Glossary of HR Terms

Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.


We'll continue to add more terms and phrases to this glossary so it's as comprehensive as possible for your learning!

Home Glossary

Time to Productivity

Time to Productivity: A Critical Analysis

What Is Time to Productivity?

Time to productivity is a crucial performance metric that gauges how long it takes for a new hire to reach standard productivity levels in their role.

By tracking this alongside other labor productivity metrics, businesses can gain valuable insights into their onboarding process’s effectiveness. This measure not only reveals the efficiency of integrating new employees but also highlights the strengths and areas for improvement in your people processes.

When time to productivity is analyzed in relation to other key metrics, it provides a comprehensive understanding of your workforce’s performance and productivity dynamics.

Here’s a guide to why time to productivity matters, how to measure it, and how to improve it to help new hires quickly become better performers.

Why Is Time to Productivity Important?

Time to productivity gives you measurable insight into how successful your onboarding and new hire management programs have been. Because this metric measures the time it takes for a new hire to get up to speed in their role, it reveals high-level trends about how you introduce workers to your organization.

Although assuming causation is fraught, there is a strong enough correlation between onboarding and time to productivity that further investigation can uncover specific links between the two. New hires who take longer than usual to achieve standard productivity, for example, might be struggling because of unnoticed obstacles during the onboarding process. This warrants investigation to discover where the problem is occurring and how you can fix it.

Thankfully, problems in your processes are also opportunities to improve, and that’s why using time to productivity to assess your onboarding program is so important.

3 Additional Employee Productivity Measurements

Time to productivity alone won’t offer a complete picture. To accurately track time to productivity, you also need to have a sense of overall workforce and individual employee productivity.

Here are three standard metrics for calculating productivity in your organization, and how to track them.

How to Measure Time to Productivity

To get a better sense of time to productivity, you need to set a benchmark by assessing productivity across the workforce.

To measure workplace productivity, divide the workforce’s total output (typically in dollars generated) by the total input (typically measured in hours worked). The resulting number is your workforce’s labor productivity rate.

For example, if your workforce generated $50,000 across 1,000 hours of labor, then your labor productivity rate is $50 per hour. Now you have an organizational benchmark for comparing individual productivity.

Individual Employee Productivity

Determining the levels of individual productivity is a bit more complex. To measure the productivity of each worker, you need to determine key performance indicators (KPIs) for each role.

Every role in your organization requires different inputs and produces different outputs. Before you can assess an employee’s role-based productivity, you need to standardize your expectations. If you’re measuring productivity in your customer service agents, for example, you might look at the average time an agent takes to resolve a call as a measure of productivity. If you’re monitoring sales teams, you might consider the dollar amount sold by each sales representative across a time frame.

One way to determine specific KPIs is to look at the role’s job description. Depending on the complexity of the role and the number of duties assigned to it, you’ll likely have a few KPIs per role. From there, you can follow a similar productivity formula to the one you used for the workforce as a whole.

To measure employee productivity, divide each employee’s output by their input to determine their average productivity rate. If a sales rep sells $20,000 in 100 hours’ worth of prospecting and sales calls, their average productivity is $200 per hour.

Of course, directly generated sales revenue likely isn’t the only KPI your sales team will use. Say this sales rep also spends five hours optimizing sales processes, which helps the team as a whole produce an additional $1,500 during that time frame.

To calculate productivity across both KPIs, add the total outputs and inputs, and follow the same formula. In this case, the sales representative is generating $21,500 in 125 hours, resulting in a productivity rate of $172 per hour.

New Hire Time to Productivity

To measure time to productivity for new hires, use the KPIs you’ve generated for each role. Track the time it takes new hires to hit their KPIs (managers can record data like this in your onboarding or performance management software). Add up the total number of days for all new hires to achieve their KPIs, and divide that by the number of new hires.

If it takes 450 days for five new hires to make their KPIs, for instance, then the average time to productivity for that new hire cohort is 90 days.

Keep in mind that new hire time to productivity will vary by role because each job has different KPIs and levels of complexity. After all, it’s usually easier to get an entry-level sales associate up to speed than a senior-level project manager who takes over a role with lots of complex moving parts.

4 Ways Effective Onboarding Can Improve Time to Productivity

You have control over the onboarding experience your new hires receive, and improving their first days on the job can go a long way toward better time to productivity. Follow these best practices to improve productivity early in the employee life cycle.

Customize the Onboarding Journey

Every role and person is different. Tailoring the onboarding journey can help each new hire hit their stride in their time. Trying to rush someone into being productive can create a feeling of overwhelm, which slows down the training process and can actually lead to worse performance and morale.

A customized employee journey meets a new hire where they are. You can control the frequency of communication, for example, as some people require more support than others early on. Look for onboarding software with no-code tools for modifying each new hire’s onboarding journey.

Connect New Hires With Managers, Co-Workers, and Purpose

Connection is key to successful onboarding. Using your onboarding software, connect new hires with their managers first. Your managers are responsible for helping each new hire find their potential. Forging a deep connection early on leads to better conversations so new hires can become productive faster.

Connecting with co-workers helps new hires become comfortable with navigating company culture. It also provides a great opportunity to learn how work happens in your organization and in the new hire’s team.

Purpose drives productivity, so it’s important to connect new hires with the business’ purpose early in their career. When they can see their role in fulfilling the organizational mission, new hires will be more motivated to achieve their goals

Drive Behaviors That Lead to Better Productivity

Onboarding isn’t just a time for training new hires. It’s an opportunity to drive the behaviors you want to see from employees. Behavior-based onboarding sets norms and expectations for behaviors, which empowers new hires to acclimate to the culture faster.

A new hire’s daily behaviors affect their ability to achieve acceptable performance, so it’s important to track how they’re spending their time in the first few days, weeks, and months. Onboarding software that integrates with your project management software can help you get a better read on resource management, including how new hires are managing their time.

Focus on What Matters Most

The more targeted your onboarding program is, the more quickly each new employee’s work will reach its potential. Help employees and their managers prioritize what’s most important to learn at each stage of the onboarding journey.

One of the more effective ways to target onboarding programs and reduce time to productivity, especially for more complex roles, is to hire internal candidates. Someone moving into a new role within the same organization already has much of the context and connections they need to succeed. They can focus their onboarding on training in the new role without being overwhelmed by being in a drastically different environment.

Measure Your Impact

Tracking how long it takes for a new employee to be productive in their role helps you better understand the impact of your new hire and onboarding programs. Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, helping employees hit their stride quickly supports business growth. Monitoring your new hires’ time to productivity will reveal important insights into what success looks like in your organization — and how you can get even better.