Published in Business Plus January 2023. George Morahan
Productivity at financial services institutions in Ireland and the UK peaked during the pandemic but has slumped by almost 20%, according to a new report from workplace management software company ActiveOps.
The OpsTracker report analysed insights from over 30,000 employees in Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and North America to identify challenges for back-office operations at financial institutions.
It found that operational performance was optimised across all regions during the pandemic as organisations allocated significant resources to overcome the challenges involved in setting up remote practices.
OpsIndex measures how well operations are running across a number of metrics (agility, control, effectiveness, efficiency, and focus) to create an overall score in the form of a percentage figures.
In Ireland and the UK the OpsIndex score slumped from 57% at the pandemic peak to just 47.5% in the fourth quarter of 2022 — a drop of 16.7%, with organisations today operating at a significantly lower standard than they were before and during the pandemic.
UK and Irish organisations are also operating at a lower level than their North American, Australian and New Zealand peers, who saw an increase in performance of 32.4% and 5.3% respectively since before the pandemic.
In Ireland and the UK, work out per paid hour was down by more than 8% since the start of the pandemic, highlighting that organisations are less efficient and not getting the most out of staff.
Indeed, this correlates with findings from a recent industry research around recession readiness, which was carried out at the end of last year and found that a whopping 55% of organisations in the sector feel they have spare capacity but cannot locate it.
This is largely due to teams working in silos or due to lacking the necessary agility to cope with fluctuations in workload by moving workload between teams, ActiveOps said.
PRODUCTIVITY IN IRISH FINANCIAL SERVICES INSTITUTIONS HAS BEEN ERODED SINCE THE HEIGHT OF THE PANDEMIC.
Ray Bowe, CEO of Xcentuate, ActiveOps partners in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, said: “Against a backdrop of challenging economic times the pressure is on to produce extra growth and productivity.
“In 2022, issues with staff turnover and return to the office have particularly hit productivity so 2023 is about stabilisation. Looking forward for firms to improve productivity, they do not need to wait for new breakthrough technology or AI.
“The digital or management tools that can significantly improve performance already exist and the advent of cloud technology has resulted in lower costs and less complexity to implement.”
In the control metric, Ireland and the UK fell five percentage point since the start of the pandemic, underscoring how teams are struggling to deliver on plans and indicating a misuse of capacity and failure to plan for peaks or share workload across teams.
Commenting on the report, Richard Jeffery, CEO at ActiveOps, said: “Operations leaders in financial services have a lot to deal with today. Having only recently emerged from the stormy times of the pandemic, they are now faced with an uncertain economic environment.
“While their focus is on cutting costs they are also aware of a shortage in talent and the need to both retain existing and attract new staff through better utilisation of staff time and investment in cross-skilling. Yet despite the pressures on them, few leaders are equipped to make strategic changes that will improve operational efficiency and deliver a competitive edge”.
He continued: “The UK in particular is facing a challenging time and leaders are pressed to bring operations back up to pre-pandemic levels this year. They need to use data to accurately gauge where their inefficiencies lie and to better understand which levers they can pull to release capacity across their organisations.
“This will allow leaders not only to create an operating environment that is efficient and running at a high-performance level but also a satisfying place to work where employees wish to remain.”