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'Urgent need' to deal with productivity as output slips, CIPD says

There's an 'urgent need' to raise the UK's productivity levels in light of recent labour market figures, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

On the face of it, the headline figures are good. Employment has continued to increase in the last quarter to December 2015 to 31.42 million, a rise of 205,000, pushing the employment rate up to 74.1 per cent, its highest level since records began in 1971, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed.

Unemployment was also down by 60,000 to 1.69 million, or 5.1 per cent of the labour force.

And unlike during the economic downturn when rises in employment were tempered by decreases in total hours worked, UK employees put in an extra 17.2 million hours in the last quarter, a rise of 1.7 per cent.

Fall in output

The ONS said that increases in employment (0.7 per cent), however, were not matched by associated increases in GDP (0.5 per cent), suggesting a fall of 0.2 per cent in output per worker.

And the rise in hours worked suggested that output per hour had fallen by 1.2 per cent in the last quarter.

Latest figures showed the UK has an output per worker gap of 19 points with other G7 countries.

Raising productivity ambitions

Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser for the CIPD, said, 'With more people in work, the wage bill is being stretched - looking ahead, these costs will only increase so businesses need to look at ways to boost productivity and innovation in order to support the swelling workforce.

'With more people in work and working more hours, there is an urgent need for employers to raise their productivity ambitions.

'Employers need to focus on the quality of people in work, not just the quantity, by upskilling existing staff and upgrading the skill content of jobs to help attract new recruits - especially with conditions remaining so favourable for firms to invest in training and development.'

Acas publications and services

Acas has in-depth information and advice on Building Productivity in the UK, including links to its report of the same name, comment from leading voices on the topic, and all the relevant case studies.

Acas has also developed a new productivity tool that can help organisations assess where they can do more to get the best from their staff. See the Acas Productivity Tool for more details.

Acas experts are on hand to come to your workplace and work with you on all aspects of employment relations to create a happier, more satisfied, more productive and more engaged workforce. See Workshops, projects and business solutions or call the customer services team on 0300 123 1150.

Practical training is available to help you boost productivity levels at your organisation, including essential Skills for supervisors and Staff retention, including courses on 'The route to successful employee engagement' and 'Toxic workplace cultures - how to avoid them'.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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