Time-wasters cost £88bn a year in lost productivity

Employers have been urged to supervise their staff more closely and plan meetings meticulously, after it emerged that wasted time at work is costing the UK economy £88bn in lost productivity.

A new report by management consultancy Proudfoot Consulting claims that 37% of all working time is wasted at a huge cost to the UK economy.

The global research of 2,500 company case studies across 12 countries revealed that three-quarters of time is wasted as a result of basic processes, such as poorly planned and managed work or inadequate supervision of workers. Such practices cost the UK £88bn annually – £12bn more than is currently spent running the entire NHS for a year.

Of 150 meetings in 50 companies, almost half had no prepared agenda, according to the report. Where there was one, it was inappropriate for the purpose of the meeting and less than a third of participants were prepared or took minutes. In 73% of cases follow-up activity was ambiguously communicated, with no timescales set and no process for monitoring of the results or calling to account.

The Proudfoot Productivity Report also found that chief executives were failing to grasp the fact that better skills and smarter utilisation of staff contributes more to productivity than investment in capital equipment.

Kevin Parry, chief executive of Proudfoot Consulting parent company MCG Group, called on employers to focus collectively on reducing these causes of wasted working time.

“Tackling ineffective management and work processes, and improving worker supervision may not be glamorous, but they are certainly the fastest and lowest cost routes to higher output and [improved] financial performance,” he said.

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