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The Future of Worker Productivity

By Derek Irvine

Recognize This! – Less pure output and more holistic wellbeing, productivity is driven by the employee experience and technologies that can give leaders greater insight.

Last week, I wrote about worker productivity from the perspective of economists and the figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In that post, a decline in productivity appears to reflect deep transformations in the employee experience, alongside lower levels of technology and people investments.

A recent article on Quartz also looks into the question of worker productivity, but offers a distinctly different perspective. That article captures the ways several companies are using wearable sensors and other continuous methods to help measure and understand productivity at a micro, rather than macro level.

The benefit of doing so appears to be a more complex picture of productivity, not only as output, but also as an amalgamation of happiness, health, and wellbeing – and the opportunity to capture much more of the employee experience-productivity relationship.

Data from badge-based sensors or pulse surveys can provide company leadership with real-time data on areas for improvement: linking movement to worker happiness and productivity, proactively addressing motivation that appears as career development concerns, or understanding the impact of culture policies on efficiency.

The ultimate goal of collecting this data is to better equip organizations to align employees and work or project roles, increasing the employee experience and productivity simultaneously.

One example of what that could look like in the future: “an intelligent system to analyze the project, break it into smaller tasks, generate job roles, and recommend team members who are best suited to tackle certain portions of the project based on insights stemming from their personal data.”

Although this kind of technology might still be years away from mainstream adoption, there are solutions and investments that companies can make today to achieve many of those same goals.

At the intersection of culture and technology, solutions like social recognition and ongoing performance discussions provide rich data on the networks of relationships that employees share and the work that is produced from those relationships.

Viewing the organization through these dual networks – employees and work – allows leaders to be more proactive and data-driven on which roles can contribute value, how those roles should be arranged, and who might be best to place in those roles.

Culture can amplify this employee experience by addressing the human aspects of that work, linking people to a set of core values, offering opportunities for growth, and lending meaning and purpose. Taken together, these attributes contribute to a holistic view of the employee experience and worker productivity.

How is your organization looking into the employee experience and productivity?