What is employee productivity?

And want to know how to improve it?

Then, you’ve come to the right place.

Today, we’ll look at exactly that.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive right in.


What is Employee Productivity?

The importance of employee productivity is significant.

That’s why it’s so important to first understand what it’s all about.

So, what is employee productivity?

The simple version is this:

Employee productivity is the value employees are producing on an individual level every hour they work.

The more productive they are, the more value they produce for their employers.

Measuring employee productivity comes down to this:

Productivity = Units of output / Units of input


This is a simplified version. There’s more to it than this employee productivity formula.

Here’s what you need to know:


Why employee productivity is more than productivity on an individual level

Here’s the problem:

Productivity within a company is all about how well your company turns raw material and labor into services and goods.

All of the parts of this system affect each other.

That’s why managers shouldn’t be too focused on single factors affecting employee productivity, like how much a single employee produces.

Instead, you need to look at the system as a whole.

Even if your data says employee productivity is going down, this might not necessarily be the case depending on things like the cost for raw materials, production cycles and so forth.

To fix your problem, you need to dig deep.


For the sake of clarity, we’ll stick to employee productivity at the individual level.

So, how to help employees increase the value they produce.

And why does employee productivity go down?


What makes employees less productive?

employee productivity

So, why does employee productivity go down?

There are several reasons.

On an individual level, these include:

  • Low engagement. People feel their work doesn’t have a purpose or that their efforts aren’t appreciated.
  • Poor communication and leadership. Bad leadership has a huge impact on employee productivity. The same goes for communication – an organization only works if every piece works together.
  • Poor work climate. A work culture that isn’t a fit, bullying and other energy-draining behavior are major reasons for lower productivity at the workplace.
  • Ineffective work environment. This includes everything from slow processes to outdated tech tools.

Now you know why employee productivity goes down.

But what can you do about it?

Here are 7 tips you can use right away.


How Can You Improve Employee Productivity?

Now you know what employee productivity is.

But how can you improve it?


Use the tips below.

Ready to dive right in? Let’s go.


1. Create a better onboarding system

First things first.

If you want productive workers, you need to start onboarding them.


Take Google. The company uses this to improve new employees’ productivity right from the start.


The program is all about integrating the new employee.

So this person is paired up with a buddy and is encouraged to build their social network.

There are check-ins once a month for six months.

The result?

These new employees became effective in their roles 25% faster than other employees.

You can use this, too.

Set up an onboarding process that helps your employees get started.


2. Improve your internal communication

Your internal communication is key.

After all:

It can be a productivity booster or a bottleneck.

If people don’t get the right information, it’s clear that they can’t be productive.

So how do you improve your communication?

Here’s how:

  • Encourage open and honest dialogue. If people feel they can express what they think, you instantly get a more productive work environment. After all, your communication is direct and honest.
  • Run better meetings. Look: Your meetings can feel dreadful. But done right, they are an amazing way to communicate with your co-workers. The trick is to know when to set up meetings… And how to effectively execute them.
  • Make it easy for people to get to know each other. Last, if there are low barriers for people to get in touch with each other at your organization, internal communication will be smoother. To encourage people to get to know each other, organize team events and other social activities.


3. Inspire your employees

employee productivity

One of the main reasons your employees don’t keep productive?

They’re uninspired.

And look:

It’s up to the leadership to inspire employees.

So how do you do it?


Be clear about your purpose and goals.

If people feel they’re working for something, their work becomes so much more purposeful.

It all comes down to defining the one challenge you’re facing as an organization.

Share that with your employees… And you instantly have more engaged and productive employees.


4. Create a culture where employees can take ownership


If you want productive employees, you have to trust them.

Let them take ownership of their projects.

But not just that. Remove organizational drag by letting employees make more decisions.

For example:

The average company loses 25% to unnecessary organizational processes.

That’s why giving employees more room to take responsibility could have huge benefits. Netflix does this by having no spending limits and instead, asking employees to act in the best interest of Netflix.

So trust your employees and let them make the decisions. Plus, there’s an added benefit- you remove expensive organizational hurdles.


5. Skip hierarchies that don’t serve a purpose

Hierarchies can have a huge impact on how productive your employees are…

…But abolishing all hierarchies is not the answer.

You see:

Hierarchies are needed for a well-functioning organization.

When online shoe shop Zappos removed all hierarchies, 18% of the company’s staff left.

After all, hierarchies are a way for people to understand their role in an organization.

This gives them clarity and purpose.

So instead of trying to abolish hierarchies, work against hierarchies that don’t serve a clear purpose.

Those hierarchies are terrible for productivity.

And how do you identify these hierarchies?

Ask yourself:

“What’s the purpose of this hierarchy?”

For example:

A manager-level position is needed to mentor junior-level employees.

That’s a hierarchy that serves a purpose.

But hierarchies between departments or employees who’re on the same level? Then, you probably have a problem with hierarchies that needs fixing.


6. Position A players in key roles

Here’s the thing:

Companies like Google and Apple are extremely strategic when it comes to filling their positions.

Guess how they ensure they’re always more productive than their competition?

They fill their key roles (so the roles that are business critical) with A players.

Other roles are filled with fewer star players.

And that’s the secret to why they always seem to be ahead of other companies.

The structure they’ve set up ensures this.

Think about your own organization.

What are some of your most business-critical positions?

Those are the positions you should put the most effort into filling.


7. Let employees develop themselves

Want to ensure employees keep engaged and productive?

Let them develop themselves.

After all, we’re driven by intrinsic motivation so the want to develop ourselves.

But how do you put this into practice?


Let employees educate themselves by taking courses and attending workshops and conferences.

Give them time to work on personal projects. Google uses this effectively. Its employees get to work on own ideas for a 20% of their work time.

The result?

Tools like Gmail and Google News are products of these ideas.


8. Focus on results

Next up:

Instead of focusing on how employees are getting things done, focus on the results.

After all, results are what matters.

And as it turns out, people value leaders who are results-focused.

If you focus on whether people are at the office, if they meet self-imposed deadlines or that they follow an internal, arbitrary guideline on how to get their work done, people will quickly feel they’re being micromanaged.

And that, if anything, kills motivation and productivity.


Develop goals for every employee and focus on coaching them to meet those goals.


Getting results is a great motivation booster.


9. Make employee happiness a priority.


According to research, happy people are 31% more productive than negative people.

That’s huge!

And it’s one great reason to work on creating a happier work environment.


Simple. For example:

Host weekly happy hours and team lunches.

Tell people how valuable their work is.

And make things like meetings more fun.


Over to You!

That’s it.

If you’ve ever asked yourself: “What is employee productivity?”, now you know.

Now, over to you:

Anything to add to this article?

Write a quick comment below and share your thoughts.