Work Wise Week 2018 Launch Blog: Pay, Productivity & Performance - By David Lennan, Chairman, Work Wise UK

Work Wise Week is a very significant period in the Work Wise UK calendar when we highlight and discuss the key issues affecting workplace performance. During 2017 Work Wise UK focused attention on the Productivity conundrum and the missing £Billions and whilst during  last year more was written about Productivity than at any time in our Industrial history, attention has now swiftly turned to Equal Pay and the gender pay gap.

WorkWise UK believe that our low productivity is a symptom of poor work place management, combined with a mix of other related factors such as the age and composition of our workforce, working hours, poor vocational education, housing, travel to work congestion, workplace health, investment in skills and technology, supply chain management and innumerable other issues that can influence and change the workplace environment and impact on organisational performance.

Equal Pay is yet another failure of management to implement equally and fairly. Our Equal Pay Legislation that has been in existence since the 1970’s, yes longer than most the work force has been in work; Unbelievable isn’t it?  Well not really when you think about how poor organisations are at handling the big issues and communicating the real facts. Radio TV and the Press have done a great job in highlighting the gender pay gap, but a very poor job in explaining how theses gaps have developed. Given that men still dominate  the more senior roles and that the older you are the more likely it is that you will be higher paid, it not difficult to understand that if you average all the highly paid executive salaries into the average pay  and gender gap calculations there will be wide distortions and inequalities.

From my own experiences I know that most major organisations adopt fair and equal pay policies and control pay and reward through job evaluation systems, job grading and pay banding, which coupled with pay progression policies are intended to be fair to all. Any Organisation adopting a job evaluated system which is regularly reviewed, updated and bench-marked should be able to ensure that male and female workers are equally rewarded for work of equal value.  Regrettably I also know from experience that many companies do not employ job evaluation systems or clear pay policies and this creates inequalities that leave them wide open to unfair or unequal pay claims.

Work Wise UK has for many years been reviewing workplace environments through their assessment process and have constantly flagged up pay equality issues, workplace competitiveness and productivity slippage as serious survival issues. To address these issues  Work  Wise UK has now entered into a new collaboration with the University of the West of England, Bristol Business School, to reshape, redesign and relaunch the Work Wise UK Standard and Mark of Excellence to fully embrace all the current workplace best practice from both a business and academic perspective. This will provide opportunities for organisations to work towards the new Mark of Excellence by developing techniques and standards that help them become more competitive, more productive and work more effectively with our European and Worldwide neighbours.

The assessment process will determine how effective an organisation is at recognising that smarter working in its widest sense, contributes not only to organisational success, but also employee satisfaction, improved competiveness,  increased productivity and sort out the gender pay gaps leading to equal pay for equal work.

Workplace management is all about letting people use their knowledge, skills and experience to do things better and more efficiently by making sure that the workplace culture really does allow ideas to flow and most importantly be acted upon.    

We need our Industries to be fully prepared for Brexit to be able to attract the very best people and employ the very best working practices and processes. We cannot afford to have our Industries and Businesses hauled over the coals by media presenters, and distorted stories peddled for sensationalism, we need consensus on standards and implementation to really improve workplace performance.

We need to be constantly telling the stories about  Success, rising Productivity and creating successful and growing businesses. Improving workplace productivity can produce enormous gains for any organization in any sector and radically improve the bottom line, but it is all too apparent that much still needs to be done to develop the UK to a World leading status. The big obstacle is still Workplace Culture;  culture, risk management and performance run hand in hand and the more repressive, oppressive or controlling the culture, the greater the risk of things going wrong, as we keep learning about almost daily in the Press.

During our onsite assessments we will look closely at Board Leadership and Management Practices which are real game changers in delivering success. Productivity is very clearly linked to good governance and board effectiveness, which is really about leadership, communication and doing the right things. We see too many examples of cultures that create and hide significant issues that when exposed, lead to severe reputational damage, a loss of trust and in some cases business failure.  Why do we let this keep happening? Trust takes years to build and vanishes rapidly when poor cultures and behaviors are exposed to public scrutiny.

Work Wise Week provides a real opportunity to have a discussion in your workplace about how you work and what you achieve.  This is a great time of year to think about working practices, how and where people work and the attitudes and behaviors that have become prevalent and even accepted in your place of work. This could lead to adopting more flexible and open approaches to people management, which is a key component of effective change and increased productivity.

Talking about these issues during this next month might help to develop thoughts and actions that will help organisations hit the top spots with their people management, pay policies and productivity achievements.

Pay, Productivity and Performance are definable linked, the Work Wise UK Standard assessment process will review all these areas and allows Organisations to share openly with their staff the things that get in the way and that are likely to hit the press with next workplace crisis.