Productivity vs Efficiency: What Is the Difference and Why It Matters


Productivity vs Efficiency: What Is the Difference and Why It Matters

You may have used the terms productivity and efficiency interchangeably, but it is important to understand that they are not the same thing. Producti

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You may have used the terms productivity and efficiency interchangeably, but it is important to understand that they are not the same thing. Productivity refers to the quantity of work that is produced, while efficiency refers to the quality of the work. The two concepts are closely related, but they have distinct differences. Productivity is about achieving more, while efficiency is about achieving the same or more with less.

Productivity and efficiency are interdependent and go hand in hand. It is not possible to have one without the other. For example, a worker who is producing a high quantity of work but with poor quality is not considered efficient. On the other hand, a worker who produces high-quality work but in low quantity is not considered productive.

In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between productivity and efficiency, and their correlation. We will also provide some useful tips to increase both productivity and efficiency. By understanding the differences between these two concepts and learning how to improve them, you can become more effective and efficient in your work, and ultimately achieve your goals more quickly and easily.

What is Productivity?

Productivity is the ability to make the most out of available resources. In today’s competitive market, entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to improve their results and numbers. However, productivity is not just about the number of products produced or services provided within a specific period. It is about the relationship between the output (i.e. produced goods or services) and the input (i.e. used resources).

The National Bureau of Economic Research defines productivity as “the units of output produced per unit of a particular input.” In other words, productivity is the measurement of how much output is produced per unit of input. This can be further broken down into two categories: labor productivity, which measures output per hour worked, and capital productivity, which measures output per unit of capital.

Productivity can be improved in several ways. If we produce more or better output using the same resources, productivity will increase. Similarly, if we use fewer resources to produce the same output, we also increase productivity. This is why productivity is not just about numbers, it is about the performance that is gained using specific input. When you focus on productivity, you are focusing on achieving more using the same or fewer resources.

Productivity is essential for any business, it can help to optimize the use of resources, improve performance and ultimately increase competitiveness. By focusing on productivity, entrepreneurs can improve their performance and achieve more with the same resources.

Example of Productivity at the Workplace

As an HR manager, one of your responsibilities is to conduct interviews with potential employees. Let’s say that your average time to interview a candidate is thirty minutes. If your company places a heavy emphasis on productivity, they may instruct you to interview two candidates within the same timeframe of thirty minutes. This means that you would need to find ways to accelerate the interview process, such as omitting some standard questions or decreasing the candidate’s speaking time.

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While you may be able to interview two candidates within the same timeframe, this approach can have negative consequences. One potential issue is that you may not have enough time to get to know each candidate properly, which could lead to poor hiring decisions. Additionally, you may experience burnout from the pressure to do more using the same amount of resources (in this case, time).

In conclusion, solely focusing on productivity and trying to accomplish more using the same resources may not always result in better quality. While it is important to be efficient and productive, it is also important to consider the potential negative consequences of this approach, such as poor hiring decisions and burnout. Therefore, it’s crucial to strike a balance between productivity and quality, so that the company can achieve its goals without compromising the effectiveness of the HR department.

What Is Efficiency?

Sink and Tuttle (1989) describe efficiency as “doing things right.” In other words, efficiency refers to how well resources are utilized to achieve a specific output. When a company focuses on efficiency, it is trying to accomplish the same goals with fewer resources.

For example, a company that wants to improve labor efficiency may reduce the number of hours worked, the size of the workforce, or the budget allocated to a particular project, all with the aim of producing the same output. By doing so, the company can save money and increase profitability.

While productivity is all about results, efficiency is all about the resources that are invested to achieve those results. To put it another way, productivity is about how much output is produced, while efficiency is about how little input is required to produce that output. While both productivity and efficiency are important, companies must find a balance between the two in order to achieve their goals without compromising on quality or wasting resources.

Example of Efficiency at the Workplace

As a content writer for a blog, you have to produce posts within a certain timeframe. Your manager has recently informed you that you will have to finish your future blog posts within three working days, instead of the usual five. This change is due to a recent labor shortage within the company, and a reduced number of employees will have to produce the same output with fewer resources.

