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employee productivity

Employee productivity (sometimes referred to as workforce productivity) is an assessment of the efficiency of a worker or group of workers.

Productivity may be evaluated in terms of the output of an employee in a specific period of time. Typically, the productivity of a given worker will be assessed relative to an average for employees doing similar work. Because much of the success of any organization relies upon the productivity of its workforce, employee productivity is an important consideration for businesses. 

Approaches to improving productivity:
The capacity for collaboration has always been important for productivity. In the early days of the corporate network, email and video conferencing provided productivity gains and lowered costs. Newer  mobile collaboration tools make it much easier for geographically dispersed employees to work together. Tablets, smartphones and laptops let users connect with colleagues anywhere, at any time.

According to proponents, the BYOD (bring your own device) trend makes employees more productive. Because employees are working on devices that they own and are used to, they're likely to use them more often. The devices are mobile by definition, so whether an employee is taking notes in a meeting, reviewing documents during a commute or preparing the next day's agenda while watching television, he can accomplish more in a way that doesn't impact his personal time as significantly as it would if he had to work from a desktop computer.

Simultaneously, however, constant connectivity and the rise of social networking have made it easier and more tempting for employees to waste time on the job. To prevent online time-wasting (sometimes called cyberslacking), some organizations monitor employees or limit the sites they can access from the corporate network. 

Email processing consumes a significant portion of many employees' time, estimated to be about 30 percent of a lot of knowledge workers' jobs -- more if email is not efficiently handled. Effective email management practices can lessen email's negative impact on productivity. Such practices include limiting the number of email processing sessions each day and limiting the amount of time spent per session. Some also organizations limit the hours during which email is accessible on the corporate network. 

Email management is just one approach to limiting the number of interruptions an employee encounters in the run of a day. At the University of California at Irvine, researcher Gloria Mark found that, on average, workers are interrupted every 3 minutes and that it takes 23 minutes after even a very brief interruption to return to the original task. Interruption science explores the impact of disruptions on productivity.

Employee productivity is one element of IT productivity, the relationship between an organization's technology investments and its corresponding efficiency gains, or return on investment (ROI).

This was last updated in July 2014

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