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Are managers equipped to solve the UK’s poor productivity?
I think not as of today. We keep talking about the productivity puzzle, but no one seems able to solve it.
The UK decline has been quite dramatic and leaves us reasonably uncompetitive in comparison to many advanced countries. In fact, productivity growth in the years since the 2008 financial crisis has been weaker than at any time since the dawn of the industrial revolution.
The hard facts are as follows:
- The UK’s GDP increased on average by 2.7% per annum between 1949–2007.
- Between 2008–2021 it increased by 0.9% per annum.
- Between 2022–2025, it is forecast to increase by only 0.46% per annum.
The National Institute of Economics and Social Research (NIESR) has calculated that, had productivity kept growing at 2% since the financial crisis, workers in the UK would be an average of £5000 a year better off.
- Productivity – are we measuring it correctly?
- Lessons in productivity from the Workshop of the World
Managers and leaders collectively need to improve employee productivity now, and on an ongoing basis. Looking at the current employment landscape – with strikes, disengaged employees, high numbers thinking of quitting, the fallout from the Covid pandemic, workforce planning failures, and so on – clearly there are challenges ahead. But managers can overcome these. In my ongoing research to solve the productivity puzzle, I have extracted a number of productivity-enhancing approaches which can help managers to take action.
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