Productivity: What Is It and Why We Should Pursue It

We all strive to be productive.  At work, at home, in whatever activity we participate. Yet, we don’t talk about productivity so much. 

That’s maybe because productivity isn’t simply measurable.

It’s easy to picture sales, costs, profits, and cash-flow.  Even if the accounting that generates them can be a little complicated, they’re easy to imagine in our heads. 

Not productivity.  We may know what it means.  Productivity is about how much we achieve versus how much we put in.[1]  But beyond the definition, productivity doesn’t have a standard performance measure we can identify with. 

We may not be able to measure productivity with one measure, but we can measure it via several. 

Examples:

  1. Labour productivity:  ratio of output (e.g. production) versus man-hours put in;
  2. Energy efficiency:  ratio of output (e.g. kilograms of baked bread) versus energy input (e.g. kilograms of liquefied petroleum gas);
  3. Yield:  ratio of acceptable finished product (e.g. metric tons of steel) versus directly inputted raw material (metric tons of iron);
  4. Delivery Reliability:  number of on-time, completed, & accepted deliveries versus total number of dispatched deliveries including those that returned or that failed to deliver). 

With measures we can identify with, we can get a grasp on productivity for whatever we do.  We don’t have to discuss it as one word but as a word derived from how we use our resources from several different angles. 

Productivity may not be in the same class as the financial yardsticks of sales, costs, and profits but we can at least respect it nonetheless as something worthwhile to improve. 

Because when we improve productivity via the different measures we can identify with, the financial yardsticks follow. 


[1] A more thorough definition of productivity: “Productivity is defined as the efficient use of resources, labour, capital, land materials, energy, information, in the production of various goods and services.  Higher productivity means accomplishing more with the same amount of resources or achieving higher output in terms of volume and quality from the same input.”  

http://www.employment.gov.sc/what-is-productivity © 2019. Ministry of Employment, Immigration and Civil Status, Republic of Seychelles

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