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UK workers 'suffering productivity crisis'

(Image credit: Image Credit: Bbernard / Shutterstock)

British businesses are failing to hit their top potential by keeping younger workers happy and productive, research has claimed.

A new survey from Vodafone found that the so-called 'generation Z' workforce, (those aged 18-24) often found themselves suffering from bouts of unproductiveness due to a number of workplace issues - potentially costing their employers millions in lost work.

The study, which quizzed over 3,000 UK workers, found that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of UK employees would rate themselves as ‘unproductive’ whilst at work, equating to seven million of the nation’s total workforce. 

Inflexible work processes were identified as the biggest hurdle to productivity, being identified by 51 per cent of UK workers, with too many meetings (47 per cent) and stress (42 per cent) also named.

The survey suggests that technology can play a key role in improving the outlook for businesses, as investing in new digital tools and working practices was highlighted by many respondents as a key factor in productivity, with more than half the respondents saying that the right technology helps them to be more productive.

Currently however more than two fifths (42 per cent) of employees say poor technology is stopping them being as productive as they would like to be - despite 38 per cent saying that their ideal place of work would have the most up-to-date technology on the market. 

However the unproductive figure rises to 28 per cent when focusing on the younger, 18-24 generation of workers, many of whom will be brand new to the workplace.

The lack of productivity appears to have several leading factors, the study found, suggesting that many businesses still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding the so-called Generation Z.

This was despite an increasingly multi-generational workforce admitting that they needed the influence of a younger generation. The feeling is more than mutual, however, with 74 per cent of 18-24 year olds saying that their team is the most important factor in making them more productive. 

“Across the UK people are looking for support from their employers to help them be their best at work," said Tony Bailey, head of regional business at Vodafone UK. "While a third of employees believe they are ‘very productive’, there is a huge opportunity for employers to look at what changes they can make to unlock the potential of the significant proportion of the workforce who don’t think they are working as well as they could be."

“Examining how and where people need and want to work is the first step to understanding where the introduction of smarter processes and technologies can bring enhancements. Each employee, job, organisation and customer will have different expectations and requirements, meaning there is no one size fits all when it comes to working practices and flexibility. However, this latest research shows that both technology and teamwork are seen as important by employees of all ages when it comes to how they view their own productivity. The communication technologies that are being used by more and more businesses are one way to boost collaboration amongst employees, in and out of the office. This in turn will ultimately create a more engaged, productive, responsive workforce.”

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is News and Features Editor working across both ITProPortal and TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a technology journalist for more than five years, including spells at one of the UK's leading national newspapers. He is interested in hearing about all the latest news and developments across the Business IT world, and how companies are using new technology to help push forward their work and make their customer's lives easier.