St. Lucia Trade Union Federation Productivity Workshop Scheduled For Late February

TUF and NCPC To Host Productivity WorkshopContinuing their efforts to enhance productivity in Saint Lucia, the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) in collaboration with the Trade Union Federation (TUF) have organised a two day productivity workshop, the objective being to educate members of the TUF on the subject of productivity.  The event, which is set to take place on the 25th and 26th February 2015 aims to work towards the formulation of policies that can be advocated by the trade union movement towards enhancing the productivity of its members. In doing so, the workshop intends to aid in sensitising members on the role that needs to be taken by trade unions in an effort to drive productivity.

The first day of the workshop will focus on exploring the concept of productivity. Activities will concentrate on defining the notion and clarifying misconceptions. The day’s undertakings will also draw reference to the findings of the first National Productivity Study ever conducted in Saint Lucia. The study which was commissioned by the NCPC last year, measured productivity levels in the economy from the year 2000 through to 2013. The second day of the workshop will relate directly to the Trade Union Movement and productivity. The latter part of the day will focus on prioritising ideas which were discussed earlier.

The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council’s Marketing Analyst/ Productivity Officer Geraldine Bicette-Joseph states, ‘The NCPC is elated that the Trade Union Federation has taken the initiative and made the decision to collaborate with us on this project. As a major stakeholder in Saint Lucia, they are leading by example in showing their willingness to work at and discuss productivity issues with their members.  This in turn demonstrates that they recognise the importance of productivity development and the need to make continuous improvements within their workplaces.’

She continues, ‘The two day event will not only work towards the formulation of ideas which can be advocated by the TUF, but also on the development of personal productivity which is a must when starting the process of change.’

Speakers at the event will include Mrs Fiona Hinkson, Technical Co-ordinator at the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council’ Technical Secretariat, Mr John Pilgrim, Head of the Barbados National Productivity Council and Mr. Janai Leonce, Deputy Chief Economist at the Ministry of Finance.   The workshop is scheduled to take place at the Pastoral Centre in Eastwinds, Gros Islet.

Extracurricular Activities- Building Blocks to Productivity

Extracurricular Activities- An Aid To Developing Productivity SkillsFew would dispute the benefits of a good education. The attainment of high academic achievement helps in furthering careers, aids in informed decision making and allows for the obtainment of better pay. Whilst education plays a significant role in personal development from a young age, extracurricular activities are also key.

Recent reports indicate that extracurricular activities, such as basketball, baseball, tennis, debating, chess clubs, student council, band practice, drama, choir and computer clubs aid in the rounding out of a students’ academic career. Besides being fun and a great way to socialize with peers, extracurricular activities can enhance a students’ time management and stress management skills, helping to improve their overall productivity.

Within the online article, “The Importance of Extracurricular Activities for Teens”, on the ‘I Have a Plan Iowa!’ website, school counsellor Kenny Smith states, “Studies show that students in extracurricular activities have higher academic scores. They learn to manage their time, relieve stress and learn to strive for excellence in more than one thing. Students who are involved in team sports learn to work in groups. Their written and oral communication skills also improve. These things cross over into real life.”

The development of social skills, improved academic performance, and the ability to build strong supportive relationships with adults (other than parents), can also result through extracurricular activities. However, what is learned through the experience depends largely on the age of the child.  Benefits to younger children include social and academic skill development which can lead to improved conflict management and better school attendance. Pre-teens become more engaged at school and more attentive in class. They are also less likely to be involved in violent behaviour during school time. Benefits to adolescents are the most significant however. Older teens need guidance to grow into productive adulthood. They need to be deterred from anti-social behaviour and steered towards positive practices. With most extracurricular activities being held straight after school, teens remain engaged during hours usually associated with adolescent misconduct. Also, activities engaged in provide extra time for career exploration, skill development, service learning and internships, which are vital aids to those about to leave school.

Presently extracurricular activities also bear some importance within tertiary education establishments who look to the activities listed on college and university applications when determining whether an applicant would be a productive student.

As Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz states in her Huffington Post article ‘What College Admissions Offices Look for in Extracurricular Activities’,

“Admissions officers look first at test scores, the rigor of the courses you take, and your grades in those courses. After that, they are interested in a student’s extracurricular activities — in other words, how you spend your time outside of classes. Colleges care about the character of people they admit; therefore, what you do after school, during weekends and over summers tells them a lot about the kind of person you are.’

She goes on’ “Extracurricular activities are the major way students can demonstrate how unique they are, possibly more interesting, even “better” than other student applicants.”

