Strategies to Improve Employee Productivity in Startups

In any business situation, productivity is an important metric that can define the success or failure of an organization. When a startup has a productive team, payrolls are cut, as more is done in less time, it is able to make more money while increasing profit margins and customers are more satisfied.

But improving productivity doesn’t come easy. It can be a hard thing especially if it is being introduced to an organization that already has a dragging culture. Employees are generally resistant to change and would not want to adopt new strategies that would push them outside their comfort zones.

in our last guide, we looked at how business incubators work. Here is another comprehensive guide. We have prepared it to help organizations and startups get a better understanding of what we mean by employee productivity. We shall look at ways in which management kills employee productivity, how to measure employee productivity, what makes employee productivity dip, and ways to increase productivity in workplaces.

What do we mean by employee productivity?

Employee productivity refers to an assessment of the efficiency of a worker or a group of workers. Productivity may be expressed in terms of the output of an employee in a certain duration.

In most cases, the productivity of a given employee is assessed in relation to the average output of other employees doing similar work. Employee productivity is the value employees are producing on an individual level every hour they work.

The more productive an employee is; the more value they bring to the employer. I an organization, productivity is about how well a company turns raw materials and labour into services and goods.

Essential components of productivity

Productivity is a big issue to anyone in business. Ask every entrepreneur and they will tell you they can pay anything to find ways of becoming better and more productive at work. There are a lot of books that have been written touching on the subject of productivity.

Some claim to have the magic formula to make you productive, and this makes many users to be swayed away. However, true productivity boils down to three key components;


In a hierarchy, at the bottom of productivity is motivation. Motivation can come from different sources, but the most important is streamlining your day to day routine. There are different ways one can use to get motivated.

Here are some of the most common things you can do to get motivated;

  • Getting up early
  • Reading a motivation piece of content
  • Finding the right audience that gets you motivated
  • Holding yourself accountable to something or someone else
  • Having a goal in mind and doing everything possible to ensure your goal is accomplished.


Efficiency refers to doing things you already do, in a better or faster manner. It is like getting a new hack to do things in a better manner as compared to how you have been doing.

You first need to be motivated before you can get more efficient towards being more productive. It can be very easy for people to get comfortable in their current state and reject change that pushes them outside their comfort levels.

For you to become more efficient, it comes from experimenting. However, experimenting can be complex and tiresome as you exhaust your mental state in looking for the most efficient way to do things.


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Ultimately, productivity boils down to the choices you make in life. For all the choices you make, you need to have a consistent form of improvement and have decent feedback to guide you.

You can decide to be part of a self-improvement community, especially on social media. These communities can be useful in helping you become more productive. Get a useful hobby to focus on during your free time.

Apart from motivation, efficiency and making the right choices, there are a couple of other things you need to get right to have a good grasp of productivity. These include aspects such as having a to-do list, breaking down each task or goal into actionable steps, and maintaining a state of focus.

For everything you plan to achieve, no matter how motivated you are, it will remain wishful thinking unless you roll your sleeves and actually implement. You need to get practical with anything you plan to achieve.

The human mind works in a wonderful way. When we feed the brain with a step by step instructions done repeatedly, it adopts a state of automation. Repetition is key to ensuring your mind gets into a state of doing things in an automated manner, in the right way.

How do you measure employee productivity?

If you have a smaller staff and want to achieve a high level of efficiency and productivity, there is a need to understand job functions, specifications and required outputs. Methods used to measure productivity differ from one industry to another.

Here are some basic ways that can be used in measuring productivity;

Establish a baseline

The first thing you need is to establish some baseline metrics for measurement. You will need to identify expected work outputs for each position you are tracking. While it may be easy to apply productivity measurements to a specific task, it may be hard to have it applied to general roles.

However, the most important thing is to set expectations for every role you need to track. This will help in providing clarity for both the employer and employee. Additionally, it will create a reference point for baseline measurement of performances.

Define and measure tasks

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You need to define and measure tasks and not hours. These will be measurements that relate to key functions of the job. A useful metric may be how quickly customers are served, how many sale calls are made, how many invoices are sent among others.

Determine appropriate comparisons

A job function will determine an employee’s day, which will always not be measured by a single activity. Instead, the totality of an employee’s workload should be measured. From a given day, the typical job function contains a representation of a mixture of different applications and resources.

Employee’s productivity can largely be influenced by social activities they relate with in a given day. It may help to compare one employee’s daily activities against a peer group to identify those who are topping in terms of performance.

Carry out clients survey

Poor productivity of your employees will have a negative impact on your customer satisfaction and fulfilment. A client survey can be a good way of getting feedback and tracking back specific employees, especially when a particular order or service has not gone per plan.

Track individual progress

With an established baseline and areas of redundancy identified, it can help in paving way for tracking individual progress. When you consider these aspects, you are better placed to understand who is productive and who is not. That way, employers can easily identify underperformers and high achievers.

Request daily updates

When you request daily updates from your employees, you introduce them to participate in a very essential process. Although workers appreciate the aspect of doing jobs without being micromanaged, such does not always ensure productivity.

Some employees may suffer from procrastination and this may interfere with their levels of productivity. However, asking for employees to provide you with an update of what they have been doing throughout the day may serve as a motivator.

When employees know that their accountability is expected, they are more likely to stay on pace with their goals.

