Are you wasting your employees’ time at work?

Are you wasting your employees’ time at work?

UK businesses would be £750 million better off each year if only they could help employees manage their time more effectively.

New research, called ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’, claims that UK businesses lose an average of two hours of their employees’ working time every working day. Multiply those lost hours in the working week and it amounts to 11.4 hours a week. This costs employers £11,225 per employee every year, according to an ICD White Paper ‘Bridging the Information Worker Productivity Gap in Western Europe: New Challenges and Opportunities for IT’.

How are those hours lost?

Through unnecessary activities and inefficient processes, according to Clare Evans, time management expert and author of Time Management for Dummies. Evans conducted the ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’ research on behalf of Workfront, a provider of cloud-based solutions.

What are the main findings from the research?

– less than 60% of the working day is spent on productive activity
– email is a big time waster, with the result that UK businesses lose £1.5 billion a year
– Only 14% of emails are crucial to work activity, yet emails chew up 50% of the average office workers’ time

– 57% of office workers spend an hour a day looking for missing documents
– 20% have to recreate documents that they couldn’t find
– 56% of workers feel overwhelmed and there are three factors that are contributing to this: a lack of planning, changing priorities and limited resources

How can HR professionals, line managers and employees themselves overcome this situation? Naturally, Workfront recommends that organisations implement more effective, innovative systems and processes in the workplace. HR should definitely consider this and look at how processes can be made more efficient and more user friendly.

The report went on to identify four top productivity killers in the modern workplace. They are:

1. Meetings. Professionals attend an average of 60 meetings each month, with managers complaining that 30% of their time in meetings is wasted
– Impromptu, drop-by meetings also account for a lot of lost working hours. 40% of workers cited them as productivity killers
– Then there’s the time spent preparing for meetings, travelling to meetings and on follow up actions

2. Email. Workers spend four hours a day checking and managing their email, says Evans. The average office worker receives 300 plus work emails each week, with many senior managers sending and receiving over 122 emails every day, according to the Radicati Email Statistics Report 2015-2019.

3. Distractions and Interruptions. Every time someone is interrupted at work, it takes several minutes to return to the task they were concentrating on and yet, 80% of interruptions are trivial, according to ‘Why & How Your Employees Waste Time at Work’, a survey. Another survey, this time by IT consulting company, Basex, claims that every employee loses 2.1 hours every day as a result of distractions and interruptions in the workplace.

4. Poor systems and processes. This includes systems or tools that are outdated, not synched or not connected across multiple teams when they need to be.

Do you agree with the report and the four top productivity killers?

How can we overcome these things?

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any experiences you've had on improving productivity

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  • Thanks for your contributions and thoughts. It's a difficult one that will vary from organisation to organisation and your example from the NHS Mark, is spot on in terms of the focus being on activity (visible) rather than working as effectively or productively as possible.

    We've followed up this post with some suggestions to tackle the four areas covered, whilst some might seem common sense and almost simplistic it's worth ensuring that they are being followed to help us all manage our time a little more effectively

  • Hi Mike

    I agree with the top productivity killers, especially around e-mail & meetings.  I also think Mark has made a great point about workers feeling overwhelmed being linked to the environment 

    I work in an environment where culturally its about getting the job done, so a lot of focus being on activity, rather than productivity.  With departments/teams working in silos and believing because they complete activity faster and faster each year they are being productive, when in fact its the complete opposite.

    As a recently appointment L&D manager to the business it's something L&D are trying to work with the business to improve, however because activity takes the priority, it's hard to get the time with them to develop learning around how they could improve actual productivity!

  • Yes I agree with the top productivity killers i've been in situations where meetings have been a waste of time, and distracted and interrupted ...  

  • Morning Mike,

    I know that it has gone round the block but the truth is time just 'is' you can't manage it or control it and you certainly can't Loose it.  OK so it is an argument of semantics that helps those who struggle with this to avoid the subject, but I did focus in on one stat from your post.

    56% of workers feel overwhelmed and there are three factors that are contributing to this: a lack of planning, changing priorities and limited resources. 

    Lack of planning, changing priorities and limited resources, are not, in my opinion separate causes.  They are linked to the environment people are working in where a lack of resources results in poor of planning and as a consequence priorities get routinely changed.  Focus on results, at the expense of all else, has driven the needle consistently to 'do more' and 'Do it better' and do it with fewer people.  Direction of activity rarely makes enough of an appearance to be allowed to make the difference.

    I see the issues discussed as cultural, indicative of reactionary management as opposed to proactive Leadership.  They are symptoms of activity based culture, which you could view as a contradiction, surely an activity based culture should be more productive!! In theory yes, but activity culture I believe leads to a silo with each department running as fast as they can to deliver their activity in isolation. 

    Take a good deep look at the NHS, 8-9 years ago the NHS was probably delivering the Greatest volume of patient interventions in its history.  National Waiting Time Targets had brought waiting lists to an all time low, and I was close enough to the action to know of patients turning down operation because they were coming up before they were mentally ready.  At the same time, many argue that the NHS was at its most inefficient, all in the name of Activity, not productivity.

    Improving productivity, has to be differentiated from increasing activity, L&D and OD have to challenge senior Leadership to be proactive for the long term to deliver productivity.  You can't heal a symptom, like time it just is.  You have to doctor the cause.


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