Increased automation and digital technology at UK businesses could increase the country’s GDP, according to new research from print specialist Ricoh Europe.

The survey, conducted for Ricoh by Opinium and analysed by CEBR, found that “digital transformation” increased productivity and staff morale and reduced staff turnover.

The analysis suggested that automating systems through digital technology could increase gross domestic product (GDP) in the UK and the EU by 3.4% over the next five years – equivalent to £535 billion (€622 billion) of growth.

The Ricoh Europe survey revealed that business owners recognised the drain of time-intensive processes on their workforce, with 76% making the automation of tedious tasks a core part of their digital transformation strategy.

It also found that those businesses that had already implemented automation software in the last financial year said they experienced an average productivity increase of 14%.

The introduction of automation tools corresponded to the lowest employee turnover of 17%, compared to an average of 19% across other technology options.

Polling workers, the research found that 64% thought they would bring more value to their company if they had access to the right technology, with 78% of them welcoming automation tools as a means of reducing tedious tasks.

Nicola Downing, CEO of Ricoh Europe, said: “Unlocking billions of euros worth of growth at a time when many businesses are facing the prospect of stagnating economies and productivity losses is an opportunity that cannot be missed.

“It’s encouraging to see business leaders acknowledge this and incorporate steps to streamline working, automate core processes and reduce tedious tasks into digital transformation strategies.

“However, they must move from intention to action much faster. Employees are ready to embrace all that automation can bring – in fact, they’re actively looking to employers to provide this.

“Accelerating digital transformation and delivering the tools that allow people to tackle more valuable work is essential if businesses are to remain competitive, retain key talent and trigger sustainable growth.”

The research involved polling 6,000 workers and 1,500 decision makers across the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

As well as supplying printheads used in digital garment and textile printing, Ricoh supplies its own direct-to-garment (DTG) digital printers such as the Ricoh Ri 1000, Ri 2000 and Ri 100.