Work output includes measures of the quality and efficiency of production by companies, people and machines. Output is often compared to input, or the cost to generate the output, to determine the potential profitability of a production process or activity.
When measuring people, work output often refers to the number of products a person produces or the number of items sold in a given period of time. A manufacturing worker might produce 50 goods in an hour, for instance. In sales, work output is the amount of revenue a given representative earns in a day, week or month. Companies often have thresholds, or quotas, which each individual worker is expected to produce. When one worker's output is much less than others receiving the same pay, he risks termination.
With machines, work output refers to the number of products a machine can produce in a given period of time. Typically, companies use machines to manufacture goods because they can put out more in an hour than a person could manually. Often, company leaders must compare the output of a current machine against the potential output of a new machine when weighing an investment. The relative costs of operating each machine compared to outputs are also important to know.