Should You Measure Employee Output or Impact?
If a company employs knowledge workers, it becomes increasingly difficult to try and measure productivity based on output. Businesses expecting people to produce ideas must treat their employees differently than those wanting workers for repetitive tasks, e.g., factory assembly. The latter is about doing one thing efficiently and quickly, while the former has you solve a different problem each time.
Imagine a SaaS company measuring its developers’ productivity by tracking how many new features they develop or how many bugs they fix. It might seem like a good idea to someone who’s never written a line of code, but in practice, it’s a recipe for disaster because it forces devs to make up random, unnecessary features or fix minor bugs just to meet their pointless goal.
Instead, we have to learn to assess the quality **of an idea and understand how difficult it will be to implement. Sticking to our earlier example, if a dev carefully reads negative customer reviews and proposes a feature to make those people happy, realizing that idea should become the goal because it has a point.
A recent leadership survey shows that 78% of leaders believe building trust is the key to productivity. Become one of them—that’s how you let your employees’ minds wander and find revolutionary ideas that can push products forward.
Anyone interested in the product they're working on naturally finds ways to improve it. Employee engagement paired with conscious, active leadership brings solutions that make our customers happy, so let's look at ways to encourage that at your workplace.
Workflows That Make Room for Good Ideas
Whenever workplace productivity comes up at your company, it's always good to remember the Pareto principle. This rule states that 80% of your results will come from 20% of your work; in other words, it's telling you to prioritize tasks that matter.
In a company setting, a good first step might be encouraging workers to prioritize effectively. There's no need for people to get stuck finishing a small task just for the sake of it if there's something they can do to help move a project along—again, the 80/20 rule.
Here you’re building a space where employees can be heard, and each of their ideas can be made into a task. Thanks to the tool you chose, it won’t be forgotten; it’ll just lead to a discussion about which one to focus on this week, and everyone will understand why.
Another way to get your employees talking about what they think could be changed is one-to-one feedback sessions that aren't just about their performance.
Some people don't have the confidence to throw their ideas on the table in a big meeting, so a quieter space might be the key to hearing their thoughts.
You can do these little things to show your employees that you value their input and trust them to contribute to the decision-making process. It invites them to participate and helps fight against demotivation and disenfranchisement, which massively lower productivity.
How Can This Help Your Company?
Replacing outdated systems with new and effective ones creates win-win situations where companies thrive, and workers stay healthy and motivated.
It’s why the future of work is a key topic for some of the world's biggest companies—they understand how a cold, impersonal managerial approach can dull their employees' motivation, destroying business in the long run.
For knowledge workers, measuring impact is the smarter option. People need to know their work has meaning, and finishing tasks that move a project forward and being able to read positive customer feedback tick those boxes.
💡 The impact on our company and our product
With all this talk about productivity, it might be worth remembering people need to take a breather every so often. Burnout became a big problem during the COVID-19 era and continues to make work life difficult even today.
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