Measure Productivity by Output, Not by Attendance

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In a report recently published by Will Martin in Business Insider, ranking the world’s most productive countries, US ranks 9th out of 35, while Canada ranks 15th. Luxembourg and Norway are first and second, being more productive, yet with their labor force working fewer hours.

In a recent opinion by Dan Lyons in the New York Times, the argument is put forward that working longer hours is not only expected to be successful, the 40-hour work week ‘is for losers’.

As I look at these two articles in juxtaposition, I would suggest to you that organisations which measure employees based on hours present are looking at a false economic. Are employees engaged in their work, or are they just in attendance? Output, not just being seen, would be a much more logical and useful metric by which to measure productivity.

In some jobs, where creativity is the key component, taking a quiet walk can often develop great ideas that being present in the office could be a barrier to. A lot of thinking is done outside of the workplace. Perhaps encouraging methods by which people can reflect on perspectives on their own terms, rather than imposing such terms on them, might produce surprisingly good results.

The new movie, The Circle, captures brilliantly the dynamic the extreme that technology plays in terms of invasion of privacy.  The cult-like atmosphere where people are expected to be interacting with their colleagues at company- sponsored events may feel like fun for a initial short period, but in time, this becomes intrusive and counter productive. 

In my book, From Bully to Bull’s Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire, I discuss the importance of objectivity vs. subjectivity in evaluating job performance. Allowing people to work within their comfort zones, even if it means spending fewer hours at work, produces better results for the organization and promotes a psychologically healthy workplace.

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