Though it’s brandied about like a buzzword half the time, productivity really is one of the most crucial statistics to measure for your business. Higher levels of productivity mean less wasted time, more efficient working strategies, and better bottom-line results. But you can’t exactly measure productivity the way you can a pulse, or the speed of a vehicle, or the length of that awkward dresser in your bedroom, can you?
Maybe you can. The problem with measuring and analyzing employee productivity is that productivity is multifaceted; measuring it in just one dimension could leave you with a false impression of how efficient your team truly is. The solution, then, is to solidify your understanding of what productivity is, then measure multiple different angles of productivity in tandem, stitching them together to form an accurate conception of your overall team productivity.
First, we’ll set off to define employee productivity for your organization. Then, we’ll dig into the employee productivity stats most important for managers to know when evaluating performance.
Defining Employee Productivity
Employee productivity is a composite of a few different factors:
- Energy and hours. When you read articles about “productivity hacks,” they’re probably trying to improve how you spend the hours of your workday, or give you a feeling of increased energy, so you’re more motivated to get things done. This dimension of productivity is all about how you’re spending your time, effort, and energy, and whether you’re spending it in a way that benefits the team or the company.
- Bottom-line results. You could also measure productivity in terms of total output, or bottom-line results. For a sales team, this could mean number of sales closed. For HR, it could mean number of open positions filled. If you consider this factor exclusively, it doesn’t necessarily matter how many hours your employees are spending or how they’re spending them, so long as they’re getting things done.
- ROI and efficiency. Employee efficiency and return on investment (ROI) focus more on how much value your employees are generating, compared to how much you’re spending on them. In other words, are your employees working in such a way that provides more value to your organization than it costs you to pay them? This factor requires you to consider both final results and ongoing effort.
You may find that your organization disproportionately favors one of these dimensions over the others, but all of them matter, to some extent.
Email Employee Productivity Stats
You may not instinctively think of email as being a key indicator of employee productivity, but if you can visualize your team’s email activity, you can draw some important insights. Notably, you’ll be able to determine your employees’ workloads, evaluate how they’re spending their hours throughout the day, and in some cases, analyze the bottom-line results they’re driving for your business.
These are some of the best metrics to examine:
1. Number of emails sent and received.
How many emails are your employees sending and receiving? And who are their top senders and recipients? For any position, these metrics can help you gauge their relative workload; if they’re sending and receiving far fewer emails than other people in a similar role on the team, it could be an indication that they aren’t pulling their weight. This could also help you determine the performance of certain roles; for example, on a sales team, you could use these data to determine who’s reaching out to leads with the most consistency.
2. Average email response time.
How long does it take for an employee to respond to an email, on average? In general, faster responses are a good sign; it shows that an employee is paying close attention to their communications. However, a slower response time could be an indication that they’re frequently busy with other tasks. You’ll have to use this metric in combination with your other data for a more accurate picture of how they’re working.
3. Email word counts.
How long is the average email this person is spending? This metric’s importance is going to depend on the role of the person you’re examining. For example, a team leader should be expected to send higher word-count emails, since they’ll be initiating projects and communicating big ideas. If their word counts are low, it could be a sign they’re cutting corners. Conversely, exceptionally high word counts from a role that doesn’t demand them could be a sign of wasted effort.
4. Email traffic by day (and by hour).
Knowing your busiest days of the week and hours of the day can help you rebalance employee workloads and determine the root causes for various productivity hiccups. For example, if employees typically email twice as frequently on Mondays as they do on Fridays, what does that say about employee productivity when the weekend starts drawing closer?
5. Average email thread length.
Email threads are a mixed bag. They can sometimes be a helpful and effective way to organize complex conversations into a coherent narrative. But other times, they’re a messy nuisance that serves to annoy recipients more than informing them. If you have an email thread management problem, it could bog down the productivity of your entire organization—which is why it’s important to scope out the average length and composition of your team’s email threads.
EmailAnalytics can provide you with all these metrics—and more—all in a convenient app driven by interactive data visuals.
Time-Based Employee Productivity Stats
You can also measure productivity in terms of how many hours your employees are spending on various tasks. Time tracking tools and project management apps are some of the best resources to help you in these areas.
6. Hours spent on productive apps.
Employee monitoring software can help you calculate how many hours your employees are spending on each app on their device (and when they’re away from the computer). For example, if an employee spends 6 hours a day on a web browser and only 2 hours a day combined on project management apps and productivity software, it could be the sign of a problem.
7. Overtime hours.
In terms of the ROI of employee time, overtime hours are disproportionately costly; in some workplaces, you’ll pay 50 percent more for overtime hours, meaning their potential return is far lower. Keeping track of when your employees are working overtime and why they’re working overtime can help you minimize this impact, and ensure those hours are being spent as productively as possible.
8. Time spent by category.
Most time tracking tools allow you to break down how your employees are spending their hours, by project, by task, and by category. So long as your employees are logging their time effectively, you should be able to determine which types of tasks are taking up most of your employees’ hours, and whether there are any employees who are struggling with certain responsibilities. If any of your employees need help with time management, be sure to see our post on the essential time management skills every professional should have.
