54% of HR directors believe that investing in upskilling line managers would improve productivity in the workplace
A particular area of concern faced by businesses in the UK is that of lagging productivity with operations. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK productivity is falling behind that of comparable economies, to the extent that in 2014, UK productivity was an estimated 20% lower than the G7 average. Moreover, Bank of England statistics show that in recent years, the majority of growth in productivity was due to an increase in hours worked rather than improvements in efficiency.
The challenge of how to improve productivity is high on the agenda of employers and policy makers alike, as tackling this issue will contribute to business and economic growth. This study found that non-executive directors consider improving productivity as one of the top five HR priorities for the next five years. However, in 2015 only 44% of HR directors saw improving productivity as a key priority and this fell to 39% in 2017. This suggests HR directors may be underestimating the importance of this issue to their organisation, or alternatively that perhaps they do not see this as an HR issue.
In its recent report ‘Building Productivity in the UK’, ACAS identified seven levers of workplace productivity, and suggested employers focus on these levers to improve productivity in their workplace. We asked HR directors which of these levers they felt were most important for improving productivity in their own organisations, to investigate where the main opportunities are.
As the chart below shows, HR directors believe productivity would be improved by: investing in upskilling line managers (54%), improving employee perceptions of fairness and of being valued (45%), and ensuring that employees are informed and can contribute to decision making (38%).
Of course, different organisations are faced with different circumstances and there is not a one size fits all solution, however the factors displayed to the right can function as starting points for organisations that are keen to improve their productivity but not sure what may be holding them back.