UK manufacturers need to shake up their approach to people management and
adopt lean manufacturing techniques if they are to compete with their US
This is the conclusion of the Engineering Employers’ Federation report
Catching Uncle Sam – US and UK Manufacturing Productivity which highlights the
fact that UK manufacturers’ productivity lags between 25 to 30 per cent behind
US companies in the same sector.
The study proposes UK employers introduce performance management initiatives
to help encourage employee involvement.
It suggests firms bring in schemes such as workforce output monitoring and
individual performance appraisal.
The research also stresses the importance of using incentives beyond pay
perks to attract and retain skilled individuals.
Report author, EEF deputy chief economist Dougie Peedle, said the experience
of US-owned companies shows that the use of training and personal development
and work-life balance can be effective in motivating and keeping key staff.
Commenting on the research, rewards adviser for the CIPD Nick Page, said,
"These companies have to build their capability for HR management. It is
not just machinery which affects output, it is largely down to the skills and
commitment of their employees."
The report calls on UK employers to adopt lean manufacturing techniques that
cut wastage, such as just-in-time delivery and breaking down the workforce into
"cells" dedicated to specific aspects of production.
Stephen Radley, EEF chief economist, believes the Chancellor’s proposals to
introduce R&D tax credits will help encourage innovation in the sector.
By Ben Willmott