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Productivity – What’s the problem and how to fix it?
20 June 2018

London

British productivity used to grow at a solid 2% pa, but in the last decade has hardly grown at all and this perplexing issue is a major concern in the UK, nationally and at company level. This issue is vital to the country in facilitating economic growth, generating tax revenues and enhancing individual living standards.

The House of Commons briefing paper ‘Productivity in the UK’ published in June 2017 defines productivity and suggests some of the causes for its sluggishness. The issue had been addressed earlier in the Government’s Productivity Plan of July 2015 Fixing the Foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation a pre- Brexit report listing a 15-point improvement plan containing a combination of the obvious, the aspirational and the incomplete.

But, what if we are measuring the wrong things. The 21st Century service
economy of the UK surely needs more sophisticated measures which capture the positive effects of innovations such as mobile communication, search engine and email activity and same day delivery?

Most new jobs are being created in the private sector and employers must believe they are adding value. Is the productivity issue more of a puzzle then a crisis?

Our discussion, with an audience of PARC members and invited guests, will seek to define the problems and identify possible solutions in a practical manner which should point the way to organisation improvement.

Issues to be addressed include:

• What do we mean by ‘productivity’? Is it an important and relevant measure and if so how can we increase it? Are we measuring the right things?
• What tax regimes and practices stimulate or restrict productivity?
• The UK’s investment in R&D and infrastructure lags behind our competitors. Where should we invest for the future and what is the impact of technology?
• This is a long-term problem – what are the roles of education and learning, and employee engagement?

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