How to calculate productivity

How to calculate productivity

Publication Date
Aug 22, 2023
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How to Calculate Productivity: A Comprehensive Guide

Every business owner or manager knows that productive teams are key to a company's success. Yet, quantifying productivity can feel like an elusive task. How do you convert working hours, input, and outputs into meaningful numbers that truly reflect the efficiency of your team? Worry no more. This comprehensive guide will walk through a simple process of calculating productivity that any business owner or manager can employ to evaluate effectiveness and optimize performance.


Defining productivity as a concept is relatively straightforward - it's a measure of the efficiency of a system, whether that's a factory floor, a project team, or an entire business. In essence, it's the ratio between the input used in production and the output that the effort results in. The more output you get for the same or lesser input, the higher your productivity.
Although the concept is simple, implementing it can be complex. Several factors influence productivity - business operations, types of tools, human resources, etc. Thus, understanding how to calculate productivity is essential for both efficiency and success.

The Basic Productivity Formula

At its heart, calculating productivity is about comparing what you put into the process (input) and what you get out of it (output). This simple relationship can be expressed using the following formula:
Let's dive deeper into the meaning and uses of this formula:

Understanding Inputs and Outputs


The 'input' in this equation often represents the resources used during the production or operational process. These resources can be categorized into:
  • Labour: Time spent by employees or contractors.
  • Materials: Physical inputs used in production, for an office this could be paper or printer ink.
  • Capital: This encompasses any monetary expenditure, like salaries, rent, utilities, etc.
  • Energy: Every operation uses energy. Including this is especially relevant for manufacturing or large-scale operations.
To use the formula effectively, you first need to determine which input(s) you're going to use.


The 'output' represents the finished products or services your company produces. However, not all output is tangible, especially in the modern service economy. It could be the number of reports generated, clients served or contracts signed - whatever your business treats as its deliverable.

Examples of Productivity Calculation

Let's look at a few examples of how you can convert this formula into real-world business scenarios:
If a factory produces 500 units of a product in a week using 40 hours of labor, the labor productivity of the factory would be calculated as: Productivity = 500 units / 40 hours = 12.5 units/hour
In a call center, if an employee manages to handle 120 calls in an 8 hour shift, the productivity of the employee is calculated as: Productivity = 120 calls / 8 hours = 15 calls/hour
Please note, while these examples make the calculation seem straightforward, in real-world scenarios, the inputs might be more diverse and complex. Hence, comprehensive data collection and analysis might be needed.


Calculating productivity isn't just about having a number to showcase. It's also about identifying bottlenecks, areas of potential improvement, and opportunities for growth. Ensuring accurate calculation is then not an option but a necessity.
Also, it's important to understand that productivity numbers don't exist in a vacuum – they are one piece of the larger puzzle of business performance. They can vary across industries, departments, and individuals, and up and down a supply chain. So, always take into account the unique aspects of your business while calculating and comparing productivity.
Whether you're measuring the output of a factory, the efficiency of a worker, or the performance of a software suite, understanding the basic formula, taking steps to accurately measure inputs and outputs, and critically applying the results, can lead to greater productivity and efficiency within your business.