Productivity Freeway Exit Sign

Productivity at UK businesses is being hampered by a lack of clarity and direction, a new study has revealed.  A third of UK employees (33 per cent) believe that their business suffers from a lack of direction, a cause for concern for business leaders during a time when productivity levels in Britain have already dipped in 2018. Conducted by work-management software company, Asana, the research identifies key areas that need to be addressed by management to improve staff retention, performance and overall productivity.

Understanding the bigger picture

The onus on productivity is an important one for UK businesses. According to McKinsey, an improvement to business practices could see a £100 billion increase in UK economic growth. Yet,two-thirds of UK employees work for companies whose productivity is still below average.

Asana’s research reveals over half (51 per cent) of UK employees believe they would be more productive if they understood how the tasks they were completing fitted into the wider company objectives. 49 per cent estimate gaining that understanding would increase their productivity levels by 50 per cent, and 1 in 5 people believe it could make them 75 per cent more productive.

Downfall of traditional hierarchy

The research also highlights how clarity decreases when scaling the ‘traditional hierarchy’ of business. Half of UK employees (50 per cent) believe that their leadership team does not fully understand how work is completed in their organisation. Specifically, there is a major disconnect between management and employees completing the work. This has major implications for resourcing that undermine planning and put the long-term ability of an organisation to perform at risk.

Teams in silos

As a picture emerges of a lack clarity in regards to hierarchy, statistics also point to a lack of clarity amongst teams that work alongside one another. 70 per cent of employees say having more sight of what other teams in their company are doing and why they are doing it would improve their company’s performance.

“We’re operating in something McKinsey calls the ‘Age of Urgency’, where businesses must move quickly to remain competitive. However, whilst moving at pace can initially fast-track growth, a lack of clarity ultimately undermines the ability of the business to execute. If businesses cannot bridge the gap between their overall objectives, and the execution of tasks by both teams and individuals, they will not survive,” explained Chris Farinacci, Head of Business at Asana.

“As collaboration tools have proliferated the UK has not seen an upswing in productivity, and people are rightly asking why. Our research has identified a chasm between many leaders of businesses and their employees, who don’t understand the value in the work they are doing and so aren’t giving it their all. Until this clarity is provided from top to bottom the UK will always struggle to solve its productivity conundrum.”

An Asana customer comments: “As a multi billion pound business, with over 440,000 employees, ensuring all work aligns to the broader business objectives and mission can be challenging. To help solve this many of our teams are embracing collaboration and Work Management tools, particularly to help with the delivery of digital content across all seven of Tesco’s digital brand channels, including our website and apps.  Asana gives us far greater clarity into teammates’ workload and availability meaning we can more effectively plan and manage ad hoc requests across the team and ultimately be more productive. We’re focusing on content velocity to better predict content delivery dates on projects – ensuring that our teams are achieving their best work, against a realistic time frame.”