Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick

Absenteeism is taking a toll on employers in Barbados to the tune of over $4 million a year.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, Dr. David Estwick, revealed this sobering statistic today while addressing the opening ceremony of the Productivity Council’s week of excellence seminar. The three-day workshop is being held at the Grand Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre, Bridgetown.  

Based on the findings of a Macro-Productivity Indicators Project survey which examined workplace performance in Barbados, the Minister said absenteeism levels in distribution, manufacturing and the tourism sectors stood at 9.3, 8.7 and 7.9 percent respectively. These figures, he said, were higher than the levels recorded in 2006.

He further pointed out that “For every 4, 500 employees at a rate of 3.6 percent when extrapolated over the current labour force of over 143, 800, the economic costs of absenteeism potentially escalates to the hundreds of millions. This bears significant implications for lost productivity, depleted output, inefficient operations, sub-optimal export revenues and failure to achieve international competitiveness.”

Noting that absenteeism was a prevalent problem across Barbados, Dr. Estwick suggested introducing stricter management practices to assist in reducing the cost of doing business. “Absenteeism will remain an unwanted part of an organisation’s culture if there is no system for capturing the data and if no absence management solutions are implemented,” he surmised.

Dr. Estwick said the study also indicated that in 2007, productivity grew by 2.1 percent, up from a 1.4 percentage point increase in 2006. Similarly, a survey on the four major sectors – tourism, banking, distribution and manufacturing, showed productivity growth in the distribution sector totaling some 3.7 percent and 0.5 percent in the banking sector.

On the other hand, the Economic Affairs Minister said the island’s two main income generating sectors, tourism and manufacturing, declined by 0.9 and 2.3 percent respectively.

Dr. Estwick also had some advice for both employers and employees on how to improve productivity and profitability levels in their businesses. “Employers must recognise their role in providing the optimal environment and resources for their workers such as good physical conditions, appropriate procedures and technology, good employee relations climate and investment in training. Employees must commit to utilising their intellectual and physical energies towards the fulfillment of their employment responsibilities,” the Minister further advised.

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