The UK workforce is relatively unproductive. France and Germany both have efficiency levels that are 30% higher than that of the UK. Only in October did productivity levels return to normal after an all-time low following the recent economic crisis.
The latest evidence suggests the increase in productivity is fuelled by longer working hours and more people being in employment. We are yet to see if this is going to be the case in the long-term but last week unemployment levels were reported to have increased again.
Better Productivity = Organisational Growth
Higher organisational productivity has several known benefits:
- A reduction of operating costs
- A greater income revenue
- Better inward investment
This is more relevant than ever with the threat of companies pulling out from UK investment over Brexit fears, one such example would be financial institutions moving their European operations.
Stagnation can dramatically place your competitors at an advantage and as such, business leaders should always seek to find new ways to improve productivity and employee satisfaction. Here are four key aspects to consider when reviewing productivity within your workplace:
1. Effective Tools
In order to help drive greater levels of productivity, organisations need to have effective forecasting, planning, metrics and reporting tools.
Before you can improve productivity within your organisation, you need to be able to benchmark your current productivity levels accurately. Typically, businesses use a crude jobs-per-man or per-man-day method to assess productivity. However, these are likely to be misleading, as any two tasks are unlikely to take similar lengths of time to complete. An employee who carries out many shorter tasks might appear more productive than an employee who has one complex task.
It is far more accurate to measure how long employees should take for each job and compare this with the length of time they spend on the task. This way, you get a better insight and understanding of productivity levels, if you measure the assignments completed over a set period of time, rather than an aggregated idea of how long it should take.
2. Active Management
Active management is another key element to improving your business’s productivity. The problem is that most management behaviours are passive at best. Instead, leadership needs to take control.
Active managers are more dynamic; they ensure employees have all the resources they need to fulfil their role and will be more proactive when solving staff challenges. They will also encourage staff to have greater participation when reviewing operational processes.
Active managers are more likely to notice a decrease in productivity, identify the cause and be quick to rectify issues such as improper use of resources or underutilised staff. This will have a knock-on effect of reducing costs for the business and improving customer service.
3. Efficient Processes
Processes can often be cumbersome and as a result, highly inefficient. That’s why it is important to map these out and understand where gaps and wastage are created. In addition, processes may have been re-engineered already, as a result of a technology implementation or a Lean Six Sigma initiative. However, the control of the processes may be missing, which allows certain items to go low visibility, causing issues and frustration for both staff and customers alike. The control of the process is generated through ensuring active management.
4. Employee Engagement
Finally, employees should be fully engaged in their work. If they understand their objectives and how they contribute to the bigger picture, they will feel valued and be more engaged. This will be enhanced if they receive regular constructive feedback.
Employees who are engaged, work harder for their managers, and it isn’t just their productivity that receives a boost, you will likely see improvements in customer service and the quality of their work as well.
At the same time as speaking to your employees, you should also be listening to them. Do they have feedback on the processes undertaken and do they see a better way to do it? You don’t have to act upon their suggestions but they might highlight something that line and senior managers have overlooked.
The UK’s productivity level is improving after a 0.6% increase in the output per hour recorded by the Office of National Statistics in the second quarter of 2016. But, it is still one of the worst in the developed world. You can help change this by initiating productivity improvement programmes throughout your organisation.
Look for ways that your company can enhance its tools, improve employee engagement, instil active management and create efficient processes to make better use of your resources, increase productivity and thereby help grow revenue and margins.
The Business Transformation Network brings you this article in partnership with Balcroft.
Richard Cronin founded Balcroft, an operational consulting firm, four years ago by bringing together a group of highly-regarded, former C-level executives from FTSE/Fortune 500 type firms to combine their experience and transform organisations.
To ensure delivery, any benefits Balcroft signs up to deliver are guaranteed, it is passionate about transferring skills to achieve sustainability and employees don’t operate out of an office, to keep its carbon footprint low and so it doesn’t pass unnecessary overheads on to its clients.
Balcroft has supported the Sunday Times in recognising the most improved Best 100 Companies to work for and Women in the City, a highly respected, award-winning organisation that promotes, recognises and rewards female talent.