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Half of highly engaged employees take part in personal tasks at work

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Highly engaged staff spend more time at work on personal tasks than staff with low engagement levels, according to incentive and reward specialists Red Letter Days for Business.

The What’s Killing UK Productivity? report found that nearly half (48%) of highly engaged employees regularly undertake personal tasks at work, such as checking social media accounts or booking a holiday.

Highly engaged staff were found to be more likely than their less engaged colleagues to check social media (29% compared to 19%), more likely to shop online (16% versus 13%), and more likely to take personal calls from friends (16% as apposed to 13%).

Perhaps unexpectedly, as many as one in five (20%) highly engaged staff arrive late for work up to 50% of the time, but just 8% of those with low engagement are late so frequently.

Bill Alexander, CEO at Red Letter Days for Business, told HR magazine that self-governance has a strong correlation with employee engagement. “Managers see their employees online, checking their social media or shopping, and think they aren’t doing their jobs but that’s not true,” he said. “You cannot give 100% all day. Highly engaged staff could take breaks and be productive in short bursts.”

Red Letter Days has suggested five steps employers could take to improve employee engagement:

  • Allow staff to work from home.
  • Give people the flexibility to come into work early/late and leave early/late.
  • Allow internet access and permit the use of social media.
  • Don’t chastise employees for doing personal tasks while at work.
  • Provide a working environment where staff can chat to colleagues.
  • “Social interaction creates energy and improves communication,” Alexander added. “Work should be enjoyable, as you spend so much of your life doing it. You shouldn’t have to hide behind your screen when you take a break to book a holiday.”

    The survey also found that 19% of employees consider work emails to be the office task that wastes the most time, taking them away from more important tasks.

    HR magazine is conducting a survey to learn more about how email and other work tasks potentially detract from day-to-day productivity, as part of our #reclaimyourtime campaign. Take the Reclaim Your Time survey and watch out for our upcoming ebook on this campaign.