Metrics in the digital workplace: How to accurately and objectively measure employee productivity

July 02, 2024

Pete Summers

Metrics in the digital workplace: How to accurately and objectively measure employee productivity image

Our recent research of UK and US IT Decision Makers took a deep dive into how enterprises manage three core elements of today’s digital workplaces: hybrid working, employee productivity and digital experience. If you haven’t already read the first blog where we explore the metrics organizations are currently using to assess hybrid work and what they could be doing better, you can read that here.

In this second blog of our three-part series, we turn our attention to one of the thorniest questions modern businesses face in a world of hybrid digital workplaces – how to measure employee productivity.

Outdated methods leading to clouded judgment

As part of our research, we asked IT Decision Makers how they gauge productivity today. The most used metric by just over two-thirds of organizations is “employee output”, followed by line manager assessments, time tracking software and employee self-assessment.

  • Measures around the volume of work or outputs created by an employee – 67%
  • Line manager assessments on productivity – 56%
  • Time tracking software – 51%
  • Employee self-assessment on productivity – 48%
  • We don’t measure employee productivity – 4%

These findings expose several issues. One obvious challenge is that line manager and employee assessments are highly subjective, and so fail to deliver genuine insight into productivity. Secondly, when employees are conscious that they are being assessed, they are likely to showcase “best practice” behaviors rather than the typical ways they go about their day, so any assessment is not an accurate reflection of work. Thirdly, with hybrid and remote work increasingly popular, manual observation of employees becomes impossible. And finally, relying on time-tracking software runs the risk of conflating being online with being productive.

But what really highlights the problem with how productivity is measured is overreliance on output. Although it’s useful to know what employees are accomplishing, it is only part of the calculation. In reality, productivity is underpinned by many other elements. The focus on output ignores the impact of digital efficiency and leaves digital friction caused by non-performant tech and badly designed workflows completely unidentified.

For example, if a customer agent in a financial service business is tasked with processing mortgage originations, simply counting the number of completed documents every hour is inadequate. A worker may process five originations an hour, a figure the company accepts as a benchmark for good output. Yet, that standalone figure gives no insight into how the task was carried out and how it was impacted by digital friction. The employee could be wasting 10 minutes per form filling in information that must be copied from one application to another, something that could easily be automated if the organization were aware of it.

Making use of meaningful data

To achieve the visibility that exposes such instances of digital friction that limit productivity, a sophisticated approach is needed. Decision makers need continual and near real-time insight into what is working for employees, and crucially what isn’t – helping to drive efficiencies that support teams to do their jobs more easily and more productively. That’s where Digital Employee Experience (DEX) observability data comes in.

DEX analytics delivers insight into how employees are working in the digital workplace, providing a deeper understanding of productivity and how it is impacted by digital efficiency. Sophisticated DEX solutions allow businesses to understand and analyze employee journeys and interaction data at scale, irrespective of work setting, to eliminate inefficient processes and application workflows to improve productivity.

In our third blog we’ll be taking a closer look at one final area of measurement in the digital workplace, and examining the pitfalls of focusing on technology over real-world employee experience.

Check out our full report, The evolution of the IT department: From break/fix to the backbone of the modern enterprise, to learn more about effectively assessing productivity in the digital workplace.