The last decade, since the global financial crisis, has seen the UK economy struggle with low productivity. It certainly isn’t just a UK problem, low productivity - measured by both output per worker and per hour worked - is a challenge facing many developed countries. However, for the UK the problem is significant.
In the last decade only Italy has experienced slower productivity amongst the G7 countries. Furthermore, last year’s productivity in the UK was only better than Japan and Canada’s but much lower than its major European trading partners and the US.
So what can be done?
The government are taking steps. In the autumn budget Chancellor Philip Hammond declared that the central mission of the Treasury was to raise productivity, announcing a “productivity fund” of £31 billion and key plans to invest more than £500 million “in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband.”
Similarly, businesses can take steps to increase employee engagement with the goal of and increasing productivity and maximising profits. Highly engaged and motivated employees have a significant influence on any business; they work harder, are more efficient, have higher levels of productivity and ultimately contribute to greater financial success.
So how can we increase employee engagement to boost productivity?
Create a happy work environment - it might seem obvious but too many companies don’t focus their efforts on ensuring staff are happy and well looked after. It’s not just about the money either; indeed the little things can make a bigger difference. Incentives such as flexible working, free drinks and fruit and social events that build team spirit all encourage employee engagement.
Offer ongoing training - training can often be one of the first things to be cut when figures are down, however by offering continual training your message to your employees is that their ongoing development matters.
Keep communication flowing - the only way to truly know what your employees want and indeed need, is to listen to them. Ensure that there are open channels of communication between management and staff; ask for constant feedback through surveys for example. Highlight that you are listening and you will make employees feel part of something and encourage engagement. You will, of course, have to action any feedback to implement improvements.
Show your support - optimum levels of productivity become more attainable when employees feel supported. You can develop mentoring programmes, social committees and information sharing opportunities.
Show everyone they have value - an engaged employee knows they have value through having a clear understanding of their role in the business and how they can impact the businesses over all goals.