It is well known the UK has something of a persistent productivity problem, but a concrete solution for such a complex and widespread issue has so far proved to be elusive. In May 2018, a study by Oxford Economics estimated that the UK could achieve a 1.8% increase in GDP; equivalent to £36.8 billion; through better workplace optimisation.
The Office for National Statistics has also estimated that output per hour worked within the United Kingdom in 2015 was 15.9 percentage points below the average for the rest of the G7 advanced economies. With UK performance dragging so far behind our European counterparts, finding a solution to the problem is more vital than ever before – but how?
We’ve put together our top five tips to help you to enact positive productivity change within your organisation:
Invest in employee wellbeing
A recent study by researchers at the University of Warwick has shown that a boost in employee happiness can lead to as much as a 12% increase in overall productivity, whilst employees who were not exposed to the boost were found to be 10% less productive. Such studies clearly show the importance of creating a culture of mindfulness, communication and collaboration will be greatly beneficial to improving overall morale and motivation.
HR departments are well-placed to assess and improve any existing wellbeing initiatives, as well as gauging the general mood across their organisation.
Support flexible working
It might seem obvious, but despite the popularity and media interest surrounding remote and flexible working practices, many companies still lag behind in offering true working flexibility for their employees. Supporting a more relaxed workplace will have multiple benefits for both employers and employees – including cutting commuting times and costs, allowing businesses to pay less for smaller office spaces, letting employees work from home or other locations, and requiring less hands-on management time for all teams.
Showing that you trust your employees, and value their lives outside of the workplace, will reward your business with untold benefits going forward. Workplaces that offer true flexibility are also far more attractive to new candidates, and will likely aid you in sourcing the right candidates for your vacancies much more quickly.
Equip teams with the right technology
The human skills of your employees are vital to the success of your business, but tools that you provide them with in order to complete their tasks are also important. Choosing the right software will not only translate into a more streamlined workplace, but will also help employees to plan, manage and schedule their workloads far more easily. Tech such as time tracking apps, online collaboration tools and communication apps are all good choices to consider.
There are multiple options that you could consider when looking to upgrade or improve your existing technology architecture, but investing in secure, intuitive HR software is always a good place to start. By utilising modules such as Core HR and Self Service Management, you can place the responsibility for managing employee files and personal details back onto the individuals themselves.
Communicate future plans clearly
Clear communication is the key to success in many business scenarios, but this is more crucial than ever when it comes to informing employees of future plans and changes. Without effective, two-way communication, working relationships and easily eroded, and the resulting risk of loss of business performance should not be underestimated.
Directors and managers who clearly communicate expectations, responsibilities, and organisational challenges and changes, are far more likely to be rewarded with an engaged, motivated and productive workforce.
Measure productivity effectively
With access to more technology and data than ever before, HR teams, in particular, are now often required to quantify various business scenarios and pain points to senior management. In today’s ‘knowledge economy,’ businesses prefer to deal with ideas rather than widgets on a production line – the classic ways of effectively measuring productivity and output now no longer apply.
HR teams are now best placed to appreciate the value of their employees’ quality of work, as well as the quantity of their output. It is also wise to resist implementing blanket ‘improvement policies’ when faced with the issue of poor productivity, as this is likely to alienate high-performing staff members and reduce overall morale levels.