Despite Australians being regularly acknowledged for a strong work ethic and commitment to long hours, a new productivity study has revealed almost a fifth of time spent at work is 'wasted'.
The findings were contained in Ernst & Young's Australian Productivity Pulse survey, which also found that little more than half of a worker's day is spent performing tasks that add "real value” to an organisation.
The inefficiencies in Australian business come at a price, with $109bn being paid in wages every year. However, Neil Plumridge, partner at Ernst & Young, said the results do not equate to Australians being lazy.
"Given an overwhelming 71% of workers are motivated to do their job to the best of their ability, we simply can't put the productivity issue down to personal motivation,” Plumridge said.
"Rather than cut jobs, organisation should be looking to eliminate wasteful work and redeploy those resources to growth and investment areas,” he added.
Further, the results indicated that if Australians were to boost productivity by just 10%, $10bn would be injected back into the national economy every year.
The survey responses of almost 2,500 working Australians further indicated that organisations need to boost their productivity through cultural changes within the business, not simply by cutting staff numbers, namely because:
54% of respondents said bad management is a drain on productivity, followed by bad organisational structure (23%), a lack of innovation (15%) and using outdated technology (8%)
32% of workers are planning to leave their organisation within the next 12 months
Andrew Heys, a lecturer at Macquarie University's Graduate School of Management, said the instance of employee's feeling their efforts at work were being wasted was a concerning trend, as it would have wide reaching consequences for businesses.
Heys said that if people perceive that up to 20% of their time is spent on wasted effort, it has wide ranging effects on job satisfaction levels because poor job satisfaction is often an important factor in an employee's decision to leave.
According to the study, the following percentages of the day are wasted in states:
Northern Territory (29% of the day wasted)
Victoria and Queensland (19%)
New South Wales (18%)
South Australia, ACT and Tasmania (17%)
Western Australia (16%)