Productivity killers: 10 to watch out for

by Human Capital09 Apr 2014
White collar professionals in Australia aren’t as productive as they could be, according to a study from Clarius Group.

The survey, which covered 1000 professionals, found that on average Australian professionals are only 76% productive. The majority (92.5%) of workers stated they are productive for roughly one quarter of the working day, with only 7.5% reporting they were productive throughout the entire day. Financial service professionals were found to be the least productive.

These results are troubling for Kym Quick, CEO of Clarius Group, who stated Australia’s lag behind the rest of the developed world will cause problems as business becomes increasingly global.

“We spend more hours at work than most of our international colleagues yet we rank second last on the global productivity scale, so there’s clearly some major issues we need to address,” Quick stated.

Quick theorised that the cut in training budgets since the GFC has meant workers are less adept at technologies, which is causing a decrease in productivity. Broken down, the drivers found to be the biggest ‘productivity killers’ are:
  • Not understanding how to use the technology needed.
  • Bullying.
  • Organising one’s social life.
  • Social media.
  • Dissatisfaction with job.
  • Poor management.
  • Over qualification.
  • Overwhelming amount of work.
  • Not understanding tasks needed.
  • Boredom.
Key HR takeaways
In order to not only boost productivity but also develop talent more broadly in an organisation, Randstad compiled the following ‘game-changing’ areas for HR to sharpen:
  • Planning ahead. Talent shortages are set to persist, so a robust workforce plan and talent map is essential to secure diverse high performers.
  • Align workforce and business strategies. Attraction, retention and employee development should all be aligned with an overall business strategy. This streamlines workforce planning, and also motivates employees to achieve their goals – boosting productivity.
  • Cultivate new leaders. Develop creative and adaptive professionals with a wide range of experience. Make sure to have a ‘leadership pipeline’ so that you can recover quickly from turnover by moving employees internally. Seeing opportunities on the horizon will also motivate employees.
  • Increase employee engagement. Invest in career development and training to help boost engagement and collaboration.
  • Keep up-to-date. Although you will need to provide training, the boost to innovation, efficiency and overall performance for having the latest technology is well worth the cost.
  • Up-skill, outsource. Outsource certain elements of your talent strategy to specialists to help access hard-to-find skills. This will allow you time to focus on developing the skills you can internally.


  • by Ben 3/12/2013 1:44:45 PM

    Perhaps we were just more honest when it came to the survey??

  • by PhilB 9/04/2014 6:17:51 PM

    You could add reducing work hours. Comparing developed nations, plot average working hours against productivity and you get a nice clear trend - productivity goes down as hours go up. Effectively cap hours and reap the benefits! Research as far back as World War I showed that (and has ever since).

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