Using tech to solve the UK’s productivity crisis

04 August 2016 -


Poor productivity has long been a problem for British businesses, maybe technology has the answer…

Guest blogger Justin Anderson

A recent study from UK think-tank the Smith Institute has found that more than two-thirds of employees are spending longer at work without significantly improving their productivity.

Employers should take these findings seriously and do all they can to improve the productivity of their workers.

Productivity is directly linked to engagement so HR needs to work hard to keep employees engaged, but this doesn’t seem to be happening in many organisations.

Results from the CIPD’s most recent job satisfaction survey found that as many as a third of UK workers are dissatisfied in their jobs and even considering a change of role. HR faces an uphill battle to address this issue. It needs to better equip and engage employees to ultimately keep productivity high and reap the benefits this brings to their organisation.

Offer consumer-grade technology

Many believe that an important step is to make employees happy.

Google, for example famously provides workers with free gourmet food, dogs are welcome in the office and massage credits are offered. But there is much more to the worker experience than “happy” — a catchall word used too often to describe positive, productive employees.

Workers need to be more than “happy” to thrive at work; they need tools and support with the power to motivate, empower and encourage autonomy.

The Smith Institute research also found that 82% of workers see technology as “necessary and inevitable” to their working conditions, so HR needs to start working very closely with their organisation’s business leaders to quickly change core technologies in order to keep workers happy.

With this in mind, offering consumer-grade technology at work will go a long way to engaging employees and increasing productivity.

Cater to flexible working demands

Employees are also increasingly demanding greater flexibility in their roles. A survey conducted last year by Time Wise found that 14.1 million UK employees want this and so it is of little surprise, as we progress through 2016, that a larger emphasis on remote working is being laid out across the country.

Offering greater flexibility may seem a daunting concept to HR, but in truth, as long as the right tools are provided, it can prove an easy transition which leads to a host of benefits for both the worker and the business itself.

For instance, tools such as Google Docs enable greater collaboration between workers across the globe. When paired with video tools such as Google Hangouts, employees are able to communicate in a much more efficient way, cutting down on the long process of administrative tasks and unnecessary email chains.

Appirio follows this approach, taking advantage of cloud technologies, promoting flexible working and encouraging employees to work from home. This ethos is all about being more intelligent about driving productivity and working when there is work to be done.

Understand the Virtuous Cycle

Offering new technology to employees and keeping productivity high will have the added benefit of helping to improve the experience they can offer to their customers.

Put simply, happy and productive workers equal happy customers.

So businesses need to provide workers with an exceptional worker experience which will empower employees to create an exceptional customer experience, which then continues the virtuous cycle.

Netflix is a great example of this.

It has managed to maintain a great customer service while growing rapidly. Through this, it has remained focussed on the worker experience.

The company prides itself on giving its employees a great amount of freedom so that they can take risks and innovate without being bogged down by processes. This includes unlimited holiday which they can expense without getting approval from their managers.

In return, they are expected to work hard and provide a great service to customers.

It’s easy to stick to old working habits and processes but these will ultimately render a workforce unproductive, even if they are working longer hours.

If HR embraces new technologies and caters for the needs of this evolving workforce, they can improve the worker experience and increase productivity which has the added benefit of improving the customer experience.

Justin Anderson is Appirio vice president of sales, CRM and HCM

Powered by Professional Manager