Sydney Morning Herald:

Mark Hawthorne

Australian workers are among the hardest-working in the developed world, notching an average 44-hour week, but they also rank among the least productive, amassing $109 billion of wasted wages each year.

A third of Australian employees plan to quit in the next year, more than half say poor management has the biggest impact on their productivity, and 18 per cent of the average working day is spent on ”work that wasted time and effort”.

They are among the key findings of a comprehensive study of almost 2500 Australian workers and their bosses, conducted by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

”What we found is a highly motivated Australian workforce,” said Ernst & Young partner Neil Plumridge, who led the survey team.

”We are not a nation of slackers.”

We worked harder than other developed countries in terms of labour hours, and were highly motivated to work, he said.

More than 70 per cent of us came to work every day with the best of intentions, which was something to be proud of.

”The problem is the productivity of our workforce,” he said. ”The hours are good and the intentions are good, but we found an incredible wastage once we all get to work.”

The total wages bill for Australian workers is estimated at $606 billion a year.

”Given that 18 per cent of our time at work is wasteful, ineffective and not valued, that’s $109 billion waste in annual wages,” Mr Plumridge said. ”Even if we can get a 10 per cent improvement, that’s worth more than $10 billion a year to the national economy.”

The inaugural Australian Productivity Pulse survey found that management issues (54 per cent), organisation structure (23 per cent), a lack of innovation (15 per cent) and outdated technology (8 per cent) were cited by employees as the drains on productivity.

According to Mr Plumridge, productivity in Australia has been on a 10-year decline.


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4 thoughts on “Australian workers: hardest-working yet least productive?

  1. I’m getting tired of doing paperwork to prove that work is being done, & yet no-one wants to see the said paperwork. They just want you to do it and file. I’d like to file it in THe BIn.

  2. We must never confuse activity with efficiency, the length of time one spends at work has no relevance to efficiency.

    I was not born in Australia but I love the great humor of Australians, perhaps Mark was just taking the P..s out of his readers.
    After retiring I went to the Goldfields in WA a couple of years ago and while on holiday was asked if I would like to help out on a shutdown maintenance job. It was almost 40 years since I had been a fitter or worked for anyone else so they must have been desperate for staff.
    The pay was incredible and about 20% of the hundred odd staff did fabulous work, as for the rest of us? Well for me it was the best holiday I have ever had, and to be paid as well was unbelievable. I felt we should have paid the company and the mines they were maintaining just to be there. Yes the days were long 12 hour shifts in fact. If most worked even 4 of those 12 hours they would say “Hell they got there pound of flesh today”.
    This is a great country but there are far to many boozing, smoking layabouts who arrived at work just to blow numbers. Because I don’t drink or smoke I also drove the work bus so at least one crew would have someone sober with both hands on the wheel. The managers were not well trained but they were included in my 20% of workers who did great work.
    The rest was so good I stayed 18 months before needing to return home so I could re engage my brain again. The quick fix “one day seminars” senior management offers their managers makes a mockery of management training and leadership development.
    Management and leadership is one field I feel I can also comment on as I owned and operated two of New Zealand’s most respected training companies for over 20 years.
    Mark Hawthorne really must be joking no one could be that blind to reality.

  3. two things would fix this

    1 . Leadership. if workers had good leaders they would be more focuswed, happier and know what to do
    2 . PTO. if they learnt PTO they would just do it

    then they could x10 . As the fellow said.

    “Even if we can get a 10 per cent improvement, that’s worth more than $10 billion a year to the national economy.”

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