Productivity is one of the most important measures of success for any company. After all, it’s the amount of work completed that ultimately dictates how much revenue can be generated (regardless of the industry or type of service offered). However, the concept of productivity is perhaps more nuanced than you might imagine.
In this helpful guide, we look at the different types of productivity that exist within the business world. We also highlight some factors that can hinder employee productivity, provide some tips on how to increase productivity in the workplace, and discuss the benefits gained from improved productivity.
How do you define productivity?
Productivity is typically defined as the amount of output produced by a business, divided by the amount of input required achieve this result. Productivity should be heavily linked to efficiency, because it’s not good enough to simply produce more, if you must also increase the time, money, and energy spent to reach this outcome. The ideal scenario is to produce a large volume of output, with the smallest effort possible. This would be the optimal level of productivity.
So, what does an input consist of? This could be the wages paid to an employee, the time spent on a task, the cost of raw materials, or the energy bills of a company. An output is the result of any work, such as a finished product, a report sent to a director, or a presentation given to a prospect. Employee productivity has always been important to managers. But this has perhaps become even truer during the pandemic, as teams have had to adapt and find smarter ways to complete work.
How do you measure productivity in the workplace?
Each business has a different way of measuring productivity, as they will have unique priorities and objectives. Here are a few examples of metrics that might be used to judge productivity:
- Number of admin tasks completed
- Income generated
- Quality/quantity of products created
- Number of products sold
- Sales calls made
- Deals closed
- Working hours logged
- Training completed
- Quantity of data inputted
- Number of reports generated
What can hinder employee productivity?
Micromanagement can stifle workers, as it removes their freedom when solving problems. It can drain their confidence too as they might think the management team have no confidence in their ability to work independently. The other extreme is to have no direction whatsoever. This can lead to low productivity as there will be no structure or accountability. Managers should look to hone their emotional intelligence and find the right balance with each individual employee.
No clear objectives
If there’s no clear objectives within a team, there’s a chance work will never get started. Goals help to provide guidance and motivation, and they also ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction (with the best interests of the company at heart). If there’s less ambiguity around expectations, and more of a framework around regular responsibilities, employees will be more likely to produce their best work.
In terms of a physical workspace, the most miniscule details can have an impact on productivity. Regardless of whether it’s an office, a warehouse, or a factory floor, these employee’s workspace, whether it’s an office, a warehouse, or a factory floor, these specifics matter. For example, it’s better to have natural light where possible, as artificial light can be overbearing and disrupt focus. The temperature shouldn’t be too hot or cold either, as an uncomfortable environment will be an unwanted distraction. Ideally, there should be plenty of space in the workplace, with specialised areas for things like creative thought, presenting, writing, and collaborating.
If an employee doesn’t have the right tools to complete their duties, they will simply be unable to produce adequate work, and will likely become demotivated due to the struggles. For example, they might need access to a particular digital tool or program to fulfil their obligations effectively. The correct structures, processes, and hierarchies should be in place also. It should be seamless when a new starter joins the company. They should know exactly where they fit in with other workers and should be given access to the relevant platforms that enable them to accomplish certain tasks.
Lack of communication
No matter how well-defined roles are, it’s very unlikely that any individual can complete their work without some form of collaboration/crossover. This is why effective communication is another key element of productivity. If there’s no quick and effective way for staff to contact one another, this can cause unwanted bottlenecks. Due to the rise of remote working, many businesses have utilised some form of instant messaging system. This can be as effective as face-to-face communication when done properly. And it means there’s no need to wait for colleagues to sift through their emails.
How to increase productivity in the workplace
Embrace new ways of working
Increased awareness around employee wellbeing (as well as the pandemic) has led to a substantial shift in the way companies allow their people to work. Hybrid working is now commonplace, with many having a balance of both office and home working during a typical week. Flexible working is becoming more prominent too. This is when individuals choose their working hours, so long as they still fulfil their obligations. These modern approaches provide people with a better work-life balance, which increases productivity as it creates a more rested, energised, and motivated workforce.
Some form of automation has become a must-have for many businesses, in their quest to remain competitive. It can often be achieved when making use of an appropriate digital system or software solution. Manual/repetitive data entry will be taken care of by the technology, which means more work can be completed, at a faster pace, and with fewer errors. This often creates improved employee satisfaction, as they are freed up to focus on more creative endeavours, which fuels even further productivity.
Invest in employee potential
Not only should employees be given the necessary training and tools, but their potential should be continuously harnessed and nurtured too. Investing in employee potential has a strong return on investment, as they are an asset to the business. The more expertise they have within the designated filed, the more value they will be able to add each day. They will probably be more motivated and loyal also, as they can see the company cares about their career.
Remove unnecessary meetings
It’s important to find the right balance when putting meetings in the diary. There is a sweet spot that facilitates productivity. Meetings are of course needed for collaborative work, to set out priorities, and to keep the team synchronised. But when too many meetings are scheduled, there’s suddenly no time to actually complete the work at hand. It’s a good rule of thumb to have a short catch-up at both the start and end of the week. Plus employees should be allowed to reject meetings if they have other priorities (or if they’re not especially needed).
Use dedicated productivity software
There are now plenty of technological tools that are specifically designed to aid productivity in the workplace. Companies should look to harness this power. A task management solution is a good place to start. Such a system can give users great clarity around their to-do list and assist with prioritisation. By having levels of urgency, it’s far more likely that work will be completed on time. And these task lists can often be shared, improving visibility across teams when it comes to responsibilities.
What are the benefits of increased productivity?
Quite simply, when more work is done, more income can be generated. If you’re a selling business, and you start producing a higher number of goods, then you’ll have the ability to accept higher demand. The same applies if your business trades in services. No matter what the output is, if there’s more of it, then there’s a greater ability to be profitable.
When productivity is increased via smart methods, efficiency inevitably improves too. Not only is the output greater, but the amount of time, money, and energy needed to reach this result goes down too. Enhanced/automated processes allow companies to achieve a much better level of cost-effectiveness with regards to the resources they use.
Ability to grow
When efficiency is high, businesses are more able to grow. Money is saved through optimal processes, staff have greater capacity, and more income is generated through sales. When you have the luxury of accepting higher demand, you can expand your operations. The increased revenue can be invested in things like technology, equipment, recruitment, and additional offices, storefronts, warehouses, factories, etc.
If a company is known to be efficient and highly productive, this will have a positive impact on its reputational standing within the industry. When a large amount of output is continuously produced, and to a high standard, customers will inevitably view the business more fondly. And this positive brand image will likely spread via word of mouth or online reviews, providing opportunities to gain even further clients.
Better customer satisfaction
When a team are able to reach their desired outcomes, this should mean they’ve been able to meet/exceed the expectations of customers too (and fulfil any promises that were initially made). And when employees have greater capacity due to automation, they have more time to focus on the unique needs of each customer. They can provide a more personal service and deal with queries in great detail, thus giving a much better quality of customer service.
Greater employee engagement
Within a productive workplace, employees tend to be more engaged, as there’s more variation to day-to-day tasks, and they’re able to have a bigger impact on proceedings. A successful environment is often a positive environment, which makes communication healthier, and creates a workforce that are more likely to get involved with a range of projects.
Which productivity tools to use in the workplace
At Advanced we provide a platform called MyWorkplace, which was specifically designed to enhance productivity among teams of workers. It’s a system that brings your most important tasks and stats onto one screen. It does this by integrating with your most-used software solutions.
Rather than logging in and out of multiple platforms, and searching for endless logins/passwords, it’s all consolidated in one place. With a single sign-on, employees can see their obligations for the day ahead, and action their most pressing tasks at the click of a button. MyWorkplace takes snippets of functionality from each of the systems you use and allows you to fulfil your role without ever leaving the platform.
These dashboards can be built selectively, to suit your role. You can book/approve annual leave, submit an expense form, raise a purchase order, and buy office supplies, to name a few examples. Activities like data entry, next steps, and task assignment can all be automated. And performance can easily be monitored with the most important KPIs always on show.
MyWorkplace integrates with our HR software, Advanced HR, as well as our Cloud-based accounting software, Advanced Financials. So, any HR and finance teams already using these systems can gain the advantages that come with a seamless working environment.
If you’re looking to increase productivity in your workplace, and want to reap the benefits that come with this, be sure to read more about our game-changing workplace productivity tool, MyWorkplace, which is perfect for busy HR and finance teams.