Singapore had 73 total berth moves per hour in 2013 .http://www.joc.com/sites/default/files/u48502/Charts/Singapore-Transshipments.jpg
Singapore had 73 total berth moves per hour in 2013 .http://www.joc.com/sites/default/files/u48502/Charts/Singapore-Transshipments.jpg
PM Lee warned Singaporeans of the economy’s weak productivity after registering a negative 0.5 per cent performance for the third straight year.
Mr Lee reiterated that economic growth remains important for Singapore. While it is “not the be-all and end-all”, growth helps provide resources to improve on social well-being and social safety nets for citizens. (CNA a few days ago).
Well productivity has been a problem here since the days when he became DPM in 1990.
He has tried all the Hard Truths to improve it and failed.
Productivity: The New Age way
Less fear (including fear of losing job to cheaper FTs) and shorter working hours are the key to increased productivity
Life@Work: Why Fear Kills Productivity It’s in any company’s self-interest to create a culture that minimizes fear, Tony Schwartz writes in the Life@Work column.
As the productivity expert Edward Deming once put it: “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work more effectively and productively.” It’s in any company’s self-interest to create a culture that minimizes fear. Obvious as that seems, it isn’t always the intuitive move.
In the endless quest to minimize costs and maximize efficiency, companies demand more of us than ever. But the fatigue and feelings of being overwhelmed that result often push us into survival mode, bring out our worst instincts, and actually diminish our capacity and effectiveness.
Trauma theory has applicability here. “A continuum exists between mental health and mental illness related to the degree of stress a person is forced to endure,” writes Sandra L. Bloom,a psychiatrist and leading thinker in the field of trauma. “To develop normally, children require environmental stress sufficient to promote skills development and mastery experiences (positive stress) combined with sufficient buffering to prevent them from being overwhelmed.”
Adults are no different. The enemy of sustainable productivity is not stress. Rather, it’s the absence of intermittent rest and renewal — and not just physically.
At the emotional level, the most powerful source of renewal is the experience of feeling valued and appreciated, which explains why studies consistently show that the most engaged employees are those who answer “yes” to the survey question “My boss genuinely cares about my well-being.” When leaders deeply care, it serves their own interests as well as their employees.
Conversely, leaders who express anger, frustration and impatience – even in relatively small doses – may prompt action, but those emotions also drive their employees into states of fear and survival. People perform best when they feel best. Leaders’ negative emotions not only leave a long tail, but also progressively deplete the reservoir of capacity and motivation their employees bring to the table.
Reducing hours, say, from 55 to 50 hours a week, would have had only small effects on output. The results are even starker when we are talking about very long working hours. Output at 70 hours of work differed little from output at 56 hours. That extra 14 hours was a waste of time.
“Of course longer hours reduce productivity. As an employer I am certainly under no illusions about that. Above a certain threshold, longer hours ultimately reduce output and increase employee churn. But my experience is that the threshold is well above 40 hours per week.”—on “Proof that you should get a life”, December 9th 2014
Shorter working hrs, greater productivity. Evidence cited below.
S’pore should try this if PM and Tharman and the govt is really seious when they say that “no stone will be left unturned” in the search to improve productivity. . But then it’s against the Hard Truth that hard work makes people happy. Actually I suspect the Hard Truth was propogated to ensure that S’poreans didn’t have the energy to engage in political activities. Sadly it also ensured that they didn’t have the energy to have unprotected heterosexual sex.
There is a growing body of evidence that shorter work weeks actually lead to more productive employees.
Right now, the US seems to value long work weeks for the sake of long work weeks. We put in more time at the office than other Western nations, but with less to show for it than one would hope.
According to Melissa Dahl, writing in New York Magazine, “The US is one of the most productive nations on the planet, second only to Luxembourg, but Americans work almost 20% more hours than individuals in Luxembourg. We’re working longer days, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re achieving more.”
An earlier report found that there was little correlation between hours worked, productivity, and wages. Writing in MarketWatch, Quentin Fortrell calculates that Germany works almost 45% fewer annual hours than Greece, but is 70% more productive, while annual German salaries are higher.
Reducing work hours has also reduced unemployment, he says, noting that “countries with the largest reduction in work hours had the largest increase in employment rates since the Great Recession”.
The shorter work week is an idea that both corporate fat cats and tree-hugging environmentalists can love. Billionaires Carlos Slim and Larry Page have spoken publicly in support of shorter weeks, while CNBC cites a recent survey showing “that more than 69% of millionaires surveyed (those with investible assets of $1 million or more) said they believed the four-day work week is a ‘valid idea’.”
Btw1, here’s something to ponder about on productivity.
Productivity in financial services and other services miscalulated?
