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Employment

Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity

The telecom industry is filled to its gills with statistics, but here's one you might not have seen before. The telecom industry has the most productive staff in the world -- 15 percent more productive than those working in the food and beverage sector, according to a labor productivity study conducted by Proudfoot Consulting.

The telecom sector came in with a 72 percent staff productivity level in 2002, with the automotive sector the next most productive at 68 percent. The electronics sector scored just 63 percent, and the food and beverage sector wound up at the bottom of the pile with a staff productivity score of just 57 percent.

Put another way, telecom workers spend more than a quarter of their working hours shirking, and yet they're still atop the productivity table.

Productive time was viewed as "time spent by any member of staff on activity that is relevant to his/her job function and is of value." Proudfoot believes that the optimum productivity level is 85 percent, so even telecom firms have some whip-cracking to do yet.

Unfortunately, Proudfoot didn't look at how much time telecom sector workers spend reading news Websites, though this surely would have counted as time well spent...

Proudfoot conducted more than 1,400 detailed studies in seven countries (Australia, France, Germany, Spain, South Africa, the U.K., and the U.S.), and found a positive correlation between the productivity of workers and the level of competition in their industry sector.

Country by country, the U.S. and Germany are the most productive nations, with productivity levels of 63 percent, closely followed by the Australians at 61 percent. France, Spain, and the U.K. scored 60 percent, while the South Africans spend only 59 percent of their time being productive.

All this wasted time costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year, it seems. Proudfoot estimates that in 2002, the U.S. lost $1,067 billion, or 10.3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), as a result of wasted labor. In Germany, 11.3 percent of the country's GDP ($224 billion) was lost in wasted labor last year, while the Brits managed to squander just 10 percent of their GDP ($132 billion). Meanwhile, Proudfoot finds that the French wasted just 7.3 percent of their GDP ($104 billion) in 2002. Zut alors!

Poor management is the main reason for lost productivity, while IT-related problems only rank fifth.

Table 1: Reasons for Lost Productivity
2001 2002 2003
Insufficient management planning and control 43% 43% 41%
Inadequate supervision 22% 23% 26%
Poor working morale 14% 12% 11%
Inappropriately qualified workforce 6% 7% 9%
IT-related problems 8% 8% 7%
Ineffective communication 7% 7% 6%
Source: "Missing Millions: How Companies Mismanage Their Most Valuable Resource," Proudfoot Consulting 2003




— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

rtfm 12/4/2012 | 11:12:06 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity I am highly skeptical of claims (or statistics) of productivity.

85% as an ideal is meaningless as that excludes any sane examination of the denominator (hours worked). Official statistics, that have major problems, say "Woohoo!" productivity is up in the US. Then the fine print says that assumes workers put in 35 hours per week. I don't know about you, but I sometimes clock that in 2-3 days (thanks to cell phones, DSL, laptops, etc).

The other problem of "wasted" time is that many jobs require "downtime," especially in the services industry. If a retailer is in a shop, reading a book because no one is in the store, is that "wasted time?"

Lastly, we all work too hard as it is (look at Europe - they usually have a life). If people want 100% productivity, why don't they chain us to our desks and put on video-cameras?

My rant,

rtfm

I said this publicly 5 years ago, during the "healthy" economic period - most of the productivity came from longer hours. For the *median* worker (not mean - thank you Bill Gates, et al), wages increased very little in real terms, and not at all when adjusted for hours worked. This was during the boom!
AAL6 12/4/2012 | 11:12:04 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity I agree.
For me (and for the people I worked with) long hours stifled (or if you prefer, suffocate ;) productivity. "High tech" jobs (s/w, h/w) require some intelligence and use of brain power, not muscle power.
If you have to work 80+ hours a week for months on end (like in Zhone, for example), your productivity and the quality of your work suffers. In the end, it doesn't really matter if you work 35 or 70 hours a week - the result is the same.
OTOH, if you look at the productivity and long hours in Japan - those guys spend long hours in the office, but that is because of "face": the manager cannot leave before the director leaves (and he has to stay long because of his position), and of course, the office workers cannot leave before their manager leaves. But their productivity is below US's.
Don't you think that the Euro workes in the long run have better lives AND produce better quality goods than their US counterparts.
Just wait and see the quality of work coming from the s/w sweatshops of Asia where people will probably be required to put even longer hours (for less money of course).
stillworking 12/4/2012 | 11:12:04 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity Some of my colleagues were just let go using the same old excuse that not enough hours were spent on the job so we have to let you go. Personally, I measure productivity as the amount of results produced not how long it took to get there.

How often to we witness the 'office boy's' milling around the boss's office early and late in the day to make sure they are seen so as to satisfy the time at work requirement.

Measure what people do not how long they are at work.
rtfm 12/4/2012 | 11:11:58 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity FYI, the US now works longer hours than Japan.

rtfm

you had said:
"OTOH, if you look at the productivity and long hours in Japan - those guys spend long hours in the office, but that is because of "face": the manager cannot leave before the director leaves (and he has to stay long because of his position), and of course, the office workers cannot leave before their manager leaves. But their productivity is below US's. "
palaeozoic 12/4/2012 | 11:11:57 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity LR should be exercise a little more caution if it intends to start competing with The Economist or the Wall Street Journal. This article is riddled with inaccuracies and misunderstandings. Although the fault may lie with the consulting group that produced the underlying report, LR published the article and should be prepared to stand behind it.

One of the most basic flaws is the very definition of the word "productivity". Productivity has never been a measure of hours worked as a percentage hours available to work. It is a measure of economic output per unit of labor. The clearest indication that author misunderstands the meaning of productivity is the conclusion that France--a country rarely mentioned in the same sentence as "high productivity"--ranks high because its GNP suffered the least from poor productivity. Certainly if productivity is a measure of hours worked as a percentage of available work hours, then France, with 35 hour work weeks, mandatory 5 weeks vacation, full use of sick time and lots of holidays, is an extremely productive state. In fact, by this measure, US workers would need to log twice as many hour at the office just to maintain parity with the productive French.

I don't mean to slight the French (very much). But I do mean to question the editorial thoroughness of LR.
waverunner 12/4/2012 | 11:11:49 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity For the last 400 years smart people (Huxley, Rabelais, Pascal..)have all been saying the same thing, and for some reason no one gets it. The Human mind is productive (ouputs creative thought) for at most 5 hours a day, the rest of the time it simply maintains. Just look around the office between 3PM+ and all you see are faces lethargic in the glow of their screens fighting off sleep.

Five o'clock got to punch out.

Wave
Fortunecookie 12/4/2012 | 11:11:49 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity What a laughing stock?

time spent=productivity? Is this the best they can some up with?

Too bad, some idiots even pay millions for their crappy reports.
lighten up!! 12/4/2012 | 11:11:48 PM
re: Survey Puts Telecom Tops in Productivity What these morons don't realize is that people are not machines and you can't work them like machines. Sooner or later the machinery will break down. Here is the price for higher productivity:
Less time for yourself.
Less time spent with your family.
More stress, and job pressure.
Health failures.
Higher medical cost to treat work related illnesses.

Now ask yourself, is this high productivity worth it. What impact will a stressed out workforce have on our society? Aren't we dysfunctional already???

These f--king idiots that run corporate America, are too dumb to realize that they are cutting open the goose that laid golden eggs because of their greed.

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