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Psychology and Productivity

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Achieving productivity in the office cannot be derived from a single formula. Instead, we approach our job with a unique perspective and ultimately, strive to maximize workflow in our own way.

What are the standards for measuring employee performance and productivity in your company? If it’s through numbers and progress reports, don’t fret. You’re not alone. But according to Adam Toren, VIP Contributor at entrepreneur.com, “If you’re using a one-size-fits all approach, you’re making a mistake.” Simply put, it stands to reason that individual productivity is exactly that: individualized. People work differently and approach projects with a perspective and plan uniquely their own. By having the freedom to control their own workflow, employees are happier and inevitably, more productive. So if you’ve noticed that employees in your work environment are being measured by the same standards when it comes to productivity, perhaps it’s time to throw caution to the wind.

One of AccelaWork’s principals, Robby Slaughter, reaffirms the point that measuring productivity should not be based solely on numerical standards:

Ultimately, if we want to improve productivity we need to look at objectives. We need to step out back and encourage stakeholders to take risks. We need to accept that some people will want to have upbeat conversations and others will want to have tense conversations and others will not want to have conversations at all.

In summary: The secret to being more productive isn’t more measurement. It’s focusing on trust and results.

measuring productivity

© Flickr user Skakeman

In his article, 7 Insights From Psychology Known to Boost Workplace Productivity, Adam Toren discusses how psychology and productivity go hand in hand. Below are his 7 insights (along with some additional AccelaWork dialogue) that bring to light the importance for individualized workflow.

1. Mind your demographic.

Learn the differences across the various age groups and other groups within your organization. The reality is that what works for one group of employees probably isn’t going to work for another.

Millenial stereotypes in corporate America is a hot topic presently, which is a perfect example of Toren’s suggestion for being conscientious of demographics. By taking the time to learn and understand the generational approach to work, we can open our minds to alternate ways of achieving productivity.

2. Focus on accomplishments instead of tasks.

Accomplishments matter more to your employees rather than simply finishing daily tasks and assignments. These should matter to you, too. A 2013 survey showed 83 percent of respondents thought recognition for their contributions to the company was a more fulfilling reward than any other kind of gift. Think you pay your employees with a bonus and that’s enough? While it certainly helps, 70 percent of respondents said the most meaningful recognition has no monetary value.

We’ve talked all about employee productivity and rewards here on The Methodology Blog. Simply put, don’t belittle employees’ efforts through office gimmicks. Instead, place trust and respect into the equation and add in recognition for an extra confidence boost.

3. Provide real-time feedback.

The idea here is that providing a mechanism to objectively measure (and share) accomplishments can empower employees through intrinsic motivation, instead of just focusing on finishing mundane tasks.

4. Make work meaningful.

Monetary compensation is no longer the primary motivation among workers today. The human need for survival and for material possessions has been overtaken by the desire to make a difference in the world. Even workplace perks are no longer as important as the sense of achievement. This means you will have to foster a sense of mission, in order to motivate your team and keep them engaged.

Being engaged and invested in our work is a career goal so many of us share. Remember though that making work meaningful is more than just having an interesting project to complete. We must consider the three ways to inspire employee engagement: purpose, communication and growth.

5. Foster the right kind of engagement.

Employee engagement is critical to productivity. Dale Carnegie research shows engagement matters – particularly the “emotional and functional commitment an employee has to his or her organization.” Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202 percent.

6. Be flexible.

Telecommuting, remote working arrangements and even co-working are emerging as effective means of improving productivity while at the same time reducing the cost of running an office infrastructure.

To learn more about AccelaWork’s views on telecommuting, feel free to read our 6 part series: Remote Work Week published on The Methodology Blog.

7. Encourage breaks.

The brain can only do so much before continuing efforts becomes futile. Like working from home, taking breaks can sound counterintuitive, but it’s really the key to better productivity. Studies show the “perfect” formula is to work for 52 minutes and break for 17. You don’t have to set timers and become a stickler about the schedule – just get up and move, or move on to another task for a few minutes to “reset” the brain and come back to the original task refreshed.

To piggyback on the idea of taking breaks, it’s also important to establish a healthy work/life balance. If you are married to your job and spend every waking minute working, eventually the bottom will fall out. Don’t allow yourself or your employees to get to this point.

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Ashley Lee

Ashley Lee

Ashley has been working with the AccelaWork team since 2008. She is a communications expert with a background in corporate work, and a graduate of the University of Dayton with a degree in Public Relations. She lives in the greater Indianapolis area with her husband and four children. Ashley enjoys jewelry, fashion, and coffee.
Ashley Lee

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