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Research shows a global productivity crisis.

Posted by: Matt Cobb


Global accounts software company Sage, recently conducted research of 3,500 employees across companies of all sizes in the US, Canada and UK, on the age old topic of productivity.

Look around your office, if you think that at least 2 or 3 of your colleagues are not contributing to your shared mission, then read on.

Ever since the industrial revolution used a clock to measure output, workforce productivity has been a focus of business. Over a third of employees admitted in the report that they were productive for less than 30 hours per week. Based on this and an average working week of 40 hours, employees are only productive for 3.75 days out of 5.

However, not surprisingly, 78% of respondents claimed their productivity increases when the experience is positive, and for younger people and millennials this jumps to 92%.

Sage claims we are in a midst of a global productivity crisis. The IMF reports that if we had continued the same level of productivity growth as pre-financial crisis, the overall GDP would be an estimated 5% higher. But to blame this productivity drop wholly on the financial crisis is misleading because overall productivity growth has been stagnating for several years.

Additionally, the report has picked up on a global engagement crisis with 66% of participants either partly or not partly engaged at all at work - that means only 1 in 3 employees are motivated and productive.

The report suggests that one issue contributing to lowered productivity is the general workforce experience. This is the outcome of all interactions between an organisation and its people and it matters because employees are telling companies that workforce experiences are a critical ingredient to success.

Leading brands such as Google, Facebook or Apple offer contemporary work spaces with free food, beer fridges, ping pong tables and bean bags; typical of current start-up culture. Business owners believe these perks create a relaxed and fun working environment, and that these benefits are important to their employees.

However the research actually showed that employees across all age groups think such benefits add little value to their workforce experience. 53% of respondents felt that this new wave of games and fringe benefits in the office were more distracting than anything else.

The main issue, according to the report, is that employers are simply not asking workers how their environment can be improved. Only 12% of employees are being asked regularly, whereas more than 50% had never been asked at all.

The report found 3 main areas of value for employees;

1. 81% said that flexible and remote working is important to them

2. 66% said that being appreciated and recognised is the most important aspect of employment

3. 92% said that a positive workforce experiences are important

A struggle which regularly pops up is how businesses find building and retaining teams of top talent. There is constant a ‘war’ for talent and 64% of senior managers claim to be bombarded by recruiters.

The report summarises with the point that businesses need to become people centric companies: ‘Where people are the most important asset they should seek to improve productivity through a more engaged workforce, this can be done by creating employee experiences.’ A people centric company truly values its employees.

The findings about some workforce experiences may surprise you – you mean people don’t value bean bags and beer fridges?! Instead, people are seeking employers that understand the need for a work/life balance, and that expectations have changed dramatically over the past decade.

Sage is using the report to justify it’s latest technology which allows people to work from home, however how you can achieve a high number of positive workforce experiences if you’re sat at on your own at home. What is your take on the situation?

Read the full report here:

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