While the general economy is seeing steady growth, recent statistics show that the UK continues to be less productive than other similar developed countries. The ‘productivity gap’, the term which many refer to this as, poses a significant challenge to UK organisations as they face the threat of increased global competition.

Beyond global competition, businesses are contending with thinner margins, economic pressure, higher wage demands and increasing legislation around working hours and holiday pay entitlement. All factors that are driving organisations to find new ways to reduce costs, increase productivity and improve compliance.

When staff costs represent the largest controllable expense to your business, optimising the use of labour is essential if organisations are to remain competitive and improve productivity. The evidence shows this is exactly what many are doing. In fact, a recent report demonstrates how gaining more visibility into workforce management data enables businesses to increase their bottom line by focusing their attention on improving productivity and performance.

Enterprises that align their workforce and business planning processes demonstrated a 61% improvement in yearly revenue growth and more than twice the improvement in customer satisfaction growth. With this in mind, here are three steps businesses should be taking in order to deliver increased productivity:

1. Control Absenteeism Costs

While well aware of the headaches of absenteeism, many managers do not have a clear understanding of the full costs of employee absence. Did you know that the annual median cost of employee absence, per employee, is £595? This number represents the cost of unforeseen absences, excluding the indirect costs of overtime, replacement labour, reduced productivity and administration.

By using an absence management system to provide visibility and forecasting, businesses can accurately track absenteeism and the domino effect it has on the entire enterprise, improving productivity and minimising compliance risk, while addressing issues that may increase the rates of absence to improve team cohesiveness and morale.

2. Make Better Use Of Managers’ Time

How much time do supervisors and HR managers lose every week responding to admin queries from employees? Instead, organisations should let employees get the information they want themselves. Providing online systems which are easily accessible and offer a central point for workers to view their payroll data, working hours and holiday accruals is a good place to start. Automating these HR functions empowers workers to be more efficient with administrative tasks.

3. Learn How To Use Overtime

If they use overtime properly, businesses can increase capacity as needed in order to meet customer demand. However at the same time, the use of overtime can mask problems that, if left undiscovered and unchecked, can cause damage to a businesses’ productivity and competitiveness. In some cases, overtime is used to make up for high levels of absenteeism, poor visibility of customer demand, low productivity or little visibility into employee workload.

When managers don’t have sufficient insight and controls in place to use overtime in the most efficient and appropriate manner misuse can occur, and some managers and employees may treat it like a “benefit”. Organisations should take measures to ensure that they are tracking overtime and doing so in an accurate and reliable way. By using an automated system, for example, they can ensure data of employee absences is being tracked and stored in real time.

For enterprises across all sectors, the misalignment of staffing to business demands can have a huge impact on performance and productivity. New technologies, including workforce management systems, enable organisations to track and compare both budgeted hours with actual hours spent on value and non-value added activities. This in-turn provides complete visibility over staff efficiency, and utilisation, offering real-time insight into problems that could impact productivity levels. Those organisations that have a well-balanced workforce, managed by a fit-for purpose automated system, should quickly be able to see a direct correlation between higher employee engagement levels and productivity.