Competition time for manufacturers as £1 million pot set aside for employee-led innovation

news article

Mar 5 2015
Tags: Competition, Innovation

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has launched its ‘Skills for Innovation in Manufacturing’ competition. It is designed to challenge companies to come up with pioneering business practices that will forge growth in productivity and secure the UK’s position as one of the most innovative countries in the world.

To see this type of initiative is great news for UK businesses. Earlier this year we commented on a report published by CIPD, as part of its mega trends series, which suggested that while productivity within the UK was on the up there was no real significant improvement in the management. The report stated that, if we were to optimise on this economic growth and maintain a level of productivity, organisations needed to adopt a more innovative approach to business processes and management. It urged the Government to raise awareness of the challenges as they had done with technology in the past.

The UK sits high up on the Global Innovation Index; however, there is a general concern as to whether we can maintain this position for failings in other areas of the business.

Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2014, identified planning, recruiting, training, retention, progression and performance management as weak parts of the system, with worrying deficiencies in basic skills, STEM skills and management. Businesses’ skills, workplace practices, and management are critical to ensuring the value of innovation is maximised.[1]

The UK Futures Programme competition

The introduction of the UKCES competition is therefore great news. The competition is open to all businesses within the manufacturing sector, with several awards available from the £1 million set aside. The maximum fund per project is £150,000. Proposals must be ‘joint investments’ with employers investing in cash, in kind or both alongside the government contribution. But you need to get a move on if you want to qualify for the funding, as the closing date is 11th March 2015.

The aim of the competition is to encourage manufacturers to refocus on the management skills required to grow their businesses. The recipients of the awards will be able to demonstrate how the implementation of employer-led initiatives and processes will impact on their productivity.

Paul McKelvie OBE, a Commissioner at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), which is running the competition, commented:

It is fantastic that the UK is ranked as a front-runner in terms of innovation, second only globally to Switzerland. However, we need to do more to capitalise on this if we want to reap the economic reward and remain competitive. To do this effectively, we need to explore the ‘human factor’ in innovation. This means understanding how to better manage innovations; both in the way processes work and how any innovation is taken to market. It is the development of these skills that we want businesses to focus on when responding to our invitation.

Companies “shining a light” on innovation in manufacturing

Here at Cascade HR, we’ve witnessed many occasions, particularly within the manufacturing sector, where clients have shown commitment to the development of business process, especially those which are employee-led.

  • In fact, there are a number of features within modern HR software that have been purposefully developed to facilitate HR teams’ strategic contribution to business growth. For example, proactive HR software enables organisations to streamline departmental processes and procedures. By using the workflow functionality within HR technology, management and employees can be empowered into taking control of day to day HR tasks
  • HR software can also enhance affective engagement, if it is used to shape personal employee development. The platform can be used to communicate development plans between employees and management, and help to provide a sense of ownership and involvement of staff
  • KPI reports can also be delivered to demonstrate employee and team performance. This provides an often instant measurement of an employee’s contribution to the business, which reinforces further positive behaviour and/or highlights potential areas for improvement
  • Surveys allow the management team to capture and assess the thoughts and feedback of the wider workforce, seamlessly and electronically. This helps to understand the thoughts and feelings of the workforce, but also reinforces that view that everyone’s opinion matters

Swiss industry giant Sika AG has been a client of ours for quite some time. HR Manager, Sarah Lowe has been an advocate of Cascade’s Software and in her presentation ‘Utilising HR Software to effectively manage organisational change’, Sarah talks about her experiences as a HRM whilst working at Liquid Plastics Ltd during their merger with Sika Ltd. She explains how the technology played an integral role in the transition and helped the organisation and their people to effectively adapt to their new environment. The process of looking at their management structure and communicating HR Policies was made easier with the software. From Sarah’s perspective, the journey doesn’t stop there – employee led innovation is a top priority for this forward thinking manufacturer and using the HR Software to facilitate this is very much part of the vision.

Are you a manufacturer? Could HR Software help to revolutionise your human resource function and be pivotal in the drive for employee-led innovation? if you are an existing client and have a query regarding using HR Software, why not visit our dedicated customer portal, or call us on 0113 255 4115? If you don’t yet have a HR and payroll software system in place but would like to understand more of the benefits, then why not book a free demonstration or email to discuss your requirements.

[1] Extract taken from £1 million available to help UK manufacturing firms develop skills to maximise value of innovation article


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Cascade HR is a well-established, award-winning provider of fully-integrated HR and payroll software. The company is renowned as much for its quality of project management and ongoing customer service levels, as it is its dynamic technology. Over 


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