On a very technical issue could financial services and other services be miscalculated? Remember measuring productivity in services is not easy. That could be happening in the UK. See below.
Btw2, the UK’s could also give some clues as to why the growth here in real wages sucks.
Real wages not improving
UK has come out of a recession when real wages fell … as productivity tanked. but unemployment wasn’t as bad as feared.
The economy’s recovering, But those in work are now badly in need of some respite.
Possible explanations abound for the curious trend. Britain has more liberal labour markets than most European countries, which may have meant companies found wages easier to cut, keeping employment high. Some sectors, such as financial services, may have mismeasured productivity before the crisis. And low investment probably contributed too.
One mooted explanation for low wages is particularly controversial. UKIP, Britain’s insurgent anti-EU party, claims that immigration from Europe is holding down pay. Evidence on this is mixed: conflicting studies have separately found both a small increase and a small reduction in average wages as a result of migration. But there is better evidence that its effects are unequal; the lowest-paid workers, who face the fiercest competition from migrants, find their wages held down by the arrival of foreign workers. Higher earners are more likely to benefit. Division, it seems, is rife.
The recent dip in labour productivity has the govt denying that restructuring is a failure. This and PM’s NDR speech reminded me that on 7 May, BT reported: The government will help small and medium enterprises maximise their local and foreign workers’ contributions, amid the ongoing manpower crunch*.
They also reminded me about an article I had read about a US SME.
Big Ass is a US manufacturer of industrial and commercial fans. It makes its fans in the US (a high wage country), pays workers’ well (almost 30% above the national average wage, and nearly 50% above the Kentucky average) and is profitable and thriving. Surely it can teach the govt and our local manufacturers something about productivity in a high-wage environment?
The firm pays almost 30% above the national average wage, and nearly 50% above the Kentucky average. It also returns 30% of profits to its 500 employees in the form of bonuses or share programs. As a result, it can hire the best people, and keep them: in 2013 its retention rate was 88%, compared with a national average of 62%. It also gets a lot out of its workers: productivity is up by 175% since 2009 on one industry measure. Any profits that aren’t returned to workers are ploughed back into the firm. “If we have any money over at the end of the year, we’ve missed an opportunity to invest,” observes Mr Smith.
No rocket science or magic formula. It’s about paying gd wages and reinvesting in the biz, not being mean on wages, so that the SME owner can buy more properties or new super cars.
And its about growing “our own timber” (Ngiam Tong Dow, remember him?, not importing FTs:
Mr Smith’s biggest challenge today, he believes, is ensuring that Big Ass becomes what he calls “a 200-year company”. Part of that is down to people: he believes in hiring out of college, and moving those new hires through a range of different jobs. “We want young people to understand the whole company, because they’re going to be running it 40 years from now,” he says. Another part is hardwiring long-term thinking into the firm’s processes.
It’s also about spending on R&D
Big Ass invests nearly 9% of its revenues in R&D, more than twice the manufacturing-industry average in America. A lot is spent on hit-or-miss blue-sky research.
And it’s always about the long term future (think LKY in the 60s, 70s and 80s):
Privately held firms are not subject to the short-term whims of shareholders, but they face their own hurdles. Mr Smith’s son, Tristan, works for the company, but will his heirs want to cash out, offshore production or change the culture? To ensure that the firm’s values endure, Mr Smith is exploring ways to separate management and ownership, and embed the way the company does business into its formal structure. He has spent a lot of time looking at long-lived firms in Germany, Japan and elsewhere for inspiration. “For me, this is the most complicated and difficult problem to solve.”
If Big Ass was a local SME, it would have brought in FTs by the container-load so that the owners could buy that Ferrari and luxury pent-house.
*This was Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s assurance to firms at the Malay-Muslim Business Conference held on Wednesday.
He said the government cannot ease up on the limits it has imposed on foreign worker inflows to Singapore.
However, Mr Lee added that the number of foreign workers in the country is still growing, though not as fast as before. [Interpretation: FTs will grow by the 747 and A380 cattle class, not by the container-load.]
He noted that small businesses are very worried about manpower and that many of them want more foreign workers. Those unable to find workers have had to turn away business.
Mr Lee’s advice to firms was to offer higher wages and exciting jobs as the best way to attract good people.
He noted that this is only possible if companies raise productivity and climb up the value chain.
Mr Lee said firms can tap the various government schemes available to do that.
He also encouraged companies to venture overseas, with the government’s help.
It’s time for the govt to release productivity data on the various sectors rather than juz harp that productivity levels are not gd enough.. We can then see if the govt is telling us the truth that productivity increases lead to pay rises.
Cleaning and F&B are examples, however, of Singapore’s less productive sectors. These and sectors such as construction, security and retail have been hiring more workers and thus continue to pull down Singapore’s overall labour productivity growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say.
