According to a recent study, UK productivity growth over the last decade is the worst since the start of the Industrial Revolution about 250 years ago.
The researchers from the University of Sussex and Loughborough University found out that in 2008 when the financial crisis happened, the productivity growth rate was nearly twice as bad as the previous decade. And, it seems that the business productivity slowdown has no precedent in more than two centuries.
Now, since economists believe that business productivity growth is directly linked to lifting GDP and higher wages, a slowdown has consequences not only on employees and employers but also on the UK’s economy. But, why are UK workers so unproductive? Well, it seems that the productivity slowdown is a consequence of multiple factors including low wages, which have barely increased over the past 15 years, inflexible work practices, and job insecurity and the rise in temporary contracts.
So, what can you do to save your business when productivity is plummeting across the entire nation?
1. Improve your recruiting
Let’s be honest, culture fit is the glue that holds an organization together which makes it a key trait to look for when recruiting. However, many managers often overlook cultural fit when choosing a candidate over another. Why? Because they are out there only hunting for the right set of skills and talent. And, don’t get us wrong, hiring the most skilled and experienced candidate simply makes sense. But if they don’t fit in your company culture, your team’s productivity may take a hit.
Plus, employees who fit well not only to the culture of the organization, but also with their co-workers and supervisors, have greater job satisfaction and are more likely to remain within the organization and have an improved job performance. Whereas those who don’t fit well, chances are that they will find difficulties in communicating and collaborating with their co-workers which obviously will impact their job satisfaction and performance.
Also, adding an employee that does fit the company culture to the team is likely to energize other employees and boost their productivity and motivation.
2. Improve employee skills with training
One of the factors that affect the productivity of the employees is the lack of training. And, in the UK, since temporary contracts started to be more and more common, employers provide less on-the-job training.
Needless to say, when feeling less valued, employees also lack the motivation to improve productivity. Moreover, because workers aren’t as well-trained as they should be, the overall productivity and efficiency of the workforce drop.
Training courses are great ways to improve productivity among your current workforce. Plus, they can also be seen as attractive benefits for ambitious people. Providing training benefits both the company and the employees because it doesn’t only improve productivity among workers but also allows them to develop new skill sets that allow them to undertake a greater variety of work. For example, providing employees with access to Prince2 Foundation training can help them gain the skill set required to take management tasks such as coaching, motivating, and supervising the other team members.
Moreover, business-wise, providing training to employees also leads to reductions in factors such as inefficient use of time and materials, workplace accidents, staff turnover and absenteeism, and recruitment expenses.
3. Tell managers to back off sometimes
Do you trust your employees? If yes, do you let them see that? because it seems that one of the most efficient tools for increasing team productivity is to encourage autonomy.
Now, this strategy requires a lot of trust from bosses but it may be the key to encouraging employees to engage in a self-correcting process, which will also boost their motivation and productivity. How do you do that? You manage less and encourage employees to take ownership of how they manage their own time, resources, and tasks.
Most employers tend to wrongly throw money at productivity and job satisfaction problems but what employees really want is freedom from micromanagement. According to a survey from Harvard Business Review, being able to choose and be autonomous increases both employee productivity and motivation. Consequently, job performance also increases.
Let us tell you what happens when managers don’t trust their people: they hover, employees get nervous and perform poorly, so managers continue to hover. And, needless to say, this leads to a continuous and unproductive loop.
4. Encourage flexible styles of working
According to a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offering flexible styles of working can boost productivity in employees. How so? Well, the study found out that after 6 months of allowing employees to work from home, there was a significant boost in employee productivity. And, that’s not all, while productivity increased, stress decreased.
Yet, the study pointed out that only allowing employees to work from home was not enough to boost their productivity. Giving them autonomy over their time, such as not asking them to log in at a certain time or report whatever they are working on, was truly the key to productivity growth. Simply put, that kind of big brother control results in draining energy from your employees. And, when you stop doing that, they can focus more on their tasks and work during that time of the day when they actually feel productive.
5. Invest in office wellness
Corporate wellness isn’t a new concept but most employers still don’t get how important it is for increasing productivity in modern employees.
Sure, financial rewards and benefits seem to be enough to attract and retain the best talent. But those motivators are only relevant on the short-term because as soon as stress, tiredness, and poor physical wellbeing settle in, productivity starts to decrease. Simply put, excessively stressed employees will be physically, mentally, and emotionally unhealthy which also makes them less productive.
The solution? Find ways to keep your employees healthy and unstressed because when your team is stressed, everybody loses, including your business. From fostering a healthy, communicative company culture to offering great perks such as gym memberships, free movie tickets, or even what the giants Google and Facebook give to their employees such as massage rooms or even nap pods.
Although many of those strategies may seem counterintuitive, it’s been shown over and over again that happy employees are engaged and productive employees.