No Image Available

Cath Everett

Read more about Cath Everett

Office chit-chat costs employers £2bn a year


Office chit-chats are costing employers more than £2bn each year, with the average UK worker spending over an hour a day talking to colleagues about their social lives.

A poll undertaken among 1,546 workers by recruitment agency review site revealed that personnel spend on average 67 minutes each day chewing the fat with colleagues, while 8% admitted to chattering away for three hours or more.

The favourite topic of conversation was TV (52%), followed by weekend plans (49%) and food (46%). Next on the list was sport (43%) and what people had done the previous evening (41%), although 37% liked a good gossip about their colleagues.

Lisette Howlett, managing director of, said: "We all know the excitement of coming into work and wanting to talk about last night’s events, whether it be on the TV or what you got up to last night, but with over £2bn being lost each year, it’s important to rein it in a little bit."

While it was positive for employees to have harmonious relationships with each other, particularly for morale purposes, which meant that, in many ways, it was a good thing to talk, the problem was that there could be too much of a good thing, she added.

"Some suggestions would be for employers to encourage office workers to take their breaks with other colleagues and for staff to arrive a bit earlier or leave a bit later," Howlett said.

The average UK salary is £23,472 per annum or £489 per week, which means that hourly wages work out at £13.04. Therefore, the website provider arrived at the £2bn figure for wasted productivity by multiplying the hourly figure by 67 minutes.

On this basis, the cost of the average conversation to employers is £14.56 per day or £72.80 per working week. With 28.79 million people currently employed in the UK, the total cost to the economy is about £2bn.


Get the latest from HRZone

Subscribe to expert insights on how to create a better workplace for both your business and its people.


Thank you.