This is why Singapore’s labour productivity was flat last year, a cautionary sign that despite “healthy signs that the economy is shifting to a new trend … we are not full steam ahead yet”, said Mr Lim. Singapore thus needs a “greater and broader sense of urgency” in its productivity efforts, he said.(5 March wed BT)
I read some where recently that Japan is one of the most productive nations as a result of aging and the refusal to let in the
dogs FTs. The Japs use robots, lots of them.
But despite Japan’s success in growing per capita better than other Western countries (something we don’t hear from our Jap bashing ministers and their media allies) giving the lie that more FTs are needed, we need to accept that the PAP is not BSing completely when it comes to the consequences of ageing population and immigration.
I kid you not, miracles can happen. LKY agrees with the Blogging 7, Uncle Leong, E-Jay, s/o JBS, NSP, SDP and all the usual players of DRUMS. The latter have always argued that low productivity is the result of the FT policy. Not included Low or WP among the latter as I don’t know itheir stand on this issue.
Stoolies Foils, Comedy Straightmen ST: On the issue of making productivity gains, we lag behind many developed countries. In manufacturing and services, Singapore’s productivity is only 55 per cent to 65 per cent of that in Japan and the United States.
LKY: Because we have large numbers of migrants who do not fit into the workforce so easily and who do not speak English.Some hold work permits and do not stay for long – they leave within a few years, after developing skills.
This appeared in Tuesday’s BT:
Manufacturing firms in Singapore relied on low-skilled foreign workers as substitutes for machinery between 2003 and 2008, sacrificing productivity levels in the process, according to a study.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) study released yesterday, however, found that other factors – unrelated to foreign workers – could have also caused the decline in automation, underscoring the need for greater R&D and product innovation.
The five years in question mark the government’s most recent period of liberal foreign labour policy. Between 2003 and 2008, the dependency ratio ceiling – which specifies the maximum proportion of foreign workers that companies can hire – was raised to 65 per cent; levies for unskilled work permit holders were reduced; and firms were allowed to hire work permit holders from China.
In its study of 1,500 manufacturing firms over that period, MTI found that those which hired relatively more low-skilled foreign workers relied less on machinery for production.
Doesn’t LKY’s words and the MTI study show that the govt talk of increasing productivity over the yrs (from 1990s onwards) was juz that: talk? And now, the guy that was charged with leading the productivity drive in the late 1990s is now the chairman of Temasek? Isn’t S’pore a meritocracy, unlike M’sia?
Where LKY and the DRUMS would disagree is what would have happened if FTs didn’t come in by the cattle-truck load:
But you ask yourself how many small and medium-sized companies will pack up if we cut off the foreign workers?
But isn’t it a chicken-and-egg situation? Precisely because it is so easy and cheap to hire foreigners, the SMEs continue to rely on them. If the tap were tightened, they would be forced to find new ways of operation. There will be some that will shut down, but maybe some level of churn is necessary so that the economy can go on to be more productive.
You cut them off and you find the SMEs just caving in.
Would that be a bad thing, or could that just be a necessary transition?
If our SMEs collapse, we will lose more than half of our economy.
In a way, that is what the Government is now trying to do. They are trying to slow down the growth in the foreign labour force.
Yes, because the Singapore public feels uncomfortable with so many of them. Not because of the economics. From an economic point of view, we should grow.
So how do you see this ending now that we have started to tighten the tap? Does it mean that we will lose half of our economy?
As you bleed out the present workers on work permits, the economy will shrink. But we are keeping the same level and just slowing down the inputs of new workers. Not stopping them. You stop it, you are in trouble.
The DRUMS would argue that the SMEs wouldn’t collapse or move on. They would adapt. I don’t think any elected govt would dare take the risk of allowing SMEs to collapse. It could lose power. As Dr Goh liked to say, repeating a Western political aphorism, “Oppositions don’t win elections, govt lose them.”
We saw the most surreal newsroom … There were no journalists there. “Why not?” we asked. “We don’t need them yet. The news hasn’t arrived.”
We learnt the news is literally delivered once a day by the state news agency. The job of the journalists was to read it out, word for word, unaltered.
And the govt is wondering why productivity is so low? It’s not the SMEs with their poorly paid FTs. It’s the constructive, nation-building local media with highly paid copyists of govt media release.
Could what Homer Simpson says applies here: “If you don’t like your job you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”? Substitute “American” for “S’porean”?
Think about it when you go to work tom.
And another thing for Grace Fu to think about. Maybe people will be productive if they are paid more? After all, one reason why they may not like their jobs is because of lowish pay caused by her beloved FTs. As to her comment that higher pay leads to great productivity, if it were so how come in the 1990s pay rocketed but not productivity?