As Government works to pull out all the stops to grow this country’s economy in 2014 and beyond, Barbadian workers are being urged to pay attention to their individual productivity.
Executive director of the National Productivity Council, John Pilgrim, said it was necessary for employees to manage their time wisely, work well as a team, and understand the objectives of their organization, so that when individual goals in relation to their core responsibility were set, they would be in tandem with what the organization wanted to achieve.
In addition, Pilgrim stressed that workers should also pay attention to their work ethic because that could impact productivity.
He continued: “A lot of the issues that we are faced with now can be fairly well tackled if the productivity component is given the level of attentiveness that it ought to . . . . My message to Barbados for 2014 is let us get back to basics in terms of understanding the benefits of improved productivity. Sometimes we are caught up with so many things that we overlook the real benefits associated with increased productivity at the business, individual and country level. Productivity benefits all stakeholders –– employees, management, investors in business, the consumer and Government.
“If there is an increase in productivity, then the workers stand to gain from having better wages and salary, even if it comes in the form of a productivity bonus, where a company has a structured performance-related scheme in place, which allows for some assessment at the end of a period, so workers can benefit from productivity improvements. Productivity benefits the worker in terms of having a better quality of life from improved working conditions.”
The executive director explained that at the enterprise level, when investors and management personnel created conditions conducive to employees’ productivity, they achieved the desired results. He pointed out that when those results were attained during this challenging environment, the organization was in a better position to reinvest the surplus, thereby expanding the business and catering to any emerging opportunities.
“At the Government level, when you have a situation where outputs are increased because of greater attentiveness, care and organisational effectiveness, it means Government would be in a better position to obtain . . . more taxes because services are being generated . . . . If you have more taxes which result from improved productivity, then you are in a better position to provide better health care services, better education, and a better infrastructure without having to raise the tax rate,” he stated.
Acknowledging that layoffs were a reality in this economic climate, Pilgrim cautioned employers to communicate with their employees.
“If you are going to restructure and lay off people, to my mind you need to do it in such a way that you don’t impact the morale of persons in your organization. You need to explain to workers why they are being laid off and what you are going to do to cushion the impact,” he remarked.
He emphasized that there were macro-economic pillars which must be paid attention to, and listed them as inflation, employment, investment, wages and productivity or economic growth. According to him, if a country’s productivity and economic growth are at the right level, then the benefits will come.
Stressing that productivity was not an isolated concept, but a practical reality in terms of behavioural change, choice and decision making, he said it was necessary for workers to balance work and leisure.
“We live in a society where we need to balance our leisure with our work responsibility. Many people put a lot of emphasis on fun and frolic; those things are good, but at the end of the day, the ability to enjoy the success of the country and decisions by Government impinges on how well we use our time.
“We need to work hard and smart; smart in terms of identifying systems, best practices and working well as a team where persons are able to resolve conflict and communicate well. In addition, management must share information with the workers so teamwork can impact productivity,” he stressed.
The executive director urged management to reward staff for excellent performances and he suggested that a simple “thank you” note, a letter of appreciation, a certificate of commendation, or a plaque of appreciation could be given. He added that some businesses also offered cash reward systems.
He is of the view that workers should be assessed periodically, since it would allow management to bridge the gap between where the workers were and where they should be.
“If there are shortcomings in workers’ output and performance, then that system will allow management to capture information to train, retrain and develop employees so they can perform at the level they ought to,” he noted.