Keep humans at centre of productivity debate

Mr Chua Yeow Hwee has cast a new light on how we should look at labour productivity ("Productivity is not just a numbers game"; June 8).

For decades, productivity has been commonly measured by value added per worker or per work hour.

Mr Chua has pointed out that the qualitative aspect of productivity should be considered, and suggested that some form of customer satisfaction index could be used to measure productivity.

This is idealistic.

We have seen customer satisfaction measurement tools being used in many industries. But how has this turned out in determining productivity? Does it ultimately translate to tangible value to the bottom line?

It is inevitable for automation, artificial intelligence and bots to become major parts of our workforce and society.

The sharing economy is also taking hold with disruptive changes.

Even more mind-boggling is the autonomous car - self-driving cabs are expected to hit the road by 2018.

Many thought such a service would be feasible in 10 years, not two. I shudder to think of what would happen to fellow Singaporeans who jumped in droves to become Uber and Grab drivers.

The workforce must embrace changes, but how long would it realistically take for workers to retool themselves?

Labour productivity should not be just about formulas and numbers. It is about us, humans.

Tan Kar Quan