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Britain’s productivity problem and how workforce planning can help

On Wednesday, Chancellor George Osborne delivered the Conservative government’s 2016 budget. 

While Osborne’s tax on sugary drinks captured most attention, one of the key announcements was the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) reducing the growth estimates for the economy due to sluggish productivity growth. 

The OBR had previously forecast that the economy would grow by 2.4% this year but is now predicting a rate of 2%. 

Robert Chote, Head of OBR, said that productivity growth in the last three months of 2015 had been considerably worse than anticipated, wiping out gains made earlier in the year.

Productivity is simply the ratio of output to cost and since the onset of the 2007-08 financial crisis, labour productivity in the UK has been exceptionally weak. 

Furthermore, the OBR have predicted that the UK economy will grow more slowly in the next five years than had been expected in November.

While there is no single solution to improving the productivity of organisations, workforce planning has a significant part to play. 

There are clearly opportunities for increased productivity as a direct result of working time change (using initiatives such as demand-led rostering) that overcome dependency on overtime and agency staffing. 

Through designing flexible working patterns and embedding a programme of continuous improvement, productivity benefits can be sustained into the future such that they recur annually.

To learn more about improving the productivity of shift workers, we regularly run informative events such our Shift Planning Clinics and Masterclasses. 

These events can help you to reduce overtime and agency staffing costs, tackle high absence rates and understand annualised hours systems and demand-led rostering.


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