No Time Like The Present!
David Lennan. Chairman, Work Wise UK. 16 November 2012
Well, much to the surprise of many commentators and some well known cynics, this year’s great sporting moment, The Olympic Games, delivered a roaring success, not just from the athletes who brought home the medals, but from all the successful business operations that ran like clockwork. No holdups, no strikes, no disruption and just like the athletes, the companies that achieved smooth running, prepared, by training, developing and implementing new ways of working.
Successful employers clearly embraced and implemented new smarter working policies, which if continued should provide a great legacy, not just for London but across the UK. As with all successful projects, it is the meantime management that really matters, keeping the determination, patience and enthusiasm going when the pressures don’t seem quite so great, so this is the time to change the way you do things.
Savvy business leaders know that changing the way people work and making better use of resources is paramount to business success. You can’t keep churning out the same old products or routines, with the same old work practices and expect to deliver growth and productivity, you have to be smarter and you have to work at it. The athletes will already be planning ahead to the next Olympics in Rio. They know, that whatever they achieved in London will be surpassed in Rio, new records, new faces, new ways of coaching and achieving, in other words all change.
Now the season is changing in the UK and the clocks have gone back, Commute Smart Week, reminds us that we have another opportunity to change our attitudes and thinking in relation to work activities. Are we prepared to move into 2013 with the same anticipated sickness and absence rates as last year? are we going to see business interrupted by poor weather and disrupted travel? Or are we going to grasp the opportunity by changing the way our employees work and think and introduce more flexibly to cut out these disruptive influences on our business performance?
More and more business are reviewing their working practices and thinking hard about how they manage people. Managing by outputs is the key, forget about presenteeism and concentrate on creating a workforce that is flexible, responsive and delivers the business plan. This won’t be done by 9.00am to 5.00pm clock watching, but by giving people the freedom to achieve.
We know that skills, management quality and leadership take a long while to build within any organisation and the recession has left many companies with fewer people, lower experience levels and lower levels of trust. Managers and staff need to raise their game if they are to perform at the highest levels and get our world productivity ranking back amongst the medals. We need to make sure that we are not left trailing by the time of the next Olympics, when the spotlight will be on Brazil and other countries with surging economies.
We all know that hanging on to everything from the past is not the best of plans. We have to manage the present, selectively forget the past, by leaving some of our old thinking and working practices behind and concentrate our attention on creating the future. None of us know what that really holds, but we are all capable of playing a part in the creation. This is exactly what employers who adopt smarter working practices have done over recent years and the proof of success was fully demonstrated during the Olympics.
More than 4 Million people now take full advantage of flexible, mobile, home and remote working. Organisations embracing the value of new technologies and capital investment are also changing working practices to measure outputs not inputs and to deliver rewards. It isn’t how hard you work, where you work, or how loyal and dedicated you are that matters, it is what you produce and the outputs that you achieve. This is what productivity is all about.
Commute Smart week provides a real opportunity to revise tired working practices, how and where people work and set about adopting flexible approaches to people management as a key component of effective change.
The key question is, will Employers across the country learn from the great success of the Games? Will they prepare, plan and implement policies to deliver the productivity gains to ensure that we move up the world productivity league tables by the time of the next Olympics? Less than four years to go, no time like the present to start!!