Performance-Based Employee Productivity Stats
These employee productivity statistics are all about the results your employees are generating for your brand. Many of these are broad categories, with dozens, if not hundreds of examples of each across various industries and departments:
9. Raw materials produced.
For starters, you could measure raw materials produced, in cases where employees are creating something. A simple example is if you’re employing a team of writers; how many words or articles are they producing per week? In a team of photographers, how many viable photos are they producing? In a factory, how many products are being produced per hour?
10. Sales (and other measurable successes).
Some jobs have responsibilities that are more nuanced; while employee can make consistent effort, they may not have a consistent success rate. Here, it’s often better to measure productivity in terms of overall success. For example, in sales, you can measure number of sales closed rather than number of calls made. In HR, you can measure number of positions filled, rather than number of job postings made.
11. Tasks and tickets closed.
In customer service, software development, and other assistance-related positions, you could track productivity in terms of the number of tasks and/or tickets closed. This is a helpful way to quantify productive work, but it assumes that most of your tasks are comparable in terms of scale and value, and are being created consistently.
12. Time spent per task or ticket.
It’s best to use the “number of tasks/tickets closed” metric in combination with the time spent per task or per ticket. Many modern project management platforms have time tracking built in, but you may need to use a separate app for this. Over time, you’ll be able to tell which employees are faster at closing tickets than others, and whether this discrepancy also correlates with the number of tickets closed.
13. Accuracy and satisfaction rates.
The quantitative analysis of tasks and tickets completed is important, but it isn’t the only indicator of a job responsibility executed well. You may also need to study qualitative factors, like the accuracy of the completed work or the subjective satisfaction rates of customers. For example, you may have an employee who fixes software bugs faster than any other, but are these good, long-term fixes or shoddy, half-hearted efforts? You may desire an employee with fewer conventionally “productive” hours but higher customer satisfaction ratings. Be sure to analyze these factors in context with each other.
Multi-Factor Employee Productivity Stats
These employee productivity metrics involve multiple factors, or else must be considered in some complex way—in other words, they’re secondary indicators of productivity, or function best as individual variables in a broader equation.
14. Employee morale.
There’s evidence to suggest that employees who feel recognized, appreciated, and engaged are more productive than their counterparts, so it’s worth measuring employee morale in some way. This opens a separate can of worms, since employee morale can be studied in many different contexts, but you can start with a simple survey asking employees how they feel about their jobs and workplace environment.
15. Labor utilization.
Labor utilization is a measurement of the total labor content divided by the addition of both labor content and idle time. For example, let’s say you have an employee who works actively for 1.5 hours, and spends 0.5 hours idle. This would lead to a labor utilization of 75 percent. You’re always going to have a bit of idle time, but if your labor utilization seems peculiarly low, or if one employee is particularly problematic, it may be a sign you need to take action.
16. Revenue per employee.
At the end of the day, your business thrives on revenue, so you can consider productivity as a conduit for revenue. For some roles, you may be able to determine how much revenue each employee is responsible for generating (especially in sales and marketing environments). This can help you calculate each employee’s overall productive contribution to the organization.
17. Return on investment (ROI).
Further along that route of calculation, you can determine some employees’ return on investment (ROI). How much revenue are they generating for the company compared to how much you pay in wages? For some employees, this may require some more complex calculations, with lofty assumptions about the real “value” of the employee’s responsibilities and function within the organization.
Practical Tips to Use Employee Productivity Stats
As you’re using these employee productivity stats to evaluate employee performance, keep these tips in mind:
- Use the right tools. The accuracy and usability of your productivity statistics will depend on the tools you use to collect them. There are many types of tools available, some of which will be better for your organization than others. Try to gravitate toward tools that are easy to use and integrate, and those that provide data visuals on multiple metrics, so you can get a high-level perspective on your employee productivity at a glance. For example, if you want Gmail stats, use our tool!
- Focus on both individual and group metrics. Individual productivity metrics can help you coach employees to be their best, but group productivity metrics are better for determining overall ROI and big-picture issues with your processes. Try to utilize both when evaluating productivity in your organization.
- Set specific goals. Productivity metrics won’t do you much good unless you’re motivated to change your organization because of them. Use the insights you glean from these employee productivity stats to set specific goals, again—for both groups and individuals, and create an action plan for how to achieve those goals together.
- Measure both output and input. Remember, productivity is a complex and multifaceted concept, and you’re only going to “get” the big picture if you measure both input-related and output-related factors. For example, you’ll have to look at both how employees are choosing to spend their time and what kind of results they’re actually getting. Thankfully, the productivity metrics mentioned in the preceding sections should help you develop this understanding.
If you’re ready to get serious about measuring your employees’ productivity, the best tool for the job is EmailAnalytics. With it, you can seamlessly integrate your employees’ Gmail accounts, evaluate their workloads, and monitor key productivity stats like time spent on email and number of emails sent and received throughout the day. Sign up for a free trial today!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics.