Research puts spotlight on untapped productivity potential of seven million UK workers

23 per cent of UK employees say they feel ‘unproductive’ at work, rising to 28 per cent of Generation Z[1] employees, research for Vodafone has found

New research for Vodafone reveals that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of UK employees rate themselves as ‘unproductive’ at work, equating to seven million of the nation’s total workforce[2]. At a time when improving the UK’s labour productivity is high on the agenda, the survey of more than 3,000 UK employees reveals there is an untapped opportunity for employers to help boost workforce productivity.

Perceived productivity slips even further amongst Generation Z employees. When asked to rate their productivity out of ten, with ten being the highest possible number, 28 per cent of Generation Z employees gave themselves an ‘unproductive’ score between 0 and 6, compared to the national average of 23 per cent.

The research highlights some of the steps businesses can take to increase productivity.

Boosting the digital toolkit

 To drive up productivity, UK businesses need to look at how they create a digital workplace. Nearly 2 in 5 (38 per cent) employees agree that their ideal place of work would have the most up-to-date technology on the market. Those who do have the right technology to do their job effectively like their job more than those who don’t. Furthermore, more than half say the right technology helps them to be more productive. Currently however more than two fifths (42 per cent) of employees say poor technology is stopping them being as productive as they would like to be.

Working smarter

Creating a way of working that best serves the wider business and its customers can enhance employee productivity.   A key part of this is where staff are getting their work done. More than half (58 per cent) of employees surveyed still work the majority of the time in their employer’s office or building, meaning workspace remains a vital component of how effective employees are able to be. But with 43 per cent of employees working from a customer or project site to some extent, making sure they can work effectively and stay connected to their colleagues and customers from wherever they are will also help increase output.

Surprisingly, for Generation Z workers the most important factor in making them more productive is the team around them – 74 per cent as compared with just 60 per cent of baby-boomers. So alongside having the technology available to collaborate with their colleagues, creating a successful team environment continues to matter to individuals.

At the same time, over half of workers (51 per cent) of the UK’s employees believe processes at work stop them being productive, while almost the same number (47 per cent) blame too many meetings. Four in ten (42 per cent) reveal that the stress they are under is holding them back.

Tony Bailey, Head of Regional Business at Vodafone UK commented:

“Across the UK people are looking for support from their employers to help them be their best at work. While a third of employees believe they are ‘very productive’, there is a huge opportunity for employers to look at what changes they can make to unlock the potential of the significant proportion of the workforce who don’t think they are working as well as they could be.

“Examining how and where people need and want to work is the first step to understanding where the introduction of smarter processes and technologies can bring enhancements. Each employee, job, organisation and customer will have different expectations and requirements, meaning there is no one size fits all when it comes to working practices and flexibility. However, this latest research shows that both technology and teamwork are seen as important by employees of all ages when it comes to how they view their own productivity. The communication technologies that are being used by more and more businesses are one way to boost collaboration amongst employees, in and out of the office. This in turn will ultimately create a more engaged, productive, responsive workforce.”

[1] Those born after 1996

1 Calculated based on figures from the National Office of Statistics on the UK labour market which state that as of September 2017, there are 32.14 million people employed in the UK. With 23 per cent giving themselves an ‘unproductive’ rating of 0-6 out of 10 for individual productivity, this amounts to 7,392,200 employees

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