Productivity remains a pipe dream for most, despite attempts
by consecutive governments to get companies and workers to
work smarter, not longer.
Research carried out by Ernst and Young between August 31 and
September shows that nearly nine out of 10 New Zealand
workers are striving to improve productivity but only one in
two actually manage to do so.
Time wasting costs New Zealand organisations $17 billion a
year, compared with $19 billion in the last survey six months
The most-mentioned reasons for improved productivity include
''being more experienced with the job'' and ''training and
The so-called ''lost souls'' - the most unproductive workers
- who make up 5% of the workforce, account for more than 20%
of time wasted across the working day.
A further 18% is wasted by ''patchy participants'', the most
worrying group of all, to Ernst and Young partner Bradken
''These people comprise 17% of the New Zealand workforce.
They are the least satisfied, least motivated group, using
few of their skills.
"They are the least likely of all four groups to be looking
for another job."
Most workers (61%) said individual employees were responsible
for improving productivity but only a third placed the
responsibility on the managing director or chief executive.
Workers were more productive in organisations where
productivity was communicated well, such as clear
expectations and instructions given bybosses. Only 50% of the
750 people surveyed believed their organisation communicated
Mr Dickson said increasing productivity and cutting costs
were not the same thing.
''Don't confuse activity with outputs. The survey is a
wake-up call for management who need to make it clear to
workers what they want and expect.
''The critical question is whether workers are working on the
Often, people were found to be very busy. Overtime was
increased and extra workers were brought in but the output
was not increased, he said.
That showed things were not being organised properly.
Organisations were not getting the efficiencies they should
be from their workforces, he said.
Employers needed to be clear with each individual worker what
their output needed to be on a daily basis. Workers needed to
be well-supported, well-managed and well-supervised.
''There needs to be some recognition of the consequences if
they don't perform. It's not rocket science. It's Management
101,'' Mr Dickson said.
In the public sector, efforts to measure productivity results
always attracted a high level of resistance. However,
evidence showed that people wanted to know whether or not
they were being productive.