Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Great Television Purge and the Productive Worker Effect

 Random Television
Yesterday, while listening to Haiti news updates on the BBC, I caught part of an interview with the Ghanaian Deputy Minister for Information Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwah about the latest Presidential directive to ban television sets from government offices .The aim of  the directive is to  increase productivity among government workers putting them on par with their private sector counterparts. 

I was particularly delighted to hear about the television-off initiative. After all, how many times have I gone to a government office to find civil servants completely entranced by a tepid plot involving Desmond Elliot/Ramsey Nouah/Emeka Ike desperately trying to woo Mercy Johnson/Stephanie Okereke/Genevieve Nnaiji ?

The expectation appears to be that as soon as the last television is switched off, workers nation-wide will suddenly exclaim:

A. "What? No more Juana la Virgen rerun reruns to enjoy? Well I guess I will just get to that pile of documents I have to review for urgent action right away!"

B. "No more riveting Naija movies to relish? Why don't we work on those reports so that the school contracts can be awarded next week?"

According to the government, there is a thin line dividing productivity between government and private sector workers. On this line appears to lie a television set. What I'm wondering about is whether the government has done a survey to explore factors leading to the purported low work-output among civil servants. Aside from television sets have they also taken into consideration ways to increase productivity such as:

  • Better remuneration/incentive packages
  • Turning off radios/banning newspapers/banning discussions
  • Inflexible goal-oriented approaches 
  • Strict structured supervision
  • Shorter lunches 
  • Avoiding workers going out on errands that take all day 
  • Lighter lunches (I rambled on about this in one of my earliest posts!)

Post-lunch siesta in an office without televisions!

The list is endless but then again I'm also guilty of talking without supporting evidence from a study! In the meantime, the televisions will go off and we are all waiting patiently to see if there are any resultant 'productive worker' effects.


Nana Yaa Boatemaa said...

LOL at the lines "According to government, there is a thin line dividing productivity between government and private sector workers. On this line appears to lie a television set."

Abena Serwaa said...

*LOL* Nana Yaa, So once the television set is removed from that line, civil servants will be focused and productive. Totally makes sense!

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

I know the "Newton" who thought up this "light bulb" did not stop to think that the government workers will simply stay at home to watcch movies and football tournaments. After all, there is nobody supervising them to make sure they are warming their seats.

Raine said...

Honestly, I don't know if I should laugh or cry?

Abena Serwaa said...

@Nana Yaw: you couldn't have said it better! Workers will simply run home for the football. I think the directive was poorly thought through. Then again, alot of these 'presidential directives' are leaving me a little perplexed!

Abena Serwaa said...

@Raine I think laughter is much healthier!

Maya Mame said...

I'm impressed at your 'evidence', how did you get those photos of sleeping workers?! This directive seems like a lazy man's shortcut that's going to turn out expensive for the country.

Can we hope that in the future more substantial effort and research will go into resolving issues? (Doubt it!)

Abena Serwaa said...

@Maya Mame *LoL* I have hidden cameras in a number of offices across the country ;) Ok kidding! Mainly us fooling around but one is very real...

But I think you are right about the lazy man's shortcut that ends up being counterproductive. I still have hope and believe in the power of proper research in impacting policy.*Sigh*