The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted how we work and turned it on its head. The drastic shift to telework and working from home (WFH) generated a lot of buzz around the topic of productivity. Many firms say remote working has increased productivity by allowing more flexibility, reduced commuting time, and increased connectivity. 

As we enter the third year of WFH, more companies are turning to hybrid or permanent WFH modules to increase productivity. 

Let us delve deeper into what is productivity, why it is important, and could your productivity be better?

What Is Productivity?

The productivity of a production process can be defined as the efficiency with which goods and services are produced. Productivity is typically measured by comparing an aggregate output with a single input or comparing an aggregate input with an aggregate output, over time.

Productivity is a measure of how efficiently a person completes a task. We can define it as the rate at which a company or country produces goods and services (output), usually judged based on the amounts of inputs (labor, capital, energy, or other resources) used to deliver those goods and services. 

So, if you ask what is productivity in terms of economics, we can call it a measure of the output per unit of input. Productivity is one of the primary sources of economic growth and competitiveness. At an enterprise level, productivity measures the efficiency of a company's production process, and can be calculated from the number of units produced or net sales compared to employee labor hours invested.

Types of Productivity

There are mainly two types of productivity:

Partial Factor Productivity

Partial Factor Productivity measures the ratio of total output to a partial or single input. This type of productivity is used to measure the productivity of each unit factor compared to the production of output.

Partial factor inputs can be categorized as labor, capital, machinery, material, etc. 

Production Managers usually use partial productivity measures due to readily available and accessible data.  

Multifactor or Total Productivity

Multifactor productivity is a measure of the ratio of total output and total input. It denotes the combined effect of all resources used in generating the total output units.   

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Why is Productivity Important?

Increased productivity indicates greater output from the same amount of input. It means higher efficiency with which a company or economy can transform resources into goods. Thus, productivity growth is our opportunity to create more from less. 

Increased productivity drives economic growth, meaning an economy can produce and consume more and more goods and services for the same amount of work. Every section of society, viz., consumers, workers, employers, can benefit from a productivity increase. It is vital to individuals, businesses, and analysts.

By being more productive, individuals can complete their work efficiently, tackle jobs quicker, and enjoy more free time. Productivity can help maintain a healthy work/life balance, and some people even enjoy their work more and feel less stressed when they're productive.  

Now, let us look at the benefits derived from increased productivity at workplace.

  • Effective utilization of resources
  • Reduced cost of production
  • Reduced price of goods and services
  • Increased wages to workers
  • Lower overhead costs
  • Higher profits for businesses
  • Higher per capita income
  • Overall prosperity and growth

How to Measure Productivity in the Workplace?

Productivity in the workplace determines the efficiency with which tasks and goals are achieved in an organization. It is the ratio of the individual or team input and output. However, many external and internal factors can affect an organization's productivity, so managers need to understand what lies between input and output. 

We can measure employee productivity with the labor productivity equation:

Total output/total input

To calculate Partial Factor Productivity:

Total output/single input

To calculate Multifactor Productivity:

Total Output / Subset of inputs:

The combined effect of all input resources (labor, capital, material, etc.) is divided into the output.

Team productivity in a workplace is measured with the help of graphs, charts, and formulae based on several quantity index. Weekly or monthly reports, statistical data, and balance figures are gathered, processed, compared, and analyzed to calculate a team's level of productivity and efficiency. Time distribution across tasks and projects is observed from charts and reports; time estimates are compared with actual working time, overtime, and leave time to review various aspects of productivity trends.  

A team's work output is generally measured to be the number of accomplished tasks by the team. The input is usually taken to be the time – weeks, months, and quarters taken to accomplish the tasks.   

4 Types of Productivity Measures

Labor Productivity

Production per worker or per hour worked is referred to as labor productivity. Workforce skills, technological development, managerial strategies, and adjustments to other inputs are all factors that may affect labor productivity (such as capital).

Total Factor Productivity

Numerous factors have an impact on a country's productivity. These include advancements in supply chain logistics, innovation, the purchase of new machinery and equipment, as well as education, enterprise, and competitiveness.

The Solow residual, also known as total factor productivity, calculates the percentage of output growth in an economy that cannot be accounted for by the accumulation of capital and labor.

