UK workers think 36% of hours spent at work are unproductive

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The Global Attitudes to Work survey polled 6,250 employees in 14 countries on various aspects of working life

UK workers think 36% of hours spent at work are unproductive, according to research from employee engagement and consumer insight firm Qualtrics.

The Global Attitudes to Work survey polled 6,250 employees in 14 countries, and found that all of the people polled in Europe rated themselves as more productive than UK workers, except Greek employees who believe 38% of their working day is unproductive, Spanish workers who think 42%, and Italians who cited 52%.

Motivation to work varied greatly across the sample. Greek workers were more motivated by wanting to make a difference in the world (8%) than the British (6%) and Spanish (5%). Meanwhile Australians are the most motivated by building wealth (15%). Polish and German employees were more than twice as motivated by being with other people (8%) than Greek and French (3%) staff.

The Greeks and the Italians made for the most sociable colleagues, with 35% and 28% respectively stating that they wanted to socialise with their workmates. Only 13% of British respondents felt this way.

A quarter (24%) of Brits wanted weekly feedback but only 26% of French and 27% of Dutch employees did. The Spanish expressed the most desire for frequent feedback, with more than 50% claiming they would like feedback weekly or more often.

UK workers were relatively unhappy in their work. Just over half (55%) claimed to be satisfied with their jobs compared with 65% of Germans, French and Americans. German staff were also 10 percentage points happier with their work/life balance (66%) than UK workers (56%), though the French were happiest at 68%.

Ian McVey, UK manager of Qualtrics, said it conducted the survey to highlight the “enormous disparities” in outlooks among international employees.

“A global workforce is the secret behind a world-class company,” he said. “But without getting to grips with its DNA even the best employer cannot hope to bring out the best in its people or capitalise on the diversity of its talent base.”

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