Third of employees tempted to quit over ‘work admin’

12 Oct 2017 By Hayley Kirton

Large organisations have the most problems with duplicated tasks and busywork

A third (31 per cent) of workers are tempted to quit their job, or have already left a role, because they are spending too much time on ‘work admin’, a new study has found.

The survey of 2,034 UK employees, which was carried out by productivity platform Asana, also revealed that two in five (42 per cent) workers spent most of their working day on ‘work about work’ tasks – including going to meetings, digging out information or organising their workload – rather than doing their actual job.

“Today, even at the world’s greatest companies, there are still constant challenges to keeping everyone on the same page, and way too much time is spent on ‘work about work’ instead of getting work done,” said Chris Farinacci, head of business at Asana. “Information overload, combined with a lack of clarity, has led to these poor working habits, and it’s now outright limiting the productivity and morale of UK business teams and employees.”

Rachel Suff, senior employee relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “There is evidence of increasing work intensity in UK workplaces that does not necessarily lead to enhanced performance and productivity. This means that employers need to foster smart and inclusive working practices that encourage higher levels of engagement and commitment, which in turn can lead to positive organisational outcomes. Poor management practices have long been the weak link in the UK's weak productivity performance, and we need more focus on improving the skills of line managers so that they can provide well-designed work for their teams.”

The survey also found that the problem of work admin is worst at companies with 500-1,000 staff, with 58 per cent of employees at businesses of this size saying they were asked to work on tasks that would then be duplicated by somebody else at the organisation.

Meanwhile, 53 per cent of people working at these larger companies said they spent at least half of their day organising and reorganising their work, compared with just 36 per cent of those working for businesses with under 50 employees.

“The bigger your team, the bigger your mission, the bigger your coordination problem,” said Farinacci. “And because work is now conducted across a range of technologies – from email to chat to shared documents – it is especially difficult for teams inside these larger firms to get that much-needed clarity and accountability on their work, projects and campaigns. Collaboration seems to be at an all-time high, but productivity and morale are still quite low.”

Asana’s research comes at a time when official figures are warning that the UK’s productivity has all but ground to a halt. The Office for Budget Responsibility revealed earlier this week that it had previously been overestimating the country’s productivity, which had grown at just 0.2 per cent a year for the past five years. The watchdog for the UK’s finances also warned that productivity growth could be expected to be weak for the next five years.

And figures from the Office for National Statistics, released earlier this month, suggested that labour productivity had fallen for the second consecutive quarter between April and June.

Meanwhile, a survey published last month by research company Leesman revealed that only 57 per cent of employees worldwide believe their workplace fosters and promotes productivity.

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