High Performance Workforce Practices

In their recent workforce assessment report LANTRA identify a list of 16 High Performance Work Practices.

Improving management practice delivers large increases in productivity and output. Research by McKinsey & Company and the Centre for Economic Performance showed that a single percentage improvement in management practice delivers the same growth as 25% more labour or a 65% more capital.  However, many small businesses don’t recognise that their management processes are poor and so miss out on potential gains.

The Skills for Business Network Employer Survey identifies 16 ‘high performance’ work practices. In the UK economy as a whole, 30% of businesses adopt more than 10 of these; but in the horticultural sector it’s a mere 7%.

The table shows adoption in our industry. While our industry is well behind the national average LANTRA believes that this is partly a matter of scale and partly down to our industry carrying out industry-specific accreditations rather than ISO 9000.

Nevertheless 41% of UK companies employing 5-24 employees manage to adopt 10 or more of these practices and many of them are automatically included in the Investors in People approach. We think it’s worthwhile to move in this direction.

High Performance Work Practices Horti UK


Work shadowing 86% 92%
Training in last 12 months 47% 65%
Conducted staff appraisals 44% 75%
Training needs assessments 37% 61%
Business plan 35% 61%
Formally assess performance 33% 59%
Employee consultation 32% 47%
Individual PRP 29% 39%
Training plan 27% 48%
Performance bonuses 22% 41%
Flexible benefits 21% 32%
Training budget 17% 36%
Accredited IiP 8% 19%
Consults with trade unions 6% 15%
Accredited ISO 9000 4% 13%
Creates project teams 2% 15%
At least 10 HPWPs adopted 7% 30%

Many of the companies we talked to were committed to adopting good practices such as appraisals, effective inductions, employee handbooks etc.  Many had used the Investors in People methodology and the larger ones were actively adopting lean manufacturing techniques. This approach makes sure that all company activities are focused on adding value to the customers.

Lean in a nutshell

Lean manufacturing is a methodology that aims to ensure that all activity in the company is organised around delivering value to the customer.

It aligns processes and people around a continuously improving value chain and simplifies operations and eliminates waste by making processes visible.

One practical approach towards achieving Lean is the Business Improvement Techniques programme adopted at Humber-VHB. It’s a project based approach and typically involves a team leader and a team of around 6 undertaking a project as evidence for a NVQ Level 2 qualification (Level 3 for the team leader).  This is a good example of how to initiate project team working.

The programme identifies 7 wastes to be tackled

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Movement
  • Waiting
  • Over-production
  • Over-processing
  • Defects

It also charmingly identifies 5 “S”s for improving workplace clutter.

Sort, Set, Shine, Standardise, Sustain.

A great lesson for us all.