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CIPD puts forward solutions to the productivity puzzle

Employers are being urged to prioritise workforce development, performance and agile working practices to improve the productivity of their organisation - and of the UK as a whole.

A new report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), Productivity: Getting the Best out of People, explores the relationship between productivity and the way people are managed in the workplace.

It found that performance tends to be better in businesses that deal with high-quality goods and services, rather than low-cost ones whose main concern is keeping prices down.

While the focus in past decades has been improving the skills supply to the labour market, analysts say that the UK has too few businesses producing high-quality goods and services to meet that supply, leading to the second-highest proportion of overqualification in the OECD.

The CIPD concluded that moving towards higher levels of quality could help businesses 'transform their competitive position', as well as help the fit between skills supply and demand.

Self-critical check-up

Managers need to be 'self-critical', it said, and test their perceptions of what it's like to work at their business, against those of employees and customers - part of checking that the workplace culture is correctly aligned with the long-term direction of the company.

The report identified investment in regular training for all or nearly all of the workforce as being associated with higher relative productivity.

Smart or agile working arrangements could also have a positive impact - as long as businesses do their research to confirm that they have the capability and 'fit' to accommodate changes before implementing them.

The CIPD has also called on the Government to invest in soft management skills, which it said had fallen in the gaps between departments, or had been left to individual companies to sort out.

The report chimes with pdf icon Building Productivity in the UK [644kb], recently published by Acas, which draws attention to the importance of the workplace in boosting productivity. Ben Willmott Head of Public Policy at the CIPD contributed to the Acas report.

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