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10 Most Productive Countries And What You Can Learn From Them

10 Most Productive Countries And What You Can Learn From Them

The satisfaction and benefit experienced when you’re productive gives you confidence and induces a desire to achieve more.

Productivity has several definitions; we shall define in relation to economies:

Productivity measures output per unit of input, considering factors such as capital, labor, land or any other resource in the production process. It calculates Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a ratio to hours worked.

In this article, we’ll look into the 10 most productive countries and lessons we can learn from them.

How to determine the most productive countries?

The citizens who have the ability to produce a significant amount of results, make their countries productive. The measure of their output is the determining factor.

Economies use Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over hours worked to evaluate productivity. The total value of everything produced by every citizen and corporation located within the boundaries of any a country is the GDP.

This is evident in a recent report by two credible sources, Expert Market[1] and data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)[2]:

10 most productive countries

Based on these facts, here are 10 most productive countries captured from these reports:

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    Lessons learned from the most productive countries

    Whenever productive countries and individuals find something that works well, they learn from it.

    Learn the reason it worked. Develop systems and processes around it. Apply the lessons learned and repeat the process over again until the desired outcome is achieved.

    With that said, here are a few lessons from the most productive countries you can begin to implement. After a period of time, you’ll notice some change.

    1. Cultivate a culture of life work balance

    When you cultivate a culture of life-work balance you become a more fulfilled and productive individual.

    Life happens. Eventualities and uncertainties happen. You may lose your job, an ability or even your business.

    If your life revolved only around your work, you never took the time to cultivate a work-life balance, or develop other interests and relationships outside your work; the adjustment would be difficult to cope with.

    The beauty of life is never too late to start.

    Be deliberate and intentional and cultivate a life outside your work or business. Take up a hobby, spend quality time with those you love and treasure.

    Go back to school and learn a new skill that is exciting. Be a continuous lifelong learner. Schedule a holiday every year.

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    Do something exciting that you love that is not related to your work.

    For those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Luxembourg is a fantastic location for start-up businesses looking to invest in foreign markets. The favorable political and commercial environment is good for new product and service development.

    Luxembourg was ranked 7th by the Global Talent Competitiveness Index in 2017(GTCI). The report measures how countries grow, attract and retain talent.[3] It’s an ideal location for career expats to build an international career. Professionals with specialist knowledge are offered attractive compensation packages.

    Consider relocating to Luxembourg and learn some great business and family life lesson you can implement back in your home country.

    2. Shorter working hours are more productive

    Long working hours don’t necessarily equate to high productivity. Countries like Japan and Mexico have long working hours and the results in productivity don’t match the input.

    Sweden is friendly to a work-life balance culture and occasionally carries out several audits to enhance the productivity of its workforce:

    In one particular experiment, one employee who worked at a nursing home for eight hours always felt fatigued and drained with no time to spend with his children when he got home. His work hours were reduced to a six-hour workday with the same pay.

    The results were evident immediately. He was happy at work, energized and more productive. In the first year of implementing this new system, significant changes had occurred.

    The audit revealed the improved overall health of workers, increased productivity and absenteeism was minimal.

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    Other benefits that these topmost productive countries working shorter hours experience are:

    • Creative talent retention: Workers stay longer with these companies. Not willing to trade their new found freedom.
    • More time to rest and sleep early. Waking up refreshed and restored. Ready to tackle the day creatively and efficiently.
    • Employees feel valued. Employees can spend time with their loved ones and have time to do what they enjoy.

    3. Focus on and fully engage in your present task.

    People who’ve mastered the skill of “Focused Engagement and Disengagement” are more productive and fulfilled.

    Be focused and fully engaged at the workplace and fully disengaged on work-related issues when you leave the work premises; this is a conscious decision of the will you’ll implement and practice until it becomes a reflex action.

    This will be a win-win situation because your employer will have your full and focused attention at the workplace, resulting in more output and higher revenue for your organization and country at large. The satisfaction you’ll get from the feeling of accomplishing a task is very energizing.

    In Iceland, the workers maximized and efficiently utilized the short working hours to raise the productivity levels. They were engaged and focused on the task at hand. This is what made Iceland jump 10 positions higher.

    Perhaps this explains why German ranked only the 11th in spite of having the shortest working week. The difference was while they worked short hours, they were present but distracted and not fully engaged.

    4. Maintain a happy and positive outlook towards your life and work

    Majority of people seek and pursue happiness. Norwegians topped the global list of happiness according to the 2017 world happiness report.

    Largely this was influenced by the life work balance that Norwegians have embraced. Coupled with factors such as generosity, good governance, honesty and caring which contribute to a happy country.

    Deal with excitement drainers by maintaining a happy and positive outlook towards your life and work. Yes, your working hours and environment may not be what your desire at the moment.

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    You have no motivation to wake up tomorrow and go to work? But you know what? At least you have something to wake up to which the majority of people wish they had the opportunities you despise.

    For a moment, take the focus off yourself and your problems. Start to acknowledge the good things in your life, be a kind and caring soul. Then like the Norwegians, you too can start experiencing happiness.

    5. Flexible work schedules

    Countries like Luxembourg, Sweden, and other Scandinavian countries have adopted flexible work schedules.[4]

    Employees have an agreed work schedule about when they report and leave work. For example, an employee can schedule to come in a few hours early and leave early, or come in later in the morning and leave a few hours after 5 pm.

    Other options include working from home. This is based on mutual trust. Knowing the employee will actually be engaged in productive work while at home.

    Some more benefits of flexible work hours are:

    • A working mother with very young children can schedule convenient times to be home with their children.
    • An increase of more women workers in the workforce.
    • Parents can pick and drop off their children to school without interrupting their work schedule. No excuses for missing your child’s special event at school.
    • Ideal for employees who have gone back to school to study.

    The bottom line

    Cultivating a culture of life-work balance, shorter working hours, be focused and engaged with your present task, change your attitude and have flexible work schedules are some ways the most productive countries are adapting to enhance productivity.

    With Luxembourg topping the list as the most productive country for two consecutive years, we can learn a few lessons from this small and vibrant country.

    Having emerged top 10, the Scandinavian countries work model has proven to be efficient. Countries can now confidently adopt a culture of fewer working hours with extended breaks, allowing their workers to leave work early and prepare for the next working day.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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    Sylvia Muikia

    Writer and blogger specializes in productivity.

    10 Most Productive Countries And What You Can Learn From Them

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    Last Updated on January 6, 2021

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

    Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

    In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

    For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

    For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

    Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

    Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

    Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

    How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

    1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

    Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

    For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

    2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

    Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

    Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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    Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

    3. Create a System

    Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

    This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

    You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

    Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

    Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

    4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

    We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

    If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

    Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

    5. Use a Ratings Scale

    Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

    Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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    It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

    6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

    This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

    You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

    You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

    7. Offer Feedback Forms

    Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

    First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

    Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

    You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    8. Track Cost Effectiveness

    This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

    Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

    Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

    9. Use Self-Evaluations

    Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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    Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

    10. Monitor Time Management

    This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

    Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

      The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

      While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

      11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

      We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

      Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

      For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

      Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

      Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

      From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

      12. Utilize Peer Feedback

      This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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      Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

      Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

      It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

      13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

      When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

      Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

      Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

      14. Use an External Evaluator

      Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

      They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

      While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

      Final Thoughts

      These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

      The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

      The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

      More Productivity Tips

      Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

      Reference

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