The leadership within the government and public sector has acknowledged this as a key issue and the government’s own ministries and statutory boards have taken the lead with multiple initiatives aimed at improving productivity through IT, automation and upskilling of public officers.
At the same time, we find that the several indicators of productivity show a declining trend for top private companies based in Singapore including ROE, profit per employee etc. We believe that an important driver of stagnating productivity growth is the lack of adequate emphasis on maximising productivity within organisations. A greater focus has to be placed both on direct short-term employee output levels and more intangible positive outcomes generated, such as knowledge creation and Innovation, which enhance long-term franchise and financial results.
Ultimately many Singaporean private companies – large as well as SMEs - will need to undergo a transformation of engagement and development of workforces. Firms have to be comfortable at challenging and re-thinking fundamental operating and business model issues such as productivity enhancing technologies, streamlining of processes, digitalization to rapidly diffuse ideas in order to truly challenge the status quo and improve productivity. The larger private corporations have a duty to both shareholders and society to lead in this effort, and reap the significant benefits associated with the necessary improvements.