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In the June 2014 quarter GDP rose by 0.8%, leaving it 0.2% higher than the pre-crisis peak posted in the first quarter of 2008. However, whilst the news has generally been received positively, critics point to the fact that productivity is still well below pre-crisis levels and sectors such as manufacturing and construction still have some way to go. But with the IMF predicting that the UK’s economy is set to grow faster than any other of the G8 nations, businesses can expect rosy times ahead. Or can they? How much of the recovery is down to the fact that in a consumerist society sooner or later we just have to start spending again? Are business leaders proactively creating the conditions for growth or are they just in it for a free ride, coasting along the crest of the recovery without any thought for the future? Sadly we suspect that being in it for a free ride is actually being generous to some leaders. When increasing profits lead to increasing bonuses or higher pay levels, when the turnaround from loss to profit takes shareholder and lender pressure away then the harsh times of yesteryear can be forgotten as the business glides into the future. Enjoy it whilst you can. The sort of attitude which accepts plaudits for an external boom is only going to lead in the end to failure. Businesses which started in the recession, those which worked hard to engage employees and create exceptional customer services are snapping at the heels of lazy profiteers and sooner or later they will prevail. When the culture is one of laziness, when employees are seen as disposable, when customers are seen as a necessary evil then the business is only heading one way. Yes, profits may be enjoyed for a time. Inertia is a great thing and when combined with a general increase in GDP businesses can be fooled into thinking everything is fine. But unless swift action is taken then customers and profits will soon fade away; followed shortly after by the business itself. Think we are wrong? Take a look again at the general levels of productivity. Engaged employees who are immersed in the beliefs and behaviours of a strong culture create high levels of productivity alongside exceptional customer experiences. So why is productivity lagging? Or take a look at your own business. Are there high levels of staff sickness, are negative comments being posted on social media, is wastage or internal strife on the up. And even if you can answer ‘none of the above’ to those questions are there businesses within your marketplace which strangely seem to be more agile, more innovative and which are gradually gathering up your customers? We accept that in the recession, fire fighting may have taken priority. But the recession is over and unless you have taken the time to have a good hard look at your culture and shape it for the recovery then you won’t be in a position to make the most of what lies ahead. The recession has had far more than just a monetary effect. The name of the game is now agile innovation leading to exceptional customer experiences. People will no longer put up with poor service levels or dictatorial uncaring leadership. Disengaged employees may have stayed for the duration to secure a job but when the boom is on they will be only too willing to depart for pastures new. Are you in for a free ride? Step off the board, look around and create a lasting legacy for your business, your employees, your customers and for the country.