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The seven levers of workplace productivity

The UK workplace is currently behaving like a poorly functioning machine. What comes out doesn't reflect the quality and effort going in, analysts say.

Our workplace inputs include an above-average share of well-educated people and good jobs compared to other EU countries, and high investment in training, research and development.

But the output shows low labour productivity rates, long working hours, high rates of over-qualification, and slow wage growth.

In answer to this, a new report from Acas pdf icon Building Productivity in the UK [644kb] is calling for renewed focus on workplace organisation and effectiveness, with leaders, managers and employees all moving in the same direction for mutual benefit.

Through decades of work in improving employment relations, and more than 9 million interactions with employers and employees every year, Acas is in a good position to see the common fault lines that are barriers to development, and the kind of arrangements that lead to motivated, high-performing staff.

The seven levers of workplace productivity

As a result, Acas has identified seven 'levers', sometimes overlapping and interdependent, that employers should be aware of to improve workplace productivity:

  • Well designed work: jobs and work organised in ways that increase efficiency and make the most of people's skills.
  • Skilled managers: managers with the confidence and training to manage and lead effectively.
  • Managing conflict effectively: systems in place to reduce the likelihood of problems arising and to deal with problems at every stage.
  • Clarity about rights and responsibilities: a working environment where everyone understands their rights and responsibilities.
  • Fairness: employees who feel valued and treated fairly.
  • Strong employee voice: informed employees who can contribute and are listened to.
  • High trust: relationships based on trust, with employers sharing information at the earliest opportunity.

Enriching the employment relationship

Different organisations may excel at some but languish with others. The report says it doesn't expect that all employers will need to 'pull' all seven levers, and that change will take time with differing priorities between organisations.

But the report does give detailed advice about how to approach each one, what employers should be looking to do, and what kind of results they should expect to see if they're getting it right.

Through it, Acas hopes that more employers will be able to enrich the employment relationship at their organisation, unlock the potential of their people, and make their workforces more productive.

Acas publications and services

pdf icon Building Productivity in the UK [644kb] offers Acas' insights, as well as specialist thinking from Acas' friends and partners, into making a difference in workplace effectiveness.

Acas experts are on hand to come to your workplace and work with you on all aspects of employment relations to create a happier, more satisfied, more productive and more engaged workforce. See Workshops, projects and business solutions or call the customer services team on 0300 123 1150.

Practical training is also available on essential Skills for supervisors and Staff retention, including courses on 'The route to successful employee engagement' and 'Toxic workplace cultures - how to avoid them'.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

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


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