You are used to writing 700 to 800 words a day, but now you have to produce the same amount of work in less time. You manage to finish your blog post on time, but you are concerned that you didn’t have enough time to do proper research or to fully explore and answer the topic in-depth.

In this scenario, it’s clear that an emphasis on efficiency, in the form of using fewer resources (time) to produce the same output, has not resulted in better quality. This highlights the importance of finding a balance between productivity and efficiency. A company might be efficient in terms of using fewer resources to produce the same output, but if that results in a decrease in quality, it is not truly efficient.

Correlation Between Productivity and Efficiency

Productivity and efficiency are two separate yet interdependent concepts that are essential for achieving success in any industry. Productivity refers to the quantity of work that is completed within a specific time frame, while efficiency refers to the quality of that work. In order to truly be productive, one must not only produce more but also produce more with the same or fewer resources.

Efficiency is all about utilizing resources to their fullest potential in order to achieve the desired outcome. It is the measure of how well resources are utilized to produce the output. Without efficiency, productivity can become meaningless as the output may be of poor quality.

In essence, productivity and efficiency are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other. True productivity is achieved when the quality of work is added to the quantity of work produced. It is the balance between these two concepts that ensure success and growth in any business.

Example of Productivity vs Efficiency in Manufacturing

In the 1970s, the top manufacturing output countries were the USA, USSR, and Japan, with China ranking a distant fifth. However, in 2010, China overtook the USA and claimed the top spot in the highest manufacturing output in the world, a position it still holds today. According to research from 2015, China leads the world with an astonishing $2.01 trillion in manufacturing output, placing the USA second with $1.867 trillion and Japan with $1.063 trillion. Furthermore, China accounts for an astounding 20% of global manufacturing output.

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But how did the Chinese achieve this remarkable feat? China’s success can be attributed to its low input costs. In 2018, manufacturing wages in China were a mere $5.51 per hour, while in the USA, wages were a staggering $26.99 per hour. Low costs of production, including workforce, materials, and numerous government subsidies, all contributed to China’s high production outputs.

However, it is important to question the quality of this output. With such low wages, is it truly a quality result? When we consider the hourly wages in China and the USA, there is a significant difference. This is why we find products such as unbranded headphones in China to be twice or three times cheaper than in the USA. The quality, therefore, is also poorer. Essentially, you get what you pay for.

In conclusion, a high productivity rate does not necessarily result in quality goods or services. China is well-known for its cheap products, and they will always have buyers. However, true success is achieved by balancing productivity and efficiency. In order to do so, it is essential to accurately calculate productivity and efficiency in your business.

How Do You Calculate Productivity and Efficiency?

Calculating productivity is an essential aspect of managing any business. It allows you to identify and address areas of inefficiency and improve overall performance. By measuring productivity, you can gain insight into resource allocation, goal setting, and budgeting, as well as determine the effectiveness of your efforts to improve performance.

One of the most straightforward ways to calculate productivity is to use the formula: TOTAL OUTPUT / TOTAL INPUT = PRODUCTIVITY. This equation can be applied to individual employees or teams, as well as to the business as a whole.

For example, if a content writer produces 800 words in 8 working hours, her productivity can be calculated by dividing 800 (output) by 8 (input) to yield 100 words per hour. Similarly, if a business manufactures $80,000 worth of goods or services in 1,300 labor hours, productivity can be calculated by dividing 80,000 by 1,300 to yield $61 per labor hour.

By regularly measuring productivity, businesses can gain a better understanding of how resources are being used and take steps to improve performance. Additionally, businesses can also measure efficiency, which is a reflection of the quality of output. By effectively balancing productivity and efficiency, businesses can achieve the best results.

Efficiency Formula

Calculating productivity will give you a better understanding of the quantity, whereas calculating efficiency will help you evaluate the quality. When we calculate productivity, we have no idea about the quality of the goods or services produced. We only get the figures. Perhaps 100 words from the previous example are productive work, but we don’t know if they are of high quality.

