5 factors with an impact on labor productivity

Whatever a company’s size, one of the constant challenges it faces is to achieve optimum productivity from its workforce. There are several particularly important factors that play a role in productivity. We’ve selected the following five:

1. Energy and personal attitudes

The combination of energy and a person’s attitude will play a significant role in determining their productivity in any context, whether work-related or not. This is why it is essential to successfully manage both, as the second in particular may be affected by external variables such as the attitude of the other workers, the physical work setting, the level of responsibility, the pressure received, and the number of processes in place. All these elements and more can change a potentially positive attitude to a negative one.

2. Equipment and resources

Having insufficient resources to carry out a task is without a doubt one of the most likely preconditions for undermining productivity. The correct technical equipment, along with the necessary training and mentoring, are essential for achieving the expected productivity levels in a role. And of course, it should also be noted that any scarcity of this factor will affect not only the previous factor but also the following one.

3. Objectives

The planning and setting of objectives, sufficiently endowed with resources and done in a participative way, will boost labor productivity provided they are consistent. Here it is well worth pointing out how important it is for these objectives to be SMART: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound.   

4. Leadership

Evidently, the team leader will be involved in setting and monitoring objectives, and his or her personality and style will influence productivity. A leader that can be trusted and who is honest and balanced in their supervision can be the perfect driver for increasing productivity in any department.

5. Environment

Finally, the physical features of the workplace are equally important for maintaining the expected labor productivity. Everything from the furnishings through to the proximity of the workmates and the necessary equipment, and including sufficient natural light or the decoration of the workspace, will all influence productivity, as has been abundantly demonstrated.

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These factors are directly linked to the study conducted by the psychologist Fredrick Herzberg in the mid 20th century to better explain workers’ behavior in the workplace. The results he obtained gave rise to what was known as the “two-factor theory”, as it highlighted two groups of elements that determine people’s behavior: motivational factors, which help achieve satisfaction at an individual level, and hygiene factors, which refer to elements that are lacking or cause dissatisfaction.

Satisfaction or motivational factors include, for example, recognition, responsibility, or promotion; whereas dissatisfaction factors are closely linked to economic, social, or safety aspects (salary, working conditions, company policy, among others).

Herzberg came to the conclusion that a two-phase process was necessary to increase satisfaction. The elements that generate dissatisfaction had to be removed before going on to create the conditions that provoke satisfaction.

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The key to this lies in not confusing hygiene factors with motivational factors. Some employers think they can motivate their workers with hygiene factors, although they are not at all effective beyond the short term. To create satisfaction it is necessary to focus on factors that “enrich” the work, according to each person. Options include providing opportunities to achieve new milestones, recognizing certain contributions, or giving more responsibility.

What about you? Can you think of any other important factor that would improve productivity in the workplace?

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