UK productivity up despite poor management

Despite lagging behind its European and American competitors, a survey by Personnel Today’s sister title IRS Employment Review reports that UK productivity is at last beginning to show signs of improvement.

Of the 32 organisations questioned on this issue, the majority reported that productivity had either risen or remained constant in recent years, and they expect this trend to continue. However, they also highlighted areas for concern – particularly the impact of poor quality management.

The findings show that employers attempting to measure productivity use a range of indicators – three on average – on several levels of the organisation. Twenty-six respondents cited using formal measures, while the remainder use informal measures. ‘Output per employee’ was found to be the core measure for productivity, cited by 16 respondents as their main indicator.

Having analysed their findings, 29 respondents had taken steps to boost performance levels within their organisations. Training for managers (19 organisations) and other staff (24), improving absence management (24) and organisational restructuring (21) were among the most popular methods.

Quality of management was the most commonly cited factor of downward pressure on productivity (20 organisations) followed by the ability to recruit employees (15), employee attitudes (14) and staff retention (13).

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