Guest blog by HR commentor Olivia Stone
Why do you think it is that UK workers are around 30% less productive than in the US, Germany and France? Could it be the inclination to check our Facebook feeds every 2 minutes, the British tendency to have a little moan, or just simply undesirable working conditions? There is no certain answer, but we can allude to what may be affecting productivity in the workplace, and gain an insight into how much it is actually affecting businesses and employees.
Today, 20% of employers believe that their employers put less than 5 hours work a day (CNBC), equating to nearly half the time they are actually contracted under. Let’s take a look at some of the potential roots of our procrastination, and consider whether any simple solutions exist.
- Physical Distractions
While we may try and resist them, distractions at work surround us. From mobile phones to talkative colleagues, they encase us and consume us. In fact according to The Telegraph, the average employee wastes 60 hours per month, that is 759 hours annually due to these workplace distractions. Though it must be said that in the modern work environment, distraction and opportunities for procrastination are greater than ever, there are ways in which we can help focus a workforce’s environment to prevent distraction.
- Emotional Discomfort
Another contributing factor to our high levels of procrastination at work is the state of an employee’s emotional discomfort, or in other words, how preoccupied an employee is with their personal thoughts and stresses. Forbes revealed that over 34% of people claim there are high levels of stress in their workplace, that is over one third of the working population in Britain! When this stress is not handled well, workplaces are likely to be subject to increased absenteeism, medical compensation and of course suffer from low productivity. However, it is also worth considering the common origins of stress, and whether there lie plausible solutions. Is your stress shared or personal? Either way, it is a HR representative’s responsibility to ensure that these stresses are managed with consideration and discretion for the individual’s circumstances.
- Physical Discomfort
Amongst all of the causal factors which affect productivity levels within an office, physical discomfort is highly likely to rank top, despite being the easiest one for HR managers to find a simple solution to. A recent survey investigating the effects of temperature on workplace productivity found that almost 2,000 minutes are wasted a year by employees attempting to adjust to their surrounding temperature. In the workplace time is money, which means that businesses in the UK are wasting an estimate of £15 billion annually due to a combination of these three factors. Perhaps in improving this third factor (physical discomfort), the previous two factors (physical distraction, emotional discomfort) would subsequently benefit from this development?
Workplace distractions have and will always exist. Whether it be a demolition site outside your window or an amusing GIF you just can’t stop watching, distractions will always be part of our workplace. By taking these factors into account, and by understanding their causes and potential solutions to these problems we can mould a more productive workplace.