Knowing and understanding the productivity level of staff is an important facet for all organisations. It enables organisations to determine how they can get their staff working with greater efficiency and effectiveness, without burdening them or driving them to burnout.

Measuring staff performance is commonplace for all types of organisations. Staff performance measures are not there to identify who’s actually working and who’s not, rather its purpose is to gather business intelligence and makes decisions that will equip them to work better.

An employer will hire an employee to perform specific tasks, meet certain criteria’s and fulfil a set of responsibilities. Naturally, the employer believes that their workforce is performing these tasks day in and day out.

Of course this is true, however what many employers may not be aware off is that their workforce may be carrying out other tasks throughout the day, tasks that are not a part of the responsibilities that they were initially hired for. These tasks are known as an employee’s unseen demand.

If an employer is not aware off the unseen demand, it can cause many discrepancies. It may seem to the employer than an employee is taking longer than usual to complete certain tasks or the quality of the output has decreased due to the employee’s unseen demand commitments, not visible to the employer.

Most, if not all employees, fulfil unseen demand requirements to an extent. However, if unseen demands become excessive for an employee or for the whole organisation, it can cause unnecessary increase in costs, drives down business productivity and puts a strain on all other resources.

How to measure unseen demand?

Paper and electronic timesheets are the simplest way to collect staff activity data. Let’s take an example from police constabularies.

Twelve Police Constabularies wanted to analyse the activity of their officers whilst on duty. All staff were handed an activity analysis sheet where they would record the following:

  • The activity
  • The time of the activity
  • The incident the activity is related to
  • Location of activity
  • Collar Number
  • Date of shift

Each activity and incident had its own code and each incident had a related activity. The details of what the codes meant were on the rear of the timesheet, which officers could refer to. All officers submitted their activity daily to their supervisor.

The activity was carried out for a period of two weeks. Once completed, the timesheets were scanned and the data intelligently extracted using automated technology, eliminating the need for manual data entry.

The data from the timesheets were present on a specialist staff activity dashboard where an array of analysis was facilitated. The controls on the dashboard enabled supervisors to formulate their own patterns by single activity, the type of activity, staff rank, the time of activity as well as the particular station.

The dashboard allowed the constabularies to identify an activity that was causing time delays in the work of an officer. An arrest of a convicted felon resulted in the arresting officer being at the station for an average of 3 hours. The knock-on effect of this was that for those 3 hours the officer was not on the street (and thus visible to the public) which is their main job responsibility.

In response to this, community support officers were hired on a voluntary basis, and they spent their time registering the criminal which allowed the officer to remain visible on the streets.

A simple two week exercise allowed constabularies to empower their officers by identifying the unseen demand and addressing the issue appropriately. This saved both time and money.

Do not underestimate the potential detrimental effect of unseen demand on your organisation. Use timesheets to collect and visualise data and to the relevant decisions that will empower your organisation with greater efficiency and productivity.