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How Mid-Marketers Can Find Opportunities in the Plateau of American Productivity

As American productivity has reached a plateau, mid-market companies may have a unique opportunity to use their medium size and innovative cultures to lead the way in productivity gains.

There’s no doubt about it, productivity has been declining over the past decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. All is not lost, however, particularly where mid-market companies are concerned. Unlike large companies, which are laying off workers, mid-market companies are driving the majority of job gains and economic growth.

Increasing productivity today is more about unique ideas and people than it is about machines, software and company-wide initiatives. Mary Josephs, founder & CEO of middle-market investment banking firm Veret Advisors, told Forbes that mid-market companies are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the slowed productivity growth. Josephs says there are big opportunities for those mid-market companies with “engaged workforces.” And unlike large companies, many mid-market firms still have the desire and ability to encourage innovation from their own workforce. “At these companies, operating knowledge still resides in the rank-and-file. Ideas can, and already do, bubble up,” says Josephs.

Surveys show that many mid-market organizations also are seemingly more receptive to and interested in using people and innovation to increase productivity. A recent report by Deloitte said that these companies are the “front line of innovation” and are using IT as a catalyst for business growth and using technology to generate productivity gains. Mid-market companies often have systems and organizational structures that are more conducive to fostering innovation from the ground up. While many large organizations attempt to increase productivity by driving company-wide changes from the top down, mid-market company managers are closer to their workers.

Josephs said to best capitalize on opportunities, mid-marketers need a system to solicit, reward and implement continuous improvement ideas. The company should also try to quantify financial gains from ideas and measure the rewards against spending and downtime. “Waiting for the next wave of innovation seems like a poor strategy. Within the four walls of most businesses reside fertile ground for improvement and growth,” said Josephs.


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