Factors Affecting Work Performance

by Kristen Hamlin ; Updated September 26, 2017
Good relationships with co-workers can improve your job performance.

Every manager or business owner wants a staff that performs at an optimum level all day, every day. While some businesses have teams that work at or close to their peak every day, it’s more common to find employees who have short-term or ongoing performance issues. The factors that influence work performance vary, and sometimes more than one factor is causing trouble.

Poor Work Environment

When your employees come to work and encounter a work area that’s too hot, cold, dark, poorly ventilated or dirty, their performance can suffer. Creating an ideal work environment means more than installing air conditioning or sweeping the floors, though. If equipment is constantly breaking down, or the computers and software are out of date, productivity suffers. Employees cannot finish their tasks on time, or have to spent time performing other, less important tasks while they wait for repairs. A lack of investment in the working environment can also make employees feel undervalued, and in turn, they may not perform up to their full potential.

Co-Worker Issues

The social and collaborative environment at work influences work performance as well. An environment that fosters collaboration, teamwork, trust and sharing resources is more likely to foster top performers than one in which employees are overly competitive and suspicious of each other. Office gossip, for example, both wastes time and creates a negative working environment. Friendships among employee can help improve performance; a Gallup poll indicates that developing close friendships at work can increase employee satisfaction by almost 50 percent. Work friends can serve as a sounding board for ideas and venting, and help keep you engaged in your work.

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Job Description and Skills

Sometimes, job performance simply comes down to the job, and the person who is doing it. While most companies put a great deal of time and effort into finding the right person to fill each position, there are times when it’s just not the right match. Your skills and experience may not be adequate for the position, or perhaps your way of working does not mesh with the company policy and expectations. In either case, when you struggle to complete the basic tasks of your position, your performance will suffer. However, other times the job itself is the problem. If the job description is not clear, or you have too many or too few tasks to complete, you may have trouble at work. Clear, well-defined job descriptions and adequate training, support and rewards are important for fostering high performance.

Personal Issues

While most managers expect their employees to leave their personal life at the door when they come to work, that’s not always possible. Outside factors, such as marital and family issues, financial struggles or illness, can influence your job performance. In fact, the National Institute for Mental Health estimates that depression accounts for almost $11 billion in lost productivity each year. Coming to work after you’ve been up all night with a sick child or fielding phone calls from collection agencies all day can leave you drained and unfocused. The bottom line is that if you’re spending time dealing with personal issues, you’re probably not 100 percent focused on your work, which can lead to poor performance.

About the Author

An adjunct instructor at Central Maine Community College, Kristen Hamlin is also a freelance writer on topics including lifestyle, education, and business. She is the author of Graduate! Everything You Need to Succeed After College (Capital Books), and her work has appeared in Lewiston Auburn Magazine, Young Money, USA Today and a variety of online outlets. She has a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College, and a Master of Liberal Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Denver.

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