There’s plenty of research on employee productivity, which is key to building a profitable and successful business. Engaged employees are likely to put their heart into their jobs – not just go through the motions.

Here are some findings that put this into perspective:

  • Happy workers are 13 percent more productive, according to research by Oxford University. 
  • Highly engaged employees are much more likely to have above-average productivity (38 percent), says the Workplace Research Foundation.
  • Productivity can increase by 20 to 25 percent in companies where employees are connected, The McKinsey Global Institute reports.
  • Seventy-one percent of executives say that employee engagement is critical to their success, notes FastTrack 360.
  • Organizations in the top quartile of engagement – four engaged employees for every one disengaged employee – have four times greater earnings-per-share growth, better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and higher profitability than their competitors, Gallup has found.
  • Gallup also says that there is a 60-to-1 engaged employee-to-disengaged employee ratio with managers who focused on strengths, and a 2-to-1 ration of engaged to actively disengaged employees when managers focused on weaknesses. Overall, 53 percent of employees say that they are satisfied in their jobs but not engaged.
  • Fifty-eight percent of employees agree that poor management impedes their productivity, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

These statistics go a long way in speaking to the point that management should play a big part in helping employees feel engaged and, in turn, productive.

The questions are: What do hiring executives need to be taught to inform their management hiring and development strategies? And what do managers themselves need to learn to help them drive engagement among those who report to them? It should come as no surprise that on each point the answers are built upon data-driven analytics tools and approaches.

Gallup, for example, provides workforce analytics services for evaluating high-performing managers to determine which characteristics and behaviors define their excellence. That serves as the basis for building a profile of the “ideal manager” that can be used by leadership to determine hiring, promotion, and development decisions. Making the right choices on these fronts feeds down the chain when managers with people engagement skills are brought on board and recognized for their talent.

In another example, a solution such as Quantum Workplace offers data analytics and tracking services for making data-based decisions for employee engagement, such as helping managers to design employee surveys that can inform them where to focus first to make the biggest impact and improve goals for team engagement and share progress on that with employees.

Coaching is going digital, too. BetterUp is a digital platform designed to to optimize workplace performance by bringing personalized development through a one-to-one mobile coaching app for managers and other employees. Analytics help the business measure employee progress.

Humualso delivers personalized coaching called “nudges” to managers and other staff; it says these synthesize a range of signals to drive measurable progress across key areas and initiatives in the flow of day-to-day work to develop more productive behaviors and drive continuous improvement.

There’s another category of tool, which focuses on productivity scoring. In November, Microsoft announced Microsoft Productivity Score for Microsoft 365. Employee experience and technology experience are calculated for the score — the former designed to quantify how people collaborate on content, work from anywhere, understand communication styles, and develop a meeting culture. 

Managers recommend actions to take based on the employee experience findings. An example of the actions recommended in the “collaborating on content” area is to provide end-user training around how to better collaborate, and how to create links to documents in emails instead of sending attachments.

AI is Key to Management Use Cases

Artificial intelligence is a component in most of these cases, as it is with enables AI-powered leadership solutions. The company was founded by CEO Dr. Tommy Weir, himself a management coach and the author of books on strategic leadership. Enable Productivity Score delivers both a job- and industry-agnostic, comprehensive, and normalized employee productivity score and leadership-prioritized recommendations.

Today, a few companies are highly competitive, but most are surviving with flat productivity, and it has been this way for decades. People are working more hours – which you might think would generate productivity – but most of them are disengaged with their work, Weir says.

Billions of dollars a year is spent on areas such as process improvement, automation, and collaboration while front-line managers are still begging for help in how to better manage their staff, he says. “You can make all those changes, but you still have human workers. How can managers help them become the best they can be?”

To help them reach that goal, enaible’s AI Trigger-Task algorithm uses time-stamped existing system data to quantify productivity at the aggregate- and team-level through a multidimensional analysis of:

  • Capacity Utilization: Calculating the fastest sustainable time for an individual and for a task
  • Consistency: Measuring individual state – positive, negative or vacillating between the two – at different times
  • Quality: Considering not so much the quality of an individual’s own work, but the impact that work has on others’ productivity

The recently launched company says the algorithm simultaneously factors in complexity, sequence, internal and external factors, patterns, time of day, and duration to deliver the productivity score. It does not factor in non-work-related activities – like an employee checking Facebook – that could raise “Big Brother” concerns.

Weir points out that managers are there to help their employees improve, but that’s difficult when they spend as much as 60 percent of their time in administrative tasks. That doesn’t leave much time for figuring out how to identify issues and cultivate employee changes on their own.

Post-analysis, the solution offers actions to help managers get a handle on the human-centered part of their job. As an example, analysis may find that a manager spends considerably fewer hours with one employee than all the others and so enaible might advise that he or she increase interactions with that person so the individual feels more a part of the team. In other words, to help them feel more engaged – and hopefully more productive.

In one client’s case, enaible’s algorithm revealed that 864,000 hours per year was spent on non-value-added work. In such an organization-wide issue, the solution provides productivity insights for the top-level executive team to address.

C-level executives and front-line managers both want to build more productive businesses that generate business success, and increasingly vendors are helping them do that.