If productivity is defined as “the efficient use of resources, labour, energy and information,” then I need to get the hell out of my pyjamas. It’s hard yakka out there in that dog-eat-dog world, and apparently people are working longer, and achieving more every day. But I wouldn’t know, because I’m still in my goddamn PJs.
Who are they working for?
The man. Haha, not really. But probably.
In 2017, national workplace advisor Conrad Liveris said that “to be a captain of Australian business you are 40 per cent more likely to be named Peter or John, than to be female.” Yikes. So, let’s say their boss is called Peter, and Peter owns a highly efficient and lucrative energy company. In order for this company to reach profit margins, customer targets and output a competitive product, Peter will need a very “productive” team.
Productivity is a very broad term for when a company’s staff members produce more in less time. It also means that they’ll use the same number of resources made available by the company, in a greater number of situations.
Currently, the most wealthy industries in Australia are the financial and healthcare industries, the industrials and materials industry, the metals and mining industry and the energy and utilities industries. Their productivity is aided by investments in advanced technology and strategic internal communication. That is, that their staff have access to quality technology for contacting clients and stakeholders, as well as data analytics, and that these staff members know what is expected of them.
How long are they working for?
In Australia, Western Australians are working the longest number of hours in the week. The national average for working hours in 2016 was 40.6 hours, but bloody Peter is having them work an average of 41.1 hours a week. In New South Wales the average is 40.7 hours and in Victoria 40.9 hours is the norm. No wonder people are exhausted.
The Victorian State Government says that work related stress is a “growing problem” in Australia and around the world. It can appear in anyone who experiences a gap between their role requirements, personal capabilities and the resources and support available to them.
Although stress is a normal part of everyday life, prolonged and unassisted stress levels can lead to major mental health problems in the workplace. Heads up and Beyondblue say that work-related stress can result in “excessive worrying, loss of confidence, getting colds more often and a reduced interest in sex.” These organisations recommend seeking advice from a medical practitioner and considering stress leave.
However, the issue here is that when people take stress leave from work, workplace productivity declines. Underemployment often results in additional work for remaining staff members, and the potential for the flow-on of stress. Unions New South Wales Secretary Mark Morey says that insufficiently staffed organisations transfer pressure to workers, making them feel more responsible for, yet less empowered by their company.
Peter, can we quit it with the productivity?
Productivity is pretty ingrained in the international business psyche. Why? Because then big cheeses like Peter get to make more money, in less time. In Australia, we calculate productivity on a quarterly basis, while places like Brazil, Germany and Mexico calculate theirs monthly. Productivity assessment seems to yield greater results for companies if done more often, according to Trading Economics. As a natural result, Brazil, Germany and Mexico have been more productive than Australia in recent times.
Though Mexican residents currently work the most number of hours a week, at 43 hours, prolonged working hours is not the case for success everywhere. In Germany, workers have recently won the right to work 28 hours a week. As of February this year, industrial workers in south-western Germany were awarded flexible hours and increased wages in order to care for their children, elderly and sick relatives. These changes came about as a response to an unemployment crisis, with 5.4% of people without jobs. By improving work rights and access to employment, Germany empowered its workers, while still maintaining competitive productivity.
Oi Peter, check this out
So as long as we improve workers’ rights and access to work, it sounds like we could all live happily ever after. A reduction in hours for one worker means better health and efficiency, more time with family and emotional space for themselves. Meanwhile, people without a job at present, could pick up the hours previously expected of someone else. Heck me… this sounds hugely sustainable.
Let’s work together on this, Peter
The Australian Government is set to release a report reviewing work hours and their impact on productivity, family security and obesity on 21st June this year. Their concerns are that we haven’t reviewed how long people work each week since 1986, when 38 hours was the norm. With most people now working up to 40 hours full-time, with two weeks annual leave, Australians are overextended, overtired and overwhelmed. It’s time for a change, Peter. We’re over it.
P.S I got out of my pyjamas