UK productivity is a hotly-debated issue. Despite steady growth in labour productivity, Britain remains outside the top ten most productive economies – a challenge that continues to be addressed by policy makers in government, as well as NGO and business organisation stakeholders. In this context, LSE Consulting were approached, via a well-known PR company, by a national organisation with one of the UK's largest workforces, to provide an LSE Consulting team to undertake research that would evaluate their strategy on improving workplace productivity via health and wellbeing incentive schemes, and to extend this to assess and generate debate around the potential global financial benefit of such an approach.
Approach and methodology
Undertaken by a senior research team from the LSE's Department of Management and its Centre for Economic Performance, the project scope was defined in close consultation with the client so that the best methodology and timescales could be developed to ensure their needs were met. The project was then advanced in two stages – a focused study of three business units in detail, before a second stage, expanding this to a national evaluation of the organisation as whole. Comprising statistical data collection and identification, interviews and survey work with employees and their managers, and a review of other existing schemes, the study was able to accurately trace causation factors and indicators, and to develop an economic model to calculate the financial benefits of health and wellbeing policies, its conclusions enhanced substantially by a strong 'human dimension' in the report.
Solution and benefits
Drawing on the vast experience of LSE academics, the research start-point, analysing the internal practice of the organisation, was placed into a national and theoretical context. Comparing its policies with similar schemes in turn allowed existing research to be extended, and an economic model to be developed that could illustrate the cost savings and productivity gains to evaluate potential future schemes in light of a rapidly changing work environment. As well as the media launch and roll-out proposed by the client, it was agreed the project's output should be disseminated in an academic journal so that both the academic and practitioner community could be reached. In doing so, the client's overall objective – to generate debate and in turn a critical reappraisal of the economic and social consequences of these issues – was achieved.