The survey of more than 1,000 managers also found that almost two out of five expected to cut jobs in 2016.
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) said fewer than two thirds of those polled entered the new year optimistic for their company and the country’s economy.
Despite their pessimism, most managers reported moderate financial growth in 2015.
The top three priorities for next year, according to managers, are cost control, improving productivity and managing performance.
The main barriers holding back business productivity were found to be bureaucracy, business culture, outdated technology, stress and bad management.
CMI’s chief executive Ann Francke said: “The number one factor affecting productivity is quality of management and leadership.
“Managers can’t work effectively with their hands tied behind their backs. We know that two in five managers don’t feel empowered to take necessary decisions, so it is little surprise that so many firms report they are bloated by bureaucracy.
“Employers must make it their new year’s resolution to provide them with the skills and autonomy to succeed.”