It is only months since official statistics highlighted that the hourly productivity of workers in the UK during the third quarter of last year jumped at the fastest pace since 2011. It was great news as it’s well known that we have been toiling with slow, and almost static, productivity levels over the past 10 years.

That positive news has now been met head on by new economic data relating to the fourth quarter of 2017 which shows that low-paid workers in the UK are now falling short on productivity in comparison with counterparts in other advanced European countries such as France, Germany and the Netherlands. Only Italy came below the UK in the league table.

The new research was released on 6 April by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the non-profit organisation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. It followed a statement from the Office for National Statistics who said that the country’s overall productivity grew by just 0.7% in the last quarter of last year. Output per worker grew by just 0.1%.

The new set of statistics show that low-paid workers in our entertainment, arts and agricultural sectors are by far the worst performers.

Many within those sectors will rush to defend their industries, but what we can’t get away from is that the findings also point towards bad management being a major factor in this sub-standard performance.

Many have tried to lay blame at the door of Brexit and the continuing uncertainty the UK’s position in the EU is bringing. But I think we should look much deeper.

I completely agree with the NIESR when they point towards closing the skills gap and encouraging continued investment as one of the remedies. Those are key factors but we mustn’t forget that leadership teams and senior managers must take accountability and pay much closer attention to the day-to-day outputs from their workforce.

Everyone in the business and political community will continue to monitor the next set of figures closely and hope for a more positive increase.

But we must remember one thing as we crave another upturn, we’ll only get an increase if there is a commitment to improve productivity from the top down in every business.

More than anything, that needs our leaders to take ownership, care for their staff, identify where change needs to be made, and make it. Fast.

by Paul Alekna, CEO – Workforce Staffing