Author: Anita Hawser

United Kingdom


Perceptions of the UK’s international competitiveness have suffered a blow with studies indicating that low productivity is costing the economy £87 billion annually. According to a study conducted by Proudfoot Consulting, the banking and finance industry is among the worst offenders.

The fourth annual study, which looks at productivity at the microeconomic level, found that of the 235 days each year that the average British worker spends at work, 87 were unproductive. Apparently it’s not the workers’ fault, though. The report found workers’ lackluster performance was caused by poor management and inadequate supervision. Additional barriers included poor communication and low working morale.The UK’s productivity at 63% trailed that of the US and Germany at 64%, but was slightly ahead of France at 60%. It’s not all bad news for British business, however. Of all the countries surveyed, the UK recorded the most significant increase (three percentage points) in productivity levels.

Professor Nick Crafts of the London School of Economics estimates that wasted time costs the UK economy £87 billion annually, with poor management costing in the region of £56 billion. Of the 14 industry sectors surveyed, the banking and finance sector was the least productive, with a year-on-year decline from 58% to 57% in the amount of time spent productively. Apparently, banking and finance employees wasted more than four months of their time at work. The most productive sector was the telecom industry, with employees wasting only 61 days at work. Food and beverage employees were also remarkably unproductive, wasting 99 days at work.

Poor management, which contributed to 64% of wasted time, was the chief cause of low productivity in the UK, alongside insufficient planning (34%) and inadequate control and supervision (30%). David Whitmore, Proudfoot’s European president, said that while there had been progress, there was room for significant improvement if the UK wanted to become as productive as its key competitors.

· Anita Hawser