“Why has our team’s productivity dipped?”

“Why is Sam’s sales performance down from last year?”

“Why haven’t we seen a positive change, despite bringing in new talent?”

 

These are common questions usually on the lips of most HR professionals, managers, and team leaders grappling with perhaps their biggest challenge: how to increase employee productivity effectively while avoiding additional stress or risking burnout.

In the context of 2024, where the Great Resignation still looms large and talks of Quiet Quitting persist, HR and L&D professionals face a critical challenge: balancing organizational needs with those of employees and colleagues. The question arises: how do we cultivate a culture of working by objectives, without employees becoming “bogged down” in excessive meetings or delayed task completion?

In this article you will learn four actionable strategies designed for HR and L&D professionals and managers to optimize workplace productivity. We begin by demystifying the often-misunderstood concept of productivity, equipping you with the knowledge and tools to ensure a harmonious and efficient work environment.

4 Key Strategies to Increase Productivity at Work

Table of Contents

Understanding Productivity in the Workplace

Productivity, at its core, measures an employee’s ability to produce outcomes. Traditionally, this measurement has been quantitative, such as a salesperson closing X number of deals per month, or a call center agent managing a high volume of calls efficiently.

However, this perspective is somewhat limiting; it can also be misleading, particularly when considering knowledge workers such as editors or community managers. These professionals engage in creative and intellectual tasks—creating, thinking, studying, and networking—that don’t yield immediate, tangible products. Their productivity is less concerned with volume of output and more about the quality and impact of their work.

For knowledge workers, productivity is not so much about hitting numerical targets but meeting or exceeding expectations through high standards of work. It’s crucial for HR managers to recognize and evaluate productivity not just by numbers but by the value and innovation employees bring to their roles.

Effective productivity management involves balancing quantitative benchmarks with qualitative assessments to foster a culture where all types of work are valued and encouraged. This approach ensures that employees are recognized for their contributions, irrespective of the nature of their tasks, promoting a more holistic and supportive workplace culture. Part I of the Speexx Top Trends 2024 eBook delves further into the changing metrics of productivity.

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Rethinking Productivity: Quality Over Quantity

The Misunderstood Dimension of Productivity

Productivity’s traditional definition remains somewhat binary, tied to the industrial age’s focus on the amount of work done over a specific period. However, for modern HR managers seeking to cultivate a truly efficient and equitable workplace, understanding productivity’s qualitative aspects is crucial.

The Essence of Productivity

An employee might produce a high volume of work, but without aligning with the company’s objectives—such as engaging a specific audience, enhancing the brand’s reputation, or contributing to the company’s positioning—quantity alone does not necessarily equate to productivity. Therefore, it’s essential to evaluate not just how much work is done, but the impact and quality of that work.

Quality: The Core of Productivity

A productive individual generates high-quality outputs that directly or indirectly boost the company’s revenue over time. This is particularly relevant for knowledge workers, whose contributions to revenue might not be immediately apparent but are nonetheless vital for long-term growth. HR managers should recognize and cultivate conditions that enable employees to produce such quality work, emphasizing that productivity means more than just time spent at work and/or corresponding sales figures; the value of certain types of productivity is often seen in outcomes that are not so easily quantifiable, such as enhanced brand reputation or broader market penetration

Productivity from Both Perspectives

Employees themselves differentiate between productive and unproductive days, often based on their ability to accomplish planned tasks. However, productivity isn’t solely about task completion. Days spent in meetings might seem unproductive, yet if these discussions help streamline processes or resolve longstanding issues, they are indeed productive. It’s crucial for HR to acknowledge and support activities that, while not directly task-related, contribute significantly to the team’s overall effectiveness.

For HR managers, enhancing workplace productivity means looking beyond hours logged and tasks completed. It involves nurturing an environment where quality and effectiveness are valued alongside efficiency. By doing so, companies can achieve susta