The real cost of the UK productivity crisis

The latest totaljobs research has revealed that UK businesses lose £4,500 each year on every unproductive worker.

The UK’s productivity levels, calculated by looking at the GDP output per hour worked, has stagnated since the 2008 financial crisis, and currently sits 20% lower than pre-recession trends forecasted, leaving the UK as the second least productive country in the G7.

To find out more about the causes for this, totaljobs conducted a study of more than 1,000 workers and over 250 employers and discovered that the average worker spends 1 hour 24 minutes of the working day being unproductive.

Working hard or hardly working?

Only 1 in 4 UK workers believe they are consistently productive at work, which is at odds with the 9 in 10 employers who believe that their team is productive ‘most or all of the time’.

Most concerning of all is that 1 in 10 employees admit that they are unproductive for over four hours every working day.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for Brits, the biggest drain on productivity is tea and coffee breaks, followed by distractions such as colleagues talking. It seems though, that some more professional distractions have made a negative impact with excessive and often unnecessary meetings and emails draining much of workers’ time.

Ways to boost productivity

When asked what tactics could boost their productivity one in three workers argued that a shorter working day would be most effective. With less time to waste, a greater work-life balance and an obligation to repay the trust this shows, it’s clear to see there could be some benefit for this unconventional approach to the working day. This was backed by 36% of employers who are coming around to the idea that less could in fact be more.

Other options for British Bosses include social media blackout hours, reduced email flow and flexible working options. Many workers feel that the ability to work from home, free from distractions such as meetings and conversations with passers-by would help them to get the most out of the working day.

Totaljobs spoke to productivity expert Grace Marshall who explained the problem, arguing that:

“Our productivity crisis is an attention crisis. The UK workforce is full of brilliant brains, but when those brains are distracted, overwhelmed, or bored; we end up creating more noise that just keeps us busy.

“Sitting in front of a screen for long hours is not going to produce our best work. Neither will back to back meetings nor endless email chains. Companies who help their workers to focus rather than fragment their attention are the ones who will lead the way in reclaiming the UK’s productivity.”

While Chris Torres, Director at Senshi Digital in Glasgow, who has introduced a six-hour working day at his digital marketing agency to boost productivity said:

“It made a positive impact on the business instantly. My team is now more focused, more creative, and ultimately, they have a better work/life balance. We’ve found that allowing our staff to come up with their own ideas and testing these out is really beneficial for team bonding and boosting the morale of the company. Since introducing these changes, the business has been more productive, and we’ve seen faster growth and higher profitability. Most importantly of all, my staff are now happier.”

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