In a hybrid business model, many organizations are struggling to keep up with their employees’ productivity. The increasing digital distractions, virtual fatigue, and exhaustion in a hybrid setup can make employees less productive, disengaged, and distracted from their work.
In such a scenario, how can leaders and managers help their employees amp up their productivity?
From small-scale setups to global companies, every organization is struggling to find a way to turn the odds of hybrid work in their favor. But only a handful of organizations are reaping its benefits.
This guide will explore the intricacies of employee productivity in a hybrid workplace and will discuss the following:
- What Is Employee Productivity?
- Myths About Employee Productivity
- Important Facts About Employee Productivity
- How to Measure Employee Productivity in a Hybrid Setup?
- How to Boost Employee Productivity in a Changing Global Workplace
- How Does Technology Support Hybrid Workplace Productivity?
What Is Employee Productivity?
Employee productivity is defined in multiple ways. Some leaders call it an assessment of the amount of work produced by an employee during a specific time period. And some define it as the assessment of the efficiency and value of output generated by their employees. Depending upon the industry, employee productivity can be classified into different types.
Wendy Makinson from Joloda Hydraroll is of the view that employee productivity in the new era of work employee productivity can no longer be judged by the number of hours worked or completed tasks. Instead, it must be measured by the employee’s ability to achieve results aligned with the company’s goals.
In the words of Claudia Gancayco, Chief Marketing Officer at Leg Master, employee productivity In this new era of work is defined by how well employees are able to adapt to their work surroundings and produce quality output at the expected time. With tools and processes constantly evolving today, it is also defined by how well they are able to assess their tasks and find the most efficient way to go about them.
Whatever definition you choose, employee productivity has a direct impact on the success of a business. It leads to the achievement of both short-term and long-term organizational goals.
A highly productive workforce is the goal of every organization. It helps companies innovate and produce distinguished results. Furthermore, organizations with an effective and efficient workforce are able to create a stronghold in a market.
The recent transition of businesses towards a hybrid setup has led global HR leaders to redefine and reassess their employee productivity practices and metrics. They are now heavily relying on employee productivity tools to evaluate, measure, and align the efforts of their hybrid workforce toward the achievement of goals.
The below image highlights the change in the use of digital workplace technology since the onset of the pandemic. 80% of workers now use some sort of digital technology to enhance their efficiency and productivity.
Image Source: Gartner.com
Before we jump into details regarding employee productivity, let’s debunk some myths about it.
Myths About Employee Productivity
Employee productivity is generally considered an economic indicator of an organization. The more productive the workforce, the more successful the organization will be.
While the concept holds true to its roots, the lure of success has led organizations and leaders to believe some myths about productivity that do not hold true in the light of organizational psychology and research.
Some of these myths have been around for quite a while and are now being frowned upon by employees and employers alike.
Associating Long Hours of Work with Higher Productivity and Better Outcomes
Research conducted by John Pencavel, a professor at Stanford University, has shown that an employee clocking in more than 50 hours a week will show a sharp decline in productivity with every added hour.
Furthermore, employees who manage to put in up to 70 hours are producing the same amount of work as done by a person working for 55 hours.
Clearly, putting more hours into your work is a no brainer. In fact, research shows the optimum number of hours to be 48, after which productivity will fall. Further to that, the trialing of 4-day workweeks is proving successful in some regions.
Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO, Choice Mutual has a better strategy. As per him, using a shorter work week can help employees feel refreshed and more productive. Mandatory breaks are also essential to enable employees for work challenges. You will get much more out of your employees if you recognize that people only have so much brainpower to use every day, and by making sure they are well rested, you will see higher motivation and productivity.
Multitaskers Are More Productive
While juggling between multiple projects and tasks might sound interesting, research shows that it is counterproductive. Multitasking leads to marginal results and even reduces the efficiency of employees.
Research conducted by psychologists has shown that the human brain is not wired for multitasking. Additionally, constantly switching tasks can lead to mental fatigue and less productivity over time.
With such research in perspective, we definitely need to strike off the multitasking requirements from the job descriptions.
Big Incentives Make Employees More Productive
The psychology that employee motivation and productivity can be altered with big incentives does not seem to hold true in today’s business environment. While there is a sudden increase in productivity with incentives, it generally falls back to the same level after some time.
In some cases, incentives have even backfired, leading employees to follow unethical practices to grab the extra money.
On the other hand, regular, structured, and well-managed incentive programs have shown promising results.
As Abe Breuer, CEO, VIP To Go puts it. It’s a myth to say that large incentives boost employee productivity. While raising salaries can drive people to accomplish much work over a particular period, it’s not sustainable. After some time, they might feel exhausted, pressured, or worse, burned out. What rather works are small, more frequent rewards. You can regularly offer extra time off when reaching milestones, a “thank you” note, or a public acknowledgment of their successful endeavors. Doing so provides validation which results in healthier employee productivity.
Remote or Hybrid Work Makes Employees Less Productive
Remote workers’ productivity was a major concern for employers when the whole world instantly switched from an onsite to a remote work setup.
