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Productivity Everyone

Everyone’s opportunity to offset 2017’s post Trump & Brexit currency deflation.

The change in the economic structure across the UK, driven both by increased political uncertainty and currency weakness highlights again why organisations need an effective approach to improving labour productivity. The latest ONS data show minimal improvement overall with service sectors generally outpacing manufacturing.

Productivity improvement is a key component for building competitive advantage, yet in our experience it is very often as regarded as too difficult with mangers blaming, market volatility, legacy technologies, or staff resistance as reasons for poor productivity. It is also our experience of the last 25 years that productivity improvement is a major management challenge that must be approached with a robust three-pronged approach if significant and sustainable improvements are to be achieved.

Process

The truly successful productivity improvement program always starts with a complete review of existing practice and procedure. The elimination of non-value added tasks and the simplification of as much as possible in itself drives opportunities.

This must be an objective bottom up review based upon the simple question “what are we trying to do with this element of the business” only then can historic practice, redundant procedures and over complication be properly addressed.

Once the process has been thoroughly refined then next step is to move to planning and control.

Control

In this stage the business must correctly determine the skills and time required to complete each task. A plan by hour can then be built to allocate the correct level of resource throughout the business across the hour day and week. The ability of the plan to properly compensate for the reality of skills and people availability will determine its credibility and in turn the ability to maintain this discipline over time and through variations in the business and the market.

Sustain

The final and most critical stage is often overlooked, whilst the initial phases can be driven in a top down management led approach future success depends upon engaging and retaining everyone at every level in the business.

To achieve this the management must look carefully at how it engages the wider business in the objectives and advantages of improved productivity. The simplest things can help, well maintained break facilities, effective dialogue across the workforce, careful selection, encouraging involvement in change and improvement programs all help motivate the team.

Clearly there is a degree of skill in developing the detailed changes required for each of the three steps but there is nothing that falls outside the comprehension of those willing to try.

This approach has always proved successful in our work and its reasonable to always expect a minimum gain of 20-25%. That may seem a stretching target but in 25 years we have never found the opportunity to be less.