Written by Michael Sippitt and

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The Financial Times has reported a survey that shows people are working harder and faster, leaving them exhausted every day. This comes from the 2017 Skills and Employment Survey.

Yet the odd thing is that productivity is not increasing. The indication by the researchers is that people are running faster to stand still. You get that feeling?

The pressure is compounded by technology making people more accessible, more monitored, and insecurity about working hours where these are not guaranteed.

Employers may be exploiting the opportunities of people working harder without actually seeing much benefit from that happening. Ways to work better and more efficiently are clearly the required recipe for sustainable success. Not just driving hours of work or observed input of time.

The advent of technology steadily supplementing or replacing human labour may in truth be the only way to sustainable productivity improvement, quite likely with related progressive loss of work in some sectors and types of employment. In the short term there is danger of employees simply running even faster as they see the robots arriving that they cannot compete with on certain tasks.

Human Resource management has to try and keep well-being as a focus even when financial pressures are dominating the agenda. The worn out employee can prove expensive when less reliable through tiredness, or even seriously unwell thanks to workplace pressures.

Many people see the pace of life as speeding up uncontrollably, and up to a point that is an inevitable consequence of technology driven change and the relentless economic pressures on most businesses. However, time to review efficiency will always be well spent, and more time on focus groups checking how people are feeling and ideas they may have for improved efficiency would be advantageous.

Many years ago Blue Circle Industries dramatically improved overall efficiency and operational costs through what was, at the time, a ground breaking collaboration with its unions to facilitate grass roots engagement to get the input of the employees who actually did the jobs, and could therefore offer practical suggestions how to work more efficiently. Never assume management consultants, or even managers, know most about how to improve efficiency in the workplace!

3rd October 2018