Telling the truth about SME life today

Productivity in the UK continues to be a problem, but a helping hand could change the tide

Productivity in the UK may be negatively impacting the economy, with British bosses and their workers seemingly wading through thick sludge every year while other countries sprint to the finish line.

A recent study by office specialists Fellowes found that productivity levels in UK offices have fallen to a dramatic low with a quarter of workers admitting to being unproductive for a staggering two hours a day. That amounts to an eye-watering 40 million hours in lost productivity across the UK every week.

This backs up another report from the Bank of England that found that Britain has suffered the worst decade for productivity growth since the 18th Century while the Office of National Statistics announced that the last quarter saw just 0.1% growth in GDP the slowest recorded since the year of the London Olympics!

These numbers are very scary and should make every business owner from Lands” End to John O?Groats, that employ one person or thousands, take a long hard look at how they operate and how they can improve.

There are reams of websites offering productivity advice that is helpful for small firms as well as consultants who make a living taking deep dives into companies to wade through the red tape, over-laden procedures and meeting cultures to transform them into more effective enterprises.

Also, last month, a campaign was launched by a group of business leaders in an effort to improve the efficiency of SMEs in an effort to close the productivity gap between Britain’s most successful companies and those that are underperforming.

Led by the chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Charlie Mayfield, the campaign is sharing good practice and offering practical tools to advise smaller companies on how to raise their game.

There are loads of good companies out there that unproductive firms can draw inspiration and ideas from. Productivity is key to Pimlico Plumbers and we are continually looking at ways we can improve operations.

From the way in which we field, manage and distribute jobs in our 24-hour call centre, our vehicle tracking to ensure the right engineers can be assigned to the most appropriate jobs, to the delivery of parts and equipment to our teams out in the field from our merchants counter; these pieces, when put together are part of how we solve our productivity puzzles.

All this effort is evident in our bottom line, which has experienced a significant jump in recent months, bucking the trend of those GDP figures I mentioned earlier. The first quarter of 2018 saw our sales rise by 22% to an impressive £10.77m and putting us on course for a £40m turnover for our current financial year.

With our divorce from the European Union edging closer we can’t afford to be cast adrift in the global trading stakes as a nation that just can’t get the job done in a productive manner.

Poor productivity isn’t the only reason that a business can struggle to compete and be successful, and sometimes they need a helping hand. So, Real Business readers, I?m asking do you have a great idea, but your business still feels like it’s sinking below the waves?

If that’s you then I’d like to hear from you. I?m looking for brave entrepreneurs whose businesses are going down for a special project I’m working on over this summer.

And it’s not just trade businesses I am after, the broader the range of firms the better. If that’s you, email me with a few words about your business and what’s going wrong at: [email protected]

I?ll reveal more details about the project soon!



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