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The Productivity Puzzle

The UK is falling behind in global productivity

Since 2017, the UK’s productivity has been falling behind the other G7 countries by a gap of around 16%, but here at S A Partners we’re focusing on helping you engage your teams in solving the productivity puzzle. The BBC has also recently been publishing items highlighting concerns around productivity in the UK. A news item run by the BBC  interviewed a client of S A Partners, Accolade Wines  and talked to their CI Manager, Alison Beard -Gunter, and asked how Accolade Wines have met the productivity puzzle.

In other recent news items, the BBC reported that UK productivity had fallen to pre-financial crisis levels.  – in the words of Kamal Ahmed the BBC’s economics editor the UK’s productivity figures are ‘bad to the point of shocking’ raising concerns for businesses’.  Also, the Office for National Statistics published a blog on this very subject just recently, which highlighted the dip in the UK growth compared to other countries.

Productivity can be defined as ‘the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input’.

The Financial Times commentary on this subject has been consistent over recent months:

In quarter 1 of 2017, Martin Wolf reported that ‘Physical investment is very low and skills remain highly deficient

By the Spring of 2017, Martin also reflected that ‘although the productivity slowdown has been a widespread phenomenon among high-income countries, Britain’s slowdown is remarkably bad even by these standards’.   If this were to continue, ‘the economy would no longer generate rising real incomes per head. That would change everything for the worse’.

So – whilst productivity is low – it does offer significant opportunities for improvement

The Smith Institute published a report in 2016 highlighting the productivity challenge as the need for employees contribute through working harder not smarter.  The Key Findings are summarised below:

  • Employee awareness of productivity is high. However, Productivity is often thought of as too remote an issue to discuss with the workforce.
  • Listening to employees and better people management are the key to boosting workplace productivity. (However better training and development, higher pay and investing in technology all play an important part).
  • Employee voice, participation and involvement have a key role to play in innovation and productivity improvement, but only a minority of employees think that they are routinely listened to at present. (For example, only 14% of employees think that their employer “always” listens to suggestions from staff for workplace productivity improvements).
  • Better people management can improve productivity, but managers are perceived as ‘too overwhelmed’ to focus on it. Moreover, training for managers needs to be a priority.
  • Tackling bureaucracy and “unproductive work” – or waste – came up repeatedly as a barrier to higher productivity in employee comments, particularly amongst specialist and professional workers.
  • Employees voice a desire for a sustainable, longer-term approach to productivity that values quality, rather than focusing productivity improvement on cutting staff input costs or meeting short-term indicators. Employees want to see organisations value and invest in their staff to deliver products or services that they are proud of and deliver improved productivity.

What do businesses who are beating the productivity challenge focus on

In our White Paper – The Essence of Excellence, Prof Peter Hines, Simon Grogan and Chris Butterworth consider the factors that separates the ‘really great’ companies from the ‘merely good’?  The answer lies not in what you see – or the tools and techniques people use, but in the feel, the pure essence of these organisations. Indeed, Peter Hines will be speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow about ‘Creating a Culture of Excellence that underpins sustained productivity growth‘.

It is the mind-set, the language, the confidence and the sheer passion for excellence.

More specifically we have identified 5 Core Areas where the very best distance themselves from the merely good. These are:

  • Behavioural Deployment
  • Strategy Deployment
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Leader Standard Work and
  • Learning & Development

Interested to learn more?  Please download this insightful paper using the download link provided.

How can we help ?

Shingo – Enterprise Excellence 

shingo logoThe Shingo Prize was created over twenty-five years ago, at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business of Utah State University as a way to recognise great organisations and to set a standard toward which the world may aspire. It is now globally recognised as the benchmark for Enterprise Excellence.

S A Partners is the European Affiliate for the Shingo Institute.  We have a team of accredited Facilitators who work with clients to design and deliver leadership programmes that focus on how to take the Shingo model and effectively apply it, thereby boosting organisational outcomes and employee engagement.

For more information on what we do and how we can help improve productivity – go to:

The Cardiff University Lean Competency System – Building Sustainable Skills & Capability 

Lean Competency System LogoA main differentiator for better productivity is the development of employee capability – we take this seriously, all our employee development work is  accredited through the Cardiff University Lean Competency System- .

This provides the appropriate rigour, structure, capabilities and support required to develop people with the right skills and competence to deliver sustainable change and demands workplace evidence of the application of knowledge ensuring it moves from the classroom to the real world of work,  hitting the productivity puzzle.

Strategy Deployment 

strategy deployment banner imageStrategy Deployment is about developing a measurement system (KPI) that drives ideal behaviours and delivers the strategy which takes your organisation from its current state, through to its optimum state.  It deploys these measures across the entire organisation ensuring every individual is aligned and understands their role in delivering the strategy. . This is a foundation for productivity improvement ensuring people’s daily work has focus and their improvement ideas and projects connect to the right issues all the time.

Contact Us 

If you would like to know more about how we can help you meet the Productivity Challenge through deploying Shingo, the development of internal capability and aligning teams through effective strategy deployment contact our Head of Sector Robin Jaques.

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