Working harder, not smarter: the employee contribution to meeting the UK's productivity challenge

Document type
Welfare, Sarah
Smith Institute
Date of publication
1 July 2016
Social welfare
Material type

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Declining productivity growth is seen by government, employers and unions alike as one of the biggest obstacles to improved economic performance. Indeed, without much higher productivity we will struggle to fund our public services, improve our living standards and create a fairer society.

By providing an employee perspective on the so-called ‘productivity puzzle’ it offers a unique and important workplace insight. As the report notes, the workers’ viewpoint is all too often dismissed or overlooked. Productivity is debated, but usually in the abstract – as if just talking about skills or new technology is enough. The implementation and delivery at the workplace is taken as read. What this report, based on the views of thousands of workers from a range of occupations, demonstrates is that we need to understand better what employees and their union representatives actually think. What does productivity mean to people at work; how does it affect them; and what makes a difference and why?

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