Milestones : Low Productivity Costs The British Economy Billions

United Kingdom


Perceptions of the UKs 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 its 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 UKs productivity at 63% trailed that of the US and Germany at 64%, but was slightly ahead of France at 60%. Its 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, Proudfoots 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