To calculate your or your company’s efficiency, use the following equation.

EFFICIENCY = (expected labour hours / actual labour hours worked) x 100%

Perhaps the content writer is expected to work eight hours per day. But suppose she actually completes her work in 6.5 hours per day. We can calculate the efficiency of the content writer’s work by dividing 8 (her expected labour hours) by 6.5 (actual hours worked) and multiplying by 100.

Consider the following equation:

(8/6.5) x 100 = 123% effectiveness

A higher ratio indicates greater efficiency. That is, the content writer works 1.5 hours less than expected, resulting in a 23% increase in efficiency.

Assume you want to calculate your company’s efficiency on a weekly basis. In the previous example, it takes 1,300 labour hours per week to produce $80,000 of output.

We are not concerned with productivity in this case, so we set aside $80.000. Instead, we divide 1,000 (expected labour hours) by 1,300 (actual hours worked) and multiply the result by 100 to calculate worker efficiency.

( 1,000 / 1,300 ) x 100 = 76% efficiency

This result indicates that workers require more hours to complete tasks, and thus their efficiency is lower than expected. This is a simple equation that can assist a company in taking a closer look at their employees’ efficiency and reacting as needed.

A Free Productivity and Efficiency Calculator

We’ve created a free productivity and efficiency calculator to ensure that you never experience a productivity stall or inefficient resource use again. Screenshot 1: Productivity and efficiency calculator shows how it looks and how simple it is to use.

Productivity vs Efficiency: What Is the Difference and Why It Matters
Screenshot 1: Productivity and efficiency calculator

How to Increase Productivity and Efficiency at Work?

Whether you are a company looking to increase employee productivity or an individual looking to improve your performance, doing so will provide you with a variety of benefits. Increasing company productivity will result in higher profits and economic growth. Individually, increasing productivity can help you earn more money or receive additional benefits and perks at work. Employees who are happy with their working conditions are more productive and produce better results. Furthermore, satisfied and engaged employees are more likely to be efficient and use resources wisely.

In order to increase your or your employees’ productivity and efficiency, try incorporating the tips we’ve provided into your daily routine.

Tips for Businesses

In today’s fast-paced business environment, staying ahead of the competition requires a constant focus on productivity and efficient resource management. Even the most successful companies can’t afford to let unforeseen costs and poor utilization of resources impede their growth. To achieve the highest level of profitability and resource optimization, it’s essential to constantly monitor and improve your productivity and efficiency. The following tips will help you do just that, and give you the competitive edge you need to thrive in today’s marketplace.

Solicit Employee Feedback

Conducting regular feedback from your employees is a crucial step in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the inner workings of your company. By creating surveys and organizing team meetings on a regular basis, you can not only gather valuable insights into the needs, opinions, and viewpoints of your employees but also indirectly gauge the overall culture of your organization.

During meetings, pay attention to the level of engagement and participation from your employees. A lack of participation or an excessive level of agreement can indicate a lack of trust or fear of retaliation within the company, which can negatively impact productivity. On the other hand, when a company fosters a welcoming and safe environment, employees are more likely to share their ideas and contribute to the overall productivity of the organization.

Through these forms of feedback, you can gain a better understanding of how your employees utilize the resources at their disposal and identify any potential roadblocks that may be preventing them from achieving their goals. To ensure the effectiveness of this process, it is recommended to have check-ins with your employees at least once a week. This will not only provide an opportunity for employees to voice their concerns and ideas, but also demonstrate the company’s commitment to fostering an open and transparent culture.

Encourage Learning Opportunities

According to studies, additional training and knowledge enhancement in current jobs improve employee productivity. The key is to continually enhance and improve your employees’ skills and knowledge. Provide them with educational opportunities such as seminars, language classes, and workshops. In addition, start a mentoring program in your workplace. A mentor will benefit novice employees by making them feel more encouraged and less afraid to do the work. Furthermore, as an employer, you can provide tuition assistance to encourage employees to improve their knowledge and professional development.

