HR has been identified by the DTI as having a central role to play in improving the UK's competitiveness in its first ever productivity strategy.
Maximising potential in the workplace was listed as one of the five priorities the department will focus on as it attempts to bridge the productivity gap between the UK and its global competitors.
The strategy, announced by trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, defines the factors that create a high performance workplace, including modern management practices that develop workforce skills and use them flexibly.
Examples put forward by the DTI include teamworking, strong appraisal systems, joint problem solving, team briefings and effective information and consultation structures.
The DTI analysis concludes that the problem in the UK is not that these practices are unknown, but that they are not applied widely or deeply enough.
John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development was optimistic that the strategy would reinforce the link between people management and productivity gains, and would increase HR's influence.
"The recognition of HR's role has been growing over time and this [strategy] is critical. This brings a lot of issues together, and it's important that HR should act as a catalyst for improvements," he said.
However, he added that the current document was just a starting point, and hoped the DTI would identify more detailed issues in the future.
Guy Pink, head of personnel for Victim Support, welcomed the strategy's recognition of HR's key role, but said the DTI had to ensure the ability of organisations to adopt progressive management practices was not undermined by red tape.
The DTI hopes its plans to boost productivity will dovetail with its skills strategy and the information and consultation framework.
By Ross Wigham