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Poor productivity – why does it happen and what is it costing your business?


Posted on: Thursday October 03, 2019

We all have our off days. But what if those off days turn into off weeks or even months for some of your staff? A cycle of unproductivity amongst your workforce can have repercussions right across the business, so understanding the reasons why poor productivity can easily become an issue and the impact it can have is key to creating positive change. Here are just some of the reasons why your employees might be sliding down the slippery unproductivity slope.


Probably one of the biggest causes of poor productivity is tiredness. In fact, productivity decreases between 2.5% to 6% depending on a person’s level of tiredness, something which can cost employers between £1000-£3000 per employee every year. When supposedly 1 in every 5 people feel unusually tired and 1 in 10 have prolonged fatigue, it is no wonder tiredness costs business. Not only this, but fatigued employees can cause a whole other set of issues within business, including health and safety and cognitive risks. This can introduce potential further costs for a business, including the time taken up fixing these mistakes. Employers can help challenge this issue by providing environments that have good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels, with tasks that provide a variety of interest and change regularly for their staff.


A recent survey showed a staggering 40% of people are bored at work in the UK, with over half of respondents feeling that they have not experienced any personal development since starting at their company. If that wasn’t enough, 26% of people say they do the exact same job every day, regardless of hierarchy, showing that this problem lies deeper than just frontline staff and is spread right across the board. In addition, 14% said there was little for them to do day to day and 16% say the tasks they do undertake are tedious. These feelings of boredom and discontent is undoubtedly going to reduce the productivity of employees, and with only 19% of workers stating that they have never felt bored in their working life, this further emphasises the apathy problem in the UK workplace.

Just some ways to combat this issue are by offering internal job schemes so that in situations where perhaps the job maybe isn’t right for that employee, they can try something new but still within your business. This could even be incentivised with a reward to further boost engagement.


Happiness is subjective but at work it is often defined as ‘the feeling that employee really enjoy what they do and they are proud of themselves, they enjoy people being around, thus they have better performance’. Happiness at work has proven to influence performance positively – and this is for several reasons. When morale is higher and workers are generally in higher spirits, they are roughly 12% more productive than unhappy workers. This is a worrying statistic when you consider that 85% of employees are dissatisfied with their current workplace and unhappy employees are 10 times more likely to take sick days.

What does this mean for you?

So what does all of this really mean for employers? In the UK labour market, productivity slumped by 0.2% in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period a year ago, which was the third consecutive quarterly drop, and continues a trend over the past 10 years for sub-standard efficiency gains. New research from Total Jobs has also found that workers spend 1 hour 24 minutes of the working day being unproductive, costing British businesses £22 billion each year.

Unproductivity clearly costs employers, but there are structures that can be put in place to help make a positive change – inspiring and engaging your workforce to ensure more satisfaction for both individuals and for your business. Employee benefits, rewards and recognition are all ways to help improve the conversation and drive engagement with your people.

To learn more about improving employee engagement, have a look at our other blogs for our top tips on shaping a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.


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