ACAS Update: Increasing Productivity

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Many businesses are thinking about how to increase their productivity and efficiency – and considering how to get the most out of their people. Lots of employers say ‘our people are our most important asset’ – but how many really evaluate how true this is?

Put simply, workforce productivity can be defined as the ratio of “output”  (product produced or service provided) to “input” (number of workers and their time spent).  Recently concern has been expressed by government that the productivity of UK plc is poor in relation to major competitors. Various reasons have been put forward for this, including lack of investment and skill shortages.

At Acas e speak to employers from all over East of England who tell us that they think they have the right procedures and machinery as well as products and services, but staff are still disengaged and not working to the best of their capacity. Luckily, our extensive experience can help. We have developed a framework of seven levers which we believe can genuinely influence and improve productivity within organisations. You can find out more here:

Reports on improving productivity have identified the crucial role of managers in ensuring that employees work productively, both as individuals and within teams. Managers exercise a profound influence over staff morale. High morale is a key driver of productivity and profitability. The best managers:

  • set standards and clear attainable goals,
  • ensure deadlines are met and quality is maintained, as well as output being achieved.
  • monitor and evaluate their people regularly
  • provide feedback, giving praise and recognition where appropriate (rather than monetary reward which has often proved to be only temporary as an incentive).
  • They create a work environment where employees know that their contribution is valued and that their ideas and aspirations are taken seriously.

High morale and worker engagement stem from this. As a consequence employees understand the common interest of working in a successful organisation and are more likely to “go the extra mile” in the knowledge that their effort will be appreciated and will add value to their business.

We have done several in-depth pieces of work with employers across the region, looking at how they can build trust within the workplace, getting staff more engaged with their outputs and the success of the organisation, upskilling line managers and putting in place processes to ensure that the relationships within the business are as effective as they can be. You can see a recent case study of how a local firm used Acas services to reduce staff turnover, and increase engagement.

But before talking to us, employers can use our online self-diagnosis tool. It takes less than ten minutes, and you will receive a report which provides ideas on ways you can make small but impactful changes to increase your levels of productivity. It also gives you the option to share the report with your local Acas Adviser, who will contact you to discuss the contents of the report and suggest ways we can help.

Getting the workplace relationship side of your business right is vital to avoid potentially costly disputes and raise levels of productivity by getting the most out of your people. Acas are experts in this and plenty more besides. Whether you’re looking to make your first hire or you’ve got a growing number of employees, Acas can help.

Written specifically for small businesses, we have step by step guides on some of the most common workplace issues from hiring and retaining, to managing sick absence or a complaint, to how to have difficult conversations about performance. The guides are practical, concise, and straightforward, and provide all the information and resources you need in a convenient and accessible way.

Where can I go for help and advice?

  • For advice – call the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Advice is free and confidential.
  • Visit the helpline online for the most frequently asked workplace concerns
  • Visit the Acas website for all the latest employment advice
  • Sign up to the free monthly Acas e-newsletter for the latest employment legislation updates, HR guidance, free tools and tips
  • Visit us at to view a range of videos from asking for time off to the rules around probationary periods.
  • Call our customer services team on 1300 123 11 50 or complete our online referral form to arrange a free consultation
  • Book a training course on


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With funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Plunkett is currently able to offer early-stage community businesses free advice and support on how to get their business off the ground, including guidance on community engagement, legal structures, business planning and raising the funds to do it.