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November 2018 - July 2019

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A blueprint for growth, Productivity through People supports and invests in the business leaders who will drive the future.

It provides access to the latest management practices, thinking and research to drive productivity in SMEs.

By providing a framework for new leadership styles, it helps bridge the gap between leaders and staff, empowering the front-line workforce to improve efficiency and competitiveness by directly solving business and customer problems.

It’s not that people are our best asset – it’s that at the end of the day they are any organisation’s only asset. Engaging employees in the mission and purpose of the company, and really empowering them to do the job as effectively as possible lies at the heart of successful organisations and, as importantly, is at the heart of sustainable business success.”

Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director, BAE Systems

Productivity through People is a programme for individual owners or small teams of  senior leaders,  sharing critical insights for success through effective leadership, communication, innovation and people management.

It immerses you in  hands-on case studies and provides a  peer-group network so you can  benchmark against best in class. It will help turn your business into a high performance workplace, where  efficiency  will  drive innovation and  sustainable future growth, helping your business become  more productive and  more profitable.

Productivity through People is a national programme  born out of a unique collaboration between the public and  private sectors, and is designed to improve productivity growth within the UK by helping SMEs embed High Performance Workplace Practices.

The programme has been co-produced by Be the Business - an industry-led alliance of trade bodies - world-class industry leaders BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce and Siemens and leading UK business schools at Aston, Bath, Lancaster and Strathclyde Universities, with support from Local Enterprise Partnerships.

It [productivity] sits behind progress in everything... from wages to our international competitiveness. We're not going to be telling people how to run their businesses. Instead we want to breathe oxygen into thousands of business-led initiatives and communities across the country. We're going to celebrate and encourage.”

Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman, John Lewis Partnership


The Productivity through People (PtP) programme is designed to improve productivity growth within UK SMEs by helping them embed High Performance Workplace Practices (HPWP), which include:

  • Internal cultural adjustment
  • Dealing with the consequences of cultural change
  • Piloting new initiatives
  • Innovation seen as a guarantee of the future
  • A strong sense of respect for every employee
  • Listening to the workforce
  • Empowerment of front line
  • Genuine concerns for safety and for individual wellbeing
  • Move from command and control management style to coaching of team and individual development
  • Led from, and modelled by, the top leadership
  • Effective, consistent and constant communication
  • Strong celebration of successes

PtP starts by establishing a peer network of 24 like-minded businesses, bench marking each business against the key principles of HPWP, and creating an action plan for changes and improvements.

At the end of the programme, participants review the bench marking, measuring the success of implementation and performance, before setting a new action plan for future development.

The programme is run as a series of masterclasses related industrial visits and one-to-one support from an experienced industry mentor, around these core themes:

  • Empowering Leadership: teams and traits
  • Innovation and Technology Adoption 
  • Enhancing employee engagement, culture and communication 
  • Internationalisation

The programme revolves around the peer group of 24 businesses, encouraging leaders to instill transformative methods of communication, reflection and adoption of new ideas, with the overall objective of creating a high performance workplace with a fully engaged workforce.

To become fully immersed in the programme, delegates will spend 1-2 non-consecutive days per month either at Aston Business School or on-site  at case-study business around the Midlands.

After graduating from the programme, participants will join the Productivity through People alumni, a valuable network of individuals and events to support their on-going learning and development.


The programme begins in November 2018 - full details will be announced shortly.

Productivity through People is for owner-managers, senior leaders and key decision-makers of SMEs in the Midlands.

The teaching and techniques can be applied in Midlands SMEs  of any sector or size. We ask only that the organisation has full time employees (in addition to the owner/manager), and is able to provide evidence that it has been trading for more than twelve months.

Improving management capability by just 0.1% can increase productivity by nearly 10%. (1)

Organisations looking to introduce High Performance Work Practices may not be able to harness the full potential and capability of the workforce. Those that fail to identify and overcome barriers may hamper or destroy any potential performance improvement.

Sharing experiences by  bench marking with a peer group can help to  break through those barriers. Improving  management capability, including the ability to  listen to staff, generates higher levels of  trust and  autonomy, making employees feel more valued and in control of their work and therefore more  innovative and  productive (2)

The benefits of the PtP course started to make themselves apparent from the outset. The initial sessions brought to light some key actions required to improve our working  operations, as well as my own personal leadership style. Actions which I have already  started to implement and see the benefits from. The main highlight has been forming  a close group of like-minded individuals who I can trust and gain some truly valuable  opinions, best practice examples and knowledge.”

Operations Director, Forsberg Services Ltd

Productivity through People's unique experiential programme helps business leadership teams to:   

  • Empower and engage front line staff leading to better usage of skills and abilities
  • Transform management practice and adopt modern work practices
  • Develop a support network with other SME owner/ managers – collaborating with like-minded peers to build a more productive future together
  • Gain exposure to world class manufacturing and operational environments
  • Creating an open organisational culture that is positive, supportive and conducive to innovation and change to develop business growth.


(1) ONS, Management and Expectations Survey 2016
(2) Source: “Improving Productivity: Engagement & High Performance Working Practices”, Productivity Leadership Group

Productivity through People is a national programme that has been subsidised by the private sector and received investment in the Midlands from Rolls-Royce plc and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.

You are asked to make a contribution of £2,500 per person, along with the time and enthusiasm to transfer the learning and practices back into your business.

Places are limited and on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can also visit the  Be The Business website for further background information about the programme and its aims.

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