Lack of flexibility is killing UK productivity

Aspire To Aspire

New research shows:

  • Working 9 to 5 is a bad idea
  • Monday morning blues don’t exist, staff are most efficient on a Monday morning
  • Regular breaks at work are a good thing and have a positive impact on productivity
  • Staff are more productive when working from home
  • Employees with more freedom to perform personal tasks at work such as checking social media, will have a better output and are more engaged

New research shows that highly engaged staff are more likely to be late for work, do personal tasks during working hours such as online shopping and checking social media accounts, and work from home.

According to the What’s killing UK productivity report highly engaged staff have regular short breaks during working hours, however when they do sit down to work they are more focused, work longer hours and are more productive than those with low engagement.

In contrast, staff with low engagement appear to be restricted in what they can do: they are far more likely to arrive at work on time, not be allowed to work at home, and don’t perform personal tasks during working hours such as talking to colleagues.

Regular breaks make you more productive at work

Time employees spend on personal tasks each day

30 minutes  1 Hour 2 Hours
make tea/coffee/hot drink 69% 18% 13%
chat to colleagues on personal level 62% 23% 15%
answer personal emails or surf online  51% 28% 21%
check social media 44% 32% 24%

Nearly half (48%) of highly engaged employees regularly take part in personal tasks at work such as checking social media accounts or booking a holiday, because they believe a break away from their work every now and then is a good thing.

Forty-six percent of highly engaged employees check their social media accounts at work every day, and a third of this group will spend up to two hours every single day doing so equating to 10 hours every week.

“Highly engaged employees are more productive so why are they spending so much time on social media?” asks Bill Alexander, CEO at Red Letter Days for Business. “The research shows that despite these employees spending more time on personal tasks, when they sit down to do their job they are focused and have a better output – over three fifths of this group (68%) will also work overtime every single day, compared to half (46%) of low engaged employees who said they don’t work any overtime.”

The survey, commissioned by incentive and reward experts, Red Letter Days for Business, explored the hygiene factors in the workplace that are contributing to the UK’s productivity woes. According to Office for National Statistics figures, in 2015 UK workforces are 31% less productive than those of the US and 17% less productive than the rest of the G7 countries. This is despite workers in the UK working similar hours to elsewhere.

Working 9 to 5 is a bad idea

What day and time do employees feel most productive?

Most productive day

Monday 26%
Tuesday 21%
Wednesday 18%
Thursday 10%
Friday 15%
Weekend 10% use the weekend to get their work done

Highly engaged staff

31% said Monday is their most productive day

Low engaged staff

24% said Friday is their most productive day

Most productive time of day

8am-10am 37%
10:30am-11:30am 29%
12pm-2pm 11%
2pm-3pm 8%
3pm-4:30pm 5%
4:30pm-6pm 4%
After 6pm 5%

“Working 9 to 5 is a bad idea,” continues Bill Alexander. “The results show that by not being too rigid about conventional Monday to Friday, nine to five working hours, employers could improve productivity among their workforces.”

We should all work from home

Finally, the report reveals that despite the technology available to businesses in the 21st century nearly half (43%) of employees are still not allowed to work from home. However, out of those that do two fifths (39%) confirmed to be more productive at home compared to being in the office, and just fifteen percent said they are less productive.

This research indicates that trust and flexibility are key components to create an engaged workforce. “Employees who enjoy more flexibility on timekeeping at work as well as where they work are more engaged, work longer hours and are more productive,” says Bill Alexander.

“Give staff freedom to switch from office tasks to personal time and it will have a motivating impact on a workforce.”

Recommendations for employers to improve employee engagement:

  • Allow your staff to work from home.
  • Give staff the flexibility to come into work early/late and leave early/late.
  • Give internet access and allow the use of social media.
  • Don’t chastise employees for doing personal tasks such as booking holidays – a break every now and then will allow them to work longer.
  • Give staff a working environment where they can chat to colleagues.

The 2015 What’s killing UK productivity survey also found that just a third (35%) of British employees are highly engaged at work, while 50% were moderately engaged and 15% had no or low engagement.,3PGPF,44H6K8,DC6R3,1

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