For a long time, we heard that remote workers are less productive, but with the research and data pouring in, it has become quite evident that remote or hybrid workers are not just highly productive but also 22% happier than their in-office counterparts, and even stay longer in an organization.
Micromanagement Leads to Better Outcomes
Many leaders and managers have resorted to micromanagement because of their concerns over employees’ productivity in the hybrid model. While the intent behind it can be good, the results can be devastating for both employees and organizations.
Micromanagement has been labeled among the three reasons employees quit organizations. It leads to:
- low employee morale
- higher employee turnover
- lower productivity
- and resentment among employees
In the current setup, employees need a decentralized and trustworthy environment to prosper and do well in their jobs. Keeping micromanagement out of the office can actually harbinger better results for organizations.
Important Facts About Employee Productivity
Employee productivity is a result of multiple organizational factors. When the cumulative effort of these factors results in a positive, productive, and employee-centered environment, employee productivity increases.
Along with these factors, there are some hard facts that are important to understand while looking into employee productivity.
- Unproductive meetings kill your employees’ productivity along with $37 billion annually
- Employee productivity varies throughout the week, with Tuesdays being the most productive and Fridays the least
- Vacations help employees lower their stress and keep them mentally active, thereby leading to higher productivity. It can also prevent burnout and disengagement among employees
- Long commutes to work hamper innovation, decision-making, and productivity at work. It affects the physical and mental health of employees, leading to frustration and lower performance
- Employee mental health has a direct correlation with productivity at work. Unresolved mental issues can lead to a 35% reduction in production and a loss of $210.5 billion annually
Employee Productivity Monitoring: How to Measure Employee Productivity in a Hybrid Setup
The way of working has significantly changed in the last two years. Employees now prefer hybrid setups over full-time onsite work. They want a balance between having the flexibility to work from the place of their convenience and also having in-office social interactions and mentoring sessions with peers and leaders.
Indeed, the dual benefits of workplace flexibility and in-office interactions have led to a rise in demand for hybrid work, but employers need to ensure that their workforce remains as productive as it was before the pandemic.
Measuring employee productivity has become much more difficult in a hybrid or remote workplace than it was in the pre-pandemic world. Factors such as disengagement, burnout, employee mental and physical wellness, and isolation have to be looked into while creating business strategies.
The employee productivity metrics used in the pre-pandemic phase have to be tweaked to align them with the hybrid setup. That’s why using hybrid productivity metrics is the need of the hour. These metrics take virtual and in-office collaboration, feedback, check-ins, and employee engagement into consideration while providing insights.
Before you start measuring employee productivity, it is important to understand the following:
What do you want to measure?
Understanding what to measure is the first step in calculating employee productivity. Is it the number of goods created, leads generated, sales closed, tickets resolved, or tasks completed? Keeping specific items in focus will help zero in on the metrics to use for measurement.
How to measure?
Once you have decided on the tasks or activities to be looked into, the next step is to understand the metrics that will help measure productivity.
The following list of hybrid productivity tools can be used based on your requirements.
360-Degree Feedback Survey
A multi-rater feedback is a highly effective and efficient way to determine the productivity of an employee.
Taking feedback from multiple reviewers, such as managers, direct reports, peers, prospects, clients, and vendors, ensures that the feedback is free from any bias and provides a holistic view of an employee’s performance.
Furthermore, it helps identify an employee’s strengths, skills, and areas of development and provides a direct comparison between the employee self-evaluation and the reviewers’ insights.
Using this qualitative technique can help leaders identify any blindspots in the hybrid setup and analyze the overall workforce productivity.
Objectives and Key Results
OKRs are one of the best methods of measuring employee productivity against the achievement of set objectives. By offering an actionable and time-bound goal-setting and measuring framework, OKRs help in aligning employees’ goals and efforts towards organizational objectives.
Additionally, it increases employee accountability and helps them stay focused on their tasks. The method is equally effective for in-office, remote, or hybrid employees.
Planned-to-done ratio measures the number of tasks delivered by team members against the planned activities.
In an agile framework, it is important to gauge the capabilities and capacity of every team member. It helps in understanding the delivery output of a team on a particular project. That’s where the planned-to-done ratio becomes instrumental.
Using this method helps managers evaluate their hybrid or remote team’s overall output along with individual productivity.
It is a fact that engaged employees are more productive and generate better outcomes than their disengaged counterparts.
Measuring employee engagement is thus an important step in gauging workforce productivity. Use engagement surveys to get the pulse of your workforce and identify the specific areas that are leading to disengagement and lower productivity.
Breaking down a project into bite-size tasks with a two weeks process cycle can help measure and even boost the productivity of employees.
The reiterative cycles provide an opportunity to optimize the processes and push team members to complete their tasks on time. Additionally, cycle time helps in identifying employees who deliver quality work on a short deadline and those who need guidance and support.
How to Boost Employee Productivity in a Changing Global Workplace
The global workplace is evolving. The new working models pose both opportunities and challenges to leaders.
While most organizations favor hybrid work to provide the best of both worlds to their employees—workplace flexibility and in-office collaboration—they are also worried about maintaining workforce productivity in these unprecedented times.
