By Jessica Pryce-Jones, joint partner of the iOpener Institute and author of “Happiness at Work — Maximising Your Psychological Capital for Success”

The economic outlook continues to look more encouraging, and this is creating a feeling of renewed confidence. Businesses will be keen to take advantage of this environment to achieve optimum growth. Maximizing the productivity of employees is an important part of this and should be a core element of any business’ growth strategy. But implementing intelligent approaches to improve productivity is impossible without a clear view of the current situation.

The iOpener Institute for People and Performance gathered and analyzed over 30,000 management interviews as part of a study of current employee productivity levels. By examining country and sector productivity scores managers can view their own productivity initiatives in context, so that they are not unambitious, or unrealistic. The results revealed wide disparities of productivity around the world and between sectors.

While the international average for time on task was 58.8%, there were noticeable differences between the various industry sectors. The Food Service sector performed the best with 66.2% time on task, compared to the Biotechnology sector which was at the bottom of the table with 53.2%. Even greater disparities were shown when comparing the different countries surveyed. Mexico was shown to have the highest productivity (73.2% of time on task), whilst Portugal had the lowest (43.3%).

A key finding of the study was that sectors and countries with the highest levels of productivity also performed strongly in the measurements of Happiness at Work. Broad correlations between Happiness at Work and productivity are recognised by numerous sources. Some governments have even started to compile ‘Happiness’ indices, in recognition of this correlation. But by understanding the individual components of Happiness at Work, and their own company’s performance within those areas, organizations can build their productivity strategies much more effectively.

Country and sector benchmarks are an essential platform for businesses to launch their productivity initiatives. From these starting points, strategies can be developed that rise above the unambitious, but are also likely to be achievable.

Jessica Pryce- Jones is joint partner of the iOpener Institute for People & Performance which examines the factors that contribute to resilience and how it can be maintained. The report may be downloaded by visiting this link. To be part of our Global Happiness at Work Index 2014 fill in our online Index questionnaire: