Differences between productivity, effort, efficiency and motivation that every manager should know!

There are many factors that directly or indirectly affect the job performance of your employees. Some are in your hands and some are not. This article will explain why you should focus on motivation and efficiency, not productivity.

Suppose the issue of organizational culture and employee satisfaction continues to gain more relevance every day. In that case, it is not due to a disinterested effort by companies, which, although they do so with all good will, also know perfectly well that a happy employee is just another employee being productive.

No matter which monitoring software for employees you’re using, without those consideration and stats, you might lose something along the way!

And we don’t just say it. According to Talent Works International, employees who enjoy their work are up to 31% more productive and take 10 times fewer days off . In addition, companies with satisfied employees achieve up to 233% more customer loyalty and 26% more revenue .

Unfortunately, only 13% of workers worldwide feel committed to their employment , which costs organizations between $ 450 thousand and $ 550 billion dollars a year.

With this in perspective, it is easy to understand why it is a good idea for companies to invest in a suitable organizational climate. The question is , between job satisfaction and productivity, what is the strategic role of the employer?

Motivation, productivity, efficiency and effort … They are not the same!

These are terms that are confused in the same semantic field, but because of that it is so common that we make mistakes such as wanting to “increase the effort” of a collaborator or “enhance the productivity” of our team. Knowing what each of these dimensions means and understanding which one we should focus on as a company and which ones correspond exclusively to the worker, is the first step in efficiently guiding the global productivity strategy.


Productivity is directly inferred from the goals or results obtained. For example, your most productive sales executive is the one who closed the most contracts throughout the month. But, as we will see later, this does not mean that your most productive employee is the most efficient, the one who works the hardest, or the most motivated one.

Nor does it mean, as counterintuitive as this sounds, that it is the best option for you to set as an example to others by making it the employee of the month. In fact, as much as productivity is the final goal, it is necessary to reach it on the right path so that it is spread in a homogeneous and sustained way to the entire team, otherwise its results are very unpredictable and difficult to measure and attribute.


It refers to the investment of energy and attention that we had to make to reach a certain result. For two employees, the effort required to close the same amount of sales can be dramatically different. If an employee overexerts himself, he is probably more productive than another who achieves almost the same results with minimal effort, but at a much higher cost in the medium and long term to his job satisfaction and to the company. That is why many times measuring only the results is misleading.


Beyond productivity and effort, which have traditionally been the aspects that companies focus on, the right thing to do is to pay attention to efficiency, which refers to the optimization of times and efforts to achieve the same or better results. in an increasingly simple way .

In the example above, the employee who was not as productive but put in less than half the effort is more efficient than the employee who wasted overtime to achieve slightly better results. You are also an employee who is likely to feel more comfortable, less pressured, and with a better work-life balance.

Either way, this is just one example: the most efficient employees also tend to be among the most productive in practice. To emerge, efficiency requires creativity, freedom of action and, above all, motivation.

Work motivation

Work motivation is expressed through the energy, commitment, persistence, and creativity that we bring to work and the good (or bad) mood that accompanies us during office hours. For us to really invest all these cognitive and emotional resources at work, we have to be genuinely interested in what we do, or at least have a good time while doing it, and for that to be achieved it must be possible to find meaning in our work, more beyond simply collecting payroll.

Why create a work environment focused on motivation and not productivity?

There are boring and repetitive jobs to deal with, that is a reality, but this does not mean that motivation cannot be promoted in other ways when the work activity itself is not exactly exciting. Hence the importance of the work environment and organizational culture.

Making your employees proud of working for your company is the first domino in the chain that leads to productivity. So do not skip the steps and do not turn a blind eye to bad practices that can demotivate your team, which in the long run have a much higher cost in time and money than it seems at first glance.

As an employer, what is 100% in your hands is the possibility of motivating your collaborators. You also have a small margin of action by sharing with them and promoting strategies that help them be more efficient.

It doesn’t make much sense for you to ask them to “try harder” or “be more productive”. Because if they are not trying hard enough or not reaching the established goals, that is because there is not enough motivation from the company. Or that they are not the right employee for that position, that simple.

Your company’s most efficient and motivated employees are the “Top performers” that you must identify and whose skills and strategies you must enhance so that they spread to the rest of the team.

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