Come across an online rally that talks about productivity. While I am not a productive person, I am dismay by how a lot of people misinterpret the word.

According to Wikepedia,

“Productivity describes various measures of the efficiency of production. Often, a productivity measure is expressed as the ratio of an aggregate output to a single input or an aggregate input used in a production process, i.e. output per unit of input, typically over a specific period of time. Most common example is the (aggregate) labour productivity measure, e.g., such as GDP per worker. “

Unfortunately, what I had seen so far, is usually the cases of organisations interpreted it as ’employing the minimal number of employees to do the maximum amount of work’. They thought by getting 5 people to handle 8 person job, this will cut costs and thus appear that to be more ‘productive’ to the investors or public. However, this means that the 5 people will get burnt out soon, and seek a greener venture.

It’s possible to have the management responds with ‘Oh man, too bad! But this means I can get in fresher blood who have more drive to excel and with less senior pay rate, right?’ Unfortunately, I didn’t make this up, it happened recently in an organisation which I least expect to treat Singaporean with such attitude. *Facepalm*

I would like to remind the management of organisations who had the above thoughts, don’t be foolish and remain short-sighted, while you might not be staying in a position till you retire, there are employees who are actually hoping their current job will be the one which they can retire on. Please remember that karma always strike, if not on you, possibility on your love ones.

No, productivity does not means getting lesser people to be overloaded with more person tasks – this will create burnout and cause the staff to leave. Impact? New hired came in required re-training, knowledge transfer is unlikely to be achieved 100%, or the new hired might not like the way of how the current process is working (even if it can be the most productive approach) and want to go with his/her own way (even if it is not productivity in the long run, or have any downstream impact). Retraining costs, knowledge transfer lost costs, even having the IT team to keep reformat the exiting staff machine to prepare for the new hired costs (they time is wasted on doing routine work instead of enhancing the existing system).

Even if the existing employee decides to stay back, and take on more than 1 person workload, or even stretch to take over colleagues from other departments, does making them ‘generalist’ helps them in being more productive? The answer is usually a big ‘No-No’. While certain employees are good at multitasking, and perhaps multi-talents, context-switching between tasks or projects definitely kills their productivity.

What amused me most is seeing some management trying to ‘digitise’ processes with the newest technology which can be carried out in the simplest ‘manual’ approach. Ehh… this is call overkilling, the amount of time you spend to develop the new ‘digitise’ project, might be much costly then going by the manual approach. And if the person who is carrying out the processes is not diligently using the new approach, nothing will be improved, except the team will now have one more white elephant in the organisation to look after.

I hope more management can see my points and stop living in their ivory tower, and hope things will improve by themselves.

Unfortunately, reality of life is that not many people dare to speak against these managements, because the management can only associate ‘No’ as the answer comes from quitter. Management, please learn to appreciate your subordinate’s foresight and boldness to speak up (against what can be an oversight).