Account for the human factor

The human element is always a key factor that remains either a core problem or solution to productivity. Productivity efforts will be doomed especially if an employee doesn’t want to work. It will be very difficult to produce high-quality work when motivation is low.

There is a need to view employees as important assets and invest heavily in them. When you improve the level of knowledge, understanding and life of your employees, you are ultimately making them more productive.

Ask for employee feedback

Employers should hold in high regard any feedback they get from their employees. This may help workers to be more engaged with the overall measurement process. As an employer, you need to obtain employee’s ideas on objectives and performance metrics

What kind of management kills employee productivity?

There are many productivity tools that startups can use to ensure employees and tasks are well aligned. Take for example teamgantt, a tool well designed for making intuitive and beautiful project planning.

Simple good management goes a long way towards ensuring employee motivation is all-time high. Employee productivity comes crashing when management works against them. How you manage people is key to determining how motivated and productive they can be.

Here are some kinds of management styles that kill productivity in employees.

Indecisive leadership

Management must be willing to listen to the demands and grievances of employees. When management is in place, it must enforce actionable steps that provide a clear direction for all employees to follow.

When employees are unsure of the next course of action, or the direction an organization is headed, they will not have any motivation to deliver and be productive in their workplace. Management needs to gather input, communicate what they want, and give direction.

Disrespectable leadership

Most managers don’t think they are disrespectful. However, disrespect may take different forms. You can disrespect your employees time by wasting it on pointless meetings, giving them a lot of work than they can handle and just by causing unnecessary disruptions.

Untrustworthy Leadership

Employees will follow as they are being led. However, if management is not ethical or trustworthy, employees will revote and vent their frustrations. If management promises things they can’t deliver, management will see through that and act accordingly.

Reasons why employee productivity may suffer

Your business will only be as good as your employees. If they are nor performing according to expectations, if they are not productive, your business will suffer.

However, people are not robots and recognizing that is key to optimizing productivity. If you want to ensure employees perform to their level best, you need to understand all issues that may lead to low productivity.

Poor supervision

With inadequate supervision, it can be very tough to manage employees as well as tasks ahead, and this may result in poor work being done. Employees, even if they are considered to be the most efficient in their tasks, will require sufficient guidance and supervision from their heads.

This can help to keep them on toes so that they can manage their time more efficiently and meet all deadlines. Supervision is also important as it ensures employees are given the right direction to follow.

Lack of delegation

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Lack of delegation may tightly be related to lack of trust. When trust is missing, it brings many negative impacts to employees, especially on their levels of productivity.

Superior staff may display their lack of trust by not properly delegating work to their employees. When work is not delegated to junior staff, they are denied the opportunity and space to learn new things.

As a result, many employees will stay in their comfort zones and will be unwilling to expand their capabilities to achieve optimal results.

Poor communication

It is important to establish good communication if you want your team to be productive. When communication is not good enough, it leads to misunderstandings and conflicts, and this greatly and negatively impacts seamlessness and performance in an organization.


Multitasking is a serious killer to productivity. We tend to think because we may be good at switching from one task to another we may be good at multitasking. That is not the case.

Multitasking reduces the efficiency and performance of the brain. This is because the human brain can only fully focus on one thing at a time. When you try to do two things at the same time, the brain lacks the capacity to do those two things at the same time, leading to reduced performance and productivity.

Too many distractions

Employees may be exposed to too many distractions from different aspects. It may be as a result of too many emails, too many meetings among others. Different heads of departments and supervisors need to ensure these too many distractions are eliminated to give employees a chance to concentrate only on the most important aspects.

Lack of employee training

You can in most cases trace low productivity at work to lack of proper training for employees. When employees are not able to perform to the required standards, it may be as a result of insufficient training and education.

Employees who are properly trained are able to perform their tasks without hands-on supervision. When your employees are not properly trained, it may lead to low levels of productivity, because you may need to deploy extra resources to ensure they are supervised.

One of the best ways to boost productivity is to ensure staff joining your organization get the required sufficient training, Additionally, old staff need to be subjected to frequent training to boost their knowledge, especially on technological matters.

Inefficient organizational structure

In some cases, low levels of productivity in employees is as a result of inefficient organizational structures. Some organizations are structured in such a way that they don’t encourage collaboration between different departments. In such organizations, you may find very low levels of efficient communication.

Regardless of the efforts employees put towards ensuring increased productivity, not unless such organizations change their structures to allow seamless communication and collaboration, productivity will always be lagging behind.


In a world of countless life hacks and must-be met targets, we are all searching for the latest and best ways to boost productivity. Employees are required to do more in the shortest amount of time. Organizations are required to generate more revenue with fewer resources.

Many external factors can affect the productivity of an organization. Factors such as the national economy, inflation, recession and competition may all work towards influencing productivity. Employee productivity has a very huge impact on profits and health of an organization.

Productivity benchmarks and targets change from one industry to another. Some jobs have a basic benchmark established, while others do not have. It is important to keep employees well-compensated and motivated to be more productive.

Ultimately, efficiency in employees can be measured in time, money or both. While measuring the efficiency of your employees, it means it is possible to pinpoint areas where work is lagging. This can help in making required adjustments and improving the overall performance.

Alberto Venditti

Alberto has more than a decade of concept & production expertise in engaging with clients and end-users for both the entertainment and the advertising industry, marrying his passion for strategy with years of field research in user experience and a solid academic background in Psychology.

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