Fifteen minutes is all it takes.
That’s the amount of extra time Australian employees are spending on work, according to new Ernst & Young research, which found that both staff and employers alike are taking conscious steps to ensure they maximise their output to offset a growing productivity crisis.
Ignoring unnecessary emails and cutting down on meetings are a few of the ways Australian workers are also ensuring they stay productive.
The company’s new study shows 83% of workers are trying to increase productivity, and are wasting 4% less time at work than they did a year ago – the average amount of time wasted has fallen from 18% to 14% in the year to October.
“This is a good first step,” Ernst & Young Oceania advisory leader Neil Plumridge told SmartCompany this morning.
“If you look past the previous 12 months going backwards, I’d say we’re putting ourselves in first gear now.”
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think we’ve turned a corner and Australian businesses have responded to the call for lifting productivity.”
The Productivity Pulse measured the national productivity average at 7.58, up from 7.25, with 38% of workers reporting an increase in their productivity compared to six months ago.
However, Plumridge points out that 14% wasted time still means organisations are paying out $87 billion in wages per year with no return.
He says it’s encouraging that the desire to be more productive is coming from both employers and employees.
“Companies are better communicating the importance of productivity and what their goals are, and how they’re going about achieving it. Two years ago, you’d hardly hear the word “productivity” and now companies are doing a better job of communicating that platform.”
The survey found when productivity was communicated as a priority, 91% of people in those organisations tried to increase their own personal productivity. In companies where this wasn’t the case, only 76% attempted to improve.
“Those that run away from communicating to their workforce find that all a little bit harder.”
Some tactics employees are using to increase their own productivity include trying to reduce errors, better time planning and improved multi-tasking.
At the same time, the most common activities contributing to wasted time are waiting for approval from other employees for action, responding to non-critical emails, taking care of personal matters, waiting for technology, meetings and doing things manually that could be automated.
Social media only accounted for 7% of wasted time.
But there are more elements that make up a productive worker, the survey found. Employees who feel in control of their job are more likely to be productive – and that includes the ability to use flexible work schedules.
The finding comes during the Federal Government’s own “teleworking week”, in which it is trying to advocate companies allow more employees to work at home. While Plumridge says there’s no evidence to suggest working from home either improves or hinders productivity, the survey found workers who feel they have flexibility are in general more productive.
Plumridge says small businesses need to ensure they communicate productivity to their employees, and then get to work on automating as many systems as possible.
“The most successful companies have automated processes, whether it’s using software or any other type of tool. The companies that aren’t doing well are using manual tools.”
“So what we have here is a positive story, but it’s only one step forward.”