improve staff or employee productivity through drivers

Are your employees fully productive ?

How do you answer the question when there is no exact measurement to employee productivity ?

Individual Productivity is a relative term. You try to evaluate based on difference between the output of those staff who you think deliver a higher output and those others. Or as in certain manufacturing industries, the number of units manufactured and the trends over a period gives a fair idea on which direction productivity is moving. But in the knowledge industry it is next to impossible to measure through simple parameters. For e.g. in IT industry, lines of code (LoC) per day was once considered a parameter. It is no longer relevant. Several new technologies don’t work through LoC model of development. It also does not take care of the time and effort spent on analysis, reviews and other processes.

Still, enhancing productivity is a concern for leaders in every industry. The inherent and easiest understanding is for staff to be at their desks or work locations for maximum possible number of time during the working hours. There are several hardware equipment and software tools to keep a track. Bio-metric attendance systems, Cameras, Login trackers etc. In addition, the comparative output between staff on similar jobs is another parameter that is tracked.

While these can cut down wastage of time and help identify less productive resources, they don’t really help in increasing average productivity from X to Y.

Productivity Drivers for today’s economy

Apart from generic aspects like commitment, attitude and quick-learning nature, the ‘manageable’ among the drivers for productivity and efficiency are:

  1. Knowledge and Skill level to execute the job
  2. Analytical and Problem solving capabilities
  3. Job-satisfaction, bonding with the Organisation
  4. Project and Task Planning

These are very important traits for staff to excel in their job. These aspects are not standalone but a mix of the personal nature and the work environment.  Companies should put a great focus on these aspects to build an attitude, culture and environment suitable for high productivity.

Org processes and policies need to be regularly reviewed and updated to change with regulations, staff feedback, internal and external demands. It is not the other way round, where rigid, outdated and unrelenting policies bind staff.


staff efficiency and productivity

Described below a suggested high-level approach. There is more to it but starting with focusing on a few low-handing factors can help in enhancing productivity.

A. Assess

Assess the four aspects mentioned in the Drivers section above through some form of tests, evaluations and reviews. Make it appear as an employee feedback mechanism rather than a threat. Otherwise readings will not be genuine. The exercise can be done anonymously if needed. There are standard questionnaires available in most job areas in these aspects.

B. Consolidate & Analyze

Collate data across the organisation. Look for trends, spikes, troughs. There could be some departments where values are very high or low compared to company average. Review the managers vs staff assessments in departments where variation from the mean is high. Closely review comments and feedback even if some of them look silly. It is after-all affecting someone’s morale.

C. Plan and Act

Key actions for each of the productivity drivers mentioned above are suggested below:

  • Knowledge and Skill level to execute the job.

Skills & knowledge needed for the job

Training, skilling and cross-skilling programs is not a weekend, overtime or after job exercise. Regular training should built into the schedules. Mandate training in certain areas. Training programs should be very interactive and un-inhibitive.

Skills include both hard skills (Core-job skills or Technical skills) and soft skills (Personality, Communication etc). While technical skills are given high importance, soft skills are often ignored. But as staff grow up the ladder, the importance of skills like teaming, presentation, communication, articulation, executive presence, project management, time management etc become more and more important. A lack of these skills can severely impact their performance despite being excellent in their core subject. Customer facing staff critically need language, communication, presentation and MS Office skills.

At, we have a listing of over a thousand training providers. Find here. You can also post and track your staff training and skilling needs. Get a quote and discuss online on your needs. Click here to post.

  • Analytical and Problem solving capabilities

problem solving skills for productivity

Analytical and problem solving skills are needed for people handling complex projects and teams, sometimes spread across geographies. Capability enhancement in these areas should be done personal sessions and simulated scenarios of tough real life situations are work. For e.g a manager handling a staff who faces a family emergency during a very critical and indispensable phase of production. It should also include experienced professionals taking junior staff through their personal experience of crisis situations in past and how they successfully handled them.

  • Job-satisfaction, respect for the Organisation

job satisfaction for productivity

The staff position, career path, growth, manager relationship, freedom, work hours, performance appraisal systems, leave process, company communication, grievance redressal mechanisms, rigidity/flexibility of policies, staff integration & recreation activity, reimbursement process  etc- all these together impact these aspects.

