Being Pushy Won't Improve Your Workforce's Productivity

  • Jim Thomas
  • 24 January 2018
  • Posted in: Healthcare, Management & Leadership

If only everyone was more productive.

Traditionally productivity is described as being how much you have to put in to get something out and what you can do to get more out without putting more in, or getting more out for the same amount you put in. If you look at reports on productivity you will often hear this described as the productivity ratio.

This way of thinking about workforce productivity is becoming unhelpful as the jobs that people do become less about producing things and more focused on delivering things. This is particularly true for adult social care and heath where the quality of care and support people are getting isn’t easy to measure.

To understand workforce productivity in social care and health we have to look at things like how workers behave and how we understand the impact the way our workforce does things that enable or disable the people they are caring for.

How can you identify things you can do to improve the productivity of your workforce?

Workplace culture seems to have a big impact on how productive people are. When people have a clear, shared, idea about the kind of care and support they are offering and are well supported they seem to be more productive.

Relationships at work are important for productivity. One aspect that is often used as a measure is bullying in the workplace. In the UK recent figures estimate nearly a third of people have been bullied at work (29%).

Employee wellbeing is directly linked to productivity and leadership. Turnover of workers, innovation, change management, absenteeism and presenteeism all link to staff wellbeing and productivity. People are less productive when they are unwell. If they continue to come to work when they are unwell their performance drops. Heavy workloads and high emotional demands can also reduce peoples productivity and increase the likelihood of stress and burnout.

When there are clear supportive policies and procedures people are more productive, Teamwork and autonomy (being trusted to do the job) contribute to workforce productivity.

Access to and support for learning and development can have an impact on productivity. Workers that aren’t able to focus on their core competencies and activities may be less productive. Having the right person with the right training doing the right job is key.

Digital technology can help improve productivity by reducing administrative and repetitive processes. Technology, used well, can improve travel time, reduce time spent on collection and processing of case notes, better job scheduling and ensure that up-to-date information at the time of contact with individual people with care and support needs is available.

What could you do about productivity in your workplace?

Once you start to consider workforce productivity you will begin to uncover all kinds of ways that you might be able to explore productivity with your workforce.

Three things you can do now are 


  • Talk to your team about what workforce productively means to them.


  • Involve employees in decisions that affect them – this gives employees a sense of ownership of the process and a perception of fairness.


  • Measure presenteeism –by adding questions onto staff surveys.


In your workplace it’s always useful to review how your management style and the way your team works impacts on how your workforce supports people.

There isn’t one right answer to improving your workforce’s productivity. Just saying thank you to people and being interested in them as people is a good place to start.

Get involved

Skills for Care wants to know what you think about productivity. You can read the full report here:

  • productivity
  • health and social care
  • leadership
  • workforce
  • Article Author

About Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas has led a broad range of national workforce Innovation programmes. These include developing and testing a framework for workforce redesign in social care, the development of principles for workforce integration and the creation of skills led approaches to community development.

He is currently leading Skills for Care's contribution to t…