With the UK seeing lower productivity levels than other G7 countries, leaders believe capital is key to helping turn output around.
By Zee Johnson
Worker output is low in the UK. In fact, recently published data by the ONS revealed that output per hour worked by UK employees is among the lowest of all the G7 countries.
According to the analysis, all G7 countries have seen increased productivity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, American workers were 23% more productive in 2019 than UK workers, whilst employees in France and Germany were approximately 18% and 10% more productive than those in the UK. Overall, the average output of G7 workers, excluding the UK, was 13% higher than those British workers during 2019. During a span of 10 years, from 2009 to 2019, output per worker in the UK only grew by 0.8% per year.
“This is yet more data that reinforces the long-running story of the UK lagging behind in productivity,” says Stephen Bevan, head of HR research at the Institute for Employment Studies, in reference to the report. “Whether it can be improved comes down to what HRDs think the ingredients to poor productivity are: poor investment in technology or poor investment in skills of staff, or both. The trend even before COVID for firms investing in either technology or staff hasn’t been good. And with companies struggling as they are, it seems unlikely improvements will happen any time soon.”
The only countries that saw lower output per worker than the UK was Japan and Canada, producing 22% and 3% less, respectively.
Like Bevan, Micheal Moran, CEO of 10Eighty, believes more investment could be key to the UK increasing their productivity rates. “The UK always appears near the bottom of the productivity league after many years of little or no capital investment,” he says. “We have also failed to invest in human capital, the consequences of which are low levels of engagement and employees jumping ship at the first opportunity to increase their remuneration.”
Another possible rectifier and booster could be increased flexibility. “Allowing employees to sculpt their roles around skills and working preferences should increase productivity. To an extent, this is what we have started to witness during the pandemic through remote working,” Moran says.