‘Too Much Complacency on Productivity’ Warn Management Consultants

Consulting firms are telling policymakers to take more decisive steps to improve UK productivity, arguing that the unanimous commitment of British business leaders should be matched by stronger and more sophisticated government action.

The MCA (Management Consultancies Association) has today published a new report on UK productivity in which it sets out 10 calls for action. At the same time, it has released details of an exclusive survey of business leaders.

  • 100% of business leaders say that productivity matters to their firm. Productivity is NOT a policy-maker pre-occupation that doesn’t matter to business. Business leaders care and argue that ‘without productivity, there is no business’.
  • Productivity (60%) is now a higher priority for business leaders than market-share (25%) or topline growth (20%). Many business people link productivity improvements with strong customer service, the quality of their products and the success and sustainability of their brand.
  • A substantial minority (41%) say that productivity is about achieving better outcomes for customers, not just producing more physical outputs.
  • 89% of businesses report that digital deployments have improved their productivity. But business leaders also point to untapped digital potential. Consultants say that effective digital deployments require greater stress on skills and culture, as well as a fundamental review of business models.

Launching the research, Paul Connolly, Director of the MCA’s Think Tank, said:

“Business understanding of productivity and its challenges seems to be more sophisticated than Government’s. Businesses frequently link productivity to service, brand value, and the creation of positive outcomes for customers. Many leading firms are engaging with their staff to improve productivity and making work more fulfilling.

“But businesses are also calling on Government for support. They want policymakers to ramp up the UK’s drive to digitise. They seek enhanced measures of economic output to respond to the realities of the Digital Age. They believe that productivity and sustainability should go hand in hand. They want a modern, productivity-supporting infrastructure. They demand that the UK improves its skills base by winning the Global Education Arms Race. And they demand an end to the investment-inhibiting uncertainties of Brexit. To date, the Government’s response has been creaky and maladroit.”

In its Productivity Top 10, a call for more determined action from business, government and the consulting industry itself, the MCA sets out a radical new agenda. The MCA says that the term productivity should be detoxified. Productivity must be about creating ‘fulfilling and productive careers, not just driving people harder.’

And it argues that policy-makers must catch up with business in the sophistication of its understanding of productivity, linking it to quality, customer service, sustainability and the power of brands.

Alan Leaman, CEO of the MCA, said: “In today’s economy, productivity is about achieving outcomes, as well as creating outputs. It is about good work, not just harder work.”

Tony Danker, CEO of Be the Business, the business-led organisation set up to improve the UK’s productivity performance, said that consultants are the UK’s ‘leading improvement resources’ and should ‘step up’ and help deliver improved productivity performance across the economy.

Angus Knowles-Cutler, Vice-Chairman of Deloitte, argued that we need to ‘put the human literally at the heart of the debate’, explaining that where technology investments were deployed sensitively in relation to human need, they enhanced productivity.

Yael Selfin, KPMG’s Chief Economist expressed her optimism that digital would help improve productivity, but noted that embedding these benefits can take time.

The MCA’s report positions UK consulting firms at the heart of the future of UK productivity, evidencing the practical benefits being delivered by consultants as well as the insights and experience of individual firms.



Media Contact:

George Tresnan

Marketing and Communications Manager

Management Consultancies Association

Email: George.Tresnan@mca.org.uk

Tel: 0207 645 7953


The Management Consultancies Association (MCA):

The MCA is the representative body for the UK’s leading management consulting firms. For 60 years, the MCA has been the voice of the consulting industry, promoting the value of consulting to business, the public sector, media commentators and the general public.