Bad management holding back UK productivity

One in six workers blame low productivity on their manager

Bad management is the biggest drain on productivity in the workplace, according to a new study from ADP, which surveyed 1,300 employees across the UK. The study reveals that a third of workers (32%) regularly struggle to be productive in their job, with one in six (16%) respondents blaming their manager - ahead of inefficient systems and processes (15%) and staff shortages (13%). 

The UK has been grappling with low productivity levels for a number of years, consistently placed behind other leading economies, such as Germany and the US in official productivity tables. While recent ONS figures suggested a recovery is underway, reporting the biggest jump in productivity levels for six years, the ADP findings indicate that UK PLC isn’t out of the woods just yet.  

Workers in the financial services industry are facing the biggest issues with productivity, according to the findings, with more than two fifths (44%) saying they are only able to reach maximum productivity at most ‘some of the time.’ Within this sector, more than a quarter of professionals (28%) blame inefficient systems and processes, while a fifth (21%) say bad management is the biggest culprit.

Barriers to productivity also vary significantly based on age, with over 55s the most affected by bad management (20%), while 16 to 24-year olds are more affected by social media (22%) distractions from colleagues (21%) and stress (18%). Meanwhile, over 55s are revealed to be the most easily distracted in the workplace, with 17 per cent saying they are rarely or never able to be at their most productive.

“Productivity is vital for organisational and economic success, which is why maximising is a priority for employers. If the attempt to address this takes a narrow, Frederick Winslow Taylor approach, then it can be counterproductive and fail to engage and harness the creativity of their people,” commented Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK. “It might be notoriously difficult to measure and improve productivity levels, but these findings provide a good indication of the factors that are most important. Ineffective management is a major drain on employee output, not to mention motivation and engagement, which is why investment in management training is critical. Processes, systems and technology must also be updated regularly, with the input of frontline staff, to ensure they are consistently helping them to work in the best – and most productive - way possible.”

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