With improvements in employee productivity levels as per the PwC report, employers are anticipating the trend to continue. But for that to happen, they need to understand the dynamics of employee productivity in a hybrid work environment.
As 7 in every 10 employees prefer to work either remotely or hybrid, it is important to understand the fundamentals of productivity when developing the framework of a hybrid workplace.
Factors That Affect Employee Productivity in a Hybrid Workplace
The following factors need to be considered while building a dynamic and productive workforce.
Be it a hybrid or in-office work setup, employee engagement is pivotal for employee performance and productivity.
The transition to a hybrid environment comes with a slew of challenges, and leaders have to be prepared to cultivate them into opportunities.
Even though the studies show a net positive effect of hybrid setup on overall employee experience, it is imperative to contemplate on individual factors that cultivate into a productive and progressive work environment.
Employee engagement is dependent on multiple factors, and providing the following can lead to a highly engaged and productive workforce:
- Clear communication
- Clear vision and mission of the organization
- Collaboration between employees and managers for effective goal setting
- Development opportunities for employees
- Regular employee recognition
- Fair and equitable compensation
- Purposeful and fulfilling work
- Focus on employee well-being
- Providing right tools and technology
Working on these items can gradually lead to creating a resilient, determined, engaged, and productive workforce.
The Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey 2020 reported that 80% of global leaders identify employee well-being as their top business priority. Yet only 12% of them are working to address it.
Employee well-being is crucial for higher productivity and performance. Time and again, studies have found that organizations that invest in their employees’ health and well-being are more successful and carry a positive brand image.
Not just that, healthy employees are happier and are willing to go the extra mile for organizational success.
Burgeoning workplace mental and physical health issues cost around $1 trillion to the global economy. And the fact is, it is surging.
It is high time that organizations commit to employee well-being, not just for higher productivity and ROI, but for a happy and healthy workforce.
Inclusivity is a prime determinant of higher productivity in a hybrid workplace. The more included your employees feel, the more engaged they are and the better they perform.
Moreover, inclusivity results in numerous other benefits. It reduces attrition, increases innovation, creativity, and problem-solving, and makes employees more attuned to the needs of their colleagues and organizations.
Image Source: McKinsey.com
But creating an inclusive hybrid workplace isn’t an easy job. Even though hybrid work offers a great opportunity to hire diverse talent, offering accessibility and inclusivity is a big challenge. Especially for leaders who have never worked in an inclusive environment, it is difficult to address the problems of a diverse workforce.
Leaders can take the following steps to make inclusivity the core foundation of their organization.
- Don’t be rigid in your definition of flexibility. What works for you might not work for others
- Meet your remote employees frequently and recognize them for their contributions
- Conduct surveys to understand the concerns of your hybrid teams
- Train managers to be fair, unbiased, honest, empathetic, and inclusive
- Use collaborative tools for better communication among hybrid and remote teams
- Trust your employees and be empathetic
A survey by Catalyst found that empathetic leadership drives innovation, engagement, and productivity in the organization. Furthermore, the study revealed that empathy helps organizations sail through crises more effectively.
Image Source: catalyst.org
Employees are now more interested in working with leaders that understand their feelings and support them in their professional and personal lives. Empathetic leaders are more receptive to their employees’ concerns and try to establish strong bonds with them.
Empathetic leaders and managers are able to foster deep connections in the organization by showing genuine concern and curiosity in their employees’ lives.
How Does Technology Support Hybrid Workplace Productivity?
It was technology that helped organizations suddenly transition to remote setups in 2020. In fact, it reshaped itself to turn the pandemic-led challenges into opportunities. Organizations that leveraged technology through innovative solutions and tools stayed afloat and churned the best out of their employees.
In a hybrid model, technology is the lifeline of an organization. It aids in knowledge sharing, communication, and collaboration and supports teams by maintaining high levels of productivity even while working from different geographical locations.
Furthermore, technology provides access to employees by reducing the gap between employees working from home and the office. It gives managers real-time insights into their team’s performance and helps leaders make data-driven decisions.
Human capital is the most crucial, versatile, and dynamic organizational resource. It has the potential to make or break an organization. That’s why maintaining high levels of productivity is important for organizations to prosper. Understanding the needs and expectations of employees and aligning the business strategies towards them can help you leverage the full potential of your workforce and successfully steer through changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What does employee productivity mean?
Ans. Employee productivity, also known as workforce productivity, is usually defined as the efficiency of workers or a group of workers in producing a specific outcome or result. Based on the type of industry and work, employee productivity definitions may vary.
Q2. How do you determine employee productivity?
Ans. Determining employee productivity in a hybrid workplace is quite important to businesses. You can use the following methods to determine workforce productivity:
- 360-Degree Feedback Survey
- Objectives and Key Results
- Planned-to-Done Ratio
- Engagement Surveys
- Cycle Time
Every method has its own pros and cons and it is best to understand these concepts in detail before implementing them in the organization.
Q3. How to increase employee productivity in a workplace.
Ans. The following methods have been found to be useful in boosting employee productivity in the workplace:
- Focus on employee engagement
- Prioritize employee wellbeing
- Focus on enhancing workplace inclusivity
- Switch to empathetic leadership
- Using the right tools and technologies