There are certain skills that need to be developed over time which will aid in the shaping of a productive individual. Yet, it must be remembered that the development of an individual is measured not only in terms of intellectual capacity but also in character and social skills. Therefore, to allow for a well-rounded development of the youth, students should be encouraged and properly guided in all of their activities (curricular and extracurricular). Productive extracurricular activities that do not undermine academic performance should be encouraged and utilized as avenues to teach the qualities of ethical leadership, team work and so much more.

Productivity In Motion – Working Smarter Not Harder

Certain Apps Will Allow You To Set Your Productivity In MotionThere is no such thing as a non-mobile professional anymore. From lunchtime meetings and conferences to international and regional events, working outside the office is nearly as common as being behind an office desk.

To stay informed and connected, you need the right tools for the job. Here are a few that will help you stay productive regardless of your location:

  1. Keep your notes in order with Evernote.

With Evernote one can keep notes, pictures, important documents, websites, to-do lists, and voice reminders synced across many devices. Organize notes by notebooks, and search by keywords, tags, location, or date. Evernote is available for virtually every device you own (yes, even a BlackBerry), so you’ll have access to take your notes wherever—and whenever—you need them.

  1. Access Microsoft Office documents on the go with Quick Office

Read, create, or edit Office documents, regardless of what device you’re using. While it’s not a replacement for the full Office experience, Quick Office is incredibly useful when you need to access a Word, PowerPoint or Excel document away from your desktop.

  1. Get reminded by Google Now

Rather than checking a dozen different apps, Google Now reminds you of important things with a simple glance or notification. No matter which device you use, Google Now can help you keep track of nearly everything.

  1. Access files from anywhere with Google Drive.

When we travel and work across multiple devices, keeping track of the latest versions of files and collaborating with co-workers can be impossible without a good cloud solution.

Google Drive is available on any device and, backed by the power of Google’s servers, virtually never goes down. You’ll barely notice a difference between files stored on Drive and files stored locally.

Developing Habits to Work Smarter, Not Harder

If the long hours you work are always a topic of conversation, you are probably a victim of working harder, not smarter. All the tools in the world will not help you if you’re not strategically using your time. Here are some simple habits to help boost your productivity when you are on the move:

  1. Don’t forget what the word “urgent” means. This doesn’t mean you have to respond to everyone who demands your attention, but urgent phone calls and emails should not have to wait until you’re back in the office. People should know that they can reach you if they need to—no matter where you are.
  2. Be your own Trapper Keeper. Keep your calendar pristine and synced on all devices so your team knows where you are. Take good notes during conference calls so you can keep track of what’s urgent and what can wait. Recording things on your device (so they’re searchable) is helpful when it comes to recalling important details and prioritizing tasks.
  3. Bond over drinks, delays, and proximity. Being productive on the go doesn’t just mean reacting to what others are asking you to do. Take advantage of networking opportunities throughout the journey. Grab a drink, a cup of coffee/tea at the airport, introduce yourself to a stranger in the hotel reception and always say hello to the people seated next to you on airplanes. Seize & create networking opportunities.

While we’re always trying to squeeze more work out of our minutes, we could be missing out on other things, like potential business relationships. Carry plenty of business cards with you so you’re ready when opportunities present themselves; one benefit of not being chained to your desk is being able to meet new people who won’t serendipitously wander through your office.

Working outside the office doesn’t automatically mean losing productivity. You can still collaborate with your team, access your work files, and stay secure across your devices. With the right tools and the right approach, you can work from anywhere!

Active Workplaces- A New Exercise in Improving Productivity

A Sit-Stand Desk May Raise Levels Of Productivity At WorkThe Active Working Summit 2015, was recently held in London, England. During the 24 hour event, health care professionals, company CEOs and leading behavioural practitioners made presentations to business professionals, opinion leaders and decisions makers on the relationship between active workplaces and better employee health and productivity.

Already a popular office model in many Scandinavian countries, an active working office design is geared towards discouraging employees from being sedentary during the work day. Therefore, workplaces include sit-stand desks, the holding of standing or walking meetings and floor plans that facilitate the need for regular movement around the office, like walking.

Gavin Bradley, director and founder of Get Standing Britain and one of the organisers of the summit states, “There are certain tasks you’re much more productive doing standing. If you have to put some creative input, intense thought or numbers into the task, you’re often better sitting. But there are so many of our rudimentary tasks, like our phone calls and checking our inboxes, that are done significantly more, not just quickly, but efficiently, effectively and confidently standing.”

Across Europe many organisations are implementing active workplaces. Technology firm King Digital, professional services firm Redington and housing association Amicus Horizon all believe that there are benefits associated with the practice. Since Amicus Horizon introduced three sit-stand desks to their office in early 2014, they have reported a 10 per cent increase in the amount of calls workers take and a 2 per cent increase in first-call resolutions.

