Work performance

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Determinants of work performance

In the economy, work performance is understood to be the volume of work performed by workers within working hours as a work result with a certain work quality .


The compound work performance is made up of work and performance . The business performance is to be assumed as an objective-oriented action in the company that serves to produce goods or services . It is therefore not justified to start from the meaning of the term “ performance ” in physics , which would lead to the fact that the work performance would represent a tautology , because “performance” is defined in physics as “work per time span” and therefore the The term “work performance” could linguistically be brought into the form “work-work per time period”. Rather, under the physical term “work output” means the “type and amount of work per period of time”.


Human work performance is an object of knowledge, especially in business administration , ergonomics , work physiology and work psychology , so that work performance can be viewed from different perspectives.

Human work performance is a decisive criterion for the production factor work . In this context, business administration understands work performance as the process of reshaping a work object and the result of the work performed ( work result ). The consideration for the work performed by the employer to the employee paid wages , the same time the price is for the production factor work. According to Hermann Böhrs, determining factors of work performance are in particular the existing qualifications of the workforce , the use of the necessary work equipment , the work method used , the work intensity , the work productivity , the degree of use of the working hours , the work tasks , the work environment and the material resistance. He understands material resistance to be the resistance that work equipment opposes to human work.

Ergonomics examines the increase in work performance (intensification of work) and the work result with constant work performance ( rationalization ), work physiology is interested in the causes of fluctuations in work performance over the course of the day and records these in a work curve . The psychologist Hugo Münsterberg recognized in 1912 that "in the interest of economic success as well as in the interest of personal development for every economic job the right personality must be found". The Hawthorne Effect made it clear that group relationships have a greater impact on work performance than financial incentive systems or break regulations .


As early as 1876, the economist Lujo Brentano recognized the dependence of work performance on wages and working hours . The psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin began researching work-psychological relationships between fatigue and exercise at work in 1890 . In 1902, his research resulted in an m-shaped work curve that reflected the fluctuations in work performance within 24 hours. He proved that the daily and weekly work performance does not remain constant, but is subject to more or less strong fluctuations.

In 1955 the business economist Erich Gutenberg divided the work performance into “object-related” and “dispositive work performance”. In doing so, he understood “object-related work” to mean all activities “that are directly connected with the provision of services, the utilization of services and financial tasks”. He saw all work “related to the management and control of operational processes” as “dispositive work performance”. In 1958, Gutenberg pointed out that human work performance in a company was determined by his skills and drive . Abilities were his physical, mental and emotional capacities, by drives he understood a “positive attitude towards work” (ie work motivation ). He calls these factors subjective working conditions , while objective working conditions include work technique , workplace design and break regulations .

For Hermann Böhrs in 1958, wages had to meet the principles of company wage structure:

  • Appropriate remuneration : it must correspond to the physical, mental and emotional demands that the type of work places on the staff ;
  • Performance-based pay : it must correspond to the work performance according to the level of performance.

For the occupational physiologist Otto Graf (1893–1962), work performance in 1960 consisted of the following factors:

It should be noted that for business economists, work productivity is in the foreground when it comes to work performance, but for work physiologists, the object of knowledge is the human body and its suitability for work.

In 1960 Konrad Mellerowicz pointed out that performance can be described as an activity on the one hand, and as an activity result on the other, the latter being of overriding importance in business administration.

Work performance metrics

Several business metrics deal with measuring job performance.

Labor productivity

Work performance can be measured as work productivity , provided that output and input can be measured. It should be noted here that productivity is a purely technical quantity. Productivities can best be compared within an industry or with the same activity ( homogeneity (equality) of working conditions).

Shoe company A and B compare their productivity:
  • Schuster A produces 50 pairs of shoes in 5 hours: output = 10 shoes per hour.
  • Schuster B produces 15 pairs of shoes in 1 hour: output = 15 shoes per hour.

Here, the manufactured shoes are the work result (the product as so-called output) and the working hours used are the labor input (input).

