This is a guest post by David Lennan, Chairman of Work Wise UK. Work Wise UK is a non political, not-for-profit initiative, which aims to make the UK one of the most progressive economies in the world by encouraging Smarter Working practices to the benefit of business, employees and the country as a whole.
Flexibility is a key contributor to success for Athletes, Business and Employees alike and this has been fully demonstrated during the Olympic Games. Employers and Employees who prepared and planned for a polished performance were rewarded during the Games, with easier travel arrangements, less hassle and greater productivity.
Successful business operations and continuity during the Games didn’t just happen. Just like athletes, companies who achieved smooth running during the Olympics, prepared for the big event, by training, developing and implementing new ways of working. To achieve this, successful employers have embraced and implemented a smarter working policy, which should provide a great legacy after the games have finished, not just for London but across the UK.
Key commentators have been asking questions recently such as “Why are we three years into a recession, but output and productivity are not yet improving?” Understanding this puzzle is taxing the minds of the academic world, but savvy business leaders know that changing the way people work, to make better use of time, space and technology is paramount if you want to solve the productivity conundrum. You can’t keep churning out the same old products or routines, with the same old work practices and expect to deliver growth and productivity, you have to be smarter and you have to work at it!
We know that skills within any organisation take years to develop, but the recession has left many companies with considerable spare capacity issues. Managers and staff need to raise their game if they are to perform at the highest levels and get our world productivity ranking back amongst the medals. This is exactly what employers who adopt smarter working practices have done over recent years and the proof of success was fully demonstrated during the Olympics.
Up to 4 Million people took advantage of flexible, mobile, home and remote working during the Olympic period. Employers who had not only embraced the value of new technologies and capital investment, but had changed their working practices to measure outputs not inputs, were really rewarded. They realised that it really isn’t how hard you work, where you work or how loyal and dedicated you are that matters; it is what you produce and the outputs that you achieve.
This is what productivity is all about. You don’t win medals for hard work, you win medals for sustained achievement. You have to change what people do and how they do it to meet market changes and be ahead of the game, this is part of development and coaching to achieve a better performance. You won’t win the next Olympics by putting in the same level of performance achieved in 2012, people will develop and deliver yet more amazing feats and break even more seemingly unbreakable records. To stay ahead in business you have to do the same, keep pushing the boundaries, developing resources and creating a truly 21st century workplace.
We know that once you have recruited the best workforce you don’t want to lose them. Many employers have been retaining staff, despite facing serious capacity issues, just to hang onto the skills. At some point however you have to fully use the capacity within people and achieve the results. Adopting a flexible approach to people management is a key component of effective change and using all the modern tools and diversity in the workforce will achieve results and see industry winning the medals, as well as our Olympians. With the Paralympics about to start and thrill us all over again, I guess the key question is, will London’s Employers and the transport providers be awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze? After the games finish will they have learnt the right lessons and will they be flexible enough to develop and conquer the productivity challenges that lie ahead.
Our thanks to David Lennan for this guest post. For more information on their work visit Work Wise UK.