John Barr, director of customer experience at the housing association commented, “Productivity has gone up, which is good, but well-being has also gone up, which is even better. Anecdotally, people will say they feel, in terms of time spent doing tasks, between a 5 and 20 per cent increase in productivity,”

The link to better health and active workplaces is also quite significant. Research has already associated sitting for long periods to numerous health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. More specifically, sitting for more than four hours a day is reported to result in;

  • Enzymes responsible for burning harmful blood fats shutting down.
  • Reduced calorie burn and disrupted blood sugar levels.
  • Insulin levels rising, blood pressure rising and leg muscles switching off.

When you consider these findings in relation to the fact that last year in Britain alone, it was reported that 131 million working days were lost because of absences due to illness, (4.4 days per worker), the argument for active workplaces seems to be a relevant one.

In her article ‘Employers Should Embrace Active Working,’ UK reporter Rebecca Gowler quotes the Institute of Sport Exercise and Health’s lead consultant in Sport and Exercise Medicine Mike Loosemore as saying, “Active working is ‘not an exercise regime but a change in behaviour. For it to be successful, active working must be accessible to all, constantly communicated and supported where implemented.’

The introduction of the practice to any business environment, lies very much with the senior professionals and decision makers responsible for the well-being and productivity of that organisation’s working population. Although the practice may seem a little different from that which they are used to, it could prove beneficial to the organisation in the long run. Therefore it should be considered that active workplaces could be a credible option to improving productivity, increasing engagement and reducing absenteeism on a significant scale.

Be A Productive Leader In 2015

A confident African American businesswoman in her office.Competition in business is ever increasing, and with it comes a demand for the person at the top to deliver. In trying to meet these demands, many supervisors and managers end up under pressure and overworked. Although fully aware of their stressful situation most refrain from implementing measures that could bring about change.  Instead they concede to the idea that certain pressures come with position.  However, reports state that this is the wrong approach to take. Instead, supervisors should turn to positively charged solutions like implementing ‘The Six D’s’.

‘The Six D’s’ is an approach that focuses directly on the everyday actions of the company’s, supervisor. Each ‘D’ is a call to action aimed at reducing the workload of the person in charge, whilst increasing the productivity levels of the unit.

  1. The first D in ‘The Six D’s’ is for delete.  Non- relevant company orientated tasks usually carried out by the supervisor should be deleted from their to-do lists. Many continue to carry out these tasks due to force of habit, however their time could be better utilised elsewhere.
  2. The following D is for decline. Most leaders find it hard to decline invitations to meetings. The problem with this being that meetings have a tendency of taking up valuable amounts of time. If a pending meeting does not seem currently relevant or if the invitation received makes it unclear as to what the meeting might be about, it may be better to politely say ‘No’.
  3. The third D is for delegate. When the options of deleting and declining are not made available it is time to delegate. A successful leader cannot do everything. There are times when a task must be handed over to other staff members.
  4. D is also for decide. It is said that a good leader is a good decision maker. Such supervisors do not procrastinate or over analyse. Instead, they simply make sure that all high priority goals are identified and allotted the necessary time needed for their completion.
  5. The fifth D is for design. The redesigning of a process can also aid in greater productivity. A set way of doing something does not always make for a good outcome. If this is the case, it may be time to redesign the process, thus resulting in a quality end product.
  6. The last D is for destroy. It might sound drastic but in regards to productivity it is sometimes a necessity. Committing to a plan of action that repeatedly brings about a negative result is pointless. A more productive approach would be to destroy the failing plan and start afresh on a clean slate.

Improving the productivity levels of an organisation is one of the most stressful yet significant challenges that leaders face today.  However, it should be recognised by supervisors that after improving on their own productivity levels they are able to lead by example. The end result being the creation of a highly productive team.  The Six D’s framework is one that can aid in bringing about higher levels of productivity to any organisation. Ultimately this can also bring about a less stressed, engaged and energised leader.

Good News for Working Mothers- You Are More Productive Than You Think

600-01030005A recent report, published as a working paper by the Research Division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has stated that parents with two or more children are more productive in the office than those with only one child or no children at all. The study, which was conducted to examine the link between productivity and parenthood amongst a group of academic economists, has been regarded by the Washington post as encouraging news for working moms.

Approximately 10,000 highly skilled economists were assessed and the results of the study revealed that:

“Mothers of at least two children are on average, more productive than mothers of only one child. It was found as well that mothers are generally more productive than childless women,”

The study also went on to add that although the productivity levels of fathers of two or more children also increased, mothers with the same number of children proved to be the most productive of all. It was duly noted however, that when children are young, parents are less productive but as offspring grew older- usually well into their teenage years, the productivity level of parents increased surpassing that of their peers with one or no children.

