Productivity is one if not the most central element to a company’s success. But ironically, while success in the business world is generally black or white, determined predominantly by numbers, productivity is a far more elusive concept, borderline intangible, and as such it is significantly harder to measure accurately.

It’s no wonder that many businesses struggle to define at least somewhat specific estimates of productivity. In fact, roughly 1 in 5 companies don’t even bother trying, research shows. Further surveys have found that out of the businesses that don’t measure productivity, 28% don’t know how.

The lack of knowledge of productivity estimates is a problem, but the lack of enthusiasm to learn is an even bigger one.

By neglecting your employees’ productivity and all the individual and collaborative work patterns it’s made up of, you miss out on all the invaluable and free insight to be had about your company’s overall trajectory. Best case scenario, this results in a status quo and lost opportunities for growth; worst case scenario, your profits start to plummet.

This is why Hubstaff has identified some easy ways to measure your employees’ productivity and in different work settings.

Time Tracking and Project Management Software

 Time makes the world go round. As technology unbinds work models from geographical restraints and remote work becomes more and more common, online time tracking and project management software become absolutely indispensable.

Robust tools like Hubstaff don’t just help project managers keep the workflow more organized, even though that’s certainly a key feature. They help put numbers in perspective, offering the equivalent of a birds-eye-view from which productivity can be visualized in its full scope and all its tiny details.

Project management software makes for far more accurate and comprehensive collection and analysis of time and productivity data, helping project managers identify bottlenecks, issues, and the routes to better overall performance.

The Productivity Formula

 This formula is perhaps the most well-known method for measuring productivity. It’s very straightforward, but can also be quite useful.

Productivity = Output ÷ Input

 Output can refer to units made, tasks completed, etc, whereas input figure is the hours spent on the output. The result is your productivity. When you assign a dollar value to it, which is determined by the dollar value of your specific form of output, you get a financial estimate of your productivity.

Simple enough, right? Well, not always. This formula applies greatly to factory settings and the likes, where the output is made up of units of equal size, value, and most of all, units that have an exact value. But that’s far from the case with many businesses that deal with more vague and even abstract output, like knowledge, for example.

Profit, Quality, and the Big Picture

 Being guided by profit may sound like a cold and detached approach, but businesses run on profits, and the lack thereof derails them. If your company is making profits, especially over the course of a longer period, it means it’s being productive.

Of course, sometimes the lack of immediate profit isn’t representative of the big picture. Obtaining new clients, scaling up, investing time and effort on projects that don’t pay off instantly, those are all the type of elusive factors that need to be taken into consideration when measuring productivity.

Furthermore, immediate profit, obtained by cutting corners, will cost you in the long run, and shouldn’t be mistaken for legitimate productivity. Don’t let high quantities and big numbers be dust in your eyes – just like there’s no substitute for profit, there isn’t one for quality, either.

This is why it’s important to always second guess, at least until you really familiarize yourself with your employees and their work habits.

That being said, the world isn’t going to care much about the big picture and cut your company slack when it comes to payments – your employees need to be paid, rents need to be paid, you need to be paid. So, every once (or a few times) in a while, you need to draw the bottom line and see if your company is making profits, whatever your line of work is. If it isn’t, you need to analyze the issues, trace their roots, and eradicate them.

Establish a Baseline

This is somewhat of a continuation of the previous point, or perhaps its foundation. Without baselines, you can’t know what to expect and determine whether your employees are being productive, relatively static, or downright sluggish.

Surveys

 Client and employee surveys should never be the sole productivity measurement strategy, but they can be very useful for filling up the gaps, especially for positions in which productivity is more intangible, like customer service jobs, for example. However, productivity in such roles always influences in the overall team performance.

Surveys can help you spot certain patterns and give you valuable starting points from which you can dig deeper and get to the bottom of issues.

Employees’ productivity may be a tricky concept, but now, you have a few tricks up your sleeve as well. Apply them on a regular basis to summon productivity and it will soon be entrenched in your team’s work culture.