EU Briefing

The productivity challenge: unlocking workplace potential

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The productivity challenge: unlocking workplace potential

Published December 2015

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Promoting productivity growth is crucial to improving competitiveness in Europe, but with an ageing and slowly growing population, the scope for just making more use of labour is limited. Over the longer term we must produce more with less, and there is a need for better utilisation of people’s skills and talent.

This EU briefing looks at the Commission’s perspective on productivity and at productivity levels across EU member states.

National governments’ macro-economic policies and EU-wide structural reforms have a significant role to play in boosting productivity, but the management practices used within a business can also have an impact. Our report Productivity: getting the best out of people explores some of the more micro-level workplace practices that can improve business performance. The research has been conducted in UK workplaces, so its application to organisations in other EU member states needs to be considered within each national context

In our research, the most commonly mentioned ways in which HR can help to raise productivity are through workforce and succession planning (60%), performance management (59%), improving leadership and management capability (51%) and training and development (51%). Our results also suggest that business leaders need to pay attention to organisational culture.

The briefing also looks at the spread of high-performance working practices in some countries, calling for ‘more debate around what we can learn from these models and how that learning could be used to drive improvement in other European countries, including the UK.’