For many employees and managers, figuring out how to measure productivity can be incredibly perplexing. How do you track and define the output of a software engineer, a managerial editor, or even a business coach?

While it may seem like it’s impossible to apply metrics to these sorts of professions, there are still ways to calculate people’s productivity to get a baseline of how they’re doing and how they can improve. If you want to make 2021 your most productive year yet but don’t know where to start, worry not. Read on to get a better idea of what to look for and how to go about measuring productivity:

Defining Productivity

Before you can even begin to measure your productivity, you need to first understand exactly what it is. Put simply, it is the measure of how much work a person can complete in a certain amount of time, and how efficiently they can do so.

Back in the day, productivity was measured with a simple formula: your output divided by your input. For instance, an employee who can finish packing 10 boxes of products an hour would be viewed as more productive than one who can only pack 5 in the same amount of time. Based on this formula, the goal of any company would be to increase each employee’s level of output while maintaining the same level of input.

Redefining Productivity

There’s an important caveat to the simple formula mentioned above: it made sense to use it in the past, when the industrial economy was first booming in popularity. For knowledge workers, however, calculating productivity is a complicated process. Rather than measuring the quantity of work, it’s about assessing the quality of work. Specifically, more attention should be placed on the final results and the value of those results.

In a perfect world, any manager would love to give their employees as much time as they need if it means that said employees can provide the highest quality of output possible. However, it simply isn’t realistic, especially in the modern world where consumers and clients expect more work to be done in less time.

That being said, it’s still important to put metrics in place, even if it may seem difficult to pinpoint what exactly to measure at first. Data, after all, can help you concretely assess how you or your co-workers are doing, and what you can do to help them become more efficient at their job. With this in mind, here are some ways you can effectively measure productivity:

Establish Your Input and Output

Before you can record or analyse data, you’ll need to decide what represents inputs and outputs for your specific position. Will your output be defined by the number of tasks completed, the number of new clients or customers acquired, or the amount of revenue generated for the company?

Defining input, on the other hand, is much simpler, as it typically refers to the amount of time taken to achieve the desired output.

Set Specific Goals and Targets

After you’ve established what counts as your input and output, you should then define specific goals that you want to achieve to ensure that you’re contributing toward your company’s overall objectives. It can be as simple as deciding how much you need to accomplish within a specific period.

For example, perhaps you want to onboard 50 new customers every month. Maybe you’d like to complete at least 10 high-priority tasks every single day. You may even want to bring in a 20 per cent increase in revenue within a particular quarter.

Assess Tasks and Results

To get a clearer picture of how you’re doing, you should look at the amount of work put in as well as the direct results of said work. For instance, if you’re a sales agent, you can set a goal for them to call at least 20 cold leads a day. Of those 20 customers, you can set an ideal goal of converting at least 1 or 2 of them by the end of the week.

By doing this, you can assess whether an increase in the number of tasks directly results in a boost in results. If you find that setting the number of tasks higher doesn’t necessarily lead to an increase in results, this may be a sign that the quality of work may be less than stellar. In any case, analysing your data in such a manner can help you pinpoint where the problem may lie so that you can quickly address them before they can worsen.

At the end of the day, some may view productivity metrics as numbers and nothing else. And while there is some truth to that sentiment, you would be doing a disservice to yourself and your colleagues if you were to stop measuring productivity entirely. By keeping these tips in mind, though, you’ll have an easier time tracking how everyone is doing and figuring out what can be done to make them more effective and efficient at their jobs.

How do you measure your productivity? Check out one of our productivity courses today.