Measuring Productivity

We had an employee abruptly leave our finance department and in doing so increased duties were passed on to the remaining four staff members.  The supervisor has told them that these additional duties will remain in place indefinetely.   Out of the four staff memebrs, one employee "Mark", who had questionable performance before the increased responsibilities, is stating that the workload is too much and unfair.   This employee can be seen leisurely walking the halls, stopping and talking to other staff about non-work related issues, taking personal calls from their cell phone daily, hanging out in the breakroom and taking leave time every single week for one thing or another be it he has a doctor appointment or he is not feeling well.  I want to know how can we fairly measure productivity?  How do we know that what the supervisor is asking is not too much or how do we know that what the employee is producing is not enough?  Any help is appreciated.  Thank you.


  • 8 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • You said he had questionable performance before the increase in workload, but you don't say if he is completing his new assignments in a satisfactory manner. 

    I think his present actions are his way of rebelling against what he sees as an unfair situation.  The other three employees may be "suffering in silence" or just not as blatant in their displeasure.

    I'm sure other employees in the company are aware of this situation, so disciplining the happy wanderer may not be the best for general morale at this point.

    Sounds like the direct supervisor is the key to your dilemma; he or she is the best source of information on the workload. And since this is Finance, productivity must be coupled with accuracy; will the increased workload cause costly mistakes?

    Also, the supervisor may not be acting supportive to employees who are being asked to do more. 

    BTW, you didn't mention compensation.  Are the four employees getting overtime?  Will they be given an increase at the next review because of increased duties/responsibilities.

  • To answer your questions, this person is not completing their new assignments in a timely manner. He continues to miss deadlines even after his supervisor clearly let him know what has to be done and by what day of the week those things are to be done.  His excuse is that it is just too much work to complete, however, both before and after the new duties, this employee always seems to have downtime, and never actually seems rushed or pressed for time.

    The other three staff members have told this employee that they too are busy but they are getting the work done.  During the initial change in duties there were even several weekends that the supervisor had to come in to get work done.  Everyone seems to be pulling the extra weight except Mark. 

     The supervisor has always felt that this employee had too much downtime, i.e. the behavior mentioned earlier, so she had no problem giving these additonal duties to Mark.  Now Mark feels discriminated against and feels that he is being picked on by the supervisor.  Mark is eligible for overtime, however, him actually having overtime is very unlikely.  He rarely works a full 40 hours in a week, there is always some leave time taken be it 2 hours or a day.  Also he only received the minimum increase this January because of his poor performance in 2007. (this change in duties only occurred late September of 07)  Just yesterday after meeting with the COO about his complaints and being told that the duties would remain in place, he left home because he said he felt ill.

  • Hey, if this Mark is getting hours and days off, is he on intermittant FMLA leave?  If so, you'd better tread carefully. If not, isn't Mark violating your attendance policy?

    You don't say why the other employee left, necessitating the extra work.  Is it because the expectations in the job descriptions in this work group aren't reasonable?

    Has anyoe told upper management that a part-time employee or a full-time replacement may be necessary--problems caused by overworking the remaining employees may not have surfaced yet, especially in Finance.

    I'd also take a hard look at the supervisor, who doesn't seem to be effective in managing Mark or the workload.


  • I just saw this on the Internet.  Seems applicable:

    Workplace stress is the most frequently cited reason U.S. employees consider leaving their jobs. While employers acknowledge that stress is affecting business performance, few are taking steps to address it, according to two surveys by Watson Wyatt Worldwide, a leading global consulting firm.
  • Measuring performance isn't always easy.  It would be helpful to know what this person actually does for a job.  If you are at a sufficiently large company that this person's job has been analyzed and there is a comp plan in place that discusses compensable functions, are any of those countable?  For instance, we could measure "pages of tax forms filled out" or "number of cases closed" or "time per case assigned" if any of that information is obtainable.  When you talk about the person having questionable performance, you refer to questionable work ethic more than actual performance of job duties, which has led people to assume you are talking about not getting things done.  Is it a failure to complete tasks, a failure to do them to the Company's standard, or both?  Understanding the job will help us to discuss measuring performance.

    Additionally, has there been any documented disciplinary action taken against this person for poor performance?  If not, I recommend someone chat with the direct supervisor about the history of counseling this employee and, if the situation merits documentation, then start going down that path if you haven't done so already.

    If the real root of the problem is that this person is a social butterfly, then look in your handbook for a policy on unauthorized absence from the work station, shirking duties, and things like that.

  • We are too small for FMLA and unfortunately we do not have a written attendance policy.  Pretty much is the supervsiors discretion to approve or deny leave requests.

    Mark was in charge of getting all of the 1099's out by January 31st.  He didn't send the paperwork that needed a reply for this to our CA office until the day beofre the 1099's were due, therefore there was no way the forms could have been completed in time.  So the 1099's were delayed which is a BIG deal.  All reconciliations are due by Monday of each week, last Friday Mark had not completed them but he asked to leave early for a dr. appt.  The supervisor asked if he could reschedule the appointment if it was not an urgent matter and finish the day so that the reconiliations could be completed.  The questionable work ethic and performance are both issues before and after the increased duties.  Mistakes made on department financial reports, checks not being sent out on time for payment to vendors, things falling through the cracks.  Some of these issues have even been mentioned on past appraisals. 

    The supervisor was getting ready to do a written warning for the 1099s incident when the whole formal complaint to the COO came in.  Now the supervisor is not doing the written warning for fear that it could be construed as retaliation.  I have reminded her that she needs to begin documenting all the conversations she has with this employee, because she has not in the past.

  • I understand your concern about retaliation but I think you still need to discipline for this issue.  Getting 1099's done on time is not just a company policy but it also a federal law.  This employee has caused you to violate this law. He needs to be written up for this. At the same time, since he has gone to the COO, you can address his concerns about the work load. Take the time to look over his duties and responsibilities, talk about deadlines, have an open dialogue about what is expected of him and what will not be tolerated.  Go back over his job description and update it if necessary.  This way you can show that you are responding to his concern but also holding him accountable for what he is expected from his position.


  • Employers generally win against initial complaints but lose on the retaliation end of the stick, so this is a big deal.

    Mark is complaining that he is being "discriminated" against.  If that's true (that he has complained), then you have a duty to investigate.  I would have a witnessed meeting with Mark and find out on what basis he believes he is being discriminated against, what examples or evidence he has, and what witnesses he can think of.  Make him come out with it.  You can't be "just sort of, you know, discriminated against in some nebulous but very bad (and certainly illegal) way."  If he knows enough to tell you about a viable type of discrimination, with plausible examples and/or witnesses then you really should investigate it and act accordingly on the basis of your investigation.

    Either way, if Mark is being held to the same standard as the other 4 employees and they're doing fine, then Mark's complaining because Mark knows that Mark isn't getting Mark's job done and everyone else is.  Mark's supervisor also isn't getting his job done because the only reason this could look like retaliation is because Mark's supervisor didn't document earlier.  However, this goes back to performance measurement.  I'd want to be certain that nobody else botched the job on the same or similar tasks.


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