Lexi Glover

A productive business is a highly engaged place to work. In a service-based business, like an accounting and financial advice firm, productivity is the outcome of effective technology, processes and people. Yet, the importance of aligned, motivated people often gets overlooked when building productivity strategies.

The Productivity Commission’s ‘Advancing Prosperity’ report, released on 17 March 2023, shows Australia falling behind globally, with labour productivity growing at its slowest pace in 60 years. This critically important issue has taken a back seat in recent years to more pressing matters like the Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cost of living.

But addressing Australia’s rapidly falling productivity must be elevated on the government’s agenda, given productivity is one of the most powerful tools for driving economic growth and lifting living standards.

For the past 30 years, labour productivity has contributed more than 80 per cent of the growth in Australia’s living standards (measured by real gross national income per person), according to Treasury’s 2021 Intergenerational Report.

There must be sustained productivity growth for the nation’s economic welfare to improve but this mammoth task can’t be left to the government alone.

While changes to the tax system, industrial reform and greater investment in R&D, innovation, and education and training will all help, the corporate sector must step up too.

After all, our people deserve opportunities to develop their careers, build wealth and improve their lives.

There are four relatively straightforward, inexpensive things that advice businesses can do to drive productivity gains.

1) Review roles to ensure the right people are in the right jobs

Productivity can be enhanced through better allocation of resources.

Inside organisations, people with valuable skills are often being underutilised, which means labour is only being partially used. Leadership is about creating the right environment to empower people to do great work, not about power over people. Often well intentioned ‘leadership’ is holding back great productive work.

Sometimes people are in the right roles but they don’t have the tools and support they need to function at the highest level. Focusing effort on ensuring your learning and development efforts nurture individuals through to practical application will ensure time is not wasted.

Having people with the right capabilities, experience and leadership qualities in the right roles can take a business to the next level.

2) Greater transparency and better communication