06 Feb Down, But Definitely Not Out

This week brings the news that the United Kingdom is struggling to retain its place within the top 20 world economies, according to a survey by PwC.

The UK’s downward slump – from the 13th placed economy in 2007 to 19th in the latest PwC Escape Index – is similar to the drops experienced by those countries worst hit by the Eurozone crisis: Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain.

Sweden retains the top slot from the last published index, which analyses official data collated in 2007. This year’s other top performing European countries include The Netherlands (4), Finland (5) and Denmark (6). Singapore jumped from 7th place in 2007 to third in the latest index, which utilises data from a range of official sources including the World Bank and the IMF.

PwC chief economist John Hawksworth warns that true progress is more than just a numbers game simply benchmarking GDP growth and inflation. He says governments and investors should “pay attention to the broader range of measures” contained in the Index.  The rankings consider factors such as economic growth and stability; social progress and cohesion; communications technology; political and regulatory institutions and environmental sustainability.

As well as the prolonged recession, low growth and high inflation, Hawksworth has singled out factors such as education standards and trade, which have caused the UK’s rankings to drop. But there’s good news on the horizon – recent falls in unemployment, falling inflation and rising confidence mean it’s likely that the UK will start to climb again in the rankings when the next survey is published. PwC predicts it will remain the fastest growing large European economy in 2014.

The MessageBase team always strives to learn more about how we can become more knowledgeable and efficient. We do this by learning more about the companies we serve, through our membership of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, which informs us about the local business scene and through the Chartered Management Institute, which gives us information about best practice at a national level.

The challenge now is to see what we can learn from the top performing countries in the Escape Index. How do we apply these lessons in sectors we can influence to make the future brighter for the UK? Education, high productivity and creativity seem to be key drivers for success but it’s also worth noting that the Swedes, Finns and Danes have longstanding policies which encourage flexible working policies for both men and women.

As far back as 2010, an EU survey noted that 60 per cent of both men and women in Denmark and Sweden had access to a flexible working schedule along with 50 per cent of workers in both Germany and Finland.

So perhaps its time UK businesses followed suit? Adaptability is a known factor in attracting and, most importantly retaining, talented individuals. MessageBase has a number of services from hotdesking for remote employees to switchboard operation for SMEs, which can help companies to achieve their goal. From blue chip to start up, we have more than a decade of experience in helping businesses adapt to a more flexible future and a changing model of success

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