Two-thirds of employees admit they waste at least an hour a day at work, research has revealed.
The report, Productivity in the UK by Capita Workforce Management Solutions, also found just one in three (32 per cent) managers feel their business is very productive, but around three-quarters (71 per cent) do not measure employee productivity at all.
When asked what prevents them being productive, a third of the 250 workers from blue-collar industries questioned said talking to colleagues, which just over half (51 per cent) of the 255 managers surveyed agreed with. Around a quarter (23 per cent) of workers said bad management was a cause of poor productivity, while 44 per cent of management respondents blamed tea and smoking breaks for low productivity levels.
“The findings are higher than I expected, but the way some people define ‘wasting’ time is different to how others might interpret it,” Katie Bailey, professor of management in the University of Sussex’s department of business and management, told People Management.
“For example, many employees often don’t take a lunch break and sit at their desk to have something to eat as they carry on working instead. Work intensity, however, is increasing; more and more people in a lot of industries are working under immense pressure and at high speed, so the idea of wasting time runs counter to that.”
HR has a key part to play in boosting workplace productivity, said Bailey. “Training, development, employee engagement and investment in employees’ progress are all vital to improving productivity, as is enhancing your management style,” she said. “Workforce planning and succession planning, as well as making sure employees have the equipment they need to do their jobs effectively, also have significant roles.”
Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the CIPD, agreed that measuring productivity was important: “It drives living standards, wages and economic growth. The lack of a more agreed common measure means businesses have little way of objectively comparing themselves against the industry norm or the statistics published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), hence most businesses rate themselves as above average,” he said.
Brinkley added that, although most companies are aware of productivity – they know it matters and they think they are measuring it – they “use measures of general business performances such as sales, profitability and market share”.
The Capita survey is not the first study to warn of the UK’s lagging productivity levels. ONS figures showed Britain was 15.9 per cent below the average productivity level in the rest of the G7 countries in 2015.
Meanwhile, a survey by organisation development consultancy h2h, published earlier this week, discovered that more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of managers felt underprepared when they took on their first management role and a similar proportion (74 per cent) spend the majority of their time doing something other than managing their team.