The UK had the second-worst productivity in the G7 group of major nations, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS said that since 1991, the UK's productivity, measured by output by hour worked, has been 20% lower than the G7 average.
Germany's productivity was 33% stronger than the UK in 2014, which in turn lagged behind the likes of France and US by similar margins. The only G7 nation to have a worse productivity last year was Japan, which was 15% less productive that the UK.
The ONS said that the UK's growth in productivity was the strongest in the G7 prior to the financial crisis and economic downturn. However, in the years since the crisis, its growth has been the weakest.
Ben Dowd, Business Director at O2 said: “These latest statistics are a stark reminder that fundamental changes need to be made to boost the UK’s productivity levels – we simply can’t continue to fall so far behind our G7 counterparts. Yes, Government investment and the Bank of England’s measures will help in the longer term, but there are other more immediate steps that businesses should be taking right now to drive our productivity levels to where they should be."
However, the Institute of Directors (IoD) believes we shouldn't dwell on productivity statistics too much.
James Sproule, chief economist at the IoD, said: “It is not surprising to see that the UK continues to lag our G7 competitors in terms of productivity. There is, however, a significant silver lining to the structure of our economy. Britain has struck a balance between an open, competitive economy and a sensible level of employment regulation which should be the envy of Europe. We have high employment, strong wage growth and a level of flexibility which encourages entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The United States, which has embraced agile markets, shows the potential of free and open economies to boost productivity. While we would not – and could not – replicate every element of the US economy, there are lessons Britain can learn. A closer collaboration between universities, businesses and investors, and a warmer embrace of equity finance for instance, will help create the knowledge-intensive, risk-taking and entrepreneurial businesses which will drive productivity gains."