Thursday, July 06, 2006


President Tan Sri William Cheng of Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) thinks employers should consider shorter work week – in view of operational costs. Take a look at Japan, he says. They have a 40-hour work week, its petrol is four times that of Malaysia, the average worker earns ten times more than the average Malaysian, and the yen has moved from 360 to a US$20 years ago to just 100 to a dollar (RM3.70) today. Yet Japan is among one of the most efficient and productive countries in the world. It appears the work done by one Japanese is equivalent to 4 Malaysians.

How do you like that?

It seems the way to cut down on operational cost therefore is not cutting back on work hours alone, but upping efficiency and productivity.

Just the other day at the office we argued over efficiency and wondered why we appeared less productive than we were some years ago. Wages have gone up, workload has increased, but margins have thinned. We’ve got our foot flat on the pedal, but it seems like we’re neither getting better nor more efficient. It’s easier to trim operational costs but the million-dollar question is what do you do with the productivity gap?

I have other questions too:

  • Didn't technology and IT promise to raise living standards, quality of life, and productivity?
  • Why do we have more gadgets and less control?
  • What have all our 'time-saving' devises saved for us, and how did we squander all the time saved?
  • Is the fragmented family but one tragic consequence of our stolen lives?
  • Why do we seem to be working harder but feeling less and less fulfilled?
  • If work is 'vocation' does it make long work hours all right?
  • Is the holy grail of a shorter work week achievable only in a developed country but not in a developing one?

No comments: