The UK's productivity puzzle

How to combat the trend

The current picture of productivity in the UK is bleak. While it used to grow at 2% every year, it has hardly grown at all in the last decade.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), hourly output fell 0.5% in the first three months of 2017 – taking UK productivity back to pre-financial crisis levels. What’s more, UK productivity continues to lag behind its major trading partners, such as the US, France and Germany.

While the focus tends to be on the big picture and the UK as a whole, most professionals are interested in what they can do to make their company, division or team operate more productively. What can you, as managers and leaders do to combat the trend?

How to tackle poor productivity

There are three core elements to productivity: people, technology, and time. Being efficient is what we’re all about at TallyPro, so let’s take a look at this complex puzzle and begin to take some much-needed steps to fixing it.

Nurture the people

A company looking to accommodate an increase in workload or new business has two options: hire a few more people, or make its existing workforce more productive. As long as it’s cheaper and less risky to hire cheap labour, the business may hold off investing in its current staff.

But, that seems to be where we’re going wrong in this country. Remember the old saying – it’s quality, not quantity? Well, in terms of getting a productive workforce, quality is everything!

Now, sorry to break it to you, but there’s no one-size-fits-all model when it comes to engaging employees. Though we do have some tips to get the ball rolling.

First things, first – notice good work. When people feel valued, the quality of their output will improve and continue. Second, make an effort to invest time and money into mentoring and training. These small moments of wisdom from a superior can make all the difference.

Businesses recording top levels of employee engagement have 21% higher productivity, according to research by Gallup.

Give workers the flexibility to work their way, whether that means a choice in hours or working from home. Our last blog post on working from home highlighted the fact that homeworkers rank their productivity above those in an office.

Get involved and take action as a manager to get your staff working more efficiently, and leave the potential new hires at the door for now.

Utilise technology

Investing in new, more efficient technology such as TallyPro’s time tracking software could work wonders for an under-zealous office. If employees are finding any spare moment to waste time on social media or otherwise, using the data gathered by such technology will highlight weaknesses. While this method works for the managers to address an employee, if that person understands why they are tracking their time, they will be automatically driven to bump their productivity up a gear.

Using time recording technology also allows for a more flexible workforce, as mentioned above. And, as we know, a company is nothing without its people.

With people working where they choose, bosses demonstrate their level of trust and make employees feel more valued. Time tracking strengthens that trust through the data that can be seen as proof.

Through this action, employees will want to prove that they deserve the trust and their heightened productivity will have a positive impact on the business in the long run. Simple as that!

Support time management

Emails, unnecessary meetings, poor communication. These things sap the time out of a day and force productivity into a downward spiral. We took an in-depth look at these time killers and discovered how destructive they can be, not only to the individual, but the company as a whole.

Time management plays a huge role in efficiency with tools such as time tracking software providing an opportunity for managers to break down how people spend their day in the office. By doing so, changes can be made and meetings can become a single conversation with one individual, while checking emails can be held off for an allotted time, rather than having a constant, distracting stream.

Time is also squandered through an employee’s commute to work. On average, UK professionals spend approximately 8.1 hours per week travelling to and from work – the equivalent of an entire working day.

What’s more is that the time spent doing so has a knock-on effect on a staff members’ levels of tiredness and stress, which both put a massive drain on productivity levels.

This circles back to the point of providing employees with a model that offers flexibility and trust. Getting rid of time spent in traffic or on a crowded train will enhance both staff well-being and productivity.

Champion a model that puts employees at the forefront – working from home or giving the flexibility to start and finish work outside of rush hour times. People should not attempt to fit around the workplace, rather, businesses should implement structures that enable employees to flourish and succeed in their roles. A little TLC will result in a happier, more productive workforce – and a boosted bottom line.