March 24, 2016

Are you wasting your employees’ time at work?

UK businesses would be £750 million better off each year if only they could help employees manage their time more effectively.

New research, called ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’, claims that UK businesses lose an average of two hours of their employees’ working time every working day. Multiply those lost hours in the working week and it amounts to 11.4 hours a week. This costs employers £11,225 per employee every year, according to an ICD White Paper ‘Bridging the Information Worker Productivity Gap in Western Europe: New Challenges and Opportunities for IT’.

How are those hours lost? Through unnecessary activities and inefficient processes, according to Clare Evans, time management expert and author of Time Management for Dummies. Evans conducted the ‘Unlocking the UK’s Daily Savings Time’ research on behalf of Workfront, a provider of cloud-based solutions.

What are the main findings from the research?

– less than 60% of the working day is spent on productive activity
– email is a big time waster, with the result that UK businesses lose £1.5 billion a year
– Only 14% of emails are crucial to work activity, yet emails chew up 50% of the average office workers’ time

– 57% of office workers spend an hour a day looking for missing documents
– 20% have to recreate documents that they couldn’t find
– 56% of workers feel overwhelmed and there are three factors that are contributing to this: a lack of planning, changing priorities and limited resources

How can HR professionals, line managers and employees themselves overcome this situation? Naturally, Workfront recommends that organisations implement more effective, innovative systems and processes in the workplace. HR should definitely consider this and look at how processes can be made more efficient and more user friendly.

The report went on to identify four top productivity killers in the modern workplace. They are:

1. Meetings. Professionals attend an average of 60 meetings each month, with managers complaining that 30% of their time in meetings is wasted
– Impromptu, drop-by meetings also account for a lot of lost working hours. 40% of workers cited them as productivity killers
– Then there’s the time spent preparing for meetings, travelling to meetings and on follow up actions

2. Email. Workers spend four hours a day checking and managing their email, says Evans. The average office worker receives 300 plus work emails each week, with many senior managers sending and receiving over 122 emails every day, according to the Radicati Email Statistics Report 2015-2019.

3. Distractions and Interruptions. Every time someone is interrupted at work, it takes several minutes to return to the task they were concentrating on and yet, 80% of interruptions are trivial, according to ‘Why & How Your Employees Waste Time at Work’, a survey. Another survey, this time by IT consulting company, Basex, claims that every employee loses 2.1 hours every day as a result of distractions and interruptions in the workplace.

4. Poor systems and processes. This includes systems or tools that are outdated, not synched or not connected across multiple teams when they need to be.

There is a lot for HR and line managers to think about here. Next week, we will outline our top 10 tips to help employees and yourselves manage your time more effectively.