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Time to Work Smarter NOT Harder

Time to Work Smarter NOT Harder
8 April 2016 John Moore

A recent survey published by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) with The Smith Institute reveals British employees are working longer hours without reaping the rewards of improved productivity.

The Quality of Working Life

In the report, The Quality of Working Life, research found that 68% of employees say they are working harder than two years ago, but less than half (49%) say they are being more productive in their work. According to Paul Hackett, Director of The Smith Institute, part of the problem is that most of employers’ focus is on solving the productivity puzzle through short-term cost savings, robotics, and system change.

“These factors obviously have a role to play, but a big part of the answer lies with the workforce itself and making it work better. Our survey shows that employees not only understand the need for productivity improvements but want to share in the benefits. The vast majority are currently working harder not smarter. Their frustration is being ignored and excluded from the changes that affect their work.”

Paul Hackett, The Smith Institute 

The problem is bigger than simply impacting upon employees’ well-being and the productivity of organisations, it is seriously impacting on the UK economy. Sir Professor Cary Cooper, one of the lead authors of the CMI Quality of Working Life report, said:

“We have a productivity issue in the UK: we are seventh in the G7 and seventeenth in the G20 on productivity per capita. What country is one of the top in the world for productivity per capita? Germany. What is the average hours of work in Germany? 35, one of the lowest in the world.”

Sir Professor Cary Cooper

Improvement Starts with Managers

The research which surveyed 7,454 workers found that more than a quarter said their managers did not listen to their suggestions for productivity or efficiency improvements in the workplace. It appears that too few managers effectively engage with people in their teams.

Commenting on the research, CMI chief executive Ann Francke said: “The impact on managers’ work is great: the longer the hours they put in, the less productive they say they become. This should be a big, flashing warning light for employers”.

“Good, skilled managers know that they need to switch off and allow their employees to do the same. The Quality of Working Life report highlights the difference that good management makes to well-being, to engagement and ultimately to performance.

“The conclusion is inescapable: helping managers to strike the necessary work/life balance must be a priority for every organisation facing up to the challenge of improving productivity.”

Smiling is a Serious Business

CMI’s research also showed that businesses need to do more to focus on the human element of productivity and engage better with workers – and this includes helping employees to enjoy their work and to have fun. The report finds that productivity is closely linked to well-being at work: the higher your managers’ stress levels, the more unproductive they become.


Recognising this as an issue, Exponential Training instigated the Fit4BusinessGrowth (F4BG) Erasmus+ project. Working with partners from Croatia, France, Bulgaria and Austria, we have developed a business growth model that combines High Performance Work Practices (HPWP), High Growth Coaching (HGC) and Wellness in Business (WiB).

F4BG Logo

The aim of F4BG is to help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to implement growth plans through the engagement of team members whilst at the same time implementing best practice in wellness at work. For more information about the Fit4BusinessGrowth project please visit www.fit4businessgrowth.eu.

John Moore has over 20 years experience of training and developing Managers, Coaches, Consultants and businesses. As Managing Director of Exponential Training, John researches, speaks, blogs and writes about how to improve performance. He also designs and delivers engaging, fun and interactive learning programmes. John is a Fellow Chartered Manager and has worked with managers and organisations in over 20 different countries.


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