The UKs problem with productivity in the workplace

17th Jul 2019

The UK is 16%1 less productive than the rest of the G7 and, in the four years from 2013/14, sickness absence had risen from eight to 14 days and a rise in mental health-related absence was also noticeable.

A new eBook written by HR consultants Adviser Plus has revealed the UK’s issues with productivity in 2019, and how HR managers can start to tackle this problem in their own business.

Compared to other countries, the UK’s shortfall in productivity has long been an economic headache. Despite significant increases in employment levels, productivity has actually worsened, and even though the UK reportedly works long hours, valuable output is low.

So what is effecting these statistics and how can HR managers start to fight back against this trend?


Simplifying and streamlining tasks and objectives for the workforce is a sure fire of way of improving wellbeing and productivity.

  • Ensuring that new technologies are implemented correctly, with employees given sufficient training on how to use them can be a huge time saver. It can save workers the stress of having to battle to understand a system which is meant to help them.
  • Adequate investment in recruitment will save employees overloading themselves with tasks and therefore burning themselves out. Keep an eye on this with regular employee meets.


Making the most of the working day is at the core of productivity. When employees become less efficient, tasks can be delivered to a poorer quality and deadlines can be missed.

  • Implement a comprehensive and well thought out onboarding process. It will need to explain clearly what makes great productivity and what constitutes bad productivity. Successful organisations are explicit in what they expect from their employees and reap the benefits.
  • Set out a clear meetings protocol for your business to avoid loss of productive time to meetings that overrun.


Companies need their employees to be engaged, understand the work they do and need to be rewarded and recognised accordingly.

  •  Create ways to boost the workplace environment in an attempt to heighten workplace happiness and wellbeing but be careful not to overdo this. Strike a balance and set boundaries and goals.
  • Ensure mobile workers keep their work/life balance healthy by asking them to not reply to work emails or work on projects outside of office hours.

Data Insight

Maintaining and monitoring HR data insights allows professionals to make informed, data-led decisions which should lead to optimal outcomes for businesses.

  • Reliable data can lead to faster resolutions and allow HR professionals to put together business cases for essential upgrades and updates to a business’s protocols.
  • Enabling employees to input their own data into a database can save time when it comes to the appraisal process and allow them to have a bigger say when it comes to career progression.

Rory Jackson, head of marketing & customer acquisition from AdviserPlus commented:

“Productivity in UK workforces has been a problem for a few years now, and it’s clear that it’s going to take some strong action and creative ideas from businesses to solve the decline in output we’re seeing nationwide.

“Fortunately, organisations are starting to see success implementing strategies entwined with workplace wellbeing, technology and investment which are boosting not only productivity but revenue."


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By LouisaO
26th Jul 2019 15:20

Interesting article. I am interested in the use of stats for the productivity versus absence. Also that it has "long been a headache", it would be useful for the article to show the decline in productivity.

The increase in mental health issues is not a new phenomena, we [HR] have seen this increase over the last 10 years and has overtaken the "bad back". In discussions with other colleagues, it has been a case of whether it was always there, or that employees now do not feel as much shame in talking about their mental health issues.

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