What Is Productivity? (With Definition and Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Having high productivity can be a top priority for companies, especially those looking to grow the organisation with their existing resources. It signifies good performance, reflecting how effective the processes are or how efficient the team is functioning. Learning about different ways to increase your productivity and reviewing examples can help you to thrive in your career. In this article, we discuss the definition of productivity, provide examples of it and give tips on how to enhance productivity.

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What is productivity and how can you measure it?

Productivity, an important concept in economics, measures the output per unit of input within a period of time. The input can be in the form of labour, capital or raw materials. In simpler terms, it's a calculation of efficiency and effectiveness. For companies, this may mean measuring units of production or sales outputs against the number of working hours.

For example, the productivity of a soap factory may be dependent on the number of soaps made within an hour by a specific number of people. The more they produce within an hour, the higher the overall productivity. Higher productivity increases the company's profitability, thereby leading to a greater likelihood of salary increments for employees.

Examples of productivity

Although companies constantly strive to boost their levels of productivity, the results may only be visible in the long run. Productivity isn't only dependent on labour and capital, but also on equipment, technology, innovation and education. The combined input is also known as the total factor productivity or the Solow residual, which refers to the maximisation of output through strategic technological innovations. The following are some examples of multi-factor productivity (MFP), including inputs from labour, capital, raw materials and technological services:

Labour

Many companies' productivity rates are reliant on their labour. To enhance labour productivity, it's crucial to ensure working professionals understand and enjoy the work they're doing. With less time spent stressing about their work, there's more time for production.

Capital

Capital productivity refers to the rate of returns per capital input. Capital can refer to all monetary inputs from labour, raw materials and technological investments. Companies, especially in the manufacturing and construction sectors, are focusing on lean production to facilitate capital productivity. The streamlining of manufacturing processes can increase labour productivity and also enhance capital productivity by producing more with less time and capital input required. Prefabrication is another way of improving capital productivity in the construction sector. It helps to reduce the time required to construct a building and the cost of transporting raw materials onsite.

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Resource

Resource productivity can significantly reduce production costs and also contribute to the sustainability of the company and the environment. The increasing prevalence of a circular and zero-waste economy helps to increase resource productivity by encouraging the reuse and recycling of materials and resources, especially in the fashion and automotive industries. Furthermore, companies may consider providing incentives for customers to return the product after use. By doing so, they can extract more value from these resources, thereby increasing their resource productivity.

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Technology

Technological innovations and advancements may be a highly effective way to improve a company's overall productivity. It helps to automate and streamline workflows and processes, thereby helping working professionals to spend less time on tedious, repetitive tasks. This enables them to focus on critical, revenue-generating work instead, leading to more work done within the same period.

For example, a customer resource management platform helps to reduce the time needed to manually extract, record and sort out details of customers for reference or marketing use. To fully optimise technological productivity, it's necessary for working professionals to adapt to the use of these technologies.

Tips to enhance your productivity

By contributing to a company's productivity rate and increasing its profitability, you may have a greater chance of receiving higher wages. Here are some tips you can consider to enhance your own productivity:

Gain intrinsic motivation

Although companies may offer monetary rewards for good performance as extrinsic motivators, it's only effective if they fit the individual's goals and priorities. For example, the monetary rewards may appeal to those looking for career advancement, but those who wish to maintain a work-life balance may not want to sacrifice their time and energy to put in more effort and increase their productivity at work. Therefore, you can take time to consider your sense of fulfilment and the goals you wish to achieve at work so that it keeps you motivated and maintains your high productivity.

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Acquire necessary skills

Although many companies provide a budget for training and upskilling, it's also up to individuals to select the courses that can improve their efficiency and productivity levels. This may include taking courses to improve your ability to use spreadsheets to generate graphs and automate calculations that may significantly reduce the time required with manual calculations. As with technological progress in the workplace to improve productivity, working professionals may also require constant skills upgrading to effectively utilise the new technological innovations at work, such as workflow automation systems and platforms.

Avoid distraction

To maintain a high productivity rate, it's essential for one to stay focused at work and avoid distractions that can be in the form of noises, mobile phones, social media or even email notifications. Set up a conducive work environment and keep all distractions away to make sure you can fully focus on your work without feeling compelled to check for phone messages and email updates. Ensure that the space is comfortable enough for you to stay alert and do your work. An adjustable table may be useful for adjusting to a comfortable position to work, either sitting or standing.

Set a working routine

Determine the work routine that best fits you and create a schedule that can keep your productivity high. Keeping to a routine can reduce uncertainty and unexpected disruptions, while familiarity can allow you to focus on the tasks better. Create a list of tasks to do and try to follow them in a particular order to develop a routine. For example, you may want to check your e-mails at the beginning of the workday and schedule meetings after lunch.

Take small breaks

Taking regular breaks can help to increase concentration and productivity. Other than the standard lunch hour, regular 10-minute breaks may help to refresh your mind and your eyes, thereby increasing your focus and improving your productivity after the break. You may also consider working in blocks of 90 minutes and taking breaks in-between so that you can remain focused and keep your productivity levels high.

Prioritise your work

Listing all your tasks in a to-do list and prioritising them in order of urgency and importance help you to focus on each task, rather than having to remember them. It also makes it less stressful as work adds up, as the list allows you to work on these tasks one at a time. Having deadlines added to the list also makes your timeline clearer as you work towards each deadline. You can use this list to keep track of your progress and ensure you're completing your tasks productively.

Review your work

Reflecting and reviewing your work is one of the ways to increase your productivity. Reflecting on your work can help you understand which part you've been doing well, the way you spend most of your time and also steps to take to improve your existing work. You can review your work on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Plan your work

It's important for you to have a plan on what you want to do, whether it's for the next day, week or month. Good planning can help you to stay focused on your work and spend less time worrying about missing certain tasks that day. You can start by setting a list of goals that you want to achieve and plan steps on how you can finish and achieve that goal.

Give yourself a reward

A reward can help you to stay motivated and have something to look forward to once you finish certain tasks. The reward can be a physical gift or the opportunity to do something you like. For example, it can be buying your favourite clothes or going to the theatre to watch your favourite movie.

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