Working hours vs. productivity

Abdullah Al-Jamili


IN one of my trips to the US, I met with a number of Arabs who worked for a big American company. During the conversation, I asked them about their work hours. They told me that there were no fixed hours but the whole matter was decided by productivity and achievement.

They said their office attendance was not governed by signing in in the morning and signing out in the afternoon but by the quantity of achievement they make during the work hours.

They told me that every employee was expected to make at least a minimal achievement according to the nature of his or her job.

They said when any employee makes a notable achievement, he or she will be rewarded in cash or kind.

Since that day, I have been hoping that the same system would be applied by our government departments wherein the employees do not give much attention to accomplishments but to being in their offices on time and leaving them at the end of the shift.

Our government employees often go from one office to another to meet with their friends and colleagues to kill the time until the work hours are over.

Some of them are physically present but spiritually absent. They spend the time talking on their mobile phones, playing electronic games or browsing through the social media tools.

Such practices will definitely delay the interests of the people with paperwork and adversely affect the development of the country.

It also involves obvious injustice to the sincere and dedicated employees who receive the same salaries and the same incentives like their insincere counterparts.

The playful employees who spend their time doing anything else except their proper work may get promotions through wasta (nepotism) or through improper evaluation by their superiors and direct managers.

I hope the government will immediately introduce parameters to measure the productivity of the employees electronically. The Ministry of the Civil Service is currently working on this project through the Public Administration Institute.

Through this method we will be able to measure the actual productivity of an employee and evaluate him or her accordingly.

The method will also uncover employees with substandard performance and will put an end to the problem of delays in processing paperwork. It will also help us identify the dedicated employees to reward them.

Before we introduce this electronic indicator, we should create a healthy and fair work atmosphere for the employees to be able to deliver.

We should also find ways of punishing employees who are unable to deliver though they arrive in their offices on time and leave them on time.

We should also create work leaders who are qualified and capable of making plans, dividing roles and distributing tasks to each and every employee.

Many countries of the world are reducing the work hours in offices against productivity the employees can achieve while working from a distance. This is done through investing in modern technology, social media and institutional communications.

Can the ministries of civil service and labor and social development study this international trend to apply it in our country especially as the Saudi society is well versed in technology and the use of Internet?