Workplace productivity: The human factor

Past HR Network Event

14 December 2017

Event resources


View the slides (for HRN members)

Duncan Brown, Head of HR Consultancy, IES

Productivity: What is it and why does it matter?
Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development, IES

Further Reading

New year, same old problem: Low reward, engagement and productivity
Duncan Brown

This workshop covered such topics as:

  • How different organisations measure and manage productivity.

  • Understanding the productivity 'levers' under your control.

  • Examples of workplace productivity improvement tools and their effectiveness.


Professor Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development, Institute for Employment Studies

Dr Duncan Brown, Head of HR Consultancy, Institute for Employment Studies 

Event details

For decades the UK has faced the challenge of improving its productivity relative to our main competitors. Traditionally there have been two main ‘levers’ which governments have sought to pull to do this.

The first has been investment in technology, with the assumption being that – on average – well designed and appropriately deployed technology can improve output per hour worked. Underpinning this has been an understanding that, to some extent, the substitution of ‘labour’ with ‘capital’ can bring economic efficiencies both in workplaces and in the wider economy.

The second has been skills. Here there is strong evidence that more highly skilled and flexibly deployed workforces, although they may command higher wages, also contribute significantly to higher productivity. But how do these principles translate into workplace practices? What have high-productivity employers across a number of sectors done to deliver sustainable improvements in output and quality?

This event will take a deep dive into some case studies in the private and public sectors to draw out the big lessons for HR practitioners and line managers.