The new findings reveal that a fifth of workers (22%) are only able to be productive ‘some of the time’, while one in ten ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ reach maximum productivity. Meanwhile, a fifth of workers (19%) say bad management is the biggest reason they aren’t as productive as they could be, more than name inefficient systems and processes (18%) and slow and inefficient technology (15%).

Barriers to productivity are the greatest in the UK, where 13% of workers say they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ reach maximum productivity, along with Germany, where the figure is 11%. Meanwhile, workers in Poland have the fewest problems with productivity, with only 6% agreeing with this assessment.

Issues with productivity are most commonplace in the sales, media and marketing professions, where over a third (36%) of workers say they are fully productive at most ‘some of the time’. Employees in healthcare (33%) and retail, catering and leisure (32%) also face significant productivity barriers, while those in the arts and culture sector are the least likely to find productivity a challenge (23%).

What’s causing the productivity problem?

European workers identified the biggest barriers to productivity as bad management (19%), inefficient systems and processes (18%) and slow and inefficient technology (15%). Interestingly, social media was only named as an issue by 6% of employees, suggesting this isn’t the productivity drain that many managers might believe.

Jeff Phipps, Managing Director at ADP UK, says: “Productivity is vital for organisational and economic success, which is why maximising output must be a top priority for employers. It might be notoriously difficult to measure and improve productivity levels, but these findings provide a good indication of the factors that are most important. Ineffective management is a major drain on employee output, not to mention motivation and engagement, which is why investment in management training is so important. Processes, systems and technology must also be updated regularly, with the input of frontline staff, to ensure they are consistently helping them to work in the best – and most productive – way possible.”

The top 10 barriers to productivity are:

  1. Bad management (19%)
  2. Inefficient systems and processes (18%)
  3. Slow and inefficient technology (15%)
  4. Lack of staff to support you (14%)
  5. Colleagues distracting me (12%)
  6. Too many meetings scheduled (10%)
  7. Too many internal emails distracting me (9%)
  8. I’m too stressed (9%)
  9. My work phone ringing too much (8%)
  10. Lack of flexibility over work location and/or hours  (7%)