Calculation of labor productivity in general
  • Labor productivity cobbler A: 50 pairs of shoes / 5 working hours = 10 shoes per hour
  • Labor productivity cobbler B: 15 pairs of shoes / 1 hour of work = 15 shoes per hour
The productivity factor for shoemaker A is therefore 10 shoes per hour and for B 15 shoes per hour.

The example makes it clear that with very high numbers, it is not always possible to see at first glance which company is more productive.

When carrying out such measurements, it is particularly important to consider the scales used. In the above example, the quality and design (e.g. shoe size and thus the amount of material) of the shoes produced are not taken into account, which may lead to an incorrect assessment by the two shoemakers. Furthermore, it is not taken into account whether cobbler B can keep up this performance over a shift (e.g. 8 hours).

In some work areas it is not sufficiently possible to set up suitable standards for measuring work performance.


A comparison between different industries , however, is possible with the profitability calculation:



An economically working worker will consequently have a factor> 1.0.

A cobbler and an author compare their profitability:
  • A shoemaker sells 20 pairs of shoes for € 50 in an hour. It took him 60 hours to make the shoes, each costing € 20.
  • An author sells his 420 page column to a publisher for € 5 per page. It took him 80 hours to write his column, each of which cost him € 40.
Calculation of profitability through
  • Profitability cobbler:

The factor 0.83 expresses the efficiency of production.

  • Profitability Author:
Neither the shoemaker nor the author work to cover costs, since the efficiency factor is <1. But the cobbler worked less loss-making than the author.

Business point of view

In business administration , the general terms productivity and economic efficiency are also comprehensively appreciated. While productivity describes the quantitative relationship between output and input of the production process, economic efficiency compares the value-based output (income) with the value-based input (effort):

If several production factors are used, the above-mentioned key figure loses its informative value because it makes no sense to summarize material consumption quantities, human working hours and machine hours into one sum to determine the input. In practice, therefore, more partial production indicators are determined, such as


The goal of entrepreneurial activity in the market economy system is to achieve a state of affairs through systematic action that goes beyond the fulfillment of minimum conditions, according to which long-term expenses must be covered by income .


  • Wolfgang Brandes, Peter Weise : Work performance of work groups as a process of self-organization . In: Economy and Society . Yearbook 12: Social Cooperation . Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1995, pp. 263–302, here p. 267.

Individual evidence

  1. Werner Pfeiffer / Ulrich Dörrie / Edgar Stoll: Human work in industrial production , 1977, p. 15
  2. Joseföffelholz: Repetitorium der Betriebswirtschaftslehre , 1966, p. 250
  3. ^ Hermann Böhrs: Work performance and wages. , 1958, p. 9
  4. Joseföffelholz: Repetitorium der Betriebswirtschaftslehre , 1966, p. 256
  5. ^ Hugo Münsterberg: Psychology and Economic Life , 1912, p. 86
  6. Lujo Brentano: About the relationship of wages and working hours to work performance. , 1876, p. 11
  7. John P. Hylan / Emil Kraepelin: About the effect of short working hours. In: Emil Kraepelin (Ed.): Psychologische Arbeit, Volume 4, Issue 3, 1902, pp. 454–494
  8. a b Erich Gutenberg: Fundamentals of Business Administration , Volume 1: Production , 1955, p. 208
  9. Erich Gutenberg: Introduction to Business Administration. 1958, p. 57
  10. Erich Gutenberg: Introduction to Business Administration , 1958, p. 59
  11. ^ Hermann Böhrs: work performance and wages , 1958, p. 16
  12. Otto Graf: Arbeitssphysiologie , 1960, p. 10
  13. Konrad Mellerowicz: Achievement. In: Hans Seischab / Karl Schwantag: Concise Dictionary of Business Administration , Volume III, 1960, Sp. 3773
  14. ^ Jean-Paul Thommen , Ann-Kristin Achleitner : main volume (=  general business administration ). 4. revised and exp. Edition. Gabler Verlag , Wiesbaden 2003, ISBN 3-409-43016-4 , p. 104 .
  15. Günter Wöhe , Ulrich Döring : Introduction to General Business Administration . 24th edition. Vahlen, Munich 2010, ISBN 978-3-8006-3795-9 , pp. 38 .