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It sounds like you're doing it right. Unless you're more directly involved or senior, your extra efforts are likely wasted beyond a point. As in, the first 10% extra you do is worth more than the next 10% extra that you do. Just arriving on time, meeting deadlines and exceeding them a little pays dividends.
>I've read quite a few things that suggest businesses in this country are far too short-termist and value a quick profit over longer term sustainability.
Well, you have to remember too that decision makers are bound by their own interests. We often have inefficient systems that could be easily improved, but not many managers would want to stand up and rock the boat, let alone risk ruin. Making a decision today that would significantly improve the company over a 20 year timeframe would probably look terrible on your record in the short term.
I've read and heard stuff about the short-term approach that is common here too. There seems to be a tendency to look at the figures at the end of the year and judge things by that. For example, minimum wage has gone up quite sharply in recent years. This has leant itself to companies cutting benefits and reducing staff numbers. For supermarkets I think this worked well, but for shops where innovations (self-checkouts) are harder, it's just stretched out a workforce.
While we may seem phlegmatic, it takes different forms elsewhere. In Italy it's incredibly hard to fire someone, so as soon as you get your contract you can do the bare minimum. If I remember, the Manx get priority for any job over others, meaning that they can be equally unproductive.