It’s easy to make the case that national productivity is important, less so to understand why UK productivity levels are invariably below those of its international peers. Germany, France, US all have higher productivity than the UK, with the UK lagging 18% behind the rest of the G7 – the widest gap since comparable estimates began in 1991. [Source: ONS, International Comparisons of Productivity, February 2016]
The Government set out its plan to raise productivity in February 2016, identifying five key drivers (investment, innovation, enterprise, competition and skills) to ensure the nation takes the right steps to reduce the gap. The relationship between these drivers and the productivity that results is complex, and so any and all are important. However, some are more within our power to change, particularly the capability to influence skills through resource allocation and training.
With this in mind, Filtered has conducted research among knowledge workers across sectors to understand how they spend their time at work, their proficiency levels and skills gaps, working habits and training needs. The results of this research have just been published in the brand new whitepaper Workforce productivity: Solving the puzzle.
The study shows that diverse as today’s jobs are, a significant core of common skills underpin most roles. No matter the position, industry or level of seniority most workers spend their time on very similar tasks (in meetings, emailing, working with data). It’s no surprise then that two of every three UK workers say generalist skills such as time management, planning and organisation are required at work. However, only one in four has been trained in those.
Chris Littlewood, co-founder and Head of Science & Content at Filtered, wrote the core of the whitepaper: “Skills are an important driver of productivity, and much of productivity depends on a core of skills that apply in most jobs. What’s stopping us giving those skills the focus they deserve? We conduct surveys and research on an ongoing basis – both amongst our own users and external audiences. We do so for various reasons, first and foremost to provide the best possible product to our clients and help them be more productive and achieve their business goals.
If there were an easy solution to the productivity puzzle, it would have been solved. We don’t pretend that there’s a missing piece of the jigsaw that can be slotted in to close productivity gaps with rival firms or economies. The solution to the productivity puzzle is not easy, but it is simple. It’s answering the simple question of how to spend time efficiently and effectively. If we can do that, and work productively as a consequence, we’ve played our part in solving the productivity puzzle.”
Donald H. Taylor, chairman of the LPI and the Learning Technologies Conference, wrote the foreword to the paper, and commented: “Our approach to training has barely changed over the past 30 years. Organizational learning and development (L&D) departments typically do three types of training – compliance, onboarding and ‘business as usual’. ‘Business as usual’ training – or skills development – should be the meat and drink of L&D departments. However, frequently they have too little time to carry it out.
L&D practitioners often ask what they must do to gain the ear of the business, to have influence, to be taken seriously. The answer is: focus on helping employees learn to be more productive, as measured by the business. Do that, prove your worth, and you have your influence. The techniques and the technology needed to do this are well laid out in this paper. The challenge for L&D is to have the courage and resourcefulness to take these recommendations and put them into practice.”
The whitepaper is available to download for free on the Filtered website: http://learn.filtered.com/workforce-productivity-solving-the-puzzle
If you have comments or questions about the research please contact the Filtered team on +44 (0)20 7729 9043 or email [email protected].