Employee Productivity:
A Modern Approach

Learn how to combine employee empowerment, successful processes, and innovative technology to boost employee satisfaction and productivity. 

The past few years have seen some major shifts when it comes to the way employees work. While it may have once seemed crazy to think that employees could work anywhere other than a corporate workspace, the exponentially growing trendline of remote work proves otherwise. With all the changes to the ways we work, it’s natural to wonder whether employee productivity might be suffering in the face of these new challenges.

In this playbook, we will help you discover a better approach to employee productivity, one that focuses on employee engagement and satisfaction in addition to output. We will also share some of ActivTrak’s proven workforce productivity tips that will bring your employees, workflows, and technologies together to create a better work environment where employee morale and employee productivity go hand-in-hand.

No matter what kind of business you work for, we know these tips can help you succeed!

Choose where to start:

Why It’s Time to Start Talking About Employee Productivity

Woman researching employee productivity

From telecommuting to hot desks and flex-time, the typical workday looks very different than it did even a few years ago. These changes to the standard working environment come with a lot of benefits, however. From a human resources standpoint, remote work increases the available talent pool to include potential team members from across the globe. Numerous studies have also shown that remote work improves work-life balance for employees.

For instance, a FlexJobs survey found that 86% of remote workers felt that working remotely reduces their stress and that 21% of workers would even give up their vacation time if it meant they could have more flexible remote work options. Remote work also helps enterprises boost employee retention rates and lower operating costs. According to Forbes’ research, 54% of employees say they would leave their current jobs for one that offered remote flexibility, which translates to an average turnover reduction rate of 12%. Also, enterprises can save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time remote worker.

Of course, these shifting approaches to how we work — especially the increased adoption of remote work — come with their own difficulties. For all the conveniences that come with flexible schedules, employees are also forced to navigate a wide variety of new challenges as well.

These include dealing with unconventional work environments, relying more on virtual collaboration, managing increased control over their work hours, and handling unprecedented focus challenges that make sitting at a desk and staying on task more difficult than ever. Plus, while many in-office processes have been adapted to fit remote work setups, some are not as effective as they once were. That adds yet another challenge for employees trying to maintain their team’s productivity while managing these new circumstances.

The Face of Employee Productivity Is Changing: It’s OK to Ask Questions!

Venn diagram showing that peak employee productivity is is when people are engaged, technology is maximized and processes are optimized.

In light of all the changes that came with the meteoric rise of remote work, it’s natural for managers to wonder how their team’s productivity compares to what it looked like back when everyone was in the office.

  • Are my team members operating more efficiently, less efficiently, or the same?
  • How can I support increasingly flexible remote work environments without compromising productivity levels?
  • Are processes being followed even though I can’t see them?
  • How much of the workday is actually productive time, and how much is responding to Slack message after Slack message?

These are all great questions to ask in the current landscape, and they’re more common than you might think. The only way to answer these questions — and answer them without educated guessing — is to use intelligent workforce productivity technology to uncover what productivity means in your enterprise and measure employee productivity accurately.

Defining Employee Productivity

But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we can start digging into any of your burning questions about how to increase employee productivity, we have to address one central question first: how do you define employee productivity?

At ActivTrak, we define employee productivity as the degree to which outputs are efficiently achieved through maximizing inputs. Outputs are unique to each enterprise, but they include any service or product you provide to the market. Inputs or “productivity enablers” tend to be similar across enterprises, encompassing things like teamwork, efficiency, and innovation.

Workforce productivity is at its best when three things happen:

  • People are empowered at an individual level
  • Processes and workflows are optimized at higher levels
  • Technology is maximized in your working environment

Each of these components is equally important. One of the most common misconceptions about employee productivity — especially in the discourse surrounding remote work — is that your team’s productivity is entirely dependent on the motivation and drive of each individual employee. In reality, employee satisfaction and employee productivity go hand-in-hand, and they only form one piece of the workforce productivity puzzle. You also need to ensure that your workflows allow your employees to do their best work and that your technology empowers your teams to work efficiently. This is critical to boosting employee morale and, in turn, boosting productivity (but more on that later).

How to Increase Employee Productivity

Employee productivity isn’t a one-off project and it’s not something managers should only look into when they suspect their team’s productivity levels have suffered. To truly empower your employees and set them up for success, you have to strive for a continuous productivity improvement culture.

Visual flow defining how to continuous improve employee productivity

We define that as an ethos and environment in which employee productivity naturally flourishes, employees at all levels feel engaged and empowered, and managers proactively seek out opportunities to help their teams thrive. Here’s how to create this culture in your enterprise:

  • Regularly reinforce your vision: Productivity means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and your employees must be clear on what they’re being asked to work toward. State your department’s employee productivity goals clearly and state them often. When employees understand and believe in your vision, they’re more likely to stay committed.
  • Talk openly about employee productivity: Some team members might associate efforts to increase employee productivity with time tracking or monitoring. It’s your job to fight back against these notions! Start an honest conversation about what everyone stands to gain from measuring productivity regularly, and encourage your team to voice their concerns freely.
  • Set employee productivity goals: Without defined goals, your efforts to increase employee productivity could lose valuable momentum. Use a workplace productivity analytics tool to help you establish productivity metrics first, then use those same metrics to inform your goals and think about how you can go about achieving them.
  • Identify areas where friction exists and take steps to address roadblocks: All it takes is one distraction to undo an hour of hard work! Pinging notifications, email alerts, and excessive multitasking eat away at your team’s productive time. Check in with your employees to talk about any points of friction that prevent them from staying on task and ask them what kind of support they need.
  • Encourage ownership of individual work and productivity levels: Workforce productivity is about giving employees the tools they need to be successful, not blaming employees for how they spend their work hours. Praise productive employees for their effective time management and tell them to keep up the great work! If there’s room for improvement when it comes to an employee’s productivity, empower and encourage them to view their own productivity levels as a baseline from which to grow.

It’s important that your focus is not on simply increasing overall productivity, but also improving employee engagement so that your team members are more satisfied at work and, in turn, eager to work more productively. Technology — particularly workforce productivity analytics technology — is one of the best ways to do this, though it is only one component of a larger cultural shift. With technology that focuses on employee productivity, you can get data-driven insights into employee engagement, workloads (including potential burnout risks), and more. You can then leverage that real-time data in numerous ways — from hiring to scheduling meetings to giving recognition to employees who deserve it, but whose efforts may otherwise go unnoticed.

Taking a Modern Approach to Employee Productivity

At ActivTrak we believe the future of work is all about open communication, transparency, and inspiring change from the top down. That is particularly true when it comes to promoting employee productivity and ensuring that your entire team feels supported and empowered to succeed no matter where they are working.

Of course, that’s much easier said than done, which is why we will go into more detail on how to increase employee productivity in the coming chapters. Until then, we’ll leave you with a few pro tips for boosting employee productivity:

Top 3 best tips for improving employee productivity

  1. Remember your goal — making sure your employees are happy, fulfilled, and engaged. Taking employee morale seriously is one of the best ways to improve employee satisfaction and employee performance, which in turn boosts productivity.
  2. Cultivate a continuous productivity improvement culture that focuses on transparency, open conversation, and ownership.
  3. Use technology that fosters efficiency and produces actionable insights that you can leverage to boost productivity, reduce burnout, and more.


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