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How Managers Can Boost Productivity.


Feeling like your UK team spends more time creating the illusion of busyness than delivering meaningful work and wondering how your managers can boost productivity.? You’re not alone.

Recently study revealed a shocking truth: 33% of UK workers waste their workday on “performative work” – tasks designed to impress managers, not add real value. That’s almost 7 hours per week spent looking busy instead of getting things done.

Before you point the finger at employees, consider this: are managers inadvertently encouraging this behaviour? With UK employee engagement at a dismal 10%, far behind G7 competitors, it’s clear something needs to change.

Dominic Ashley-Timms, CEO of Notion, believes managers hold the key. In his recent article for Raconteur, he argues that fostering a culture of meaningful work requires a shift in management strategies. Now here are his 5 key pillars, backed by stats, to boost productivity and combat performative work:

Just 8% of UK employees feel their company sets clear goals. Managers need to prioritise clear, outcome-focused objectives so employees understand what truly matters. When goals are well-defined, they’re less likely to engage in busywork to demonstrate their “hustle.”

Crystalise Expectations

Feedback & Recognition:

Only 26% of UK employees receive regular recognition for their contributions. Regular feedback and recognition for meaningful contributions deter employees from feeling the need to overperform or seek visibility through irrelevant tasks. Acknowledge effort and achievement to foster belonging and purpose.

Open Communication:

A Microsoft study found that 70% of employees want opportunities to connect and collaborate with colleagues. Maintain open communication channels, especially in remote settings. Encourage transparent, honest dialogue to identify and address issues leading to performative work.

Embrace Flexibility:

A Global Workplace Analytics study showed that 77% of UK employees value flexible work arrangements. The modern workplace demands flexibility. Recognise that employees have different peak productivity hours and work preferences. Allowing flexibility can reduce the pressure to constantly appear busy during traditional office hours.

Lead by Example:

75% of UK employees say a company’s commitment to employee well-being is a top factor in their decision to stay or go, according to MetLife. Managers who model a healthy work-life balance and prioritise meaningful work over busywork set the tone for their teams. When leaders prioritise quality work and wellbeing, employees are more likely to follow suit.

Managers can’t do it alone.

Creating a culture of accountability and valuing meaningful work is a joint effort. Ashley-Timms suggests “powerful questions” as a tool for managers to:

  • Engage employees in problem-solving
  • Share accountability more equitably
  • Provide feedback and recognition
  • Build trust and confidence

By asking questions that prompt deeper thinking, managers can empower their teams, reduce performative work, and cultivate a more engaged and productive workforce. Finally, managers hold the key to unlocking employee potential and turning busywork into meaningful tasks. Implement these strategies and watch your team thrive!

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