Productivity Crisis: How the UK continues to lag behind rivals

09 August 2016 -


The productivity puzzle is a perennial problem for British businesses. Here, Insights takes a look at how workspace design can help boost performance

Jermaine Haughton

While Brexit, political leadership changes and the fall of the Pound have dominated the headlines, new official data shows the UK’s productivity is still lagging some way behind the levels seen before the global financial crisis of 2008.

According to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) report, productivity grew by just 0.5% in the first three months of 2016, compared with the last quarter of 2015. This was higher than the 0.9% fall experienced in Q4 2015.

Last year, the UK was named as the least productive nation in the G7 ( Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and the latest figures suggest that the UK’s productivity issues are not must closer to a solution, causing more headaches for economists, politicians and employers.

Within the prevailing productivity slump in the UK, the three industries that experienced the largest falls in productivity between 2007 and 2015 continue to be the three non-manufacturing production industries – mining and quarrying, electricity and gas, and water and sewerage.

To combat this low productivity, Tim Oldman, CEO of Leesman, said that businesses need to analyse the reasons behind their low productivity and optimise their work spaces.

“As the costs of delivery continues to increase, and as finance directors continue to sacrifice property and infrastructure to save money, more and more workplaces pass a tipping point where their business spaces are failing to support the productivity of those they accommodate,” he said. “Across 108 UK workplaces and 11,812 employees measured in the last 12-months, just 52% of office workers report that their workplace enables them to work productively, and one in they actively disagree with this statement.

“This is having a continued impact on employees and creating “toxic workplaces” where efforts are being met with business environments that are simply not supporting people in the role they are employed to undertake.

“There’s a woeful lack of science being applied to the workplace environment. Organisations must include the workplace in their productivity focus. Those that do will boost their organisation’s performance.”

Oldman added: “Regardless of the potential fluctuations contained within t[the ONS data], labour productivity per employee has failed to markedly rise since the global downturn. Considering the recent surge of economic turmoil, it is fair to assume the UK will continue to boast an abysmal level of overall output.”

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