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Future of Work

Only eight per cent of companies regularly monitor their productivity levels, while factors such as absenteeism and cost of staff turnover are frequently overlooked

The majority of UK businesses fail to effectively monitor productivity, according to a new survey.

The study, from HR software and employment law advice company, BrightHR, reveals only eight per cent of companies regularly monitor productivity metrics, while less than a quarter (22 per cent) believe it is something that needs to be monitored more closely.

More than a third (38 per cent) admit they don’t know their productivity levels while 32 per cent believe it is less important to monitor than the bottom line.

Industries most in their dark are education, sales, media and marketing and professional services.

Employers believe the biggest ‘time-wasters’ – or drains – on team productivity are HR administration (31 per cent), office politics (29 per cent) and fun and play in the workplace (28 per cent). However, there is proof to indicate play at work helps boost employees’ mental wellbeing as well making the team more productive.

Moreover, more than a quarter of businesses (28 per cent) believe that fun and play in the workplace reduce productivity more than administration tasks (24 per cent), absenteeism/sick leave (16 per cent), staff training (14 per cent) and lateness (eight per cent).

Author and productivity expert Graham Allcott, who compiled the ‘It Pays to Play: Play and Productivity’ report with BrightHR, said: “We live in an age where, in theory, productivity should be booming, but in the UK at least, it’s been flat-lining for a decade. Technology affords us so many exciting ways to improve productivity, whether it’s through software to automate or make tasks easier, the ability to work flexibly from home, or the opportunities provided by the information age and global connectedness. But there is also a downside, which many businesses just don’t see or mitigate.

“Many workers feel like the boundaries between work and life are blurring, that they’re required to check email constantly no matter what time of day or night, or that they’re being monitored and micro-managed. So creating a culture of trust, where people can feel engaged to have fun at work and participate in constantly improving productivity has never been more vital.”

The relationship between wellbeing at work, productivity and low rates of absenteeism is well established and 90 per cent of those surveyed either strongly agree/agree that a good relationship with employees has a positive effect on productivity.

However, more than two-thirds of businesses (69 per cent) don’t know how absenteeism hits their profits.

Only four per cent of all business owners surveyed cite a willingness to have fun with colleagues

BrightHR’s research highlights the positive impact workplace fun has on staff morale, creativity and productivity – ultimately, boosting the bottom line through reduced absence, enhanced levels of creativity and higher productivity.

Their research shows 62 per cent of employees who had no sick days in the last three months experienced some form of fun in the workplace. The research also found 58 per cent of people who hadn’t experienced workplace fun had been off sick 11 or more days, compared to 42 per cent of those who had experienced workplace fun.

“Culture doesn’t just happen”, conitnues Allcott, “It needs nurturing, and business leaders need to do everything possible to reduce distractions and think more creatively about how to reduce the low-value tasks to make the space for what really matters.”

But the majority of business owners surveyed take a simplistic view of employee engagement and its relation to productivity, with almost two-thirds (63 per cent) believing that the top attribute of an engaged employee is being fully committed to achieving results.

Paul Tooth, Co-Founder & CEO of BrightHR, said: “It’s alarming to find that so many British businesses simply don’t measure productivity, and more than this, they are in the dark about the real business benefits of it.

“It goes without saying that the more engaged workers are, the more productive they will be. But employees cannot take a simplistic view to employee engagement.

“Technologies such as the internet and smart phones have changed the way we work and have changed employees’ relationships with their jobs. Business leaders need to embrace a working culture that places an importance on play.

“Having fun at work, be it a game of ping pong or an office bake-off, engages employees and improves staff morale. Our research had proven that this reduces absenteeism and employment law issues, in turn increasing productivity and, ultimately, profitability.”

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