Productivity Vs Efficiency: The Difference and How to Implement them at the Office

Business leaders of today think of ‘efficiency’ and ‘productivity’ as one and the same; that these two words are synonyms and interchangeable. Although they are similar in meaning, when it comes to implementing them into a business’s strategy, they are very different from one another. It is, therefore, imperative that business leaders, established or fledglings, realise the difference for their business’s sake.

Take your time to recognise the difference in meanings. By doing so, you can save yourself a lot of hassle when trying to improve the mechanics of your company. The definitions are as follows:


  • “The effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.”


  • “The state or quality of being efficient;” “an action designed to achieve efficiency;” “the ratios of the useful work performed by machine or person.”

The Difference

At a first glance, it may seem superficial, however, the difference is mighty. Efficiency is about doing the same amount of work with less, whereas, productivity is about doing more with the same amount of input. Therefore, if you want to improve your employees’ output while reducing the number of labour hours required, then you need to look at improving your company’s efficiency. On the other hand, if you want to increase your output without increasing your labour hours, then you need to improve productivity.

It is important to recognise these differences. If a business is to change the efficiency or the productivity of their employees, they need to employ different tactics. Going about it the wrong way can, ironically, continue to reduce the very processes you’re trying to improve. Although efficiency and productivity are somewhat cut from the same cloth, you need to separate them from one another and view them as separate parties.

How to Improve Productivity

  • Track Your Employees’ Work. Ask your employees to take note of each and every task they perform. Have them upload their results online for you and managers to examine. By doing so, you will be able to see lost time and if there are any unproductive times of day. For example, if your employees are lagging at the end of the day, consider a small 15-minute break so they can refresh themselves.
  • Take Regular Breaks. Breaks may seem counterintuitive; however, they are incredibly important if you want to improve your company’s productivity. Regular breaks will help improve concentration levels; therefore, increasing the amount and quality of work produced.
  • End Multitasking. It can reduce your productivity by as much as 40%, so reiterate to your employees that they should complete tasks before starting a new one. Not only will this improve the quality of their work, but it can also reduce stress levels.
  • Limit Distractions. Easier said than done, however, it is possible. You may not be able to create a complete oasis of calm, but you can implement changes to diminish as many interruptions as possible. Turn off your notifications, such as email and your phone during important projects, and keep your office door closed. If you’re sensitive to sound, keep office music to a minimum and keep from pairing louder employees with quiet ones.
  • End Overtime. Asking your employees to log in extra hours is only going to lead them to burnout. Although some products may call for an extra hour here and there, the majority of work should only take place in the specified office hours. Unless it’s imperative to the wellbeing of your company, tell employees to keep on their work emails out of hours and during weekends. As an employer, you should also do the same.

How to Improve Efficiency

  • Delegate. Do not be afraid to decide who gets what job. Match tasks to skills, so you are employing your most qualified employees to the right job. No one person is perfect for every job, so ensure you don’t expect employees to be great at everything. By delegating, you will be ensuring the work is done well, and quicker; improving the speed of output, with less input.
  • Improve Communication. Commands get lost and distorted over communication, so make sure to improve your office’s communication skills. Ensure everyone has a Skype account, so questions can be fired around the office; buy call centre headsets so in-house and remote workers can communicate with one another quickly, and so they can speak to clients and customers without answering the office phone. For the lowdown on the best headsets, visit Tech Mag, and see what their technical experts have to say.
  • Keep Goals Clear. Do not muddle your company’s goals, and keep them as clear and concise as possible. When employees have a focused goal to aim for, they are able to make the journey to completion a lot easier and quicker. However, if you have many goals, some of what do not apply to certain people, it can seem confusing and less achievable, making them put in extra, unneeded effort. Therefore, write down every sector’s goals out. For example, the numbers for the sales team aren’t going to apply to your content team, and vice versa.
  • Train Your Employees. Employees like to complain about training days, however, they are extremely useful and effective when improving their efficiency. Industry best practices change regularly, therefore, when new software become available, teach your employees how to use it so they can work better and harder, without using old business processes. For example, using Google Docs allows your entire office to read from and make changes to the same sheet, instantly. This is much quicker and more effective than using separate Excel sheets and continually asking each other for guidance on certain matters.

At a harder glance, productivity and efficiency are incredibly dissimilar to one another, and trying to improve one or the other takes different tactics. Therefore, before making any large changes to your company, deduce which definition is right for you. Otherwise, you could be making superfluous modifications to your company without combating the original issue.