EY - How to raise workplace productivity in China

How to raise workplace productivity in China

Workplace productivity snapshot

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As China moves up the value chain, the need to understand and improve workplace productivity will undoubtedly assume more importance.

Low productivity pervasive in Chinese workplaces

Our China productivity pulse shows that low productivity is a pervasive issue in Chinese workplaces.

The average Chinese worker indicates that only 52% of their time at work is engaged in work that adds value to their organizations.

On average a worker only spends around four hours each day on productive work, with a similar amount of time spent on a range of personal matters or on work they consider to be a waste of time and effort. These findings are not just limited to a small group of firms, but are common across industries and cities.

The time wasted represents a huge loss for both companies and the economy overall, especially since the services sector, employing around 280 million workers1, is now bigger than either agriculture or manufacturing in China.

The economic value of the time spent on personal activities and unproductive tasks during work hours translates to a massive 1.563 trillion yuan (USD 260 billion).

Increasing the average office worker’s productivity by just one hour a day would unleash an additional 400 billion yuan (USD 66 billion) in value2 each year for the economy.

Understanding and improving workplace productivity

Productivity represents a critical issue for the future of the economy and the continued success of companies operating in China.

Organizations need to first understand the dynamics of productivity in their workplace. They need to look to build sustained employee engagement to drive up productivity levels towards international standards.

Key areas around the productivity agenda:


1 Based on data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 2013
2 Assuming a total wage bill of CNY 3.257 trillion (approximately USD 543 billion) for China’s services sector (Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, 2013)