Sky News interview: workforce planning
The UK has a workforce productivity problem. Slowdown in economic growth is at its worst since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution* and Britain lags behind its rivals. In this Sky News interview, presenter Ian King asks what companies can do to turn this around.
* The Guardian (2020) UK productivity slowdown worst since Industrial Revolution, 3 February, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/feb/03/uk-productivity-slowdown-worst-since-industrial-revolution-study (accessed on 3 Feb 2020)
Ian King: Now, the so-called productivity puzzle, why the UK has lagged behind our rivals and why growth here is so sluggish. Well, new research says it’s down to a lack of investment by those most able to fund it: our biggest firms. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) says the economy could get a £10 billion boost if big firms invested more in human capital. Economist and CEO of OrgVue, Rupert Morrison, joins me now. Rupert, welcome to you. So, why aren’t companies investing in this?
Rupert Morrison: Why they’re not investing is perplexing. They should be. The vast majority, over 90% of business leaders, say they should be doing more, but for whatever reason a large number are investing less than £10,000.
Ian King: What sort of things are we talking about here? Obviously, you make software that you think helps out with staffing issues, and so forth?
Rupert Morrison: So, what we do is we help our clients plan for the future. A lot of what happens in the past is they look backwards at organizational data and not looking forward into what kind of workforce you need in the future. At moments like this with Brexit, where there’s uncertainty, you need to be able to plan with confidence.
Ian King: In fairness, this feels a bit amorphous. I mean, companies always used to say of advertising, “half the money’s wasted, but we just don’t know which half.” Spending in productivity issues like this feels a bit the same.
Rupert Morrison: So, I’ll ask you the question, is it pretty important to know what your workforce does? And how many people actually know what their people do. Too often, people look at their organizations as spans and layers, so who reports to who, in a very static way and not even understanding how that fits with executing business strategy.
Ian King: Very briefly Rupert, during the election campaign, Labour was calling for a 4-day week. I think you’re in favour of that as well, aren’t you?
Rupert Morrison: A 4-day week? I wouldn’t be in favour of that. But if you can get that kind of productivity in certain sectors, maybe. But what I would say is, you want to understand how your organization is executing against your strategy and not knowing what your people do and how they do it is a pretty big gap. And if you overcome that gap, then you’ve got a 2-fold increase in productivity that you can take advantage of.
Ian King: Alright, Rupert Morrison from OrgVue, very good to see you. Thanks for joining me.