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HR Has A Role In Solving The UK Productivity Puzzle

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The statistics regarding productivity in the UK do not make good reading. Reports have revealed that productivity in the UK has fallen to a two-year low on the back of Brexit concerns. Labour productivity is a major factor in determining economic growth, and it’s not looking good for the UK; in fact, productivity has remained below average since 2007 and the Global Financial Crisis.

For Britain, it’s been a long way back from the crisis, and without playing the blame game, there are many causes for the poor economic performance including a lack of investment, poor use of capital, challenges with labour, Europe suffering too and of course Brexit uncertainty.

Unemployment has remained low; however, it’s not telling the real story, businesses are guilty of hoarding staff without the workload in fear of not being able to hire the critical personnel again when activity bounces back. Many other ‘soft’ factors once realised can be worked on, including staff morale, absenteeism, and general work ethic in the UK.

UK Work Ethic

Why is our work ethic on a decline? When you compare Britain to other G7 countries, our productivity falls behind. If we want living standards to improve, the output per employee needs to increase, as these two elements are very closely aligned. The good news is there have been small gains made per job and in the services sector, while manufacturing has gone down.

When you dig deeper into the statistics, you will see that it is our productivity per hour that is making us fall behind the likes of Germany, Italy, France, and the US. So, with that being said, what is causing this? Let’s take a look at some suggestions from the ebook – how HR can help solve the productivity puzzle.

Stress-related absences

The first thing we need to address is the number of stress-related absences from work. For the first time, work-related depression, anxiety, or stress now accounts for more than 50 per cent of the working days lost because of poor health in Great Britain. Businesses need to do more to help employees when it comes to mental health. This means tackling problems like toxic workplaces, bullying in the office, and excessive workloads. Issues like this are extremely detrimental in terms of staff morale and productivity.

Our meetings culture

Aside from an increasing number of working days lost because of stress, we also need to take a look at the ‘meetings culture’ here in Britain. If most business owners are honest, they will admit that their meetings are not as productive as they should be. There are many ways that this can be the case. A lot of businesses are hosting way too many meetings, as well as inviting everyone to these meetings when you only need to invite those who are impacted by what is being discussed. Having a set schedule could help with this problem.

Poor onboarding

The third and final reason why we may be suffering from poor productivity levels is because of ineffective onboarding. Onboarding relates to the process of a new employee being integrated into an organisation. This is something that HR departments across the country need to focus on. This process is highly inefficient at a lot of businesses. Employees do not feel like they receive the correct training or assistance so that they can settle in and help the business to move forward.


As you can see, there are several different things that are contributing to the fact that we have low productivity levels per hour here in the UK. This is something that we are going to need to work on if we are going to catch up to the likes of the United States and France. Plus, if we do not make some changes, we are not going to be able to improve our living standards.