Though it probably doesn't feel this way to those who spend their lives running between meetings, dealing with customers, or negotiating with suppliers, the UK isn't working hard enough. UK productivity--how much all of us produce over a year divided by how many hours we spend doing it--lags France, Germany, and the U.S. by up to 30%, according to the Office of National Statistics. And it's not just the G7's most productive three countries that outperform the UK. Irish, Spanish, Belgian, and Dutch workers all significantly outperform their UK counterparts. We should be freeing people to focus on adding value, not restricting them to transactional tasks that are better and more quickly performed by automation.
Over the years there has been a rise in the use of technology in everyday businesses. But, this doesn't simply mean the standard computers or hard drives we use in our daily routines. Newer technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise in the workplace especially because of the productivity benefits. According to a study by Accenture, artificial intelligence has the ability to increase productivity by 40% or more. Through data collection, automation, decision making, and cybersecurity, AI can boost profitability by an average of 38%.
When leaders face the challenge of scaling their teams, they hire people to replicate many of the tasks they were doing. Sure, you might be able to do the mundane aspects of your job, but you're better off hiring someone else to do it so you can concentrate on your more important value: thinking creatively and strategically about your product and company's future. In a sense, humanity has been doing the same thing for centuries: "hiring" people and machines to take over every mundane and repetitive action that consumes our natural human resources (work, energy, carbs -- however you want to frame it). Sure, you could walk half a day to get your crop to market, but if a truck will get you there in half an hour, you'll earn your revenue quicker and have more time to spend planting the next crop. From cars and industrial machinery to databases, algorithms, and office productivity tools, we have an insatiable desire to free our mental and physical energy for higher-order tasks.
The Labor Department said Tuesday that productivity declined at an annual rate of 0.6 percent in the first quarter after a 1.7 percent drop in the fourth quarter. The government first estimated that productivity fell at a 1 percent rate. Labor costs for employers rose at a 4.5 percent rate in the first quarter, even faster than the 4.1 percent gain first reported.
Productivity among UK workers at the end of last year fell at the fastest pace since 2008, official figures show. Worker output per hour in the UK fell 1.2% during the last three months of 2015 compared with the previous quarter, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Output per hour in manufacturing fell by 2% from the previous quarter, while in the service sector it dropped 0.7%. Poor rates of productivity in the UK have been a concern to policymakers. In last month's Budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility cut its growth forecasts for the UK economy after it lowered its predictions for productivity.