What Is Employee Utilization?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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Employee utilization is a reflection of how efficiently a company uses its staff. It is determined by looking at how much time employees spend on specific assignments and tasks as a percentage of their available time on the job. Low efficiency suggests that employees may be idle on the job, which costs the company money. This can also increase dissatisfaction, as bored, restless staff tend to be less happy on the job. Consultants can assist companies with underutilized personnel to determine how to apply their human resources more effectively.

This approach to management requires employees to keep accurate records on their activities. Instead of using a basic time clock to track time spent at work, the company can ask personnel to log time in association with specific projects. The time clock still monitors overall work hours, but the detailed logs show what employees are doing and when. Some workplaces facilitate such logging more than others. At a law firm, for example, staff are accustomed to tracking billable hours by client or job.


In an employee utilization review, managers can look at how much time employees spend on different tasks. Some underutilized time may be expected to handle routine tasks and maintenance activities like tidying a desk and attending office meetings that do not concern a specific job. If an employee spends a lot of time idle or working on unspecified projects, that person is not being utilized well. The company may be wasting money, and the employee’s skills are not being put to good use.

One tool for increasing employee utilization is flex scheduling, where employees develop personalized schedules. This can include opportunities to work from home or to change hours to suit the needs of specific projects. People with particular skills may also be reassigned to departments where they are more likely to be used. Managers and schedulers may also be reminded to use people with specialized skills rather than relying on general employees for tasks that might require someone with more experience and training.

Proper project management, delegation, and scheduling are also important for employee utilization. If a project manager does not create a workable schedule for a project, people may be left idle at various points waiting for work. This could include people waiting on other personnel to finish a task, or staff forced to be idle because of delays caused by problems with the project. The ability to reassign workers if they aren’t being used in situations like this can help increase employee utilization.


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Post 4

@Pharoah - I have a friend who works for a company that did an employee utilization audit and then went to flex scheduling. A lot of people now have less hours, and are consequently making less money. So in that case, doing an audit was only good for the company. Now they're paying less to get the same amount of work done!

Post 3

I think examining your employee utilization is a good thing for any company to do. After all, having people that are sitting idle is bad for the company and decreases the amount of possible profit. And it's bad for the workers, because they have less job satisfaction. So doing some kind of employee utilization audit sounds like it would be good for everyone.

Post 2

@dautsun - I can see why you would think that. But I think some companies really just want to be more productive when they examine how their time is used.

Anyway, I can definitely vouch that having nothing to do makes employees bored and restless. I once had an office job where I had very little to do, and it wasn't fun. I would get to bored and tired, and then when there was actual work to be done, I didn't feel like doing it. I think I'd rather be productive all the time.

Post 1

When companies start talking about examining their employee utilization, it kind of makes me worried people are going to lose their jobs. After all, it would be just as easy to let an under-utilized worker go as find another outlet for their skills. And if the work is already getting done, there's no incentive to keep "extra" workers.

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