PM Lee Hsien Loong: "Productivity doesn't JUST mean you are working longer hours..."

I'd prefer reading PM's remark about productivity as quoted in the title of this post without the word 'just'. With this word sneaked in as part of the comment, it implies that well, in addition to working longer hour, productivity also means something else.

Productivity is never about working longer hour. It's about how much you can achieve within the so-called allocated office hours. Sadly, though, many still mistakenly attribute productivity to working longer hour.

People, don't you realize that the falling Total Fertility Rate (from 1.28 in 2008 to 1.23 last year, the lowest ever) is an alarm that tells us to change our mindset: complete the task on time, go home & make baby, pronto!

SINGAPORE has some way to go in the push to work smarter.

But Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is confident that with the right investment, training and organisation, the target of 2 to 3 per cent annual productivity growth over the next decade can be met. 'Productivity will be a major focus in the Budget and we have quite a number of ideas,' he said on Sunday, adding that these will be made known when the Budget is announced next Monday.

'Productivity doesn't just mean you are working longer hours. It means you are working smarter, doing the right jobs - the jobs which are in demand and where we can earn a living for ourselves in the world.'

Two weeks ago, the Economic Strategies Committee said raising workers' efficiency and effectiveness was key as the country seeks to manage its dependence on foreign workers.

Mr Lee was speaking to reporters on Sunday after visiting staff of Swissotel The Stamford and Fairmont Singapore to distribute oranges and hongbao. He and labour leaders traditionally visit workers on the first day of the Chinese New Year to thank them for keeping things running while many are celebrating the holiday.

This year, he visited a hotel as exciting developments are taking place in the hospitality sector. Efforts are being made to improve service quality, upgrade skills and promote tourism, and the PM wanted to show his support and see first-hand what was being done.

From Straits Times, "Work smart to lift output".

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Sunday the country has a considerable way to go in its productivity drive, especially when compared with other countries which have achieved significant productivity growth.

He said Singapore's productivity level is 60 to 70 per cent of what is possible.

Mr Lee's remarks follow the release of the Economic Strategies Committee Report, which placed productivity as the key growth strategy for Singapore's economy.

The Prime Minister made the assessment on the first day of the Year of the Tiger, as he visited a select group of workers who are keeping the country going during the holiday period.

Accompanied by key union leaders, Mr Lee gave away S$10 hong baos and oranges to some 150 staff at Swissotel the Stamford and Fairmont Singapore.

Mr Lee said efforts must redouble if Singapore is to achieve the target of two to three per cent productivity growth over the next 10 years.

"It's a turning point. Your numbers will grow more slowly and if you want the economy to do well, that means the productivity must go up," said Mr Lee.

"And if your productivity doesn't go up and we don't get the growth, then I think you may feel that you're relaxing a little bit more but the mood, the buoyancy, the optimism, will be quite different. So we have to work hard and take this very seriously."

To help staff increase their productivity levels, some hotels have been using a device called the Ezi-Maid.

The device is able to elevate beds to waist level, making it easier for cleaning staff to change the sheets and vacuum under the bed, cutting the time taken to clean a room.

The job scope of workers is also being re-looked.

General secretary of Food, Drinks and Allied Workers' Union, Tan Hock Soon, said: "We're working with management to upgrade the skills of the workers through expansion of knowledge, through skills upgrading, so that we can ultimately integrate jobs. So that productivity goes up, therefore better wages for our workers in the industry."

Mr Lee also touched on the need for Singaporeans to have more babies.

He said that while there is no "magic bullet" to boost the fertility rate, working mothers will need family support, and husbands can play a part.

"(Husbands can) start by changing nappies!" said Mr Lee. "When the kids grow a bit older, you're not just a father figure, but you're helping around the house and showing them a good example, so when they grow up they also know how to look (after) the house."

Singapore's resident Total Fertility Rate slid from 1.28 in 2008 to 1.23 last year, the lowest ever.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Singapore's productivity level is 60-70% of what is possible: PM Lee".

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