Productivity remains well below the pre-financial crisis trend rate for the UK, with poor management being the main cause according to new research

More than three quarters (80%) of the UK workforce reported experiencing poor management and as a result, 55% chose to leave their job. A combination of bad management and outdated rigid practices, such as annual appraisals and performance ratings are stifling employee engagement and productivity according to the Performance Management in the 21st Century carried out by YouGov on behalf of MHR.

According to research by Canada Life Group Insurance almost half (45%) of employees say their employer does not know how to improve productivity due to poor leadership skills.

Boosting productivity has become the main priority for ministers since the Chancellor’s autumn budget revealed a sharp downgrade in economic growth. The UK has fallen behind the average for the other six members of the G7 group of industrial nations by 15% when it comes to productivity performance.

There is a clear disconnect between workers’ perceptions of productivity and economic output, as almost nine in ten (88%) respondents rate their levels of productivity at 70% or above. Of the three quarters (76%) of staff who feel their productivity is being negatively impacted at work, a fifth (22%) blame workplace culture including poor management and lack of recognition. This is topped only by a negative working environment (29%).

Research from MHR found that a number of respondents said they had experienced bullying, micro-management, aggressive and threatening behaviour from their managers during recent employment.

Michelle Shelton, Product Planning Director at MHR and author of the whitepaper, says: “While the world of work has evolved at a phenomenal pace over the past decade, in many cases, management practice and organisational culture have not. This has led to endemic employee engagement issues. The whitepaper highlights a widespread failure in the way businesses operate, uncovering the need for changes in processes, styles and supporting technology.”

When it comes to workplace culture, 70% of employees don’t feel like they belong to a team or their role in that team is valued. An even higher proportion (81%) do not agree that their line manager or boss motivates, empowers or supports them. For 78% of employees, they feel their creativity is stifled and their voice is not heard. Only a quarter (26%) respect their senior leadership team and less than a third (29%) understand the values that form their organisation’s culture.

Paul Avis, Marketing Director of Canada Life Group, adds, “Whilst it is encouraging to see that employees feel they are being productive at work, the clear disconnect between business leaders and workers is alarming. It is evident that many UK businesses need to do more to support and appreciate their staff, whether through simple remedies such as better communication of their organisation’s values, or companywide initiatives like redefining employee management and engagement practices.”

A Little Appreciation Goes A Long Way

Boosting productivity in the workplace can be as simple as showing gratitude to employees, with a third (34%) of respondents saying recognition and appreciation for good work would have the most positive impact on their productivity.

While a thank you is always warranted, monetary incentives came out on top with 39% preferring a higher salary and a quarter (25%) say helpful employee benefits and perks would have the biggest positive impact on productivity.

Training (16%) and targets to work towards for promotion (16%) were rated the least popular by employees when considering forms of reward and recognition to positively impact productivity at work, showing that employees simply want to feel appreciated to enable them to do their best.

“There are many ways employers can show they value their staff, including offering products through corporate benefits packages. Our survey shows one in four workers believe helpful employee benefits have the most positive impact on productivity, and protection products such as Group Income Protection serve a dual purpose of giving employees financial peace of mind but also helping those who do develop a long-term illness or injury back into the workplace once they have recovered. Whatever changes businesses make to increase productivity in the workplace, it is important that staff wellbeing is at the heart of it.” Avis concludes.