Encourage workers to multitask

It is timely and crucial to exhort workers to be more productive in this gloomy economic climate ("Call to make the most of limited labour supply"; April 28).

While automation and upgrading of workers' skills can help raise productivity, one key element often ignored is multitasking.

I worked in a major Japanese supermarket where many employees had a greater job scope and more responsibilities.

For instance, a staff member working in the grocery section could be deployed to work in the butchery section, and vice versa, when the need arose.

It was common to see supermarket managers and executives working alongside fish cutters and chefs during peak hours.

Such a scene is uncommon in our supermarkets. Here, one hardly notices top executives on the sales floor, much less see them lending their staff a helping hand.

Productivity and sales can be adversely affected if staff harbour an "I am not in charge of that section" attitude when approached by customers.

Hence, unless there is a mindset change in the workers, raising productivity can be an uphill task, and ultimately, it will be a no-win situation for both employees and the organisation.

Jeffrey Law Lee Beng