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Canada’s Workforce
Has a Productivity
Deficit: ADP Study

Causes include Distraction Deluge, Process Paralysis and Complacency Complex

Toronto, November 22, 2016 - Nearly one out of every two workers in Canada is less productive than they could be, and they admit it. This was the key finding of the latest ADP Canada Sentiment Survey, which reveals that 49 per cent of Canadians say they could be doing more on the job.

“We’ve identified several key causes of Canada’s workplace productivity deficit, and employers should take note,” says Russell Wong, Chief Financial Officer at ADP Canada. “While the problem and its various causes are widespread, the good news is a combination of productivity improvements, tools and increased employee engagement can help.”

Among the 49% of Canadian workers who say they are only somewhat productive, not very productive or not at all productive (collectively, “less productive Canadian workers”), the leading causes they cite are:

leading causes

Distraction Deluge

Distraction is the leading cause of workplace productivity deficit, cited by a broad and diverse cross-section of 43% of less productive Canadian workers. The data reveals a significant gap between those aged 18-25 and those aged 55-64 (49% vs. 36%). Regionally, Ontarians are the most distracted group among less productive workers (53% vs. the national average of 43%).

“Distraction can be rooted in a wide variety of causes, from poor office design to overly ambitious multi-tasking to the pervasive presence of social media,” says Wong. “Every situation is different, but employers should look first at the things they can control, such as noisy or crowded workspaces and then at what their employees can control. Helping employees manage distractions comes down to a combination of workload management and helping them find tools that can minimize distractions,” Wong added.

Process Paralysis

Among less productive Canadian workers, 35% complain of Process Paralysis, which includes barriers such as cumbersome workflows, bureaucratic red tape and organizational bottlenecks. Interestingly, this problem is cited almost equally by Canadians of every working age, region, gender and level of education.

“This is an area where tools that automate repetitive tasks can be a game changer,” says Wong. “Given the widespread impact of this productivity drain, streamlining processes and actively working to remove productivity barriers should be a focus for employers.”

Complacency Complex

More than one quarter of less productive employees (27%) simply say they don’t need to work more efficiently to get the job done, a sure sign of Complacency Complex, according to Wong. While virtually equal percentages of employees of all ages admit to Complacency Complex, the data shows that females are slightly more inclined than males to cite this (30% vs. 25%).

“While in some cases complacency can be the fault of the employee, more often it comes down to issues like a lack of training, resources or low levels of employee engagement, and these are unquestionably management problems,” says Wong. “Most workers are capable of, and want to add more value to their organization, but sometimes they’re simply not given the tools, opportunities or context to discuss and advance these aspirations.”

Other leading causes of workplace efficiency deficit cited by less productive Canadian workers include boredom and a lack of resources or tools (both mentioned by 20%), as well as overwhelming workload (15%) and shortcomings in training (10%).

According to a 2016 study by the ADP Research Institute titled The Evolution of Work, within the next three years, employees globally expect more technological tools will be used to monitor and adjust their performance levels. Interestingly, the study shows that many employees welcome the onset of these tools to help them better manage their time and output in the workplace. The international survey also revealed that Canadian workers are more likely than workers in most other countries to crave work that is personally meaningful, has a positive impact on society and benefits people’s well-being.

Employee engagement takes dedicated resources and a strategy with clear, metrics-based goals that reflect the needs of employees and managers. For this reason, employers are increasingly automating or outsourcing routine tasks such as payroll and time and attendance tracking with services such as those offered by ADP Canada, so they have the time to focus on people, and the data to do so strategically.

Survey methodology

A survey of 1565 Canadians was completed online between October 3rd and October 6th 2016 using Leger’s online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.

About ADP Canada

ADP Canada gives organizations of every size the tools to help their people thrive. From basic payroll to complex people management systems and analytics, we help business leaders make better decisions. Our clients trust ADP to provide strategic insights and on-demand expertise to build and inspire the workforce they need. Visit us at or follow us on Twitter @ADP_CDA.

About ADP

Powerful technology plus a human touch. Companies of all types and sizes around the world rely on ADP's cloud software and expert insights to help unlock the potential of their people. HR. Talent. Benefits. Payroll. Compliance. Working together to build a better workforce. For more information, visit

For more information or to arrange an interview with an ADP spokesperson about the survey:

Eric McLean
Environics Communications

Fahd Pasha
Environics Communications

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