The importance of the output of workers in any organisation or enterprise is one critical factor that will always be of concern to the management. It is understandable why there is an outcry by employers when it appears that a decline in productivity is being recorded.
The outcry may be justified when it is considered that employees are remunerated for their efforts. However, any semblance of a decline is worthy of investigation. The possibility looms that either internal or external factors may be negatively aimpacting on worker’s performance.
It seems rather easy and convenient to lay the blame squarely at the feet of employees, who more often than not, find themselves placed in an invidious position; as their efforts are constrained by the actions of the employer.
The issue of management providing the requisite resources to do the job, is an problem that raises its ugly head. Management in its quest to save on expenditure and to realise higher profits, resorts to employing fewer workers, and instead, engages the practice of multitasking.
It has been established that this has some serious shortcomings, which include placing stress on workers. Since workers as human beings have physical and mental limitations, it comes as no surprise that fatigue will at some point set in.
The issue of low worker productivity can also be tied to the failure of employers to both train and retraining members of staff. In an age where efficiency is equally important, management by its inaction can be accused of contributing to poor performance levels.
Employers who invest in training, place themselves in a better position to compete in the market. With little or no change to hiring practices, employers are further contributing to the growing problem of declining productivity.
The hiring of employees who don’t have the requisite skills, and the failure of management to provide training for employees prior to the commencement of work, adds to the dilemma.
Low productivity can be a result of poor management and employee relations, poor workplace communication, poor treatment of workers, inadequate conditions of service, and the offering of unattractive wages and salaries.
There is also the practice of employers of not wanting to pay for overtime work, while at the same time resorting to dock the pay of workers for committing a minor infraction. There is also the problem of the nonpayment of commissions and the removal of bonus and/or productivity payments. Coupled with all this, there is often no recognition of the efforts of workers.
If such practices and actions represent the norm on the part of employers, then the question is: Do they have any justifiable grounds on which to lay a complaint? In addition to this, there is the question of the quality of jobs that are being offered on the market.
The magnitude of this issue, leads to the question: Are employers contributing in a significant way to the growing problem, by not offering attractive and secure jobs? If the answer to this is yes, then it would seem that employers are doing themselves and injustice, as their actions may not readily serve to motivate their employees to give of their best.
In giving balance to the discussion on the factors that contribute to the declining levels of workers’ productivity, it cannot be ruled out that workers either directly or indirectly may be contributing to the emerging problem.
* Dennis de Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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