Improving workplace productivity is a concern that’s top of most managers’ minds. But how can you improve on something when you cannot measure it? For the longest time, the calculation for workplace productivity has been:
Productivity = Output / Input
The resulting number from this calculation has long been treated as the most important productivity attribute.
However, managers have come to know that productivity is more nuanced than that. Since a team is a very dynamic unit, its output will always be just as dynamic, hence numerical measurement may not be practical in all cases. For instance, if you run a sales team, you know that although closing a sale is the coup de grace, this doesn’t mean that a day without revenue earned wasn’t productive. What about all the calls made, clients visited, presentations conducted, etcetera? All these tasks move a salesperson closer to their goals, whether or not you can quantify them.
By the way, just because you cannot quantify something doesn’t mean you cannot track it. We understand that sometimes teams can get sidetracked and achieve very little during calls and presentations. So next time your team has a meeting, ask them to use Aira. This AI-powered app will record everything said during the meeting. You can then sort through the recording or transcript by keywords to find out how much of what was discussed was relevant to your company’s goals.
That said, let’s explore this topic a little more below.
What is workplace productivity and how can you measure it?
As we have pointed out above, the formula for productivity is: Productivity= output/input
The number yielded by this calculation will only tell you that a metric you set wasn’t achieved 100%. But as much happens between initial input and final output, such a number will not tell you what you need to do to get to 100%. It will not guide you to take the practical steps necessary to make any improvements.
Therefore, for any workplace productivity measurement to be meaningful, you need to have a solid grasp of exactly what changes to make to impact team output. Finding these changes requires a lot of analysis; it is a time-consuming and grueling task. But, as we’ve demonstrated, with tools like Aira, you can get the data you want to perform such an analysis. And when done right, such analysis will yield positive results.
How should you measure productivity?
You can measure your team’s productivity/output based on the number of accomplished tasks.
The rationale here is pretty simple. For instance, if your goal is to increase revenue, you may not get to that goal in one day. However, by accomplishing certain tasks per day, can incrementally move that needle and eventually achieve your goal. The more tasks you accomplish in a given day, the more likely you are to get to that goal faster.
Input is time spent on a task, such as a day, week, month, quarter. If you want to go really granular, you can measure input per hour.
Taken over a longer time such as a week, you start to get a clearer picture of how much time your team has spent on a task and how much output they generated within the same period. Weekly assessments of input are good because a week is long enough to give you a trend (good or bad), but short enough to not severely impact an ongoing project in case of ongoing unproductiveness.
How important is individual productivity, and should you measure it?
Just as with team productivity, time is the most important input when it comes to individual productivity. Individuals tend to waste a lot of time by spending it on distractions, routine tasks, or unimportant tasks.
Using the same method we identified above, (and yes, Aira is also quite useful here), you can identify instances of time wastage and then optimize how you spend it.
How to improve workplace productivity?
If you need to improve team or individual productivity, here are some tips you can use:
1. Break projects into tasks and tasks into subtasks
This will make a large project seem less daunting. More so, completing one small action motivates people to complete another task because they can see progress.
In addition, when you approach a project in small bits, you can set shorter timelines instead of looking at the final deadline way into the future.
2. Prioritize tasks
Some tasks are more important than others. Discuss with your team the importance level of tasks and then prioritize which ones to tackle first.
3. Avoid multitasking
Contrary to what most people think, multi-tasking only causes you to work slower and perform poorly. This is because shifting attention from one task to another drains brain resources, causing fatigue to set in faster.
It’s always best to finish one task, tick that one off, and then move on to another.
4. Encourage employees to work within set office hours
It’s okay to put in an extra hour or two on a project every now and then but forming a habit out of working overtime on a project can lead to overtiredness and stress.
To prevent this, encourage your team to work on tasks during set office hours. This may call for some time management training. But such training will be well worth it given the rewards that your team will reap.
5. Encourage teams to collaborate
Team collaboration begins with encouraging team members to understand and appreciate one another’s work. People tend to feel happy and positive when they feel understood and appreciated. This in turn creates a positive work environment where teammates are comfortable about interacting, sharing ideas and collaborating on projects.
6. You can also improve individual productivity by doing the following:
- Work on the most difficult task in the morning when you are fresh and full of energy. However, if a task gets too complicated, switch to a smaller task.
- Take breaks when working on an intense task
- Track task progress and tick off completed tasks to keep you motivated
- Avoid perfectionism. You will waste valuable time if all you focus on when working on a project is to deliver a perfect result every time.
Productivity is important. We get things done when we are productive. But as you have read above, improving workplace productivity takes a lot more than just understanding your output/input calculation. What counts is to first understand the metrics that matter to you, then implement changes that will motivate teams and individuals to start making their input count more.
Have a super productive day!