SMEs are now addressing productivity

UK productivity has reached a high recently and in employing well over 90% of the working population, SMEs must take some credit. Nevertheless they cannot escape some responsibility for the sad truth that the UK has the lowest productivity of all the G7 economies (Source: ONS).

Over the past 10 years productivity growth has been the weakest since modern records began (Source: Reuters).

Ian Brinkley, acting chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development warns that “unless more is done to tackle the nation’s low productivity, people’s wages and living standards will continue to fall and the UK will be ill-equipped to compete once we do leave the EU.”

There is some “light”, Barney Ely, director of Hays Human Resources reports that “SMEs are increasingly interested in bringing in HR skills as they tackle productivity and attempt to address culture”.

We see this too as clients recognise that some direct HR input, such as a day a week can make an impact. This is often on an interim basis and some clients have gone on to engage a full time HR professional having “dipped their toes in the water”.

Often it is just the basics, improved recruitment, better retention, and employee problems “nipped in the bud”. It is relatively easy to make single digit percentage increases in productivity and profit from simple expedients.

Still greater improvements can come from addressing the culture. It cannot be taken for granted that the zeal and passion of the business owner or managing director will transfer to employees. Nor can a Director assume that all is well in the organisation unless he or she takes steps to address absence, staff churn or dysfunctional behaviour.

Wellbeing at work is a soft concept but the evidence is that it produces hard data in the form of double digit productivity improvements.

With well qualified and experienced people, Employer Solutions is well placed to assist with your HR needs whether it is coaching a manager, providing interim support , handling a difficult employee or assisting with well being initiatives.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice.

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