Research puts spotlight on untapped productivity potential of seven million UK workers

November 13, 2017
  • 23% of UK employees say they feel ‘unproductive’ at work, rising to 28% of Generation Z[1] employees, research for Vodafone has found
  • Creating a ‘digital workplace’ by connecting people, processes and information with technology offers a key to unlocking UK’s productivity potential

New research for Vodafone reveals that nearly a quarter (23%) of UK employees rate themselves as ‘unproductive’ at work, equating to seven million of the nation’s total workforce[2]. At a time when improving the UK’s labour productivity is high on the agenda, the survey of more than 3,000 UK employees reveals there is an untapped opportunity for employers to help boost workforce productivity.

Perceived productivity slips even further amongst Generation Z employees. When asked to rate their productivity out of ten, with ten being the highest possible number, 28% of Generation Z employees gave themselves an ‘unproductive’ score between 0 and 6, compared to the national average of 23%.

The research highlights some of the steps businesses can take to increase productivity.

Boosting the digital toolkit

To drive up productivity, UK businesses need to look at how they create a digital workplace. Nearly 2 in 5 (38%) employees agree that their ideal place of work would have the most up-to-date technology on the market. Those who do have the right technology to do their job effectively like their job more than those who don’t. Furthermore, more than half say the right technology helps them to be more productive. Currently however more than two fifths (42%) of employees say poor technology is stopping them being as productive as they would like to be.

Working smarter

Creating a way of working that best serves the wider business and its customers can enhance employee productivity.   A key part of this is where staff are getting their work done. More than half (58%) of employees surveyed still work the majority of the time in their employer’s office or building, meaning workspace remains a vital component of how effective employees are able to be. But with 43% of employees working from a customer or project site to some extent, making sure they can work effectively and stay connected to their colleagues and customers from wherever they are will also help increase output.

Surprisingly, for Generation Z workers the most important factor in making them more productive is the team around them – 74% as compared with just 60% of baby-boomers. So alongside having the technology available to collaborate with their colleagues, creating a successful team environment continues to matter to individuals.

At the same time, over half of workers (51%) of the UK’s employees believe processes at work stop them being productive, while almost the same number (47%) blame too many meetings. Four in ten (42%) reveal that the stress they are under is holding them back.

Tony Bailey, Head of Regional Business at Vodafone UK commented: “Across the UK people are looking for support from their employers to help them be their best at work. While a third of employees believe they are ‘very productive’, there is a huge opportunity for employers to look at what changes they can make to unlock the potential of the significant proportion of the workforce who don’t think they are working as well as they could be.

“Examining how and where people need and want to work is the first step to understanding where the introduction of smarter processes and technologies can bring enhancements. Each employee, job, organisation and customer will have different expectations and requirements, meaning there is no one size fits all when it comes to working practices and flexibility. However, this latest research shows that both technology and teamwork are seen as important by employees of all ages when it comes to how they view their own productivity. The communication technologies that are being used by more and more businesses are one way to boost collaboration amongst employees, in and out of the office. This in turn will ultimately create a more engaged, productive, responsive workforce.”


Notes to editors:

Research was conducted by Bryter using 3,019 online surveys. Quotas were used to ensure robust and representative sample sizes of employees across genders, regions, industries, ages and business size. The final data was weighted to be nationally representative of the UK workforce. Data was collected during May 2017. The sample includes both full and part-time workers.

This latest ‘Unlocking Productivity: Working in the UK’ study follows the 2016 Vodafone-commissioned ‘Power of Productivity’ report by the London School of Economics.  This found that there is potential for a lift in productivity by as much as 20% nationwide if the following three issues were addressed in unison: management practices, use of technology, and workforce flexibility.

To drive flexibility, efficiency and productivity, a total communications solution will enable a business’ workforce to collaborate with colleagues and connect to customers from anywhere.  Read how Vodafone is helping innovative businesses transform the way they work here:

[1] Those born after 1996

1 Calculated based on figures from the National Office of Statistics on the UK labour market which state that as of September 2017, there are 32.14 million people employed in the UK. With 23% giving themselves an ‘unproductive’ rating of 0-6 out of 10 for individual productivity, this amounts to 7,392,200 employees

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About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is part of Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, and provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Vodafone Group has mobile operations in 25 countries, partners with mobile networks in 46 more, and has fixed broadband operations in 18 markets. As of 31 March 2018, Vodafone Group had 535.8 million mobile customers and 19.7 million fixed broadband customers, including India and all of the customers in Vodafone’s joint ventures and associates. For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK partners with businesses of all sizes - from start-ups and small businesses to the largest corporates and the public sector. The company has worked with UK businesses for over 30 years, starting out as a mobile provider and becoming one of the UK’s leading total communications partners. It provides a range of voice and data services, secure communications infrastructure, fixed and contact centre capability, and unified communications, and was the first mobile phone operator to offer a truly converged service for fixed and mobile.

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