Productivity is a word often used by economists but frequently misunderstood by the wider public.
So when media reports talk about the UK’s lack of productivity there is an assumption in some people’s minds that what is being implied is that we are not working hard enough. However, in reality, that is rarely the case.
Simply put, productivity is a measure of output. It can refer to how many cars an automotive manufacturer produces or how many elective surgeries a hospital carries out, both within a specified timescale.
This article will explain the different elements that affect productivity and outline how rewards, such as vouchers, can provide a powerful tool to help raise productivity in multiple workplace settings and, in particular, in healthcare.
According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, which covers England and Wales, output per hour worked was just 0.6% above its pre-pandemic 2019 average in the first quarter of 2023.
This means the UK’s productivity on the same shallow upward trajectory that it has been on since the financial crisis. And it is well below the healthy trend that prevailed between the early 1970s and 2008. It matters because lower productivity means lower wages.
A study commissioned by consultancy Be the Business showed the proportion of UK employers that have taken steps to improve or try regularly to measure and improve productivity is slightly down or unchanged since 2020.
It added that around 37% of organisations have discussed or planned improvements — up eight percentage points between 2020 and 2022 — but have not yet taken action.
So what are the main factors that can affect productivity? On this there is a wide consensus among experts and any list will almost certainly include:
- Workplace environment and culture
- Training and career development
- Systems and processes
- Pay structures
- Employee wellness and morale
It is well established that streamlining and simplifying work processes and implementing new technology can improve productivity. Automation, for example, is more likely to free people up to carry out more productive roles than it is to cost jobs.
‘Our people are our greatest asset’ has become a common mantra among employers but how many managers are equipped to move that mindset from abstraction to practical reality?
We often associate productivity with the private sector. However, it is equally important in the public sector particularly in areas such as healthcare, where outcomes can literally be the difference between life and death.
NHS England data show that in March 2023 the service handled 9% fewer emergency admissions, 5% fewer outpatient appointments and 11% fewer elective and maternity admissions than in the same month in 2019.
During COVID-19 we asked so much from our health and social care professionals. And they delivered. Their dedication, professionalism and work ethic saved countless lives and continue to do so every day.
A report published in June 2023, written jointly by the Institute for Government and Public First, and funded by the Health Foundation, sought to discover why output in NHS hospitals was lagging, even in places that had seen extra investment and staffing.
Among the findings was that some hospitals were “chronically undermanaged” and that managers have too many constraints and poor incentives.
People who work in hospitals and other healthcare settings are human just like the rest of us. They want to come to work each day to an environment that is safe, welcoming, where they feel motivated and appreciated.
When these things are absent and people become unhappy and demotivated then productivity inevitably drops.
People may still carry out their work with care and diligence but may also have a ‘let’s just get the day over with mindset’. It is human nature and it can happen to any of us.
As we see from the list above there are multiple factors that contribute to productivity. Employee morale and motivation have a big part to play and incentives and rewards have been proven to offer a positive and measurable benefit.
The Love2shop team are the experts in this area and for the past 50 years they have partnered with thousands of employers, in the public and private sectors, to enable them to provide rewards and recognition for their teams.
Love2shop is one of the most powerful gifting brands in the UK. Available as a physical voucher, gift card or digital e-gift card, Love2shop is accepted by 150+ retailers.
These include well-known brands such as Marks & Spencer, Wilko, Iceland, Matalan, Argos, Costa, Harvester, Tui and Jet2Holidays and many, many more.
Each year Love2shop publishes valuable research into the impact of well-planned employee reward programmes.
In its most recent survey, 13,000 people were asked about what they thought were the best rewards. The results were no surprise. They revealed people love choice and they love gift cards.
Such rewards can be used to incentivise workplace targets, for both individuals and teams. They can be utilised to reward workplace achievements such as completing a training course or for an exceptional piece of work. A simple act of recognition can have a long-lasting effect on an employee. People like to feel valued.
Love2shop has proven its model works and this is demonstrated by the sharp increase in the number of NHS trusts working with the team to deliver rewards to their dedicated and hard-working teams.
In the 2022/23 financial year Love2shop provided 41,282 gift cards to the NHS with a total value of almost £1.5m. In 2018 it worked with 88 NHS trusts. By 2020 this had grown to 100 and in 2023 Love2shop is now working with 173 NHS trusts.
From an initial inquiry, the team Love2shop can work with an NHS Trust or any other health or social care provider to have a bespoke, easy to administer, data driven incentives programme up and running in weeks via its Love2shop Engagement Platform.
Productivity is a complex and multifaceted concept and it is universally recognised that a happy and well-motivated team, in healthcare or any other setting, will consistently produce better outcomes.
Rewards are a powerful motivational tool to have at your disposal. To find out more about how Love2shop rewards support the healthcare sector, read our FREE Love2shop in Healthcare Guide.