Want productivity? Win workers' hearts

The concept of productivity is not only about economic efficiency. The human aspect must be harmoniously integrated too.

At the heart of being a quality worker is productivity, and at the heart of productivity is the heart of the worker.

Fair distribution of the fruits of productivity will follow only if the human relationships in the organisation are right, and workers feel like they belong and are looking after one another's interests.

No amount of negotiation will help if companies fail in this.

Management should remember that they are hiring not only the worker's brain and hands, but also his heart.

We lag far behind other countries, like Japan, in this.

Companies in Japan are interested in the well-being and future of their workers.

They give the best company welfare they can afford, and are rewarded with loyalty and trust.

You get the most hard-working and skilled workers in companies where workers identify with the fate of the enterprise and are interested in its future.

They have a sense of ownership and understand that if the company goes down, they go down too.

Hence, they are always thinking of new ideas, and you get the Toyotas and Hondas outselling everyone else.

If you ask these workers who the company belongs to, they say: "The chairman and me - all of us."

No worker will say that Singapore Airlines belongs to him.

This must change because it is not ordained that Singapore will have growth every year.

Companies must strive to win the heart of the worker. That is what productivity is about.

Wong Horng Ginn

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Want productivity? Win workers' hearts'. Print Edition | Subscribe