What’s New from Viva People Science: Beyond Engagement – Measuring Productivity in the Workplace

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: New blog articles in Microsoft Community Hub.

Hi, my name is Craig Ramsay, and I am a Principal People Scientist on the Viva Research and Development team. You may be wondering what a “People Scientist” is and what we do all day. Well, People Scientists are people geeks. We are researchers on the Microsoft Viva product team who study what makes people tick at work. We seek to understand what makes humans feel happy, successful, and motivated to do their best work – identifying those particular factors and work experiences that drive organizational performance. You can learn more about our team here 


I’m hoping through this new recurring blog series, I can help you understand the science behind our approach and leave you with some practical tips that you can use to strengthen your organizational and people practices. 


When I started at Glint in 2016, before we became part of the Microsoft family, we promised our customers the best employee engagement survey platform on the planet, and we succeeded -- in large part due to the power of our short, focused surveys that help managers take immediate actions to improve what matters most to their employees.  Over the years, this robust engagement measurement system has been used by more than 1,400 global organizations to improve happiness and success for their people. 


By 2023, with over 350 million data points collected, the People Science team was able to connect engagement data with actual financial metrics across 250 customers and we found – surprise, surprise -- that happier employees = better business results… a 25% higher stock valuation to be exact.  A more recent study of the top predictors of a high performance organization found that productivity was also a critical factor in determining the overall performance and success of a business. So, what should you pay attention to… engaging employees, or helping them be more productive? Or both? And how? 


To answer these questions, we took a human-centric approach to defining and operationalizing employee productivity and identifying a critical few opinions and attitudes that best characterize the experience and feeling of high productivity.  


Scanning research to date, we first identified 25 distinct experience factors which contribute to people feeling highly productive.  Then we examined whether a feeling of productivity could be assumed if employees also reported being engaged. We tested those factors in a panel study and received 850 global, full time employee responses from all industries, regions, and job levels.  


As attitudinal outcomes, we found that engagement and productivity are related, but distinct. In this sample, they were moderately correlated and only shared 50% of their individual top 10 correlates (see in purple below, ranked in order by Pearson r-values).  



Engagement was measured using eSat (How happy are you working at <COMPANY_NAME>?) and Recommend (I would recommend <COMPANY_NAME> as a great place to work), and productivity was measured using Individual Productivity (I feel like I am productive at work) and Team Productivity (I feel like my team is productive at work). 


Therefore, engagement items cannot be used as a proxy for measuring productivity. Different employee experiences impact feeling engaged versus feeling productive, and both are needed to drive high-performance.


Further analyses resulted in the discovery that team and individual productivity are distinct experiences when viewed from an employee's perspective. We identified the top eight factors that most influence a person’s sense of high productivity – and the factors that contribute to higher perceptions of team productivity differ from those contributing to higher perceptions of individual productivity.




We recommend you consider the productivity results (at the team and / or individual level) you wish to improve and use it as a guidepost for which employee experiences to focus on to best drive that outcome. An index made of the two productivity items is an alternative that can be utilized when a dual approach (capturing both team and individual productivity) is needed.

Our findings showed that measuring productivity in the workplace is crucial for understanding and improving overall performance. Beyond a focus on engagement alone, focusing on the right employee productivity experiences will help you drive higher levels of productivity and achieve better businesses outcomes.

How do you think about productivity compared to engagement?  Is your organization focused on productivity?  I look forward to your comments below.

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