Here’s how to measure productivity without demotivating your team

Productivity monitoring has been around for a long time, but in the age of remote and hybrid work, it has become a new reality for many.

Some of the largest private US employers reportedly have systems in place to monitor employee productivity, some in real time. The intention behind this monitoring is obvious: companies want to make sure remote workers don’t slack off when they’re not under a manager’s watchful eye.

But do these tactics ensure maximum productivity? Of course not. Recent studies have shown that while surveillance can have benefits in some cases, it can also lead to wrongdoing.

This is because productivity monitoring robs employees of their agency. In contrast, measuring productivity – a practice based on transparency and fairness – empowers teams and leads to the best results.

What is productivity anyway?

It has been said that productivity can be measured by dividing work output by time. But as the saying goes, if you ask 100 different managers to define “productivity,” they’ll tell you 100 different things.

To ensure a team is productive, every leader must first clarify what that means for them. Especially in today’s workplace where many workers don’t know what their priorities are.

It seems that hiring managers aren’t even sure what they expect from their employees: Only 41% of US workers agree that the job description they read before they hire accurately describes their actual job, according to a recent one Study.

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While employees may be able to point out their organization’s goals, at the individual level, most people don’t know what really matters, not where to focus. Empowering employees to create and share lists of their prioritized tasks with their teams eliminates confusion and gives all departments a clear understanding of what’s most important.

It also allows employees to feel more connected to their company’s overall mission, which is a win-win for companies. The same study showed that by investing in an employee’s experience, companies can reduce absenteeism by 51% and improve job quality by 29%.

How to accurately measure productivity

To properly assess productivity, managers need insight into the workload of each of their team members so they can allocate tasks fairly and set reasonable deadlines.

One way to ensure that tasks are distributed fairly is to assign consistent values ​​to tasks, like technical teams do during sprints. For example, one person may complete one difficult task while another takes on two or three easier tasks.

Quality also plays a role in measuring productivity. When two groups are working on the same campaign but one team is more talented, it doesn’t matter if they spend the same amount of time doing the same work. The caliber of one will probably be better.

However, since it is almost impossible to quantify quality, employee input and other factors, such as campaign results, are key factors in measuring overall productivity and effectiveness. After all, getting the job done is secondary to getting it done well.

Why transparency and visibility are important

Regardless of how a leader measures productivity, they need to be transparent about the process. A study of workplace culture during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that 59% of people who said their workplace culture had improved since early 2020 blamed increased communication on the shift. It’s important for teams to understand why decisions are being made and that they understand that any stress the team is feeling is shared equally.

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Most productivity monitoring methods don’t take this into account, which explains why they can be so daunting. “It literally destroyed morale,” a Rhode Island social worker told the New York Times. “I found it really difficult to explain to all my team members, who are master-level clinicians, why we were counting their keystrokes.”

Productivity is not about keystrokes or online minutes. Analyzing and improving productivity is about efficiency and working smarter, not harder. The intrusive practices of recording idle computer time or taking indiscriminate photos of employees’ faces and screens to determine how hard they are working are secondary.

In addition to boosting morale and improving employee retention, measuring productivity enables business leaders to make more informed decisions about resource allocation and ultimately improve their bottom line. As overall productivity falls and labor costs rise, there is no time to hesitate.

It’s not easy to measure productivity, but monitoring productivity is no substitute. We need to stop logging time online and start working with our teams to find successful – and fair – ways forward.

Zeb Evans is the founder and CEO of ClickUp.

The opinions expressed in comments are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of wealth.

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