The Olympic Games' impact on productivity is most likely not the kind of subject patriotic, sports-loving Jamaicans would want to contemplate at this time. In fact, it may be considered going against the grain of Jamaican culture to suggest that the attention paid to the spectacular athletic feats of our campaigners in London has sapped productivity in a number of critical areas.
However, the combined pulling power of the Olympics and the Jamaica 50 celebrations may have put some businesses at a disadvantage because of the distraction of their staff. And given that labour cost is likely to be the highest in a company, it matters greatly how staff perform. And this performance will have a measurable impact on the overall economy.
While we do not begrudge the desire to celebrate, we see the need to keep things in perspective if we are ever to tackle the enormous economic problems that face our 50-year-old country.
In the absence of workforce surveys measuring productivity over the last two weeks or so in Jamaica, we have the guidance of the Jamaica Productivity Centre (JPC), which has suggested a likely dip in productivity. This is, by no means, a Jamaican phenomenon. The Games are among the most popular sporting events and offer a range of events appealing to a wide cross section of fans.
Hosting nations and sports-loving people the world over will understandably steal some work time to keep current with the events. Many will turn up late for work, leave early, miss deadlines, report sick or some will plan their workday around taking a breather in Half-Way Tree Square to cheer on our athletes.
Is it worth it?
At work, there are many ways to gain access to the happenings, ranging from smartphones to online viewing. In the United States, for example, persons wishing to access the Games during the workday can only do so online and then rely on replays at night. And some companies have disabled online viewing. Jamaican management has been far more flexible, and many have installed television sets so the staff can enjoy the Games.
The question is, do the benefits exceed the cost of lost productivity and increased IT expenses? Mr Alrick Campbell, senior productivity specialist at the JPC, told this newspaper that the benefit will come from a boost in workplace morale and, ultimately, greater productivity. In other words, workers will become motivated by the accomplishments of our athletes and will want to achieve the same degree of success in their work.
One dictionary definition of motivation is "something inside people that drives them into action". These athletes are driven and are motivated to perform at their best to achieve optimal results. But it doesn't just happen like magic. They are constantly in training and they adhere to rules and regulations. They have to be extremely disciplined to produce such stunning results.
Yet there is a stark contrast between the country's great sporting achievements and its economic performance. If we were somehow able to draw inspiration from our athletes and use this to drive us to commit to be honest, productive citizens, all those lost hours of productivity would have been well worth it.
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