In the brief moments when they’re taking a break from Brexit, you’ll have heard economists talking about ‘productivity’. It can be a pretty ‘nerdy’ topic for the non-economically-minded but it makes a huge difference to the way we live our lives day-to-day. It’s the engine that helps us pay for our public services, adds pounds to our paycheques and delivers a more prosperous future for the whole country.

My guess is that if you know one thing about productivity in the Scotland, it’s that things aren’t going so well. Not rock bottom but not great either. That’s why you can’t go to a CBI Scotland event without hearing about our campaign to boost productivity across the whole country. Because Brexit or no Brexit, a focus on improving productivity and maintaining competitiveness remains the best remedy for an ailing economy.

So, what to do about it? That’s the question economists and policymakers are wrestling with. We know there’s a productivity prize for getting it right – a £25billion boost to the Scottish economy – and that the solution needs input from government and business. But how to really shift the dial?

Step forward the Scottish Productivity Index - an annual assessment that aims to get to the heart of Scotland’s productivity challenge by charting progress across a series of fifteen familiar indicators. By partnering with KPMG Scotland and drawing on insights from the Fraser of Allander Institute, we wanted to bring more rigour and analysis to the debate and develop recommendations that could make a real difference, to businesses, people and the wider economy.

We began by measuring Scottish productivity against a benchmark of UK and international competitors. What we found was a bit of a mixed bag. While Scotland lags behind the competition – coming up short in nine of fifteen key indicators – progress over time does give cause for optimism. We also came up with a total of 24 recommendations to move the needle on productivity - each reviewed by an advisory group of business luminaries – however I want to focus on just five today.

The first is to make sure that companies, individuals and policymakers are equipped with the tools and data they need to drive productivity improvements themselves. That’s why we propose establishing a ‘Productivity Data Bank’ for Scotland to collate and share existing data from a range of government sources and make them available to anyone looking to drive change.

The digital economy holds transformational potential for Scotland and the wider UK, that’s why our second recommendation is to set a target for 100% of the workforce to have basic digital skills by 2025. Because the opportunities for business and individuals are so huge, it’s important that everyone can participate in and benefit from this technological revolution.

The third recognises the fact the employee welfare is a shared challenge for business and government. Implementing mental health strategies within the workplace is every bit as important as ensuring that public investment for mental health services is both a priority and made readily available. Workers play such a key role in the success of companies and that’s why it’s important to make sure that they’re supported to be at their best.

Upskilling and retraining is key to the success of the economy, that’s why our fourth recommendation is to map out current workforce skills, training and tools and match them to future needs. Working with employees we need to enhance on-the-job coaching and take a more lifelong approach to skills.

The fifth recommendation focusses on a business commitment to investing in management and leadership, as well as building a people-centred culture across an organisation. Good management practices should be at the heart of all operations – including internal review processes.

‘What gets measured gets managed’ is the mantra of our approach and we want the Scottish Productivity Index to be a yearly milestone for assessing how we’re doing in addressing one of Scotland’s biggest economic challenges. By combing real business knowhow with a think-and-do approach to economic policy, we’re confident that business and government will be equipped with the solutions they need to drive the economy to new heights and ensured the benefits are shared by everyone.

Tracy Black is director of the Confederation of British Industry in Scotland.