Associate feature: Three keys to boosting operational performance
Vodafone reports on some of the findings from research conducted by the LSE
What are the ingredients to improving productivity? Many organisations are looking for ways to boost their productivity to support growth and profitability, which in turn will have a positive effect on the UK as a whole. Vodafone UK commissioned the London School of Economics (LSE) to understand how the productivity potential of businesses and the UK could be unlocked.
Drawing on over ten years of research examining over 20,000 interviews with managers in 35 countries, the LSE research arrived at a surprising conclusion: the secrets to productivity already exist within each organisation. By improving management practices, embracing technology, and creating a more agile workforce, organisations of all sizes around the UK can accelerate their growth.
Improving management practices
Better run organisations perform better. The first step to improving performance is therefore to take stock of how an organisation is being managed from the top down.
LSE’s research divides management practices into four main areas – operations management, talent management, target setting, and performance monitoring – and asks questions on each. The answers can then be compared to best practices. For example, in order to assess operations management, an operations manager might ask of her organisation what “lean” techniques have been adopted, and then compare the response to best practice responses from other managers in the survey. The best practice for lean accounts payable, for example, is to ensure that it’s rolled out in a formal way. The first step to improving how a management team plans, delivers, and utilises its organisation’s assets is simply to take a closer look.
LSE’s research found that investing in information and communications technology (ICT) throughout the business cycle can greatly improve a firm’s competitiveness. However, there are some obstacles to doing this that are common amongst many organisations.
Many managers – 75% to be exact – say they aren’t aware of the technology that is available to them. Added to that, the majority of managers believe the only way to get new technology is to employ expensive consultants or a full-time IT manager.
Vodafone can help here, by accurately determining the level of support an organisation needs. This begins by identifying how certain technologies can align with larger business goals. If greater employee collaboration is a priority, for example, there are many digital options that can facilitate this. And the good news is that firms that introduce technology as a means of embracing organisational change are more likely to boost productivity and achieve higher rates of innovation.
Creating a more agile workforce
The evidence is mounting that a workforce that is able to work and collaborate from wherever they need to be is more productive. LSE’s research indicates that over two-thirds of workers who make use of smart working practices say that it enables them to work more effectively. Part of this is due to measurable factors like reduced commuting time. But the research also found that employees feel empowered by smarter working because it gives them the ability to do their best work in the place that best suits the job they do – from their customer’s or employer’s offices, to somewhere else entirely. In a separate study, 83% of firms said flexible working had helped increase productivity, and 61% said their profits increased.
The ingredients to increasing productivity are not outside of organisations, but within them. By assessing management practices, embracing new technologies, and allowing employees to work in more agile ways, UK firms and public sector organisations will set themselves on a path to greater productivity.
To find out more and to review some of the findings from LSE’s research, download Unlocking the Power of Productivity