Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reducing Foreign Workers to Increase Productivity?

I find it very interesting that now the government is saying that we should reduce the reliance on foreign workers to increase productivity. I remember some time back, someone commented on my blog that if I want to quit, he/she can find 3 foreign workers to replace my position. With this type of bosses having this kind of mindset, how can we improve productivity? I guess people have to understand that things are usually cheap for a reason. Once in a long while, you may get a gem but how often do you strike Toto anyway? There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

To improve productivity, we have to first understand the meaning of productivity. Does it mean that a person holding many different portfolios is productive? One problem in measurement of productivity is that you only measure things that are quantifiable. How do you measure intangible benefits that a worker brings to the company? How do you measure a return customer who is very satisfied with your service and is willing to come back even if they need to pay a little bit more, but will leave if you're no longer there? How do you measure decisiveness in resolving problems that results in low incident rates? Does it matter if one is very "productive" but the quality of the output is low, resulting in increase in support calls?

I do not think productivity is able to measure such intangible benefits and that's the problem with just focusing on it. By just blindly focusing on productivity, you'll have to break something else, and the most likely candidate is turnover. Have companies measured the amount of money needed to hire and train a person to replace a person that has resigned due to the "productivity drive"? How about the loss of productivity when a new person comes in to take over the portfolio of the person who resigned?

All things are interlinked and it is always a give and take situation. You take something from the worker, somehow you'll have to give something up to him/her. That's the basis of maths. Both sides must equate. That's also the basis of life. What goes around, comes around. Even then, you'll have to look at the equation carefully. Remember... We're also suppose to be productive in other areas too (e.g. birth rate).

To me, it's just one big complex equation that does not seem to equate at all.


Anonymous said...

I would not put much store in what the govt says for the simple reason that it is simply too pet. It is a direct POLITICAL response to the unhappiness expressed by Singaporeans regarding the deluge of foreigners into our midst.It lacks sincerity and commitment. It has all the character of an expedient POLITICAL MOVE to pacify the voters. IT IS STRIKINGLY SIMILAR TO WHAT THE RULING PARTY FROM ACROSS THE CAUSEWAY DOES. A LOT OF WAYANG.

Anonymous said...

'pet' should read as 'pat'.

chantc said...

From Budget 2010:

The changes will start with a modest increase in levies in 2010, and will involve further increases over the next two years. The overall dependency ratio for all categories of foreign workers (Work Permit and S Pass holders) will remain unchanged.

As a first step, the Government will raise levy rates for most Work Permit by between $10 and $30 on 1 Jul 2010, phasing in further adjustments in levy rates and tiers in 2011 and 2012. Taking the three years together, there will be a total increase of about $100 in average levies per worker in manufacturing and services. The construction sector, where there is much scope for productivity improvements, will see a larger increase.

In July 2010, the Government will also sub-divide the current single rate ($50) for S Pass workers for all sectors, to two tiers ($100 and $120). Further adjustments will then be phased in until the rates reach $150 and $250 by July 2012.

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