UK Productivity Is Suffering

UK Productivity is suffering

Productivity is something that companies care about intensely. That is because the higher the productivity a workplace produces, the more profitable their work will be and the more can be done. As such, you are likely to see the word very frequently as many employers strive to ensure that their employees can be as productive as possible.

The reason for employers taking an active interest is because unfortunately, the UK is suffering in terms of productivity output when compared to other nations. The United Kingdom is currently the fifth largest economy yet sits at only 15th on a table of productivity.

In an effort to examine why productivity levels in the UK are not higher, Fellowes have released a new white paper titled Productivity in the UK 2017 that saw 1,000 UK employers surveyed. The results make for interesting reading, in particular for employers hoping to increase their productivity levels.

A Surprising Number of Workers Are Unproductive

One of the key points to note in the study is that half of those surveyed admitted that they were unproductive for up to an hour a day. This shocking statistic is also backed up with the fact that an average worker gets side tracked every 35 minutes and 43% of workers claim to be distracted 15 times a day.

When looking at these statistics, it is easy to see why the UK is suffering in terms of productivity when compared to other nations. According to Fellowes, the UK is estimated to lose 21 million work days a month due to distractions combined with poor equipment, lack of flexibility and long hours. So while workers in the UK may find themselves working longer, it may be fruitless work.

The reasons for such high productivity are, understandably, varied from tea breaks (60%) to having uncomfortable workstations (25%). For the younger generation, productivity falls even further with almost half (43%) of 25-34 year olds reporting that for 2-4 hours a day they felt unproductive.

47% of respondents felt that browsing the internet interrupted their workflow and this corresponded with 16-24 year olds with 45% checking their social media. This compares to only 12% of those over 55, showing that the internet can be a large temptation to the younger workforce.

Despite the high levels of workers being unproductive, a majority felt that they would be more productive with a four day week with 61% claiming so.

Productivity levels

How Can Employers Improve Productivity?

When it comes to the 30% of people who list a colleague’s bad habit as a source of interruption or the 77% who chat with colleagues, there is unfortunately not a lot an employer can do. But what employers can actively work on is the 37% who list being too hot or the quarter (25%) who suggests that their uncomfortable chair distracts from work.

Temperature in the office will always be a contentious point for employers. What is too warm for one person will be too cold for another, but the key is to ensure that there is a comfortable balance that everyone is happy to cope with.

An article on the OPInfo Blog that discusses temperature in the office has some great advice on how to keep warm when too cold such as having a hot drink or how to keep cool by having a fan in the office. While it’s unlikely the problem will be completely resolved, there is plenty that employers can do to try and help.

The area that employers can truly succeed in improving productivity levels is by ensuring that workers always have the correct equipment to make working comfortable. Being ergonomically friendly is incredibly important as an employee who is not comfortable will not focus on their work properly. According to Fellowes, 1 in 4 office workers felt that the discomfort they feel at their desk stops productivity.

Having a badly designed desk or wrong equipment can also potentially lead to health issues with 18% reporting that they ache at the end of the day due to desk set up. Employers should ensure that every employee completes a survey that outlines any problems they may have with their work set up.

Using this information, ergonomic products can be supplied to ensure that workers are comfortable. For example, someone who complains of back ache could perhaps be provided with a back support whereas a monitor riser can be used to reduce neck strain.

One of the solutions that Fellowes lists to help improve the productivity of a workforce is to encourage flexible working. That is because 40% of workers agreed that they would be more productive if they were able to work from home.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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