In terms of business and human resources, a work measurement is the length of time it takes to complete a general work task assigned to a specific job. Work measurements can be a very effective way for managers to ascertain the amount of time needed to perform work duties. In addition, a work measurement can help identify any issues or obstacles that are causing a breakdown in the ability to perform a task within a reasonable amount of time.
Work measurements are created by observing and documenting the time parameters that are required to perform certain key tasks in a work environment. Under optimum circumstances, tasks are carried out repeatedly in an approved way by several employees and the time is logged by a supervisor to determine the average time it takes to complete a set task. This work measurement is then compared to the quality of the work performed, plus anything that potentially slows the process down so that the task can be improved accordingly.
The technique for performing a work measurement study is a three-pronged approach: analysis of the work task data, new data collection and measurement, followed by synthesis of the data. This means that each of the tasks are broken down and analyzed against industry work standards to determine which vital components are to be checked for timeliness and quality of work. The data can be obtained independently from other studies within the industry or it can be based upon previous work measurement studies on similar tasks.
Once the critical work analysis takes place, the actual work is performed under close supervision and data is collected into a system for tracking certain times and tasks, such as a spreadsheet. After several work measuring tests are run, this data is reviewed in comparison to the analysis data to see how closely matched task times are, which in turn ensures that accurate and reasonable data is being collected. This overall data creates a starting point for improving certain levels of achievement and productivity for the workforce during the synthesis period.
The best work measurement provides many benefits to organizations. An accurate system of established work measurements can reduce labor costs, increase overall productivity and improve supervision of future staff. In addition, work measurements can aid an organization in making strategic hiring decisions, designing training and development programs and scheduling tasks to be performed during optimal times which help the organization to grow.