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Want to Increase Employee Productivity? Start by Defining It

New ClickUp data finds that no one agrees on what productivity is, but everyone believes they’re the best at it!

ClickUp, the productivity platform that brings work together in one place, today announced new research on knowledge workers’ attitudes around productivity. The study, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. knowledge workers, found there is no consensus on the definition of productivity. It also found that individuals rate their productivity more highly than their peers and said that productivity correlates directly with job satisfaction.

Due to the unpredictable economic outlook for 2023, companies are doing everything they can to increase efficiency and cut costs, including introducing return-to-office mandates and enforcing new rules around meetings. However, ClickUp’s report indicates that the solution may be more fundamental. By defining productivity and gaining alignment among employees, leaders will find it easier to meet their business goals and boost employee satisfaction.

There is no consensus on how to define productivity.
Workers were divided on how to define productivity, more than half had an emotional definition of productivity (56%) reporting that productivity is “the feeling of accomplishment.” The other half defined it more concretely, though there wasn’t consistency in how to quantify it. Some (37%) say it’s “moving tasks forward efficiently without roadblocks,” others (28%) say its “working very hard for results”. Measuring productivity — something only 25% of workers say they currently do — can help alleviate this discrepancy.

Knowledge workers believe they are the most productive.
While 87% of knowledge workers rated themselves as either very or extremely productive, only 64% said the same of their peers. When asked how they measure their own productivity, respondents said it was based on their ability to complete all of their tasks (58%), when they feel accomplished (51%), or when they get through more of their to-do list than they expected (43%). In contrast, they assess their peers based on how much work they get done (47%), the success of their work (40%), and how they manage their time (38%).

Job satisfaction is directly correlated with productivity.
One thing is certain: Job satisfaction and productivity are closely linked. 46% of extremely productive knowledge workers reported themselves as very satisfied at work, whereas only 12% of “somewhat productive” were very satisfied.

And with that, knowledge workers say that they’re eager to be rewarded for their productivity. Unfortunately, 46% of companies are not doing anything to acknowledge their most productive employees, and 64% only recognize productivity with praise. By contrast, 71% of workers would like bonuses, and 60% would prefer a raise.

To improve productivity, leaders must go back to basics.
“In this macro economy, leaders need to go back to basics. Productivity is more than a buzzword; it’s a tangible measure of success,” said Jim Bartolomea, Senior Vice President of People, ClickUp. “Leaders who want to increase productivity within their organizations must first define productivity for their teams and then clarify how they plan to measure it, providing the right tools to enable it. Once this framework is established, it’s critical to establish an incentivization system to maintain motivation. If leaders follow these steps, not only will business improve, but morale should, too.”

It’s time for leaders to do more than just ask for more productivity from their employees. It’s time for them to take the reigns and drive a more productive culture from the top. The future is bright for companies that define, measure, and reward productivity.