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Improving Worker Productivity in Britain and the US

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Does Britain have the US beat in searching for productivity solutions? One man’s idea for improving productivity could be an approach all of us could use.

St. Louis Today published an editorial about binding worker’s and their pay to productivity. We have recently reviewed Britain’s need for productivity growth. They focused on John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, who made a pretty insightful statement in his annual New Year’s message:

“As the financial situation of many firms begins to turn a corner, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is to deliver growth that will mean better pay and more opportunities for all their employees after a prolonged squeeze. The good news is that wages will pick up in the year ahead as growth beds down and productivity improves. But there are still far too many people stuck in minimum wage jobs without routes to progression — and that’s a serious challenge that businesses and the government must address.”

low employee satisfaction

© Flickr user fooferkitten

Of course, this is a challenge for minimum wage workers in the US as well. But while Britain has seen pay inequality due in part to slow wage growth, some experts believe the US feels the weight of that issue even more. In his speech, Cridland stated that shared prosperity will all depend on increasing productivity. So what’s happening on this side of the Atlantic?

The statistics on worker productivity and pay are fascinating. The Economic Policy Institute reported back in 2012 that from the years 1973 to 2011, productivity in the US increased by 80.4 percent. But at the same time, inflation-adjusted earnings of median workers grew by just 10.7 percent. That means productivity is growing at roughly eight times the rate of wages. It’s no wonder there are such significant problems with employee engagement. For many Americans, this seems like a new phenomenon. Between 1948 and 1978 hourly pay actually grew on par with productivity.

There are no instant fixes. We do know from extensive research that simply paying people more does not work, but we also know that many workers feel generally underpaid and disrespected.

So whether you live in the United Kingdom or the United States of America, there’s plenty of work to do. We’ve got to find a way to inspire workers, support their needs, respect them as individuals, and pay them equitably. And companies must be able to afford to do this while maximizing productivity.

Plenty of work to do indeed!

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Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea

Alyssa Shea transplanted from Illinois to South Carolina. She loves to write, read, and spend time with her dog and her family. Alyssa is very active on social media. She has been part of the AccelaWork team since 2013.
Alyssa Shea

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