Are Productivity and Efficiency the Same Thing [Quick Guide]

November 6, 2022
Are Productivity and Efficiency the Same Thing [Quick Guide]

Productivity and efficiency are terms used interchangeably, but do they mean the same thing? The answer is: no! Though they may sound synonyms, productivity and efficiency differ in various ways, including:

Productivity and efficiency are two related terms with different meanings. Productivity is the work quantity, while efficiency refers to the work quality. Productivity helps you do more; efficiency helps you do better.

Sounds interesting? Let’s dive into the following guide to explore more about productivity and efficiency and how they differ from each other!

What is Productivity?

Productivity refers to output per unit of time. In simple words, productivity is the amount of work done in a defined time. It is about making the most of that time, that is, work quantity.

For example, a student covers 50% of the syllabus for a test in a week. Another student covers 30% of the syllabus in the same time frame.

If the two are compared, the first student is more productive than the latter. It’s because the first student has a higher output (50% syllabus covered) in a unit of time (a week).

What is Efficiency?

Efficiency refers to the best possible output in a defined unit of time. Simply put, it is about producing maximum output by making the most of available resources.

Consider the same example mentioned above where two students cover different amounts of the syllabus during the same time.

However, the student who learned 50% of the syllabus retained only half of it. In contrast, the other student who could only cover 30% of the syllabus had a strong grip over what he studied and didn’t forget any of that.

If we compare the two, the second student is more efficient because he could gain the best possible output (by making the most out of available resources: study material) in a unit of time (a week). The first student was more productive but less efficient than the latter.

Relation Between Productivity and Efficiency

In light of the above example, the difference between productivity and efficiency is quantity versus quality. Productivity is when you can do more in a specified time, while efficiency is doing the best at the same time.

For businesses, productivity helps in doing more work which may or may not be the best. On the other hand, efficiency helps in doing less work but with the best possible results.

Productivity Vs. Efficiency — The Comparison!

The following is a quick chart to help you remember the differences between the two:

Productivity Efficiency
What it is Output per unit of time Best possible output per unit of time
What it means How much work done in a time frame How well are the resources used in a time frame
Primary focus Quantity Quality

Final Words

Those terms are interchangeable, but they do not mean the same thing. They are related but, at times, move at odds with each other.

Whether it’s about a person or business, success is achieved by balancing productivity and efficiency. Without productivity, you cannot do more; without efficiency, you cannot do better. So, as hard as it may be, balancing productivity and efficiency is what brings you closer to success.

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