The UK workforce isn’t achieving its potential. We have some of the lowest productivity rates in Europe so we keep hiring more people and spending more money but we’re not producing more.

The potential

Potential. What a great word. First heard in a Physics class at school when it was related to energy, that’s how I still think of potential.

Potential energy is the energy that an object has due to its position or that a system has due to the configuration of its parts.

(Definition courtesy of Wikipedia)

The reality

When people work effectively and together towards a common goal, you can sense that potential energy being transformed into action. What people are able to produce is incredible. But how many of the teams or individuals within your business are realising their full potential? How many are working in a way which moves them successfully and quickly towards their aims (and yours)? How much time and effort is wasted because it’s not focused on what you’re really trying to achieve.

Getting back on track

For all their potential to be realised, people must be truly engaged with a goal and feel able to achieve it. That’s what UK businesses need to build into their organisational systems in order to improve productivity and get things back on track.

Why now?

But come on, I hear you say, surely the UK’s productivity issues aren’t wholly the result of people not achieving their potential? When have people ever achieved their full potential in the workplace, and when have teams of people ever worked consistently well together? Why is this problem now when everything’s been OK in the past?

Good question.

In short, the world has changed. What we produce has changed and so have the tools available to produce it. What used to work in work is no longer sufficient to ensure that we remain competitive. We need to step it up a gear and get maximum value from our assets, and in particular our workforce. We really can’t afford not to.

For more on why now, take a look at my article, published on last year.

Four steps to greater productivity

To release the potential of the workforce and become more productive, there are four steps we need to take:

1. Engage everyone in the business with what we are trying to achieve

2. Enable people to achieve what we need them to

3. Align people, systems and processes with our business aims

4. Release our people and their potential and achieve amazing things

Sounds simple? Easy to say, more difficult to achieve perhaps? But are those barriers you perceive in your head, or in your business?

The rewards for releasing the potential of your business are significant and the penalties of not becoming more productive are high. Take your first small step towards a more productive workforce today by talking to your team about what your business is trying to achieve and how they can contribute to that.

Image courtesy of