In the face of external competitive pressures occasioned by the onslaught of globalisation, no organisation can afford to have employees who are not operating at their optimum levels.

In fact, workers are being encouraged to inculcate a spirit of productivity into their psyche as the impetus to improving the company’s bottom line and maintaining employment levels.

Given this situation, Chief Programmme Manager at the Productivity Council, Anthony Sobers, underscored the need for Barbadian workers to be more productive or run the risk of being left behind in the struggle for survival in the global market.

He sounded this warning during a media conference to release the findings of the Macro Productivity Indicators survey at the Council’s Enright House, 2nd Avenue Belleville, St. Michael location recently.???? The survey examined productivity levels in five sectors: tourism, financial services, construction, manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade.??

Giving an insight into the data, Mr. Sobers revealed that the island recorded 3.7 per cent in national growth in 2010, compared with a negative growth of 3.1 per cent recorded in 2009.?? Additionally, there was a 1.1 per cent growth in tourism and the financial services sectors.

However, the results for the construction, manufacturing and wholesale and retail trade were disheartening.?? The Chief Programme Manager noted that productivity growth in construction declined by 29 per cent; wholesale and retail trade dipped by 6.4 per cent; while manufacturing was down by 5 per cent.

Mr. Sobers, though heartened by the overall growth in national productivity despite the prevailing economic situation, said the Council was still not satisfied with current productive levels.

"We [Productivity Council] are not totally satisfied so, this year we are renewing our spirits and putting more focus on process management and analysis to see how productivity can be enhanced.

"Overtime, productivity is expected to drive economic growth. Poor productive performance slows aggregate demand for goods and services, which keeps productive capacity idle and underemployed and creates lags in investment,"???? Mr. Sobers underlined.

Akin to achieving improved productivity he added, was employing effective human resources practices that would lead to higher productivity and growth levels while at the same time, maintaining our standard of living.

"Our business environment must be characterised by efficiency, rapid market response, good management and employee relationships.?? The link between management and employees at different levels of the production process must incorporate incentives to maximise productivity growth and competitiveness, if the country is to be a major player in the global world," Mr. Sobers surmised.

Meanwhile, Senior Productivity Officer at the Productivity Council, Joanne Mapp, mentioned the need to implement performance pay schemes especially during recessionary times, when employees are being asked to give back more to their respective enterprises.

"At present, we are seeing a freeze on salary increases but we are asking a lot more of our employees and, therefore, they must be compensated for the improved performance and that’s where the performance pay systems become relevant.

"Even though we are not seeing the type of salary increases that we have seen traditionally, we however, recommend that organisations look at some aspect of performance pay when the company improves its bottom line or have achieved specific measures while taking individual employee performance into consideration, when such schemes are being conceptualised," she emphasised.

The Senior Productivity Officer said compensation packages had played a role in employers’ efforts to "mitigate against low level salary increases and maintaining staff levels".

She also credited the Social Partnership Agreement for helping to reduce layoffs by putting other measures in place to cushion the impact.

Mr. Sobers added that in the future, companies must "create the requisite framework and apply a level of discipline.?? On the other hand, employers must be encouraged through discussion, training and leadership,to perform at the highest levels at all time".??

If this prescription is followed, Barbadian companies and human resources practitioners by extension, would be satisfied that efforts to transform their labour practices in line with the new millennium have borne fruit.


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