People have some very interesting views about their own productivity, and that of everybody else

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Just as everybody thinks they are a better than average driver or more intelligent than average, a new survey from HR and payroll software provider Ciphr suggests that employees self-rate their own productivity far higher than they rate other people’s productivity levels.Just as everybody thinks they are a better than average driver or more intelligent than average, a new survey from HR and payroll software provider Ciphr suggests that employees self-rate their own productivity far higher than they rate other people’s productivity levels. They also think that people working in HR, marketing, and senior management roles are the least productive. According to the poll, UK employees perceive HR teams as being particularly unproductive, compared to other colleagues and departments in their organisations.

Of the 1,000 people polled, the vast majority (92 percent) viewed themselves as being productive or very productive. Just two-thirds (67 percent), however, said the same about their organisation’s leadership team, and even fewer workers (62 percent) were positive about the productivity of their own HR departments.

Indeed, HR was thought to be the least productive department (of all those rated in the survey), with one in seven (14 percent) surveyed employees labelling their firm’s HR team as unproductive or very unproductive. That figure increased to 19 percent among middle and lower-level managers.

These are alarming stats for anyone working in HR, as it would appear to show a notable lack of understanding by many employees about the important role and responsibilities of the HR function in UK businesses.

What the results also highlight, more generally, is that people’s perceptions of productivity are clearly influenced, to varying degrees, by proximity bias. Put simply, it means that employees – at all levels – may be more inclined to favour colleagues that they work with most often, and people in job roles that they’re more familiar with, over other teams and departments at their workplace whose output is perhaps less known or visible.

For example, over eight in 10 survey respondents think that their team and the people they manage (their direct reports) are productive or very productive (84 percent and 82 percent respectively). But, as the data indicates, they are more sceptical about the productivity of colleagues at their organisation who they have less contact with, and, likely, no close working relationship, such as their HR or leadership teams.

Employees who work remotely face similar bias. According to Ciphr’s survey, just half (52 percent) of in-person workers believe that fully remote workers are productive or very productive (and 18 percent think they are unproductive or very unproductive). That’s a significant level of distrust aimed at one specific group of workers.

 

The most and least productive workers, as ranked by employees:

Most productive

  • Themselves: 92 percent of surveyed employees think they are productive or very productive
  • Their team: 84 percent
  • People they manage: 82 percent
  • In-person/workplace-based employees: 82 percent
  • Their wider team or department: 80 percent

 

Least productive

  • Their organisation’s HR department: 62 percent of surveyed employees think they are productive or very productive
  • Marketing department: 63 percent
  • Leadership team: 67 percent
  • Remote workers: 69 percent
  • Finance/accounts department: 69 percent
  • IT department: 69 percent

Main image Narcissus by Caravaggio. Public domain