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Long working hours aren’t translating into productivity

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Earlier this year, dipping productivity levels in Singapore prompted the then Minister of Manpower to caution businesses about becoming “manpower-lean.”

“If (businesses) do not become more productive, they will have great difficulties in finding enough manpower – be it local or foreign – to run their operations,” he had noted.

Looks like local employers are yet to pay heed to his words, as employees in Singapore say excessive paperwork and administration (56%), unproductive meetings (49%), and a lack of clear goals (39%) are the three things holding them back from being more productive.

Roffey Park’s report on the management agenda for Singapore has found employees working longer hours, without all that time translating into any real value.

About two in every three (64%) of the local managers and employees surveyed said they stay back in the office for at least an hour more than their contract stipulates, at least three times a week.

Even after leaving the office, work does not stop – as 62% report bringing work home. Close to half admit having to work while on vacation (47%), even as 43% say they work from home while on medical leave.

The report, however, states that these long working hours, in effect the phenomenon of ‘presenteeism’ do not seem to have any discernible benefits.

ALSO READ: Singaporeans prefer a better boss over higher pay

On the flipside, this trend had added to local employees’ stress levels in the past six months, as reported by more than half (56%).

Management style is blamed as the number one cause of stress, followed by ineffective workplace relationships (read: organisational politics) and workload.

Michael Jenkins, CEO of Roffey Park, commented, “What our research points to is that Singaporean workers are working hard but not necessarily smart.”

“Productivity is still measured in terms of hours not outcomes and those hours are not yielding the outcomes needed to sustain growth.”

He acknowledged that increasing productivity may, in part, be about making better use of technology. However, it is also about “engaging the hearts and minds of the workforce.”

“More could be done to help people understand the link between performance and reward and for managers to see the need for fundamental talent management practices, such as those concerned with talent attraction and retention,” he explained.

Image: Shutterstock

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