manage employees

A guide to employee productivity

With most employees working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing your workforce remains productive is more essential now than ever. But what exactly is employee productivity and how do you measure it? Most importantly, how can you increase job productivity amid a sea of distractions?

Whether you’re a business owner or a manager, this guide will help you gain a deeper understanding of employee output. We’ll also provide tips that’ll help you boost productivity at your company. Keep reading to learn the definition of work productivity right away, or use the links below to navigate each section.

What is employee productivity?

Employee productivity is a metric that refers to the amount of work employees complete during a specific period of time. However, every business is unique, and the concept of employee productivity varies. To some, employee productivity could mean how much quality work is done in an hour, day, week, or month. Moreover, employers can choose whether to measure this metric on a company, department, or individual level.

Why is employee productivity important?

Employee productivity is important regardless of the industry your business operates in or its size. Productivity leads to better customer service, a healthy work environment, and satisfied employees. Improved productivity also increases output, or production, usually for the same amount of work or less. Understanding productivity also helps you see what roadblocks may be preventing employees from completing tasks on time. With that information in hand, you can swiftly remove those barriers.

How do you measure staff productivity?

Now that you know how important productivity is, you may be wondering how to measure your team’s productivity levels. You can use the following equation:

total output (volume created) ÷ total input (labor hours and resources) = labor productivity

As an example, let’s say your business produces $95,000 worth of goods between 50 employees in one week.

$95,000 ÷ 50 = $1,900

In this case, each staff member generates $1,900 for your company every week.

The formula may seem straightforward, but there are various things to consider, such as your business’s industry. For example, the productivity of restaurant servers is going to differ significantly compared to sales representatives in a software startup.

If you’re looking for a way of measuring productivity without calculations, you can use the following:

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs): Regularly tracking KPIs, such as client calls made or blogs written, allows you to understand your team’s performance. Start with a list of KPIs that are beneficial to your business and set benchmarks with employees accordingly.
  • Quality of work: While quantity is important for productivity, quality is also an essential measure of productivity. Employees may be spending more time on certain tasks to ensure their output is of the highest caliber.

A drop in workforce productivity can be due to various reasons, including lack of employee engagement and inefficient processes. Let’s explore more factors that impact staff productivity.

What factors impact employee productivity?

The definition of a productive employee isn’t linear, so productivity is going to range from person to person. While some employees will be extremely productive, others may require more time to complete projects. That said, there are additional barriers that affect employee productivity, such as:

Working environment

The environment your employees work in plays a crucial role in their productivity. From the office temperature to bad lighting and noisy team members, there are a handful of obstacles that prevent your employees from working productively.

Physical and mental well-being

If your employees are feeling under the weather or are not in the right headspace, that can hinder their output. Are employees working long hours? Do they have a healthy work-life balance? When employees experience burnout, it can cause their overall productivity to plummet, so make sure they’re taking care of themselves.


One reason you may have an unproductive workforce is barriers between them and upper management. Poor management includes:

  • Unrealistic project goals
  • Confusion about company objectives
  • Lack of communication

Most of the barriers will fall under three categories: environmental, organizational, and psychological. While you may not be able to control every obstacle mentioned, there are ways you can effectively boost company productivity.

How to increase employee productivity in the workplace

It can be difficult to focus whether you’re working in an office or at home, especially with so many distractions within reach. Use the tips below to increase productivity and help employees stop wasting time during work hours.

1. Create better working conditions

To boost productivity at your business, you need to create an environment that is comfortable and free of interruptions. For example, if your office has an open layout, organize your space so there are designated areas where employees can work away from the crowd. This may be difficult to do with remote work, but encourage employees to create a work-from-home setup that will help them stay focused.

2. Limit distractions

Many distractions, such as social media and workplace gossip, can impact the productivity of your employees. While you can’t eradicate all distractions from their workday, you can teach them ways to minimize distractions with apps that improve productivity.

3. Use time-management techniques

Numerous time-management techniques can help employees remain focused and prioritize their work. For example, the Pomodoro technique increases productivity and efficiency by allowing people to tackle projects in 25-minute intervals. When a 25-minute sprint is complete, they can take a quick break, allowing them to feel recharged and ready to work.

4. Allow flexible schedules

One of the many perks of working remotely is the ability to handle personal matters without having to lose hours of work. While creating your strategy to recall remote workers, consider allowing flexible schedules that prioritize work from home.

5. Improve time tracking

Time-tracking tools help you assess how long it takes employees to complete certain tasks. With QuickBooks Time, for example, employees can change their job codes to accurately track time spent on projects. This ensures they’re spending a reasonable amount of time completing work. It also allows for better project management.

6. Emphasize time off and self-care

With remote employees spending approximately three more hours on their computers than their in-office counterparts, it’s difficult to strike a balance between work and life. Emphasize the importance of setting boundaries and stepping back from work. The last thing you want is to have a team that’s burned out and unmotivated.

7. Enhance internal communications

A powerful way to engage employees and boost productivity is to have better internal communication . Effective communication practices can have a tremendous influence on your bottom line. One of the best ways to enhance internal communication is to check in with employees. This allows you to gain insight into what is and isn’t working for them and make the necessary adjustments.

8. Reduce the number of meetings

If your team is working remotely, you may have noticed an increase in meetings. According to Owl Lab’s State of Remote Work from 2020, video meetings are occurring 50% more frequently compared to before the pandemic. While the purpose of these meetings could be to sustain communication with your team, it can do more harm than good.

Before scheduling a remote meeting, ask yourself if it’s really necessary or if you’re better off sending an email instead. If you must meet, create an agenda to ensure you’re using your employees’ time wisely.

9. Motivate employees

To increase productivity, you also need to boost morale at the workplace. This can be done by acknowledging your team’s hard work and accomplishments so that they feel appreciated. Saying “good job” or a simple “thank you” is an easy way to praise employees and keep them motivated. In fact, 54% of workers said they appreciate a verbal thank you to recognize day-to-day work.

10. Give consistent feedback

In addition to motivating employees, you should also provide feedback. Feedback is necessary to help workers grow at your business. If your organization doesn’t have clear paths toward growth, it can cause employee stagnation and disengagement. This will not only increase the number of unsatisfied workers at your business but also hinder productivity.

Besides the tips mentioned above, you can also use efficiency-tracking methods, such as takt time, to remove distracting obstacles and improve team productivity.

Wrapping up

Employee productivity is essential to the success of your business. As a business owner or manager, it’s imperative that you know how to measure employee productivity and ways to increase it. After all, higher levels of productivity directly affect your bottom line. Use the 10 tips mentioned in this post to help you boost the productivity of your team.

Additionally, time tracking software like QuickBooks Time can improve employee performance. QuickBooks Time empowers your team to be more productive by streamlining essential small business processes, such as bookkeeping and accounting. It also makes it easier to identify workflow inefficiencies that are negatively affecting productivity in real time.

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