The 5 Key Factors That Affects Employee Productivity


The 5 Key Factors That Affects Employee Productivity

by Ivan
October 15, 2020

Everyone’s heard of the phrase ‘a happy worker is a productive worker’, and there’s a reason for that. It makes sense that John does better work if he’s feeling good, as opposed to when he’s having a bad day.

A study led by Professor Andrew Oswald, Dr Eugenio Proto and Dr Daniel Sgroi from the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick found that happiness increased productivity in people by around 12%. Happier workers were observed to use time effectively without compromising the quality of work. The thing is, happiness is a pretty abstract concept but what we do know is that there are factors related and not so related to happiness that affect productivity.

1. Job Security

Being and feeling safe is a pretty big deal not just in the workplace, but also just generally. It goes without saying that employees should be guaranteed a certain level of physical protection at work, but knowing that their jobs are secure contributes to their confidence in knowing that they are needed, and the work they’re doing is meaningful. On top of that, research shows that job security has a significant effect on job performance as a whole.

With the massive layoffs in Singapore reaching record numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are understandably fearful of the same fate befalling them. Able companies are advised to assuage the unease of staff members and assure them that for the time being, their jobs are secure.

2. Employee Engagement

A key factor in keeping employees productive is employee engagement, which is especially relevant now when some people are still working from home. Investing in proper engagement practices will pay dividends as engaged employees are more likely to be resilient, make better decisions, and perform better than their non-engaged counterparts. According to the CIPD, 21% of people that leave companies cite disengagement as the main factor in the career move.

So how do you keep your staff engaged? It can be something as simple as giving them benefits, the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Having something to work towards does wonders for motivation and in turn, productivity. For the work from home crowd, a virtual sharing session can be supremely beneficial in letting people air out issues and seek out solutions together.

3. Workplace Culture

In large part due to the ungodly number of hours we spend every week in the workplace, offices are often affectionately nicknamed second homes. It’s obvious then that office culture heavily impacts the productivity of its occupants. There’s no one right culture that fits every organisation out there due to how differently each operates, but positivity is a trait that is seen as beneficial for everyone to practice at work. Take this study for instance that had subjects recall instances of apathy shown to them by their bosses. Every time such a recollection happened, increased activation in areas of the brain associated with avoidance and negative emotion.

Fostering a positive work environment is a continuous process. Part of it is being a compassionate colleague. This demands a certain level of respect, empathy and overall understanding. For example, thanking someone for their assistance on a project conveys appreciation, and it’s always nice to be on the receiving end of that courtesy.

4. Leveraging Technology

Making the most of burgeoning technology, particularly in the post-COVID landscape, is pivotal to maintaining and even improving on employee productivity. Instant communication via smartphone and email allows for easier remote working. In fact, an experiment done by a Chinese call center concluded that employees working from home were 13% more productive compared to their colleagues working in the office. Thanks to apps like Zoom or Discord, having low latency virtual meetings has never been less of a hassle. 

The ability to share and access files through a cloud saves everyone time. You no longer have to walk over to Jerry’s cubicle just to get paperwork that you need. When organised well, cloud folders can also tell you who’s working on what and team members can tell at a glance who made changes to a document when.

5. Avoid Micromanaging

Checking in on your staff is all well and good, but try to avoid breathing down their necks. A good leader trains and delegates. It can be easy to look like a control freak, what with some people working from home. Micromanaging employees while attempting to raise productivity is counterproductive. As an employer, you lose time, trust and your employees may end up depending a little too much on you in the long run.

Some managers that are more ‘hands on’ might want to step away slowly. Do a test run on a project that’s less urgent and pass the reins to the team. You might be pleasantly surprised. If things don’t go exactly as planned, there’s no reason to blow up. Keep communications open, get feedback and seek solutions together as a unit.


Learning to crawl involves gradual trial-and-error attempts. The same applies to monitoring and managing employee productivity. What works for one company won’t necessarily be the same for another. Having strong fundamental practices and support systems for employees will keep them driven and achieve goals expected of them. Remember to also promote values such as transparency, teamwork and healthy competition in your company.

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