What is Workplace Productivity?


Aternity July 20, 2021

To boost performance, many businesses have embraced the concept of workplace productivity. By focusing on efficiency and speed, a company can develop relevant key performance indicators that help employees understand how their individual contributions impact the organization’s goals. Industry data collected by Gallup shows that an engaged and productive workforce can increase profits by as much as 21%.

Improving workplace productivity requires leadership to have a deep understanding of the various factors that can influence performance. In many cases, improvement plans may require updates to procedures, workplace layouts, and employee tools. The ability of employees to meet work expectations is largely related to the quality of resources they are provided and the amount of support they are given. In this post, we’ll explore the definition of workplace productivity, why it’s important, and which factors can have the greatest impact on performance.

The Definition of Workplace Productivity

Workplace productivity relates to the amount of work that your staff can produce over a certain period. In other words, it’s the measure of the total output (goods and services) versus the total input (labor and costs). Each organization will have a unique approach to workplace efficiency and customized metrics that define performance. Developing a greater understanding of factors that impact workplace performance is essential for company leadership. A productive workplace often leads to more engaged employees and improved performance metrics.

Benefits of Workplace Productivity

There are many benefits to cultivating a productive workforce. In addition to obvious performance improvements, there are also other tangible advantages that should be mentioned. To become truly productive, a company must develop streamlined processes that do not present an administrative burden. The more time an employee spends engaged with their work, the more productive they will be. An important first step for companies to address is the amount of time spent on administrative work.

An additional benefit of a productive workplace is improved employee morale and a reduced chance of burnout. Employees feel more empowered when they can direct how and when their work is completed. When most team members are skilled in managing work productively, it can also help to boost the performance of everyone involved. Increasing the amount of time spent on truly value-added work also has a direct impact on profitability.

How to Improve Workplace Productivity

The specific approach that a company takes to improve workplace productivity will largely depend on the current corporate goals, work procedures, and workplace culture. The following areas contribute directly to workplace productivity and represent an important framework that can be used when designing a change initiative. When navigating these complex topics, it’s also important to collect feedback directly from employees and management at all levels.

  • Manage distractions. Avoiding distractions can sometimes be more of an art than a science. Employees should feel empowered to work independently, manage their own time, and schedule blocks of time to handle important work tasks. Workplace norms and culture should also be reviewed as they define many of the behaviors that can lead to distractions if they aren’t properly managed.
  • Enable effective communications. Employees should have access to communication tools that make it easy to contact other employees through a variety of methods. It can also be helpful to share tips with employees about using email, phone, and text communications in an effective manner. These platforms should also be used by management when communicating important corporate news and updates.
  • Promote focus. Having the skill to multitask is often considered a myth, and it’s best to focus on a single task when working. It also takes time for someone to readjust to a new task when switching. Encourage your employees to focus and take breaks every so often to refresh their minds and give their eyes a break. Other tools, such as to-do lists and project trackers, can also be shared with individual employees and teams to help them organize their work.
  • Design a comfortable workplace. One of the major sources of distraction is an unorganized workplace. It may not be possible to completely redesign your office, but making a few specific improvements can often have a positive effect. Make sure that there are an appropriate number of offices and breakout rooms that teams can use. It’s also helpful to organize workspaces and community areas so that employees have easy access.
  • Develop clear productivity metrics. Companies often do a good job at defining high-level metrics related to their profit and loss (P&L) measurements, but understanding the leading metrics that impact productivity is a much greater challenge. Two of the most popular metrics for workplace productivity are “output per hour worked” and “output per worker.” The calculation can be done by defining the proper output to track and dividing that measurement by the number of workers. Tracking productivity on an individual or team basis can help you set realistic targets for improvements.

Workplace productivity has become an important priority for companies as we transition from the largely remote workplace environment experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic to the hybrid workplaces of tomorrow.  Given the direct impacts on profitability and employee satisfaction, it’s crucial for companies to understand the workplace dynamics that affect productivity. Workplace productivity may be a complex topic, but it’s possible to design improvement plans that can have a lasting positive impact on your workplace culture and the employee experience.