Innovation is not optional

Friday, October 10th, 2014

August ONS figures show a continued fall in unemployment across the UK and in our region. Each new job is great news for the person who gets it and for their family and overall we must be pleased that the recovery continues.

There is a downside, however. Recently I attended a business briefing with a local MP who said that unemployment in his constituency was now below two hundred people – I was expecting him to start naming them individually. At another economic briefing recently it was notable that the companies who were growing the fastest were recruitment companies, with every other attendee reporting problems recruiting the right calibre or person, or indeed, anyone at all. From plumbers to software developers, salespeople to printer technicians, my own daily experience is that Thames Valley companies are becoming hamstrung by the difficulty in getting staff. For most this is the single biggest problem they face.

The Bank of England is forecasting a limited and gradual rise in inflation over the next few years. Their figures show that UK productivity has not recovered to pre-recession levels, indicating that our businesses can deliver more turnover with existing employees. This macro picture seems difficult to relate to the daily experience of growing businesses who are starting to think about higher wages or higher prices or both as the only way to grow.

Perhaps the businesses that find an innovative approach to their productivity challenge (that is, their staffing challenge) today will be those who thrive tomorrow.

What is your innovative plan to increase productivity?

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