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Productivity the key

As the spirit of Christmas lingers on and people all across the world prepare to welcome the New Year, there is yet some time to reflect on the year 2012, as it comes to inevitable end.

Whilst many may be inclined to harp on the economic hardship that they faced, others will bemoan the fact that they have become unemployed as a result of being laid off, made redundant or even severed. Those who have been placed on a short work week, will also argue that they are feeling the pinch of the shoe.

It goes without saying that those who remain unemployed will undoubtedly be singing the same tune.

The varying tales of economic woes clearly suggest that 2012 was a gloomy year for working class people. In fairness to the business community, it would seem that the economic downturn also dealt some sectors and enterprises a severe blow. All indicators point to the fact that tourism and construction, which are two of the leading employment creation and income generating sectors in the Barbadian community, have lost their impetus. Based on the economic outlook for 2013, it would not appear that a significant change to the status quo is on the horizons.

The quest is now that of finding some solutions to the economic challenges of the day. The basic solution to all this is to promote a more productive society. To achieve this, it requires that there is greater investment in our enterprises, that more niche areas are identified so that greater market share could be had, and that there is significant improvement in the quality of service that is offered to customers and clients.

When it comes to meeting the needs of their customers, it is hard to understand the approach of many of our business places in and around Bridgetown. It is passing strange that despite the demand for business activity, there is seemingly a growing decline in staff complements.

A glaring example could be found within the local banking sector, where there seems to be a shortage of available tellers to service the long lines of waiting customers. To put it bluntly, the teller booths are empty, and customers wait in long lines and for lengthy periods to be served.

It is distressing to think that these are the same institutions that are quick to publicise the huge millions of dollars in profits that they earn. It would appear that they resort to hoarding it, instead of paying out a couple more million dollars on an annual basis to hire front line staff. This is a glaring example of how ridiculous the situation currently is.

It should not for one moment be taken to mean that what has been identified here is limited to the banking sector. Nothing can be further from the truth. The dwindling numbers of sales assistants in our stores and other retail outlets show up this deficiency.

Where does this leads us? It says that we will lose significant business and potential business because there is the lack of personnel to meet customers’ needs. Is there an alternative? The answer is simply yes. Online shopping is the solution. There is no waiting in line, no down time and/or frustration. This translates into a loss to those businesspersons, who pay the penalty for the lack of foresight. Unfortunately the country also feels the pain and suffering, as there is a loss of foreign exchange.

By the way, has any thought been given to the loss that is incurred on a daily basis by those who are seeking to do business, where they encounter long lines and limited number of personnel to serve them? Isn’t there an awareness that for the most part, these are persons who are on the job or should be at their workplaces?

Doesn’t it matter that the inefficiency of these organisations contributes to loss of valuable man hours, for which the country is the poorer due to the loss of productivity?

There is no denying that in some sectors business is slow. It is therefore understandable that this could contribute to the downsizing of employment numbers, but there can be no excuse for those businesses in the various sectors that continue to do well, but yet adopt a policy of reducing employment numbers, under the guise of restructuring.

To you the employers, let’s start the New Year right by doing the right thing, which is to keep Barbadians employed. To you the workers, be productive.

Here is wishing everyone a successful and productive 2013.

* Dennis Depeiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.

Visit our Website: www.regionalmanagementservicesinc

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