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Employers can unleash the productivity of their workers by allowing them more scope to use their initiative, create more stimulating work and reduce the burden of unnecessary rules and procedures, according to a new report which considers productivity from the employees’ perspective.

The latest Employee Outlook Survey from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, in partnership with Halogen Software, surveyed over 2,000 UK employees, asking what enabled them to be most productive in their jobs. The most common responses were interesting work (40 percent), being able to use their own initiative (39 percent) and being given tasks which complement their skills (25 percent). On the other hand, the most common hurdles to employee productivity were unnecessary rules and procedures (28 percent), not having the resources available to do their jobs (28 percent) and office politics (24 percent). The report highlights a need for organisations to consider how they can increase the amount of autonomy employees have at work to use their skills and ideas through more empowering leadership and line management, as well as improved job design.

Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, commented: “Productivity at work has been a real focus this year for employers and policy-makers, but it’s easy to forget that the most important perspective on the productivity debate is that of employees themselves. This survey gives us unique insight into what workers feel affects how well they work, and the answer is much simpler than many would probably assume.

Engagement is also a key factor affecting productivity at work, and the proportion of engaged employees has dropped from 39 percent to 36 percent this year, with men more likely to be disengaged at work than women.  Amongst those that are disengaged at work, 44 percent feel they are over-qualified – indeed the survey also found that overall, nearly three in ten employees (29 percent) think they are overqualified for their role. Engagement also has an impact on productivity, as significantly more disengaged employees (17 percent) say they are less productive than neutral (5 percent) or engaged (3 percent) employees. The good news is that employees point to the solution to over-qualification themselves, with three-fifths (61 percent) suggesting that broadening their job role would make better use of their skills and experience.

“There’s undoubtedly a mismatch of skills existing in the UK workforce, and we can see here how damaging over-qualification and skills mismatches can be to areas such as employee engagement, long-term retention and, of course, productivity,” McCartney concluded.