Capital Productivity

To calculate capital productivity, liabilities are removed from physical capital. The difference is then added to the sales total. A greater capital productivity number demonstrates the effective use of physical capital in producing goods and services, whereas a lower capital productivity number demonstrates the inefficient use of physical capital.

Material Productivity

When productivity is measured in terms of materials, the output is compared to the materials used. Heat, fuel, or chemicals are examples of materials used to produce a good or service. It looks at the amount of output generated for each unit of input.

Productivity and Investment

The potential for increases in salaries, corporate profits, and living standards are constrained when productivity fails to increase significantly. Investment in an economy equals the level of savings since investment must be financed from savings. Low savings rates can affect investment rates, growth rates for real wages, labor productivity, and investment growth rates. Because of this, it is thought that low savings rates in the US may hinder future productivity growth.

How is Productivity Measured?

In order to calculate productivity, a measure of output is divided by a measure of inputs.

Output

A quantity of goods and services produced in a specific amount of time is referred to as output. Gross value added (GVA), which is the entire value of goods and services produced minus those products and services required in the manufacturing process, is typically used to measure output for an industry or sector (known as intermediate consumption). The total GVA of all industries can be used to compute the output for the entire economy. Alternatively, gross domestic product is calculated by deducting the value of product subsidies from GVA and adding the value of taxes (GDP).

Inputs

There are two basic categories of inputs: labor and capital.

  • Either the number of employed people or the number of paid hours put in by employees can be used to calculate labor input. Because they account for variations in conventional working hours, leave, overtime, and flexible work arrangements, hours worked metrics are often preferred. The ABS also provides information on hours worked that have been "quality-adjusted" or adjusted to reflect changes in the level of education and experience of the labor force.
  • A measure of capital services is called capital input (a flow). It explains the advantages brought about by the productive resources possessed by a company, an industry, or an economy (a stock). Physical capital, like machinery, buildings, and vehicles, and intangible capital, such as intellectual property, might be included in these assets. In order to take into consideration the stock's deteriorating utility over time, its value is changed.

Measurement Difficulties

Measurement of productivity comes with a number of difficulties. For instance:

  • Measurement of output in non-market businesses is challenging: The ABS only calculates MFP for 16 market industries where prices accurately represent underlying output demand and supply. The ABS does not offer MFP estimates for non-market businesses, including public administration and safety, education and training, and health care and social assistance.
  • Estimates change over time: It can be challenging for a company in the short term to adjust the quantity of inputs it uses in response to variations in demand. As a result, productivity tends to decrease during economic downturns when output decreases more than input costs do, whereas productivity tends to rise during economic booms when output grows more than costs do.
  • Not all inputs and outputs are monitored: For instance, it can be very challenging to assess certain natural resources and intangible capital inputs accurately, and some may not even be measured. Estimates of MFP will be skewed when actual input changes but has not been measured.

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What are the 4 Essential Components of Productivity?

The four key elements of productivity for an individual are: (1) strategy, or the capacity for planning; (2) focus; (3) productive choosing, or the capacity for selecting the most crucial tasks and making the right decisions; and (4) consistency; or, the capacity for working at a constant pace and incorporating all of the aforementioned into your tasks.

What is Productivity in the Workplace?

Productivity in the workplace simply refers to how much "work" gets finished in a specific length of time. Things like new clients gained can assess the output, phone calls made, and, of course, sales generated, depending on the type of business. A company's primary objective should be to increase productivity without compromising the quality of its products or the use of its resources.

How Can You Improve Personal Productivity?

Some fundamental techniques for raising daily productivity include:

  • Prioritizing chores and completing each one at a time
  • completing the jobs you detest the most before all others
  • taking timed breaks to increase output in general
  • doing regular exercise
  • consuming a balanced diet

What Factors Affect Productivity?

Compensation (salary/wage), the working environment, training, career development opportunities, wellness, diversity, greater responsibility, and management caliber all influence work productivity.

Methods that Help Improve Productivity

There are several popular methods and practices to improve productivity. 

Increasing Team Productivity

1. Set Clear Goals

Share specific goals with your team so they are equipped to manage their time better and improve productivity. People are more motivated to go above and beyond when they have clear expectations and guidelines.

2. Break down Larger Projects into Smaller, Actionable Tasks

It is often overwhelming and intimating to have a large project with strict deadlines looming over your team's head. Breaking it down into smaller, more manageable tasks can motivate team members to put in more effort and makes it easier to track progress.

