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Unlocking the value of improved productivity

The state of UK productivity is the foundation of many arguments between business and government, and has never been more important with the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union.

The consensus amongst all leading economists and market participants is that the UK needs to lift its game if we are to make a success of Brexit.

To help understand the sentiment behind the fundamental drivers of UK productivity, Capita Workforce Management Solutions commissioned a study into UK companies, surveying 250 managers and 250 shift workers. The purpose was to get their thoughts on productivity.

The report found a huge disconnect between the number of managers who felt that productivity was important for that business (82%) and those who measured it, with one in three not measuring it at all.

Key findings include:

  • 87% of managers and 75% of workers feel that they have high levels of productivity at work;
  • Nine out of ten managers feel that they motivate their employees to improve productivity, with 60% responding that saying ‘thank you’ motivates their team;
  • However, more than 40% of British workers stating that their organisation has no way of motivating the workforce;
  • When asked what hindered productivity, a third of employees cited talking to colleagues, and 51% of managers agreed;
  • Interestingly 27% of employees said nothing at all stopped them being productive, but management took a different view with 44% blaming tea and smoking breaks;
  • Perhaps most tellingly of all, 23% of employees stated bad management as a cause of unproductivity, and 25% of managers agreed with this;
  • In more positive findings, 82% of shift workers were happy with the hours they were assigned.

Two thirds of all employees responded that they wasted at least an hour a day at work. However, three quarters of managers felt that most employees wasted up to two hours a day, which links back to a potential cause of lost productivity and could be where the reported bad management is coming into force.

In analysing our findings in collaboration with a cross-industry panel of experts, some key themes emerge on how best-practice British companies are tackling the challenges of lifting performance, and are focusing on productivity in a challenging economy.

We believe that improving productivity means that the focus needs to be on your culture, on empowering your people, and being clear in your communications.

  • People get motivated when they feel that they have meaningful influence on decisions. Flat hierarchies promote shared responsibility for decision making – meaning employees have a greater sense of pride and a real sense of achievement.
  • How you treat failures is key. Failure should be about continuous improvement, rather than encouraging a blame culture.
  • Get the right people, and train them well. The right employee culture will help drive both staff retention and the ability to attract new people.
  • Flexibility and work life balance. The report findings suggest that flexibility in the blue-collar workplace is not just ‘management talk’; British employees have taken this option up.
  • The role of management. Management sets the tone for the organisational culture.

The full report, Blue Collar Productivity in the UK, is available to download here.

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