What Are the Factors That Affect Productivity?

by Vanessa Cross ; Updated September 26, 2017
A number of factors motivate employees and impact their work performance.

The work of Frederick Herzberg, the noted psychologist and workplace-management theorist, includes a study of 203 Pittsburgh engineers and accountants. From this study, Herzberg and his colleagues developed what is described as the Motivation-Hygiene Theory, also referred to as the Two Factor Theory. According to this theory, workplace productivity is affected by an employee's satisfaction with factors such as recognition, responsibility levels, advancement opportunity, achievement, workplace environment and the nature of the work.

Attitude Is Essential

An employee's positive attitude will lead to a greater sense of satisfaction with his job, while a negative attitude will inhibit this feeling. Also, a person's attitude can be infectious to coworkers, potentially multiplying a sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction throughout the workplace. Factors that shape workplace attitude include working conditions, supervision levels, responsibility levels, status gains, and company procedures and policies.


Goal-setting impacts productivity. The most effective goals are SMART goals, an acronym that identifies the following criteria for a goal: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound. The goal-setting process can be used at each level of an organization. This includes setting company goals, as well as those for management, departments and each worker. Productivity can increase when goal-setting is a regular part of an organization's business process -- for example, integrated into the annual performance-review procedure.

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Insufficient resources will have an impact on an employee's attitude and productivity. In addition to necessary business equipment and supplies, employees might require additional training to develop new skills to carry out duties. Performance goals developed with an employee should expressly include allocating resources for additional employee training needed to successfully achieve the goal. Access to professional resources, such as mentors, also shapes an employee's attitude.


Productivity will be negatively impacted by a management and supervisors who blame others for mistakes, do not keep promises, fail to provide positive feedback or ignore employee-productivity problems. Also, the level of employee supervision might impact performance. Supervision is an artful balancing act. Too much supervision, or micro-managing, can foster resentment in an employee and negatively impact productivity. Too little supervision, or lack of oversight, may also adversely impact productivity.

About the Author

Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications, including the "Chicago Tribune," and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.

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