The 12 factors linking your productivity to GDP

Have you ever wondered how your hard work and contribution connect to GDP?

What if the ups and downs of GDP represented your productivity? According to October 2023 figures, the UK economy grew by 0.3% following a sharp fall in July.

The broader picture, however, tells a different yet consistent story. According to research from the University of Sussex and  the University of Loughborough, Britain’s productivity growth over the past decade is the worst since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

UK productivity among the lowest of the G7, finds ONS

Does this picture accurately capture your effort at work? Is it indicative of your performance? The answer may surprise you.

While we don’t normally think of our output at work as a national agenda item, it may be time to think differently.

Here’s why.

Individually, we represent a cellular element of a larger organism. Employee > team > department > company > society > country, we collectively influence productivity. So, any deficiency in individual and collective input affects output.

It’s not just about us though. It’s also about overcoming the opposing forces which attempt to undermine our best efforts and the energy required to drive through these challenges.

What if, just like GDP, you could quantify these success factors within every level or a business? You’d be able to identify the conditions that help or hinder productivity and trace individual contributions to national flourishing.

At Shape, our work has helped us identify these factors. These are:

You and your health

Physically and psychologically healthy employees have fewer absences from work, are more focused, and less likely to leave the company.

Nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and relationships support improved productivity. Our data at Shape shows that simply incorporating sufficient weekly exercise can improve productivity by 1.6 times.

Hot topic: Can HR solve the UK's productivity problem?

Factors outside of work, such as care responsibilities, commuting times, and regularly working after hours profoundly impact work output but are largely ignored.

Shape data suggests that even a single factor, like poor work-life balance, compromises the ability to excel at work by nearly three times.

A good job fit is a key part of assessing job satisfaction and can increase the chances of an employee flourishing by 36%.

Role variety, healthy challenge, resource sufficiency and workload manageability tell a real picture of productivity enablement.

Co-workers, teams and managers make a difference

Measuring engagement and commitment topics tells us employees who feel valued and treated with respect are 50% more likely to positively anticipate coming to work.

Employer recognition and career prospects also play a notable role in reducing employee turnover and enhancing productivity.

Co-worker dynamic is all about positive working relations within teams and proven to boost flourishing by 34%. Measuring team success through good communication, willingness to tackle difficult issues and openness to new ideas is vital in every workplace.

Helping workers to flourish

Manager style, corporate culture and business essentials provide insights on whether the right support, systems, culture and guidance are in place to empower optimal employee contribution. Good managerial support alone increases employee’s ability to flourish.

Finally, work environments make a material difference in productivity. We found having up-to-date software alone helps employees to flourish. Small but significant factors like the quality of workstations, disruptions, and IT facilities affect productivity daily.

An extensive study by Shape found 120 measurable factors that, when in balance, empower every employee, manager and executive to produce their best work.

How workers can manage both health and productivity

You can make a difference

As HR professionals, we sit at the perfect intersection to measure not just employee actions but how they influence the overall productivity and profitability of businesses and nations.

Employee’s flourishing in precisely the right areas will help all businesses and organisations to deliver higher productivity and higher growth.

Ali Khan is CEO of Shape Global