239 representatives from Finnish small and medium-sized businesses responded to new survey  by the Lappeenranta University of Technology about external and internal obstacles for productivity improvement experienced by companies. The results of the survey reveal that there have been three shifts in the key obstacles that have restrained the improvement of productivity since 1997:

(1) Obstacles to the improvement of productivity have shifted from internal to external obstacles. It is no longer competition from outside or navigating market forces, it is high wages and ancillary costs, like social security and taxes, legislation, and trade union activities by employees.

(2) A lack of competence in employees has replaced shortage of resources. In 1997, the most significant obstacles were linked to a shortage of resources but in 2014 a lack of competence was observed as a key obstacle. This study identified shortcomings in the competence and education of supervisors as the key internal obstacle restraining productivity improvement, clearly passing lack of competence among employees, which had previously posed a challenge.

(3) Entrepreneurship is no longer prized by government or society. 

According to researchers, companies must pay closer attention to the competence of their employees, and specifically to supervisors, which often come from employees. Organizations have 'thinned out' and, as a result, the role and significance of individual supervisors has grown.

“Companies must see to facilitating the further education of their supervisors. Supervisors must also personally ensure that they have the required competence and maintain it. This requires a willing and active perspective with regard to further education and up-keeping one’s knowledge,” Senior Researcher Sanna Pekkola (MSc) emphasizes.

Government and society overall must  offer better conditions and opportunities for growth of productivity, and encourage entrepreneurship and development of activities - such as by dismantling regulations and decreasing costs of doing business unrelated to business.