Have a Clear Company Vision

A company with a clear vision can produce long-term and consistent results. Apart from producing results, it also brings everyone together as a team and promotes teamwork. Furthermore, it improves employee morale and motivation. As a result, having a clear vision at work helps to create a productive environment.

Have Your Employees Track Time

Tracking your employees’ time can benefit both your and their performance. You can gain a better understanding of your employees’ daily activities and improve team workload distribution. They can learn how to use their time more effectively and avoid wasting resources. Avoid outmoded time trackers like punch clocks in favor of a tool that is feature-rich and simple to use.

Efficiently Allocate Resources

It is essential for businesses to efficiently allocate resources in order to achieve optimal productivity. This includes effectively managing and utilizing time, personnel, financial resources, and equipment. By ensuring that these resources are used in the most efficient manner possible, businesses can avoid common productivity roadblocks such as missed deadlines, unnecessary expenses, and a disorganized workplace.

Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that productivity is not only about the amount of output produced, but also the quality of that output, which is directly related to the efficient utilization of resources. Furthermore, monitoring and measuring the usage of resources can help identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments to increase productivity. Overall, efficient resource allocation is a crucial aspect of achieving and maintaining high levels of productivity in any business.

Tips for Individuals

We all have times when our productivity stalls and we clutch at straws to make the best use of our resources. What you can do is examine the factors that impede your productivity and make changes to your daily routines. Increase your productivity and make better use of your resources by following the advice we’ve provided.

Stop Multitasking

According to research, juggling multiple tasks at the same time delays task completion and reduces productivity. It also states that as you take on more tasks, you become less productive. As a result, rather than doing multiple things at once, prioritize your workload and complete important (but not urgent) tasks first. This way, your resources will be used more efficiently, and you will never experience a productivity halt again.

Organize Your Life Better

If your current organizational methods are causing more harm than good, think about changing them and incorporating new ones into your daily routine. To help you track your tasks more efficiently, try simple workplace decluttering or introducing to-do lists.

Have you ever heard of the time management technique known as time blocking?

You divide your workday into time blocks by using this method. You devote each time block to a specific task and assign a time limit to each. For example, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for research, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for writing, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and so on. To be more efficient with your time, stick to your time blocks. Make the most of your workday by implementing minor workplace organizational changes.

Track Your Productivity

Tracking your time is an essential aspect of increasing productivity, both as an individual and as an organization. By keeping track of how you spend your time, you can gain valuable insights into where you may be wasting time, and make adjustments accordingly. There are various time-tracking tools and techniques available, such as the Pomodoro technique, which involves working in 25-minute intervals, followed by 5-minute breaks.

This technique helps you focus on the task at hand and has been proven to be effective by millions of people worldwide. Additionally, tracking your time allows you to improve your time management skills, which is crucial for achieving consistent output and meeting deadlines. Overall, tracking your time is a powerful tool that can help you boost productivity and achieve your goals.

Eliminate Distractions

The constant urge to check social media can be a significant distraction in today’s digital age, leading to a deterioration of productivity. In fact, a 2017 study found that social media usage is one of the main culprits for decreased productivity in the workplace. To combat this issue, it is important to take proactive measures such as installing software to block irrelevant applications and websites during work hours, turning off notifications, and having the discipline to say “No” to coworkers when necessary.

By eliminating distractions and staying focused, you can boost your productivity and use your resources more efficiently, ultimately leading to increased success in your work. Additionally, setting a specific time for checking social media during breaks can also be helpful in this regard. This will not only increase focus during work hours but also create a balance between work and leisure.

Use Technology

Make technology a part of your daily routine. It can save you time and significantly speed up processes. When you use technology, you allocate your resources more efficiently. There is no reason for you to waste your time and resources doing things manually. Technology will help you allocate your resources more efficiently and reduce the likelihood of errors. Remember to only use trustworthy tools.


Balancing efficiency and productivity is a fine line to walk, but it is essential for delivering consistent results. Whether you are an individual or an organization, taking both factors into account is critical to success. Remember that everyone encounters difficulties from time to time. In order to overcome obstacles as efficiently as possible, try incorporating the tips we’ve prepared for you into your daily routines.