Mon | Nov 19, 2018

Shaw: Jamaica needs to refocus on productivity output

Published:Tuesday | October 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Audley Shaw (second right), Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in discussion with (from left) Avril Leonce, director, Small Business Banking of Scotiabank; Alvin Day, executive leadership coach; and Valerie Veira, chief executive officer of Jamaica Business Development Corporation at the JBDC’s Employee Engagement Conference 2018 at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston yesterday.

Jamaica, having slipped from a high of fourth in global labour productivity ranking during in the 1960s to now the lowest in the region, must refocus on motivating workers at all levels, as a pre-requisite for sustainable economic growth, according to Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw.

"The Government has been focused on critical areas such as development and implementation of sector and industry plans for key growth areas. Critical to all of this is the focus on the development of our human capital through capacity building and training programmes. We have to increase our employee engagement, as low levels of productivity and disengagement will negatively impact the bottom line of an organisation and, ultimately, national economic growth," Shaw told yesterday's opening session of the two-day Employee Engagement Conference 2018.

In his remarks to the annual conference hosted by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, the former finance minister lamented that Jamaica was already paying an undetermined but definitely too high price for the failure to enhance worker productivity output.

He explained: "Employee disengagement comes at a financial cost. For example, it costs the United States of America about US$450 billion each year for employee disengagement. Although in Jamaica we do not have a dollar value on the impact of disengagement on the economy, we're aware that our country has the lowest labour productivity rate. That is, unit of output per worker, when compared with its major trading partners in the Caribbean and in North America.

 

'DISTURB. RECONNECT. ENGAGE'

 

"Our commitment is to move towards the 2030 Vision, which has been focusing on stabilising our economy, creating a more business-friendly environment, stimulating local investment and unleashing the energies of our people."

The conference, which continues today, has as its theme 'Disturb. Reconnect. Engage'. This, according to Shaw, accurately encapsulates the plan of action needed to lift Jamaica out of the throes of wide-scale worker apathy.

Low employee engagement, he explained, has been directly linked to lower levels of productivity and service and, ultimately, reduced growth and profits, which in the government sector translates to reduced service delivery.

Shaw cited statistics from the 2016 National Employee Engagement Report, which found that while at the national level 75.5 per cent of the labour force is engaged, only 41.5 per cent is actively engaged and 35 per cent moderately engaged.

"Right away, that's a productivity issue," he charged. "What we certainly want to see is a greater per cent of our employees more actively engaged and more motivated to achieve our vision for a better Jamaica. In this regard, it is essential that we formulate a vision to guide us to achieve optimal outcomes, mobilising our resources to achieve our vision, and leading the process until our goals are achieved."

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com