The ACAS Strategy Unit has just published a report on ways in which workplace infrastructure can deliver significant improvements in output. ACAS identifies seven "levers" for productivity:
1. well designed work: organising work efficiently and making best use of peoples' talent;
2. skilled managers: equipping those who manage to lead;
3. effective conflict management: banging the drum for effect dispute resolution;
4. clarity of rights and responsibilities: all about understanding where one fits into the organisation;
5. fairness: of course it's obvious but many employers still need to understand that might is not necessarily right.
6. Hearing the employee's voice: real engagement not lip service.
7, trust: high levels of mutual trust can and will avoid many problems.
One of the great features of the report is that it doesn't require us to kow-tow before a banal initiative devised by a here today gone tomorrow apparatchik from the Westminster caucus. In common with many ACAS reports it’s drawn from hard won practical experience. Even better, it doesn't demand a huge financial investment in a speculative venture.
If I have a reservation it's that there's nothing startlingly original in the report. Some of us will find some of it a statement of the obvious. Nevertheless anyone interested in employment relations, and who sees productivity as more than a numbers game, will find it packed with common sense. Those like the chap I spoke to yesterday, who won't even consider employing anyone who articulates a thought to the left of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun, will find it eye opening (and probably eye watering!). Its value lies in bringing together a variety of important strands in one place and affirming good practice in what is in some danger of becoming a testosterone fuelled environment.
I commend the report Building Productivity in the UK to anyone involved in HR. You can download a copy from the ACAS website – www.acas.org.uk.