Christian Zimmermann, one of the authors of the study stated:

“It’s all about timing. It’s really when the children are younger that there is an impact, but if you consider the whole career of the person, then on average, the person [who has two or more children] is doing better.”

He goes on to say:

‘The findings may be more about the personality of these parents than about the effect parenthood has on how well you can work. The 10,000 parents who were studied do not include those moms and dads who fell off the career track after having children, so the subjects were a self-selecting group who likely knew they could handle parenthood before embarking on it. ‘

The study also makes a point of highlighting the exceptions to the rule. It cited that women who became mothers before the age of 30 saw a very negative effect on their professional productivity, as did unmarried mothers who became mothers.

It must also be pointed out that a 2013 report also conducted in St. Louis found that mothers under 18 with young children earned less than their childless counterparts. The same was found to be true with men.  Therefore, it should be remembered that the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis study speaks to its data pool, a narrow group of highly educated, highly skilled  professional women who usually plan parenthood, and thus the authors are adamant to reinforce the fact that their findings may not apply to a wider set of women in different circumstances.

However, the good news  is that given the right conditions professional moms do not have to worry that  becoming parents would jeopardize their careers- this in itself being an idea that could be applied  to other women in similar working situations.

Building Productive Teams through Conflict Resolution

Healthy Conflict Resolution Can Lead To Stronger Working TeamsIn the article ‘Building Effective Teams through Conflict Resolution: The Other New Year’s Resolution’, written by Shawn Callender, Senior Training Officer of the Barbados Productivity Council quotes Vince Lombardi. The quote reads, ‘The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.’

In reference to the concept of productivity, this statement holds true. It is indeed a necessity for team members of any given organisation to think and act with a common, unified focus.

As Callender states, ‘The focus of every organization, in this performance-driven, results-oriented business environment, is to create a workplace where the slogan “Together Everyone Achieves More” becomes a reality.’

Productivity Awareness Week in Saint Lucia took place during the period- October 13 to 18, 2014. During the week a range of activities were organised, all of which gained active participation from the private and public sectors, civil society and the youth. Events during the week included forums aimed at various key sectors in the economy.  The sectors included the financial services, wholesale and retail, construction, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing sectors. At each forum, successful business owners delivered presentations on measures undertaken to increase productivity in their respective companies. In doing so, the presenters sited effective team work as a key factor which has led to the success of their companies.

As part of his presentation in the construction forum, Mr. Winston Cyril of RECS General Contractors stated,

‘At RECS we’ve realized that, none of us is as smart as all of us. So, we put our ideas together, so that we are able to make better decisions.  As we continue to build the company as a team and as the company develops; we would like to attract more team members to share like-minded thinking.’

Teams are made up of individuals, with each member having their unique personality and opinion. As a result of this, sometimes conflict will arise. The occurrence of conflict does not have to prove disruptive to an otherwise productive team.  Team members and team leaders simply need to be able to resolve conflict amicably.

There are many reasons why conflict may occur in teams, the four most identifiable reasons being: scarce resources, communication breakdown, personality clashes and goal differences.  However, there are ways to overcome any given conflict within a team.

Kenneth Thomas in his article “Conflict and Conflict Management” highlights five styles of handling conflict. These styles are competing, avoiding, compromising, accommodating and collaborating.

‘Competing Style

This style reflects assertiveness to get one’s own way, and should be used when quick, decisive action is vital on important issues or unpopular actions.

Avoiding Style

This style reflects neither assertiveness nor cooperativeness. This style of handling conflict works best in situations where the issue is trivial, when a delay is needed to gather more information or when the disruption would be costly.

Compromising Style

The compromising style reflects a moderate amount of both assertiveness and cooperativeness. It is appropriate when the goals on both sides are of equal importance, and when people need to arrive at temporary or expedient solutions under time pressure.

Accommodating Style

This requires a high degree of cooperativeness and works best where persons recognize that they were wrong and when maintaining harmony is especially important.

Collaborating Style

This requires a high level of assertiveness and cooperativeness. This style produces a win-win situation for all the parties concerned. It requires at times significant bargaining and negotiating by all the parties concerned. This style is useful when the issues at hand are too important to be compromised and the commitment of the dissenting parties is needed for a consensus.’

Although conflict is inevitable, effective resolution can have tremendous benefits for all involved. Some of these benefits are increased motivation, productivity and creativity, as well as greater participation by employees and improved communication and interpersonal skills.

Conflict can be constructive as long as it is managed effectively and dealt with directly and quickly. When team members learn to see issues from the other side, it opens up new ways of thinking, which can lead to new and innovative solutions, and healthy team performance. Effective conflict resolution can help create a healthy and creative team atmosphere where persons can work collectively towards the common good of the company.