Employer Branding Talent Acquisition Workplace

How to Troubleshoot Productivity

Ever feel like your productivity at work is on the decline? Perhaps you’re not meeting your employer’s goals, or your own. A recent lack of energy or enthusiasm, increased mistakes or a general feeling of apathy may be contributing to your less-than-stellar performance in the office. Before you blame your declining performance on burnout or ADD, you might consider a few simpler and much more obvious reasons:

If you’re uncomfortable, you’re not productive:

How is the temperature in your office? Do you need to wear gloves and a scarf to work? We may be 44 years past putting a man on the moon, but developing the technology to regulate the temperature of an office building seems to be an unattainable goal for many companies. If you’re constantly cold in the office, this may be a reason for a slip in your productivity.

Cornell University researchers conducted a study involving temperature in the workplace. When temperatures were lowered to 68 degrees, employees made 44 percent more errors and were less than half as productive as when temperatures were raised to 77 degrees. Essentially, it was determined that the drop in performance cost employers 10 percent more per hour, per employee. According to Ron Friedman from, when the body temperature drops, the body’s natural tendency is to try to get warm, which requires energy. Energy spent trying to get warm is energy NOT being spent concentrating on work.

If you’re unhealthy, you’re not productive:

Anyone who works in an office knows how difficult it can be to maintain a healthy lifestyle while keeping up with work responsibilities. Skipping meals, donuts in the break room, fast-food lunches, birthday cake celebrations and after-work happy hours with coworkers are commonplace for most office workers. Combine this with eight plus hours a day sitting at a desk with little or no physical activity and it’s no wonder your performance isn’t at its peak.

According to a 2003 report from the Society for Neuroscience, junk food does more than add pounds – it affects your brain. Studies show that rats who consumed approximately 40 percent of their daily calories from saturated fats performed poorly on memory and learning tests. Human studies have shown similar negative effects. School children who consumed fast food three times a week displayed lower test scores by up to 16 percent, whereas children who ate a nutritious breakfast showed improved cognition, attention and memory.

Many companies are learning that employing a healthy workforce is in their best interest. Healthy cafeteria meals, healthy vending machine snacks and company-subsidized gym memberships are becoming more widespread. According to the Wellness Council of America, a $1 investment in a company wellness program saves $3 in healthcare costs, and can decrease turnover among program-enrolled employees by up to 90 percent.

If you’re tired, you’re not productive:

When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep? Most people would probably say it’s been a while. When forced to juggle all of life’s challenges, sometimes an extra hour or two in the day is essential, and taking it away from sleep time is often the easiest solution. And if Facebook has taught us anything, it’s how many people rely on coffee to get them through the workday.

According to a 2008 National Sleep Foundation poll, nearly one-third of American employees report that daytime sleepiness interferes with their daily activities at least a few days each month. Lack of sleep results in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors and accidents in the workplace. This is especially evident with shift workers and employees with busy travel schedules. For those with careers in healthcare, aviation and operating heavy machinery, the results of sleep deprivation can prove fatal. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation may lead to a number of health problems including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and even early mortality.


The takeaway from all of this is that if you or your manager have noticed your work isn’t up to its usual standard, it may be within your control. A simple lifestyle (or temperature) change may be all that’s required to fix, or at least improve upon, the problem. If the human body is physically stressed, it will react, and that reaction may result in mistakes in your work, lack of concentration or detail-orientation, or much worse. Get used to treating your body right, and it will respond accordingly.

By John Feldmann

John Feldmann is a Senior Communications Specialist for Insperity in Houston, TX. With over a decade of marketing and employment branding experience in the recruiting and human resources industries, John specializes in employment- and HR-related content development for a variety of media types in order to communicate Insperity's brand to both business professionals and job seekers. Follow John on X @John_Feldmann.