3. Prioritize

With multiple tasks at hand, it can become difficult for employees to stay focused. Make sure to communicate the top priority tasks to your team constantly, so they know what to concentrate on and work on tasks that are more valuable to the company at that given time. 

4. Regular Feedback 

The proper feedback improves team morale and urges employees to work harder and do better. Provide feedback regularly, focusing on action rather than the individual.

5. Discourage Multitasking, Overtime

Sometimes, when people are too invested in a project or task they're working on, they tend to go overboard with their commitment. Doing multitasking or working for extended hours may only lead to wasted time and additional stress. Ironically, this might perhaps make you less productive. 

6. Encourage Collaboration and Positivity

Employees usually feel happier and more optimistic about their jobs when working in a happy and positive environment. When they know each other, they feel much more comfortable collaborating and sharing ideas within the team. This, in turn, can lead to better and faster output for the company.

7. Design Incentive Programs

There's nothing better to drive employee productivity than making them feel respected and appreciated. Introduce incentive programs like extra vacation time or bonuses to motivate the workforce to work harder and boost productivity. 

8. Provide Right Equipment

Know what tools and equipment your employees need to complete tasks, and give them the right equipment that functions properly. You don't want to compromise on productivity simply because of faulty computers or software!

9. Allow Flexible Schedules

Expecting all employees to follow the same rigid work schedule affects the morale and productivity of a company. Allow employees to work from home, in hybrid mode, or let them make their own schedules. A flexible schedule can actually improve loyalty and productivity. 

Several studies over the past year have shown that productivity of workers while working remotely from home is higher than working in an office setting. According to a study by Stanford, working from home increased workers' productivity by 13%.    

Increasing Individual Productivity

Few tips to help you do more in less time:

1. Work Smarter

Track your progress on a visual chart and update as you complete tasks. It will keep you motivated. Make sure you take regular breaks between intense work sessions. If you're feeling confused, switch to a different job or take some time off to get back at it again with renewed energy. 

2. Begin your day with the most important task

Tackle the most important or challenging tasks when your energy is the highest at the beginning of the day. This habit will boost your chances of making adequate progress. 

3. When stuck, switch to smaller tasks

When you struggle with an arduous task, switch to smaller tasks that you know you can accomplish. It will help gain positive momentum to maintain your productivity.

4. Be Realistic

Set realistic goals and standards. Stop chasing perfection in every task you do. Taking ages to complete a task in an effort to deliver the best possible result can be counterproductive in the end. Make sure your work is good enough, and then move on to the next task on your schedule. 

Measuring workplace productivity is neither a cakewalk nor an overnight job. But the efforts you put into it are worth its value in gold, given its incredible impact on individual and business growth. Productivity tools can be one of the first stepping stones to achieving high productivity levels and helping you and your team stay connected and engaged to deliver their best. 

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FAQs

Q1. What is productivity in an organization?

Productivity means the efficiency of an organization or its employees to convert inputs, such as capital and labor, into outputs, like services or products. Project managers employ incentives, goals, and communication strategies to boost employee performance and increase productivity.

Q2. How does productivity work?

Productivity increases when output increases faster than inputs. Additionally, you can also observe a productivity increase when a company generates the same output with lower inputs.

Q3. Why is productivity important?

Productivity is directly proportional to an increase in revenue. Productivity growth allows an economy to produce and consume more goods and services from the same amount of work. It is important to individuals because it fosters confidence by making them more efficient. Productivity is also critical for business leaders and analysts.

Q4. What is a productivity example?

A commonly applicable example of productivity is the measure of output per worker or output per worker per hour. A manufacturing company can measure productivity by evaluating the number or value of the finished products produced by every worker within a given time.

Q5. What are the four types of productivity?

The four key types of productivity measures are capital productivity, material productivity, labor productivity, and total factor productivity.

Q6. How do you measure productivity in an organization?

Using the following labor productivity equation, you can measure employee productivity: total output /total input. Suppose your company generated $50,000 worth of products (output) while utilizing 1,000 labor hours (input); the labor productivity can be calculated by dividing 50,000 by 1,000, which equals 50.

Q7. What factors affect productivity?

The combination of energy and an individual's attitude are major factors determining their productivity, whether work-related or not. Additionally, equipment and resources, objectives, leadership, and environment affect productivity too.

About the Author

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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