U.K. Workers ‘Burdened by System Complexity’ – Report


Tens of billions of dollars is being lost to the U.K. economy through unnecessary tasks each year, a report has found – and poor-performing technology is at the heart of the problem.

The study, carried out by the Workforce Institute and workforce management solutions firm Kronos, found found that £60 billion ($88 billion) is lost annually as a result of over-complex administration, with 77% of respondents claiming that outdated systems and technology as their biggest workforce challenges.

One in six employees said better technology would boost their productivity. 82% struggle to complete their daily tasks due to workplace complexity. Respondents said that reducing admin and paperwork by implementing automation technology was the answer.

Only 35% of employees rate their performance as strong. Manual systems were cited as a productivity drain by 72% of respondents. A saving of just one hour’s work, per employee, per month, would save British public companies £21.4 billion ($31.3 billion) per year.

“The truth is that all technology within a business needs to be as up to date as possible,” Neil Pickering, head of industry and customer insight at Kronos, told Red Herring. “Neglecting some areas, which might at first seem unimportant, can have a direct impact on the wider organization through lost efficiency and productivity. Sometimes this might simply require the reconfiguration of existing technology that was previously overlooked, or a small update to meet the evolving needs of the business.”

The cost of latest technology being restrictive was a common opinion from business leaders, added Pickering: “In fact, having up to date technology is more likely to save the company money. With the increasing availability of cloud and SaaS, there is no need for expensive infrastructure and time to value is more immediate.

“But that is not the only roadblock (towards better performance),” he added. “A lack of knowledge, understanding or exposure to the technology and its capabilities is also a factor. As we see the growing influence of automation and insight in concepts like Manufacturing 4.0, organizations that don’t embrace and maximize these capabilities will find it increasingly difficult to keep up with competitors that do.”

The survey also stressed the need for management engagement with employees, and that increasing the salaries of disengaged employees would not boost engagement or keep them at the business. Employees, the report found, are most likely to leave a company if they do not feel valued.

“It is important that business leaders listen to their employees,” said Pickering. “Within a multi-generational workforce, different people will want different things. Our research shows that millennials are more likely to want flexible working for example than Baby Boomers.

“As businesses embrace new technologies and practices, they must be careful to ensure it allows them to spend more time on the most important part of their job rather than distracting them,” he added. “The more traditional management practices should not be neglected. Human communication is key.”

  • jimjr11

    I’ve been fighting this problem for twenty years and believe me, it can be won. The first thing you have to realize is that for each and every complexity there are one or more individuals with a personal vested interest in maintaining the complexity. It’s their job. This unfortunately rises all the way from janitors to the officers. So any effort to simplify things is by design up against some strong resistance. The fix is comparatively simple, although not easy. The study indicates management must engage with employees, you mean the management that doesn’t want anything to change?
    If the CEO cannot or won’t lend his/her support to the simplification initiative, then they should just pass and do nothing. In the US our utility industry is well know for stuffy culture, high and thick silo walls and the usual amount of politics. By getting the CEO to agree to sponsor our process, which in effect suspends the negative aspects of culture, politics and silos the company accomplished incredible change in only ten weeks. using nothing but emloyee input, thousands of pain points were completely eliminated. SG&A was reduced by $300 million, capital by $200 million, inventory by $45 million and announced redundancies were reduced from 3000 to 1200. The only way you can fight this problem is to have the CEO’s total support and to gain the support of the larger body of employees and temporarily prevent the culture, politics and silos from winning when there’s a good reason for them to lose, notwithstanding where the idea came from. Without a doubt the most enjoyable aspect of performing this work is watching how involved even officers get when they realize they can anonymously penetrate silo walls and prevail without any peer risk.