Hard Workers, But Not Much to Show for It
A staff of skilled employees equals a productive work environment – or does it?
Not necessarily, according to a new study released by Australian accounting firm Ernst & Young. Called the Australian Productivity Pulse, the October survey of nearly 2,500 workers and their bosses across the nation found that almost a fifth of workers’ time is wasted while on the clock.
In financial terms, this lack of productivity cost the nation $109 billion in wasted wages this year – more than just a drop in the bucket when the total wages bill amounts to $606 billion a year.
“This means that every single day $320 million is lost in valueless work,” said Neil Plumridge, the firm’s Advisory Leader who led the quarterly survey, in a statement. “If we improve that by just 10 [per cent]the impact to Australia’s productivity would be tremendous.”
Mr Plumridge was quick to point out, however, that this does not make Australia a “nation of slackers.”
Logging an average 44-hour work week, Australian workers are among the hardest-working and most motivated in the developed world. The problem, according to the survey, is productivity.
“The hours are good and the intentions are good, but we found an incredible wastage once we all get to work... we simply can’t put the productivity issue down to personal motivation,” Mr Plumridge said.
The survey found that more than half of workers attribute this lack of productivity to poor management: specifically, workers’ skills are not being utilised appropriately, the leadership is ineffective, and workers’ career progression is unclear.
A November Galaxy poll also revealed that the feeling of 63 per cent of workers who feel entitled to a sickie – or a “mental health day” – is directly related to their relationship to their boss.
"Ineffective management affects productivity in lots of different ways, including staff loyalty and motivation," Stephanie Christopher of SHL, the workplace consultancy firm who commissioned the study, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
These findings echo those explored in The Nine Drivers of Productivity, an essay drafted by the Hay Group’s general manager Henriette Rothschild to highlight the consulting firm’s own research: of more than 400 global companies the firm surveyed, 15 per cent of employees are engaged in their work, but frustrated by a lack of enablement to do their jobs.
“Australian and New Zealand businesses are at risk of falling behind the productivity curve compared to the world’s best. Our engagement research shows that many companies in the Pacific lag behind the world’s leading organisations on key areas such as effective leadership, embracing innovation and rewarding great performance,” Ms Rothschild said in a November press release.
Among the nine drivers cited in the company’s Focus report, clarity and direction, confidence in the company’s leaders, quality customer service, and recognising outstanding employees – both through rewards and general compensation benefits – were listed as the top drivers.
Despite all the reported negativity, the Pulse study did determine that approximately 70 per cent of Australians go to work with the best of intentions, and 68 per cent are “proud to work for their employer.” The same number of workers believes that their efforts are valued at the company.
“Mature workers are the most enthusiastic performers,” Mr Plumridge stated, “and are more likely to be motivated by the actual work they do rather than salary, work/life balance or employment security.”
In the future, how should Australian businesses go about building a more enabled workforce?
“Organisations need to think in terms of making bolder, more revolutionary changes that move them into a higher zone of productivity, well above the long-term average of 1-2 [per cent] a year,” said Mr Plumridge.
“And rather than cut jobs, organisations should be looking to eliminate wasteful work and redeploy those resources to growth and investment areas.
''Even if we can get a 10 per cent improvement, that's worth more than $10 billion a year to the national economy.”
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.