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How to win back lost productivity in the workplace

Productivity is a key measure of commercial success. How much time are your employees spending on their work relative to the amount of value their work is producing? It’s simple. The lower the figure, the more profitable your business will be.

With this in mind, the team at Starmind set out to discover the truth behind business productivity levels, how much of it is being lost in the workplace, and how it impacts the overall health of a business' bottom line.

The findings of our new report on lost productivity in the workplace should come as a serious wake-up call to businesses everywhere. Here’s what we discovered.

Lost productivity in the workplace: The key findings

For our Productivity Drain Research Report 2021, we analyzed the behavior and attitudes of more than 1,000 people working in office environments at large organizations in three countries; the United States, Germany and Switzerland. 

What we found was shocking. In our research, we discovered that employees are wasting huge amounts of time searching for the information they need to do their jobs. We also found that:

  • 67% of employees and 84% of C-suite could have avoided a prior mistake if they had access to the right information
  • Over 450,000 hours are spent on repetitive Q&A
  • 84% of employees make decisions based on assumptions four times every week

The report findings echo our frequent warnings that poor knowledge sharing and collaboration are costing enterprises time and money. However, the sheer scale of the productivity losses was shocking even to us. 

Of the enterprise office workers who participated in our research, more than half (55%) of those working full time spend over one hour a day looking for the information they need to complete their tasks. One in 20 spends more than half their time engaging in searches rather than focusing on deep work. 

Lost productivity and the impact on your bottom line

The frightening takeaway from our findings on productivity is not just the hours the employees are losing; it’s the value that’s being lost for the business. For office workers, time is—literally—money. Every minute spent unproductively has an impact on the bottom line.

 

How much impact?

 

According to our findings on lost productivity in the workplace, a typical organization employing 4,000 office workers is currently losing around 740,500 hours a year. Let’s play it safe and assume that each of these office workers is earning $20 per hour. This would mean that, even with our conservative estimate, information searches are costing companies a staggering $14.8 million every year. 

 

Now let’s be realistic. 

 

First, the real average salary is likely to be much higher than $20 per hour, with the average hourly salary in the US totaling $27.16 across all industries

 

Second, the productivity issue gets worse the higher up the organization you go, with 81% of those in the C-suite reporting that they lose over an hour a day searching for answers that should be readily accessible. 

 

Third, employees take some time to reach their full productivity levels (67% of the knowledge workers estimated that this took more than two months). 

 

What’s more, it’s not just people with questions who are losing valuable time. It’s those with answers as well – because without systems for effective employee knowledge sharing, the same individuals get asked the same questions over and over again. 

According to our research, the average office worker gets asked six questions a week that they have answered before. In the US, the figure is even higher (seven questions a week). Suddenly, that $14.8 million is beginning to look like a gross underestimate.  

How to win back lost hours in the workplace

The quickest and arguably, the only way to eliminate endless searches for information is to adopt a “knowledge collaboration platform” such as Starmind

 

This kind of platform does not simply index documented knowledge. Instead, it connects workers to colleagues with answers and identifies the person who has the knowledge they are looking for. This works even if they are in a different team, at a different level of the organization, or in a completely different part of the world.

 

By effectively bridging the gap between employees with questions and colleagues with answers, knowledge collaboration platforms can save companies millions of dollars a year while boosting productivity, breaking down silos, and improving employee satisfaction and wellbeing. 

 

However, before you consider an effective solution such as Starmind, it’s worth understanding the statistics regarding lost productivity in the workplace. To find out more, download our report.

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