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Productivity paranoia is bad—What can we focus on instead?

January 10, 2023



Productivity paranoia is creating commotion across the industry. From established enterprises to smaller startups the question on CEOs minds is whether or not their team is as productive as they need to be. 

Data shows that productivity is up. Employees report feeling more productive now that they have more options for where they work. So, why are we still hearing executives lament about productivity? And how do we get rid of the paranoia to focus on meaningful improvements? 

The answer is in three quick changes. 

Agree on a single understanding of productivity

The biggest issue driving productivity paranoia is an inconsistent definition of productivity. We all understand what it means, generally. But, when it comes to measuring productivity, there is not a single framework we’re all working from. This is particularly dangerous for a positive company culture. 

Employees feel the effects of doing more work with fewer resources. They know the extra work they put into creating an exceptional customer experience. But often, their output isn’t reflected in any reporting metrics. Activities like brainstorms, meetings, and phone calls don’t show up as behaviors that drive revenue, but they are still critical to the customer journey. 

In order to move beyond productivity paranoia and towards efficient operations, executives need to define what productivity means for their organization. You need a reliable way to report on all the activities that each individual completes throughout the day. And, most importantly, you need buy in from your entire organization to ensure that everyone is working from the same scoreboard. 

Prioritize activities that impact your customer experience

At the core of the push for more productivity is a desire to create excellent customer experiences. If your existing customers don’t understand the value or know how to use your features to reach their goals, your potential for growth shrinks significantly. A great customer experience requires thoughtful engagements from employees as well as helpful self-service guides. 

Unfortunately, many executives try to soothe productivity paranoia with extensive layoffs and the expectation that existing employees can do more work with less support. Eventually, those cuts start to impact the customer experience. Instead of forcing fewer employees to do more, assess what low-value activities you can eliminate or automate for your employees. The result will be a more productive workforce, and a much healthier culture where employees avoid burnout with meaningful work. 

Focus on tactical improvements you can measure

In its worst form, productivity paranoia can lead companies to reconsider their entire growth strategy. Sometimes, like in the case of digital transformations, this change is necessary. However, more often than not, the problem of productivity lies in day-to-day tactical behaviors of your teams.

For example, we know that meetings, particularly recurring internal meetings, rarely result in high-value activities that save costs, drive revenue, or improve customer experience. They are the kind of low-value activity that, if eliminated, would make your team more productive. But it’s rare that leaders take a look at daily activities to find ways to optimize workflow

Teams that are intentional about how they cut costs and improve productivity in 2023 will combine all three of these shifts as soon as possible. By agreeing on what metrics to use to measure productivity, distinguishing between high-value and low-value activities, and focusing on the tactics that move the needle, you will find it much easier to navigate the impacts of today’s economic downturn. 

Make real improvements in productivity with

If you’d like to learn more about how to measure productivity and optimize your tactics, schedule a demo of Our product helps you identify the high-value activities you need to improve productivity and leverage automation to ensure your team has the space to focus on what they do best.