivity by how much is done on an assembly line for a manufacturing company, but when it comes to knowledge work, it gets a bit more complex. Various productivity tools are used to measure how employees are performing in their jobs.

workplace productivity

How do you determine employee productivity?

In looking into productivity within a particular organization, an HBR research discovered that individual productivity didn’t amount to organizational productivity. Although they had been raking in the numbers, it was interesting to find that more employees had been working on a project than they realized. Unfortunately, the time investments of the compound effort of these employees didn’t yield commensurate productive results.

This brings to mind the question of what productivity is and what it means for different organizations. Hence it becomes important to identify the right work that needs to be done, and the amount of time required to get it done, in determining employee productivity.

Before judging how productive each employee is, the organization must come to an awareness of organizational goals and identify the work required to attain them. In doing this, tasks are distributed to employees’ productivity, and they can achieve more in less time. When they understand what kind of work is significant for productivity and which isn’t for their organization, they’re less likely to be underproductive.

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Simple steps to calculating productivity for employees

Once standards have been set on the overall direction of work within the organization, the next step would be to determine the output of the employee based on the resources available to them. Here’s how to do it.

  • How much time is a typical work week? Most organizations have plus or minus 40 hours. Note down the numbers for your organization.
  • Ensure to take out all the time that’s used for unproductive tasks and off-duty hours or days. An hour of meeting and team calls, 30 minutes lunch breaks and the like, should be calculated and excluded from the working hour.
  • Now you’ve got two separate hours. One is the overall available time, the other is the actual amount of time used in productive work. Divide the productive time by the total work time and multiply by 100 percent. The result is the overall productivity percentage. If the percentage is low, it means more time is being spent off work than should be, it’s only normal that the overall output is low.

It’s important to note that the number of hours available for productive work isn’t essentially a true measure of how productive your employees are. The numbers may not be taking account of work done after office hours in a bid to meet a target or deadline. Additionally, it will not adequately reflect productivity blockers if they’re any. For instance, a faulty printer may lead to hours of delay in productivity. Working with an ideal percentage in this scenario would not be realistic.


Measuring employee productivity: here’s what you need to know

Various factors come into play in measuring employee productivity. One of which is the nature of the job in question. Measuring productivity for a salesperson for instance is way different from measuring the productivity of a quality assurance staff. Hence various parameters must be identified to accommodate the varying productivity expectations. Here are some instances.

1. Measuring work done:

It’s easy to determine productivity when the amount of work done is quantifiable in numbers. You can tell by how much a salesperson sold, how many devices an engineer fixed, and how many goods were packaged within a plant. It begins to get complex as the roles deepen. For instance, the engineer fixing devices, who’s dealing with a peculiar problem may not be less productive than a colleague who fixes 10 with similar issues. Here, productivity is best measured by the complexity of work done over numbers.

2. Measuring the goals met:

Another way you can determine your employee’s productivity is to see how well they’re performing when it comes to set goals. This is perfect for workplaces where a lot of knowledge work is done. At the start of each workweek, you assign your employees to meet various objectives and achieve different goals. You then determine their productivity based on how well they’re able to attain the goals.

3. Measuring by profit margin:

You can tell your employees are doing well if the organization continues to record high amounts of profits. It becomes obvious that all resources are being put to good use and the time spent working is yielding profitable results.

Other ways to measure productivity will include the time spent on it and the quality of the output. However, these parameters vary in different organizations.


Practical steps to ensure employee productivity

As much as you want the best output from your employees, you also don’t want to lose them to the great resignation. That’s why you need to harness your employees to be productive, not that you drive them or micromanage them to get results.

Encourage flexible working schedules:

Great workplaces focus on getting the best from their employees by encouraging flexible working schedules. Confining all employees to work from the office might not be effective for organizational productivity. In fact, allowing employees to work remotely can significantly ramp up their productivity than getting them to work within the office.

Allow employees some decision-making:

When employees know that they have a say in how things are done, they’re likely to commit to doing more. At that point, they no longer see it as their employer’s work but as their own thing. This can improve employee morale on a large scale and significantly increase productivity.

Reduce meetings to only when it’s necessary:

Unending meetings can significantly hamper productivity and make employees shut down even before the start of the real work. If you’ll prioritize productivity, the best is to ensure employees attend only highly important meetings, so they have more time to do their jobs undistracted.

Coaching and personal development:

Some employees have no idea how much they’re really worth until they get coached. Registering employees for personal development and coaching sessions can help to significantly develop their potential and confidence to deliver on the job. Without these, they may lose touch with important knowledge required to help them do productive work.

Get employees clear on expectations:

When employees know what’s expected of them, it’s easier to cut down the guessing and focus on real work. If you don’t get them clear on deliverables and expectations, a good deal of productive time will go down the drain, trying to figure out what goes.

Identify a proper means of communicating urgencies:

If all emails and calls are important, a chunk of productive time will be wasted. So aside from communicating, there must be a proper way to communicate information in order of priority. This way, time is saved on checking emails and receiving calls, and more actual work is done.

Workplace aesthetics are productivity hackers:

If you choose the right mix of natural light, colors, and plants, you’ll be hacking the work environment for productivity. A dose of bright colors also helps to enhance creativity, especially when mixed with great pieces of artwork. Some colors, all-white, grey and beige offset the mood and hamper productivity, therefore, are a no-no for the office setting.

In Summary…

It’s not enough to assume that employees will perform optimally because they’re skilled or are paid to do so. Various factors contribute to the overall psychology of workers when it comes to their productivity. Don’t just push for productivity on tasks without ascertaining the overall contribution it brings to organizational goals. It’s important to set a productivity standard and work with your employees to attain it. Organizations will have more productive and happier employees if they’re part of the decision-making process and get quality personalized coaching.

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Samuel Olawole
Samuel Olawole is a freelance copywriter and content writer who specializes in creating exciting content across a wide range of topics and industries. When he’s not writing, you can find him traveling or listening to good music.

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