Feature: Productivity At The Heart Of Economic Growth

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As Government intensifies its efforts to grow this island???s economy, Barbadians are being reminded that productivity is at the heart of economic growth.

And, Executive Director of The Productivity Council, John Pilgrim, believes that the productivity of workers in Barbados could be improved. Acknowledging that employees generally liked their jobs and were committed to them, he is of the view, however, that some could show greater dedication.

Mr. Pilgrim said: ???But, to some measure that level of improved commitment has to do with managerial productivity. Managers need to manage properly; they need to set objectives and share them with the employees. Managers need to communicate the information and interface with [employees] and empower employees to do better. Managers need to build trust in their organisation and also when it comes to celebrating success and sharing gains that would accrue to the business that needs to be done.???

He is of the opinion that improved productivity would have an impact on the quality of life in the workplace and the standard of living for citizens. Therefore, he believes that public sector productivity is just as important as that of the private sector. ???The public sector creates the environment within which the private sector operates. If you have an efficient and effective public sector, it is going to impact private sector productivity, and by extension, the overall GDP???of the country,??? he stated.

Productivity is defined as a relationship between what is produced or generated in a business vis-??-vis the level of resources employed.
Government, the unions and the private sector have focused greatly on that issue over the past 20 years and, according to the Executive Director, this has paid dividends, with the country being able to move a couple rungs up the ladder.

He suggested that there was a need to continue creating an environment that was conducive to workers. ???We need to educate workers, supervisors, [and] managers???We need to constantly measure how well we are doing. What is measured gets done; if you are not measuring, then the chances are you are missing a lot of things. And, you need to reward workers when you have the measurements in place and you can clearly show that there is an improvement in productivity,??? he remarked.

Mr. Pilgrim stressed that productivity was at the heart of this island???s economic growth and said that when people were more productive, they produced at a higher level and that could translate into opportunities for all.

???Improved productivity in organisations stands to create benefits for all stakeholders. In the first instance, for the company that is looking to ensure its competitive position in the industry is maintained, improved productivity means the business is in a position to offer more for less prices. It is in a position to improve its net gains and redirect those gains towards expanding the business, and creating new products and better services for their clientele.

???If a company improves its productivity the workers will gain in the form of better wages???The country stands to benefit from improved productivity because if all the businesses are more productive, it means the level of taxes the Government would obtain would be higher, without having to increase the tax rate. It means that the quality and level of services being offered by Government can be improved and expanded. When the productivity level is low, it means Government is somewhat constrained by what they can do, but if we have a higher level of productivity in the country it means the competitive position improves.???

Mr. Pilgrim added that the companies would be able to export and compete well in other jurisdictions and the country would receive greater foreign exchange.

He acknowledged, however, that there were some people who were not getting job satisfaction and urged them to retrain and improve their skills so that they could pursue available opportunities.

He said: ???In an environment of low morale, because you are not getting enrichment, it can impact workers??? interest, commitment, drive and focus and it is important managers pay attention to these things, so the situation does not reach the stage where the productivity level of those employees compromise the gains of the organisation???Employees need to continue developing themselves and management needs to continue paying attention to helping employees to improve their training.???

The Executive Director expressed the view that employers could motivate the workforce by providing non-cash rewards, which he described as inexpensive, but impactful. He stressed that it was also important for organisations to have monetary reward systems in place for employees. ???If the business is more productive, then workers should gain from the higher levels of productivity,??? he insisted.

While delivering this year???s Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, said the sustainability of this island???s economic growth and development over the 2013-2020 period will be assured through this nation???s commitment to productivity, efficiency, competitiveness and service excellence.

There is no doubt about it; increased productivity has been identified as one of this island???s drivers of growth. Therefore, the productivity level of workers, whether in the public or private sectors, is under the microscope. Our resolve must be to work harder and smarter, thus contributing to the growth of this beloved country.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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