Productivity – beyond an equation
Read time : 8 mins Added: 25/02/2020
Being more productive not only helps individual businesses grow and be successful, it boosts the economy. In fact, recent data from PwC shows that halving regional productivity gaps could give the UK economy an £83 billion lift.1
In its simplest terms, productivity is the measure of business output per unit of input, but for most businesses it’s so much more than that.
To become truly productive, UK businesses need to consider a number of factors, from how to embrace digital technologies to the leadership culture in their organisation. Not-for-profit industry-led productivity group Be the Business highlights five key areas businesses can focus on to help them harness their full productivity potential.
Five pillars of productivity
- Digital readiness
- People & team
- Leadership & strategy
- Sales & growth
Technology is having a huge impact on the business landscape. Making the most of digital advances can help businesses innovate and adopt new, more productive ways of working.
Modelling shows that adopting cloud-based computing could help small businesses boost productivity by 13.5%2. Significant gains are also expected for adopting CRM systems (18.4%), e-commerce solutions (7.5%) and web-based accounting (11.8%).
And it’s not just smaller businesses that could benefit from focusing on technology and digitisation. Research highlights that some larger firms are struggling to adapt due to the time and cost associated with replacing old systems and retraining staff. However, it suggests that if just 1 in 100 businesses adopted a new approach to innovation and technology, it could provide a £100 billion boost to the UK economy, helping to improve productivity and fuel wage growth3.
Staff are a business’s most important asset, and the key to making your business more productive. Years of studies show that happy, engaged, supported workers are more productive workers. For example, research4 shows that organisations with employee engagement scores in the top quartile have 18% higher productivity levels than firms in the bottom quartile.
The good news for UK businesses is that Wrike’s recent Employee Engagement survey shows that 91% of employees consider themselves engaged with their work5. The report also offers insight into what measures employees think would help boost their engagement and productivity levels further. The ability to access work at any time and work effectively from anywhere, easier ways to collaborate and automation of repetitive tasks come out on top.
Business leaders play an important role in establishing a culture of productivity and motivating staff to be their most productive.
Strong leadership and management are needed if businesses are going to adopt new practices and keep employees motivated. However, it is widely thought that the role of ‘manager’ is often undervalued in the UK and that many people end up as ‘accidental managers’ with no leadership background or training.
Be the Business identified that 95% of businesses that are confident and actively seeking to improve productivity have invested in or taken steps to improve leadership and management training in the past two years. This compares to a national average of just 55%6.
Productivity and growth go hand in hand. Being more productive can help your business grow but growing and investing in your business can also see productivity go up. Investing in the right infrastructure and people, as well as thinking carefully about the products/services you offer and which markets are being targeted, can all have a positive impact.
Be the Business’s research found firms classed as ‘purposeful improvers’ – those with the confidence and appetite to make productivity-boosting improvements – are significantly more likely to invest in setting business goals. They are also more likely to invest in developing a marketing strategy and conducting product research and development7.
Productivity doesn’t just happen by accident – it takes hard work and planning.
Be the Business states that business planning and tracking is the “defining difference” between businesses that are purposeful improvers and companies that want to make changes but don’t quite have the confidence.
To make changes with a real and lasting impact on productivity, businesses need to:-
- identify which improvements are right for their organisation
- ensure sufficient time and resource is allocated to making the necessary changes
- take steps to monitor progress and measure whether changes are having the desired impact.
Partnering with Be the Business
Boosting productivity has never been more important, both for individual businesses and the UK economy. This is why we’ve partnered with Be the Business – to help companies measure and increase their productivity.
We are supporting Be the Business to offer a range of resources and activities to help companies boost their productivity, including:
- Benchmarking tool – A tool to enable businesses to compare themselves to peers and identify key areas for improvement.
- Mentoring for Growth programme – Businesses are paired with a hand-picked senior level mentor to share their wealth of expertise.
- Productivity through People – A 12-month programme aims to help SME leaders transform their business’s productivity and working practices.
- Local events – Regular open days and masterclasses held up and down the UK
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