Nick Howes, Managing Director of Leadership Management International UK, offers his advice on how best to tackle the ‘productivity puzzle’ within your business.
In recent times, workplace productivity has been the focus of significant media attention, as UK businesses desperately search for ways to enhance output and exceed the performance levels seen from their global competitors.
Recent government data makes for worrying reading, showing that over the last decade, the UK’s labour productivity growth rate fell to a level lower than at any point during the 20th century – a situation that shows no signs of improving.
With Brexit uncertainty continuing to build, it’s up to UK businesses to find an effective solution for the longstanding issue, as many of their main European counterparts build on already strong productivity rates.
The UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’
As the main driver of long-term economic growth and higher living standards, productivity is typically measured by the amount of work produced per hour.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK has achieved productivity growth of just 2% in the last decade, a rate that was previously managed every year. Often referred to as the UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’, the statistics show that despite more people being employed, organisations still face an uphill battle when it comes to improving the issue.
In the past, organisations have expanded their teams or increased working hours to combat the issue. However, this could now be viewed as counter-productive, with more workers entering unproductive jobs.
With the issue of workplace productivity intensifying, businesses are beginning to take drastic measures to improve the situation. Although investing in technology can be a positive and necessary move, many organisations are spending a lot of money in a bid to make internal processes more efficient. However, new research suggests that the answer could be much simpler and cheaper by comparison, as businesses fail to capitalise on their existing workforce, underestimating the importance of personal development. Rather than replacing workers with technology or expanding the existing workforce, improvements can be made by providing focussed training for individuals, giving them the skills needed to successfully complete high payoff activities.
Nurturing the talent within
Not only will personal development enhance workplace productivity, but it will also reduce the need for businesses to recruit talent from elsewhere, saving significant time and money.
While some organisations attempt to solve the productivity puzzle by bringing in experienced individuals to oversee daily operations, others recognise the potential in their existing workforce and offer the training needed to progress.
For many years, there has been a false perception that productivity can be improved by simply working longer hours. However, some of the most productive nations in the world have a shorter average working week than the UK.
Instead, it is important to discover the strengths of your existing team, using your workforce effectively to accomplish tasks.
Inspiring new leaders
For those businesses looking to boost their workplace productivity, there are programmes designed to teach people how to become more productive, making the most of their time and talent to achieve the best results.
Refined and improved over time, these courses help individuals understand the true power of goal setting, teaching important communication, time management and delegation skills, all of which are vital to operating within a highly productive team.
Other programmes focus on the strategic side of personal development, recognizing the need for clear-thinking leaders, who can create effective business strategies and oversee the future success of the organisation.
Helping workers become strategic leaders is crucial to long-term business growth, as they begin to optimise internal structures and enhance productivity using newly learnt skills.
Embracing a culture of development
The UK’s productivity puzzle has left many businesses scratching their heads, as they continue to look for sustainable ways to solve the problem.
Although recruiting new talent or upgrading technology may alleviate some pressure in the short-term, these solutions tend to cost a lot of money moving forward. Instead, the answer could be much simpler, as businesses are beginning to recognise the potential of their existing team, offering them the training needed to become effective leaders.
For those businesses looking to capitalize on their existing workforce, consult an experienced team of coaches and research the development opportunities available.