At the personal level, many people associate the word ‘productivity’ with working (too) hard, suffering a poor work-life balance and increasing stress.
At the organisation level, many people associate the word ‘productivity’ with working harder, restructurings and layoffs.
At national level, few people understand the word ‘productivity’ – talk about it confuses and frightens them.
Productivity is a difficult (and dirty) word for all of these people.
Yet, at the national level, increasing productivity has been the driving force underlying improved living standards and social gains.
At the organisational level, increasing productivity has been the driving force underlying improved profits and job security.
At the personal level, increasing productivity has been the driving force underlying a reduction in drudgery and improved leisure time.
All the other ills (those mentioned above) are the result of a lack of understanding and a mismanagement of the consequences of improving productivity.
Poor governments fail to understand their role in improving productivity. This is essentially building the infrastructure that creates the potential for higher productivity (a favourable macroeconomic climate and appropriate transport, technology and communications infrastructures).
Poor managers fail to take the steps necessary to exploit any potential for higher productivity provided by effective government policies snd the current market for their products. They also often fail to invest in developing the skills of their workforce.
Poor individuals fail to organise their work (and even their life) to make themselves more productive. They fail to invest the time to maximise their use of work-based and work-related tools snd technologies.
Productivity is necessary. But so is an understanding of it by those who take decisions that can affect it. Let’s use then word more often – and explain it more clearly.