The Top Traits of Highly Productive Employees

Written by Charlotte - 25 Jul 2018 Category: HR news

We all know at least one person at work who seems to thrive under ever increasing workloads, powering through tasks at twice the speed of other employees. How do they do it?

We all know at least one person at work who seems to thrive under ever increasing workloads, powering through tasks at twice the speed of other employees. How do they do it? Today we unpack the traits responsible for maintaining the efficiency of these 'Productives' and discuss ways to emulate their behaviour and translate it into the wider workplace.

Productivity Research

The Harvard Business Review collected data on over 7,000 employees rated by their managers as being exceptionally productive. When analysing this data, a defined grouping of traits began to emerge across all subjects.

We’ve outlined below the top traits of these employees identified in this review so that you can incorporate and promote these techniques within your workplace to improve productivity across the organisation.

Traits of Highly Productive People


  • Show Consistency: When you're at the top of your productivity game, efficiency will not ebb or flow over time. The most productive people stay productive. They figure out how to consistently deliver results and make the most of the working environment to enable this to happen.

  • Have Knowledge & Ask for Help when Needed: Lack of knowledge or expertise will stop productivity immediately. All the people interviewed in the study were confident in their area of work and had a certain level of mastery, meaning they were able to get on with the task at hand. Crucially though, if an issue arose that they were unable to solve, highly productive people were not afraid to ask for help, meaning they could move forward and overcome hurdles more quickly.

  • Take the initiative: Productive people throw themselves into the most difficult, time-consuming jobs first, meaning they were less likely to procrastinate and already able to start working on any challenges. They don’t wait for permission or direction at every stage of the project. And while this sometimes caused a little friction, managers were generally far more lenient when having to catch up with a productive employee who was one step ahead of them than when having to spoon feed and direct with every new development.

  • Anticipate and Solve Problems: Highly productive people are great problem solvers. Productives tend to anticipate severe problems in advance which means they’ve had a head start thinking about the best solution. As such, they see obstacles as speed humps rather than complete roadblocks and tend to come up with innovative ways of steering through these small hurdles while maintaining momentum.

  • Collaborate: Although the productive attributes listed here describe an individual’s qualities, working alone achieves very little in the grand scheme of things. The study showed that the most productive people were highly collaborative and worked well with others.


Improving Productivity in the Workplace


If you are looking to improve your productivity levels, or encourage a culture of productivity within the workplace, take a look at the traits listed above and see if there’s something you can improve. Perhaps, with a bit more planning and thinking ahead, you’ll create space to think through and anticipate potential sticking points and how to solve them. Traits such as working collaboratively with colleagues and asking for help are aspects HR can help to develop to encourage productive ways of working.

About CiviHR

CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.


CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere.