Is this the magic formula for productivity?

Is this the magic formula for productivity?

Productivity in Britain has recently been 16.6% below the average of other G7 economies, with hourly output falling by 0.5% in the first quarter of this year, making it 0.4% below the peak recorded at the end of 2007.

SMEs in particular are under more pressure to maintain a productive workforce, with only four in ten start-ups surviving the first 5 years. One reason behind this could be the increase of an “always on” workplace culture. It is becoming more and more common to reply to work emails outside of set office hours, but this apparent self-imposed work intensification can lead to lower levels of productivity and higher levels of stress amongst staff. This can have a lasting impact on businesses, with stagnation in productivity causing – in some cases – long term absences or loss of employees.

With the rise of the gig economy and remote working, this “switched on and permanently available” approach to work creates a mentality that allows little time to switch off or recharge, which is paramount in maintaining good mental health. Failing to do so, can lead to a disproportionate work-life balance, leading to personal conflicts such as relationship difficulties, an increased sense of stress and physical ramifications.

AXA PPP healthcare’s top health and small business experts have come together in an attempt to uncover the magic formula for productivity. Mike Davis, Head of SME at AXA PPP healthcare, warns SMEs in particular to be aware of the potential pitfalls. In terms of measuring productivity, “every business is different and people go into business for very different reasons, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach”, comments Mike.

“Whilst you may be fortunate to attract a team that flourishes working round the clock, as your business grows and your employee needs change, it may become more difficult to maintain. There is also increased risk of losing good people that need more flexible working hours due to other commitments”

When it comes to improving workplace productivity, Mike states, “Ultimately you want to be productive and you need your best people at their best for that”.

Sara Fuller Head of Culture, Performance and Development at AXA PPP Healthcare suggests the magic formula to productivity could lie in the simplicity of soft skills from management, commenting that they should take an active role and interest in employee wellbeing.

“Employee recognition and feeling valued could be key to maintaining and even growing productivity levels in the workplace. Leading by example is vital, and managers should adapt their behaviour and approach to allow employees to switch off during holidays, or annual leave,” said Sarah.

Jan Vickery, Head of Clinical Operations and MSK at AXA PPP Healthcare, comments on the importance of a good workplace mentality: Focusing on employee engagement and creating the optimal work environment through participatory ergonomics, could have the biggest impact on productivity in the workplace.

“Being “on” for long hours without a break may create stress and can result in a disproportionate work-life balance. That said, if the expectation on employee availability is offset by flexibility and trust then I don’t think it is always a bad thing.”

With productivity in Britain at a low and many employees living in an “always on” world, AXA PPP healthcare’s insight suggests the magic formula could lie in the simplicity of employee relations, strong management and the development of soft skills in order to bring out the best in employees.


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