“You are being paid for whatever you do”, “Leave the org if you don’t like it here” are very regressive expressions from certain managers  which can impact staff morale around. A top-down approach from senior management to ensure job-satisfaction aspects go through continuous improvement is important. A large MNC recently did away with outdated appraisal mechanisms. This is the kind of agility needed.

  • Project and Task Planning

project planning for productivty

This is a weak area in most organisations, especially in India. We lag far behind developed countries in creating a realistic and professional project plan, bench-marking it and systematically tracking it. We believe more in everyone doing everything to make a plan work rather than clear task allocation. Project plans are created more for academic purposes rather than being realistic. Plans are made to fit into present goals rather than the other way round.

The resources, skill, infra and facilities to complete the task are not comprehensively considered. Old plans and its deviations are not utilized to improve on future planning exercises.

Poor and ad-hoc planning results not only in schedule and effort overruns, but also causes stress and dissatisfaction with the project manager as well as the company. Professional quality project planning in the initial stages of any project in terms of dates and resource allocation, its validation against practicality, and continuous tracking can drastically improve productivity and appreciation towards the job.

D. Re-assess and continuously improve

continuous improvement in staff improvement measures

After implementing improvements, re-assess parameters after about 6 months. Continuous improvements and agility is the key. Until the assessments reach fairly consistent levels  across the organization and the result is satisfactory, efforts need to be continued through the same cycle. Many middle-level managers need to accept change towards a more lateral management approach, as compared to a master-subordinate system. The outcome will be eventually be seen in terms of higher output, lesser attrition and better end-customer satisfaction.

why does everyone need continuous training ?

 What is continuous learning

We need to consciously identify areas to improve our hard skills (related to the technical and functional aspect of work we do) and soft skills (behavior, personality, communication, responding to scenarios, social integration, problem solving, managerial etc), and work constantly towards improving our skills and knowledge in such areas. There is no end to it. There is no point where we can claim that this level of knowledge, skill and capability is enough.

We need to keep sharpening our saw all the time. Continuous learning of new technologies or skills is the only solution for a long, growing and successful career. Remember that a rolling stone gathers no moss.

This applies not just to students and professionals, but to each and every one in every imaginable field. The most successful people are the ones who are most agile and nimble when it comes to applying themselves to handle any type of change and challenge. Know more about what training you an choose to take up.

improve knowledge

The knowledge that we gain in our education system is hardly sufficient to excel in our jobs. Most of us rarely find a direct correlation between our study and work.

That means what we have studied during our education years does not convert into delivering quality work output.

Globally, industry leaders have complained about lack of direct employability in our university graduates.  Not only in terms of the technical knowledge and skills, but also in terms of the right personality, professional behaviors, presentation and communications skills needed. They see a need to invest heavily in training before putting people on the job.

investment in training

Importance of Continuous Learning & Training

Continuous Learning & Training tends to bridge this gap and puts us ahead of competition, given that our uncontrolled population growth only adds to uncontrolled competition. Organisations which are learning oriented and continuously make investments in training (Corporate Training) have seen considerable improvement in productivity and reduction in overall costs.

Some of the world’s best sportsmen have sustained such long careers because they never stopped training and learning new techniques, as hard as when they started their careers.

Including superstars like Sachin. The day they think they don’t need to learn anymore, they cannot sustain success. Similar is the need in all professions through it does not show up so apparently to people around.

continuous learning

Don’t be a “somebody” – stand out from the crowd

We have seen many people just go to work and do it very mechanically, doing the same thing in the same way everyday, just waiting to go home. But if you are choosing to be among the ones who want to grow to the peaks of your career and differentiate yourself through fair means, then learning new jobs, skills and techniques is mandatory.

If time is a shortage, pick the range of online and elearning courses available these days in several fields.

skills to stand out from the crowd

Start today – learn a better skill

Start this endeavour by proactively finding the right Mentors, Tutors or trainers or coaches. A mentor is a senior & respected person who can help you identify your shortcomings, your goals and choose the best career options. They usually do not impart training. Tutors, Trainers and coaches actually help you improve on the skill that you want to gain.

Plant the seeds for a better life and career through by enhancing your knowledge and skills, and be ready for better opportunities.

learn better skills everyday

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