Strategy & LeadershipBusiness TransformationIs bad management making the UK unproductive?

Is bad management making the UK unproductive?

The UK’s productivity problem has continually hit the headlines over recent months, and for good reason. Low productivity has an impact on real wages as well as public spending, and so this problem is likely to cause our economy a great deal of damage. But what is causing this wide-reaching issue?

Recent research from ADP has highlighted bad management as the biggest drain on productivity in Europe. While this is worrying news, there are a number of ways we can work to improve this.

In ADP’s annual study, the Workforce View 2018, which surveyed 10,000 employees across Europe, the UK came out as the least productive country according to employees. We have known for a while that there is a productivity problem in the UK, but ADP’s study goes further in understanding the root of this problem. When asked what their biggest barrier to productivity is, with one in six employees citing bad management (16%).

Bad management

Ineffective management is not just a major drain on employee output; it also impacts on motivation, engagement and general well-being. Good leadership and the way people are managed lies at the heart of a company’s culture and what makes it successful. But good management is not always straightforward and cannot always be learned on the job, which is why companies must offer management training as a crucial investment in raising output and improving the employee experience.

How else should managers and management try to improve? One key area could be watching out for workers putting in long hours, something that is sure to kill the productivity of any human being. We are known to be a nation of workaholics yet Britain is producing less than many of our European counterparts, while working longer hours. This could be severely inhibiting productivity, and good management should look to ensure their employees can be most productive by not burning the candle at both ends.

Bad management isn’t the only reason we are struggling to be productive, with inefficient processes and slow technology also topping the list of reasons why employees struggle to work at their most productive. However, the responsibility for these issues again falls on management. Leaders should work to make systems as efficient as possible and to ensure technology is up-to-scratch so that employees are able, and encouraged, to work at their most optimum levels. They should look to understand the issues that might be present through consultation with staff using the systems, and create a dialogue whereby employees can raise concerns.

At ADP, we strive to provide excellent training to all our leadership, and to ensure employees’ voices are heard when they do suffer any problems. It is not always easy for a company to focus on this, there may always seem to be more immediate problems that need addressing. However, an investment in high-level and frequent management training can set the foundation for better productivity levels for the company, and ultimately a more successful organisation.

‘The Workforce View in Europe 2018’ report explores the attitudes of employees toward the future of work. The research for ADP was carried out by independent market research agency Opinion Matters in August 2017. The sample consisted of 9,908 working adults in eight territories across Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the UK.

Annabel Jones is the HR Director at ADP

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