One of the critical success factors for any individual or nation is optimum productivity. It is simply a measure of efficiency of production of a product or a service and it is a subject matter that must be treated with all seriousness.
Economic and policy experts have asserted that productivity determines the wealth of nations. If Nigeria, therefore, intends to be wealthy, she has to improve on her productivity levels across board.
In economic context, productivity usually denotes the ratio of economic output to any or all associated inputs, i.e. output per unit of productive input. The result of a global review on the impact of labour productivity on growth showed that increase in labour productivity within economic sectors provides the main thrust for economic growth.
It, therefore, behoves individuals, entrepreneurs, business executives, economists, policy makers, politicians, etc. to continuously look for ways of achieving optimum productivity of the work force, regardless of its demographic components.
Japan is reported to have an ageing labour force while Nigeria has a young working population. Whatever the case, the challenge of optimising productivity holds true for every nation against the backdrop of the inevitability and ubiquity of technology in this 21st century.
Technology is an enabler that ensures that things are done in a quicker, simpler, more refined way to achieve a goal. It is against that background that one wonders what extent labour productivity can be optimised in a constantly changing world where technology is advancing at a rate, faster than virtually everyone can keep up with.
Of course, there are as many answers as there are opinions, but the unmistakable aspiration of business owners and managers is how to deal with the challenges of managing employee productivity.
Amidst the harsh economic recession, organisations and enterprises are making concerted efforts to stay afloat by extracting every ounce of productivity out of their operations. One of such efforts is the use of tech-based tools in the form of hardware and software to help employees work at peak proficiency with the goal of saving time, money and other resources.
Employers, however, realise that to use those technologies at all, staff must be present at duty posts and must use their time productively.
To achieve this, employers have gone a step further by deploying intelligent and nimble technologies in the form of human resource information systems otherwise called human resource management systems.
They have been described as an intersection of human resources and information technology software that allows practically every human resource activity to occur electronically.
Accordingly, operational requirements like employee database, attendance logs, payroll remittances, performance management and related processes have been seamlessly automated.
A significant benefit of the HRMS is that it seeks to promote objectivity through unbiased technology-based performance management even though the jury is not yet out on what a perfect performance management method should be.
Nevertheless, Yuki Noguchi observed that, “Even when people think they are buckling down, studies show the average office worker wastes over a third of the day… [And since], worker pay is the most expensive line item in the budget for most businesses…billions of dollars are going to waste, [because employees fail to work optimally].
“Joe Hruska, Founder and CEO of RescueTime, a software firm that allows users to sign up and see where they are spending their computer time reports that the data collected reveals that, at best, a worker is only productive for about five hours. Consequently, time not well spent has implications for a company’s returns on investment.”
In an incisive article, Ben Lobel argued that “‘Time theft’ is a problem in businesses and the productivity puzzle is very real as we find out here. For any business, big or small, increasing revenue and profit margins is not only an objective, but a necessity. The reality is that without consistent thriving revenue, any top business will struggle to challenge competitors in our ruthlessly cut-throat economy.”
In a tough business environment like Nigeria where the country is gradually negotiating its recovery from economic recession, evidence points to the fact that the average potentially successful Nigerian enterprise demonstrates actions that are mostly ineffective at combating productivity deficiencies.
On the other hand, a recent finding revealed the availability and growing presence of technologies designed to facilitate business performance in Nigeria. A leading player in this budding field is TAMS by SB Telecoms and Devices, a home-grown time management focused human resource application tailor-made for SMEs.
It is designed to help the contemporary business owner manage employees for optimum performance by curbing apathy, lateness, time-theft and absenteeism. The Web-based, user-friendly application comes complete with all essential HR tools.
Another remarkable value-add of TAMS is the recognition accorded to a group of employees known as TAMS Ambassadors. They are automatically selected from over one thousand organisations on the TAMS portal on the basis of being consistently productive and punctual in the performance of their duties despite environmental, social and personal challenges.
With solutions like that, the future of work even in a seemingly technology agnostic business environment like Nigeria’s indicates that the benefits of technology far outweighs whatever reservations there are as Kyra Sheahan said, “Information technology benefits the business world by allowing organisations to work more efficiently and to maximise productivity.”
President, Institute of Productivity and Business Innovation Management, Remi Dairo, had the following to say in an interview with The PUNCH, “Boosting national productivity requires a chain of efforts.
“The problem is if you do one and leave others, the result will not show. I will mention only two factors here: the nation needs a productive environment; the cost of doing business must come down. This is the responsibility of the government.
“Secondly, stakeholders must go beyond just productivity to creating innovative economy. These, among others, will have a ripple effect on national productivity which will in turn impact on the quality of life of the average Nigerian.”
I completely agree with him. I believe Nigeria will do better if we work hard to improve our national productivity levels as well as all the elements that make up the country particularly the private and public workforce.