What Is Employee Productivity?

“Why should we hire you?” This is one of the most common interview questions we typically ask prospective employees. But what kind of answer do we actually expect when we throw this curveball during a screening interview?

While it might be dazzling to hear about a candidate’s achievements, educational background, or skills, hiring managers often want to hear something else. That is, they want to hear an answer that talks about work ethic.

According to a recent poll, employers typically value the capacity to work hard over any other qualification or quality. And for good reason.

The harder that an employee or a group of employees works, the more an employer stands to earn. Think about it. If your workers were able to do more for every dollar you spent on their salary, then they could generate more and increase your profits.

This idea isn’t new. Economists have long used employee productivity to determine how much employers earn versus how much they spend on their workers’ wages. But what exactly is employee productivity?

Defining Employee Productivity

Let’s put things into perspective. Assume you own a retail store that sells clothing. You have two sales clerks whose job is to assist buyers as they shop. The first clerk, Diane, sells an average of $300 worth of clothing in a day.

Stella, on the other hand, sells around $220 worth of merchandise in a shift. Your shop operates for eight hours a day, seven days a week. Both clerks earn $10 per hour, and they work the same amount of time daily.

Of course, there could be a lot more factors at play. But based on these rudimentary figures, it’s easy to see that the money spent on Diane results in bigger profits.

For every dollar you spend on Diane’s wages, you earn $3.75. For every dollar spent on Stella’s wages, you earn a whole dollar less at $2.75.

Whatever Diane is doing, it’s earning you more money. And that’s what we define as employee productivity. Essentially, this is the amount of goods or services that your workers generate in a given period of time.

Why Is Employee Productivity Important?

Any business owner or employer wants to make sure that whatever they spend is met with the maximum possible amount of profit. The higher your employees’ productivity, the more tasks they accomplish, the more they sell, and the more you earn.

When you make a hire, you’re doing more than just choosing someone with specific knowledge or skills. You should be interested in acquiring an investment for your company—someone who can earn you a pretty penny for the amount that you spend on them.

If you look at the other side of the coin, it becomes easier to understand why productivity is so important. Workers who don’t generate as much revenue for the company as their peers might be considered a liability.

They’re costing you money. Not only in terms of the amount that you spend on their wages, but also when it comes to the profits they bring in. Needless to say, productivity is something every employer should be invested in.

Practical Ways to Improve Employee Productivity

Here’s what you can do to help your employees feel more willing to accomplish more.

Engage Your Workers

Employee productivity actually ties in really closely with employee engagement, but the two are different. Engagement pertains to your workers’ commitment to help your organization succeed.
Engaged workers stay longer, work harder, and feel an intrinsic motivation to help you grow. In effect, this also makes them want to do more with the time they spend at work. But that’s not always how workers feel.

According to polls, only about 34% of the US workforce claims to be “engaged” in their current job. But the dismal reality doesn’t end there. Another study found that despondent, disengaged employees actually cost US organizations up to $605 billion annually.

Now, how exactly can you engage your workers? Well, it pays to go back to how we define engagement: a commitment to help your organization succeed.

With that, we can say that engagement can be improved by strengthening your workers’ relationship with your company. The more profound their bond and loyalty to your group, the more committed they’d be.

Communicate with your workers. Support their wellness and health. Give them room to grow in their careers. Treat them like people with passions and dreams and not just robots tasked to work away. It will make a big difference.

Learn More: How To Measure Employee Engagement

Give Them the Tools

It can be tough to stay productive when you’re not equipped with the stuff you need to get things done. Giving your workers tools and software designed to speed up their job can make it easier for them to finish more tasks.

Do your research and find tools you can use to streamline their work. Use time tracking applications to encourage a sense of urgency and order. Leverage free collaboration tools like Trello to designate tasks.

The more effortless and less confusing your employees’ responsibilities are, the more motivated they’d feel to work. By breaking down their tasks into milestones, they won’t have to put in so much time trying to decode what to do.

Train Them, and Keep Doing It

So, you’ve found a potential hire with a great work ethic. But there’s just one problem. Their skills are, at best, the bare minimum that you’re looking for. What’s an employer to do?

Remember, your employees are investments. So if you find someone worth investing in, then you probably should. Training your workers and helping them acquire more skills can help them unlock new strategies to tackle their tasks.

The more your employees know about certain aspects of their work, the more efficient they become. Invest in their training and empower them to polish their skill set whenever you can.

Be Clear About Your Collective Goal

What exactly do you want your workers to achieve? What is your company aiming for as a collective workforce? Designating a goal to work towards can be empowering in terms of productivity.

Consider this. Let’s say you own a small automotive accessories brand. In the past months, sales have steadily declined. You attribute this dip to your competitor’s new aggressive digital marketing plan.

So you set out to do the same. You shift your personnel’s focus from direct mail towards digital methods. You give them training and you tell them exactly why this change was necessary.

With that goal in mind, your workers now put their effort into the task you pointed out. If you hadn’t made your objective or methods clear, they’d still be spending all their work hours printing out flyers.

Sometimes, all it takes is a little clarity. Take some time to brief your workers on your general goals and objectives for the week or month. Keeping everyone on the same page can help make it easier to see which tasks are most urgent.

Offer an Incentive

If you’re feeling generous, then it might not hurt to offer an incentive. Inciting a little healthy competition among your workers can get them to do more, especially when there’s a little something to reward them for their efforts.

How about a bonus for those who make the most sales? Or a small gift for workers who go above and beyond your or your clients’ expectations? Even something as simple as a certificate of appreciation can be a great motivator for them to do more.

Reward workers who aim to do more for your company. It might just help motivate everyone else to be more productive in the hope of being the next employee of the month.