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Productivity through People: a practical programme to drive growth

By John Anderson - Posted on 27 March 2019

Productivity through People helps leaders create a high-performance workplace with a fully-engaged, productive workforce - here, John Anderson outlines the importance of closing the productivity gap.

"UK productivity has stalled since the recession and there is compelling evidence that a key contributing factor is the inability of organisations to harness the full potential of the workforce. Too many employees find their abilities and skills under-utilised and too many employers don’t listen to their staff. Too often managers are not up to scratch and organisations fail to explain their purpose to staff.

“Engaging employees in the mission and purpose of the company lies at the heart of successful organisations. Improving employee engagement may therefore offer a significant part of the answer, and part of the solution, to the productivity puzzle.”

Nigel Whitehead - Chief Technology Officer, BAE Systems and member of the Productivity Leadership Group.

Closing the productivity gap

Between 1970 and 2008, UK productivity grew at around 2% annually but since the 2008 crisis productivity growth has been elusive. The UK's productivity is now only marginally higher than its pre-crisis peak.

In July 2015 some of Britain’s most senior business leaders came together to identify practical steps to raise productivity among British businesses under the banner of the Productivity Leadership Group led by Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of The John Lewis Partnership.

A year later, the Chancellor announced £13m in funding over three years to support this work and Be the Business was created to help UK businesses to take those practical steps. Be the Business leads the movement to drive up UK productivity through inspiring and helping every firm in the country to improve their own performance and the performance of those they work with.

Why this matters

Addressing the UK's poor productivity creates a major opportunity for the economy and our ability to deliver widespread, sustainable growth. Without improved productivity, businesses will underperform, our economy will fall behind international competitors and, ultimately, our ability to increase pay, invest in public services and improve living standards will be limited.

According to research from the McKinsey Global Institute in 2017, if the UK closed just half the productivity gap it would add an extra £250bn per year to the economy by 2025 and even a modest improvement in the performance of the bottom 75% of UK companies could generate some £130bn in additional GVA each year.

Improved management practices

World Management Survey research demonstrates that management practices have a direct link to productivity and, building on this evidence, the principal role of Be the Business is to support businesses to (a) understand their current level of productivity; (b) point them to best practice and (c) help them improve - primarily through the Productivity through People programme.

Productivity through People is a 10-month, cohort based executive education programme for leaders within SMEs wishing to “work on the business, not in the business”. It is an opportunity to share critical insights for success regarding people, leadership, communications, innovation and, ultimately, productivity. The objective of the programme is to help leaders create a high-performance workplace with a fully-engaged, productive workforce. Delivered at Strathclyde Business School in collaboration with and subsidised by five world class organisations, GSK, Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Leonardo and The John Lewis Partnership, the programme blends classroom learning with site visits and case studies with industry partners, as well as building strong peer networks to enable participants to work together to solve challenges and meet opportunities.

Complementing the Growth Advantage Programme (SBS's unique programme for managing directors, owners and visionary leaders of growth companies), Productivity through People is aimed at the leadership teams of established businesses with a minimum £2 million turnover and a staff of over 20 people and which have real growth ambitions.

You can find out more here about how Productivity through People in Scotland can help you to drive growth in your business through better workplace practices.

Contact details

 Undergraduate admissions
 +44 (0)141 548 4114

 Postgraduate admissions
 +44(0)141 553 6118 / 6119


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University of Strathclyde
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