By PREMA JAYABALAN
On average, Malaysians clock in about 40 hours a week at work, which is equivalent to 8 hours a day, based on a five-day work week.
Productivity is the essence which elevates a country to become a high-income economy. A solid growth in productivity increases the economic status of a country whilst establishing it on the world pedestal. Over the years, Malaysia has seen an increase in productivity. However, it still has to travel through a very long journey in order to reach a significant level of growth.
According to Malaysia Productivity Corp (MPC), Malaysia needs to have a productivity level of at least US$28,140, alongside a per capital income of US$15,000 by 2020 to achieve the status of a country generating high revenue through its economy.
Why is it taking us so long when we are known to be one of the countries that work long hours? According to the 2012 Vacation Deprivation Survey done by Expedia, Malaysia ranks fourth when it comes to having the most dedicated workforce, with 90% of employees working even when they are on a vacation. Based on this finding, why is Malaysia’s productivity level considered to be quite low?
On average, Malaysians clock in about 40 hours a week at work which is equivalent to eight hours a day, based on a five-day work week. On top of that, it is a norm in Malaysia for employees to stay back after office hours and clock out later than their working hours. They even come in to work over the weekends. This amount of time is deemed to be more than sufficient to produce good potency in generating income for the country. Why is Malaysia’s productivity level still considered to be quite low?
Well, when a person works for long hours, it does not necessarily mean that the person is doing work the whole time. The culture of taking long lunch hours, taking frequent breaks, surfing the internet, chatting with colleagues, “Facebook-ing”, chatting with friends on Google chat and talking on the phone could take up a large chunk of working hours. This could be the reason as to why employees leave the office late. Tasks which could not be completed due to procrastination are attended to after office hours.
Two examples of non-productivity
According to Leaderonomics CEO Roshan Thiran, the productivity of the workforce in our country is still low. He believes that ways should be found to increase productivity by doing the same amount of work but in a lesser amount of time. One should optimise the time given at work to produce quality results.
This can best be executed by driving productivity in the workforce. An increase in the capacity of production will indeed sustain a relatively strong economic growth and further increase it. In order to get the best out of employees, it is essential to administer certain methods which drive productivity.
HOW TO DRIVE PRODUCTIVITY?
As an employer:
1 Improve work processes and styles
With the current era of modern innovations, employers must take time to look into the day-to-day tasks of employees and cut down on outdated processes which are irrelevant. For example, a reduction in the size of a sales report will enable the sales and marketing force to have more time to focus on its main aim and the usage of the latest software for finance will make it easier for accountants to perform their tasks. An employer can’t stick to the traditional way of doing things as this will lower productivity. Changes need to be made according to the current situation in order to stay abreast with the world.
2 Express gratitude
Employees should be given recognition and acknowledged for their contributions towards the success of the company. It is the human nature to naturally feel energised and want to perform better when they are appreciated for what they have done. Furthermore, when this appreciation comes from an employer, it creates a stronger bond between the employer and employee.
An employee who is appreciated will go all the way to increase productivity even though it requires longer working hours for the same amount of pay. Gratitude can be expressed through various ways that include performance and year-end bonuses, company retreats, staff awards and even a simple word of thanks via email for milestones achieved in work.
3 Create a conducive and enjoyable working atmosphere
Productivity in the workforce can easily be enhanced when an organisation has staff that can’t wait to come to work, every morning. Having a set of employees who are excited and enjoy being at work, will definitely drive productivity. A working culture which is fun and interactive is the way to go. An example of this is Zappos where the company believes in an open door policy. Almost all employees, including the CEO, work in cubicles on the office floor.
Some of the call centre supervisers even remove the walls between their cubicles for more interaction. At Zappos, employees have their mail delivered to the company and have complete access to the company shuttles. Employees are provided a nap room for some shut-eye time and there is even free lunch at the cafeteria.
As an employee:
1 Learn how to prioritise
Plan your assignments and tasks well. This will help you tackle all of your important work first and help you multi-task for the others. You will save time and be more efficient and ultimately produce better quality of work. Getting ahead with the most important task first thing in the morning will also increase productivity whilst getting you a good start of the day. Keep track of your daily work by having a to-do list.
This will ensure that all needs are attended to. Make sure meetings don’t drag on and stay on track when it comes to time. A meeting that drags on unnecessarily will deter work from getting completed and affect productivity. Lastly, always stick to deadlines when it comes to delivering work.
2 Don’t take advantage of social media at work.
Social media is taking the nation by storm. Almost everyone is on sites such as Facebook. When at work, make sure you optimise fully on your working hours by actually doing only office work. Be disciplined and avoid spending large parts of your day surfing the net and chatting with your friends.
If the time spent on these activities is put into work, then a lot of tasks can be accomplished within a short time frame thus increasing productivity. Many companies are moving towards banning Facebook in the office, as it is becoming a drain on the workday. If you have access to Facebook, then use it only as a break for a few minutes.
3 Practise proper communication
It is vital to have a good working atmosphere in order to give your very best. More often than not, we blame others when the workplace environment is bad, but have we ever thought that we could be a contributing factor as well? In order to enjoy your working environment, practise good communication methods.
Be interactive with your employer, colleagues and staff. If you have issues, make sure you interact and discuss it with your employer instead of keeping it to yourself. By talking things out, issues will be brought out in the open and solutions can be found. This puts the mind at ease and will not affect one’s work. Have a healthy and friendly relationship with subordinates and this will generate better teamwork which produces better results in work and subsequently increase productivity.
Six Sigma and driving productivity
For many organisations, Six Sigma is a measure of quality that is supposed to be almost perfect. It is a data-driven approach that eradicates defects in any level; from manufacturing up to transactional and from product to service. This same methodology can be applied to spot workforce-related waste that could be hindering a company from increasing its productivity. For example:
Manufacturing workforce management which enables you to precisely calculate the times spent by employees on direct and indirect activities. Having this data can help you gauge the root causes of low productivity. It can also help in quantifying the impact of high overtime and absence in productivity. Combined, these capabilities give you an avenue to boost productive time in your establishment.
Use Overall Labour Effectiveness (OLE) to monitor the impact of labour on profitable output by gauging the interdependencies of quality, availability and performance.
This method actually displays how employees and assets combine to drive the ultimate results and it also gives you the true insight on how to take action at all levels in an organisation.
Executing the action upon this conclusion will result in driving more productivity in the organisation and the elimination of aspects which could be slowing it.