Discussions of productivity generally focus on such topics as how many worker hours it takes to assemble a car. But a new study, commissioned by Steelcase Inc., looks at the question in a different way -- and the results will depress managers everywhere.

Steelcase, a Michigan manufacturer of office furniture, asked 1,000 office workers nationwide how things were going on the job. It then put the same queries to executives. And while it's not surprising that the two groups didn't always see eye-to-eye, the difference on the question of productivity is startling.

Some 46% of employees said that they "certainly do as much as [they] can" at work. Only 28%, in the survey conducted by Louis Harris & Associates, conceded that they "could probably do more."

And what do the bosses think about this? Only 16% said their employees were working at capacity.

Japanese employers and employees were not surveyed.