UK Productivity at a Low
It’s a known fact that productivity in the UK has been lagging behind in recent years. Compared to other advanced economies, the UK is about 20 percentage points lower in output-per-hour-worked than the average [source]. We attribute the productivity shortfall to lack of investment, a stunt in innovation growth, and financing issues,; but the question is: what can we do about it?
Combating low productivity remains at the forefront of our economic recovery plan, but how can we, as HR professionals in our individual businesses, help the cause?
Throughout our recovery process, we’ve been focused on creating more jobs and employing more people. While this has helped, it’s time for a new plan. We need to move from labour intensive production to efficiency improvement tactics; it’s time to make the transition of hiring more people to putting money into existing employees to drive productivity.
This starts with the development of our people.
Competition is probably the most well known way to improve productivity, and works on both large and small scales. In a broader sense, the entry of new rivals boost productivity by provoking existing entities to become more efficient and innovative.
On a company scale, it’s essential to develop domestic competition; even if you are already known as the best in what you do, it’s important to constantly re-invent your product to keep your current market share. It’s too easy to fall into the trap of complacency.
On the individual level, promoting competition within your organisation can be done in a number of ways, but the biggest competition to each person should be themselves. Encourage the setting of achievable performance goals, link these to company business objectives, and provide the necessary support so that your team can grow and push themselves as individuals.
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all” -Walt Disney Company
People thrive in the face of adversity and tend to perform better than when unchallenged. When it comes to your company, explore the different ways you can push people outside their comfort zones. As long as the support they need is there, and the goals are clear, this can work well.
Have you ever heard of Silicon Valley? Of course you have. Silicon Valley is a hub of energised tech companies that seem to breed off each other to create a competitive and stimulating environment.
Proximity is a great force to drive productivity and aids in rapid information flow. It’s very easy to become disconnected, even for those from the same company, and isolation can be a huge productivity killer. Making sure that your employees are well connected and up to speed with different projects can be beneficial. We all want to feel like we can make a difference and proximity and communication helps us feel like we’re a part of something bigger and outside ourselves.
Everyone is motivated by different things and it’s important to identify these factors so you can implement the right changes within your organisation. Praise, feedback, definition of objectives and activities are great ways to drive motivation. Looking to think outside the box? Try inspiration as opposed to motivation. It may be harder to achieve, but has longer lasting effects.
Productivity improvement may not happen over night, but if we start driving individual performance, soon teams and in turn companies, will feel the effects.
The next myHRcareers event will continue the theme of driving productivity through people development. Join us nest Wednesday, 30 September 2015, at Harris+Hoole in Central London. We have two HR thought leaders geared up to discuss this topic and we’d love to see you there. Get your free ticket here.