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Workplace relations the key to better UK productivity - Sir Brendan Barber

Improving workplace relations might be the key to unlocking the UK's longstanding productivity 'puzzle', according to Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber.

He noted that the UK's productivity has slid from 9 per cent below other G7 countries in 2007, to a troubling 19 per cent, the biggest gap since 1992.

Better employment relations

'Previous solutions debated have ranged from improved education and skills levels to easier access to finance and better corporate governance,' he said.

'These may all have relevance but we are still left with a productivity puzzle.

'What is often overlooked, which I feel will have a big role to play, is the workplace itself, through better workplace management and employment relations.

'The workplace so often gets overlooked when the focus is on institutions and policy.

'One striking finding from the latest survey in the Workplace Employment Relations series was that businesses that had established good relations with their workers were less likely to have been damaged by the recession.

'At Acas we believe that prevention is always better than the cure, and it is clear that good relations at work is key to building a solid recovery.'

Simple improvements

A recent Acas policy discussion paper pdf icon The UK Productivity Puzzle - is employment relations the missing piece? [255kb] identified several 'simple' ways to improve workplace relations.

Having clear and easy-to-understand policies in key areas of people management, such as discipline, grievance, absence and equality, and improving communications and employee voice, could do much to improve the workplace from the bottom up, it said.

Acas publications and services

Acas has detailed information advice about improving employment relations and workplace performance.

Acas experts can come to your organisation, look at your policies and procedures, and develop practical Workshops, projects and business solutions to a range of people management issues. Call the customer services team on 0300 123 1150 for more details.

Acas practical training is also available on key areas of employment relations, including People management, Discipline and grievance and Absence management.

Communication, employee voice and engagement can be improved through courses in Staff retention, Skills for supervisors and Performance management.

For free, impartial guidance Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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