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Increasing workforce productivity: Starting from the roots, straight to the tips!

With technology and the times at its most modern, it would be safe for one to assume that productivity has been maximized with various techniques being followed and methods being implied. But as long as humans have existed, so has innovation – And the manufacturing industry is no exception to this. With Bangladesh already being the second-largest supplier in the RMG sector of the world, the ways to improve workforce productivity are quite intricate but could boost Bangladesh’s supplies if properly implemented.

Figure 1: For fresh graduates, the RMG industry offers more opportunities to explore and increase their abilities, but it would benefit the sector itself.

For workforce productivity, let’s begin at the tips. Those who make the business deals, those who get the supplies going – The Managerial Levels, from topmost to the mid-level managers who act as the bridge between the top-level authorities and the main workers putting the orders together, definitely need a boost if we want to truly increase the overall workforce productivity.

Being a youngster in the manufacturing industry myself, one thing that has really caught my attention is the lack of fresh graduates like myself in the scenarios. Most young, talented people who graduate from well-known universities head straight to MNCs that offers a great starting salary, transportation, and a raise that doubles their salary after a minimum of two to two-and-a-half years since they join. What these talented minds tend to overlook is how monotonous these corporate jobs can be, whereas if they joined the RMG sector in executive roles, not only would they have more opportunities to explore and increase their abilities, but it would benefit the sector itself, which in turn brings benefits to the overall country.

As for financial motivations, the right talent and brilliance can bring them the doubled salary from MNCs at a much earlier stage in their careers – I myself have seen deserving Business Executives have their salaries tripled within just one year of joining the company, with transportation, traveling to and experiencing the foreign culture, and health benefits being part of the deal. Those who leap towards MNCs are definitely equipped with the knowledge, creative thinking, and analytical abilities that would have them reach those same benefits, if not more. Therefore, I would really like to encourage young people to join the industry, as fresher minds and newer ideas being introduced into the RMG sector would really boost productivity as well as the economy of the entire country.

While the tips of the RMG sector go out and grab the business deals for us, it is at the grassroots where the work gets done.

Figure 2: Implementation of an Executive Officer in the factory premises whose sole focus would be to increase workforce productivity.

The grassroots, where our biggest power lies – A dedicated workforce like no other, who work day and night to complete and meet order requirements. Even with all their dedication, according to Asian Productivity Data, the hourly productivity of Bangladesh was known to be valued at 3.40 USD – whereas it is almost a triple-fold in China at USD 11.10, and USD 15.90 in Sri Lanka.

So how do we do it, increase the workforce productivity? The answers are quite simple, yet need to be implemented. Maybe fresher minds in the industry would have come up with these ideas faster, which is why my focus was first on bringing more equipped and younger people into the industry before I shifted it to the actual grassroots workforce.

First and foremost, focusing on specialization is the most crucial way to go. Many foreign countries receive orders for goods simply because they specialize in them. The more complex a product, the more the buyers seek a specialized workforce to get their work done – This automatically increases the productivity rate for any country. If we gave our workforce concentrated training to ensure that certain groups of people are experts at making specialized products, we could easily bring orders our way and subsequently increase production and so, the hourly productivity rate.

Another crucial way is the implementation of an Executive Officer in the factory premises whose sole focus would be to increase workforce productivity. Generally, factories have lines which are dedicated to certain products, whereas the orders that we get vary from time to time. The same customers or agents could be ordered to make t-shirts for one season, and joggers for the next. This volatility in product forms and orders leaves gaps for inefficiency in properly utilizing the lines, and an efficiency-focused Executive Officer could reduce these gaps and ensure proper utilization of the work hours, labor, and machinery. They would be arranging and rearranging these lines based on the order requirements to ensure maximum efficiency of the available resources.

The officers would also be given appropriate training to give them a full understanding of the available resources, so they can subsequently pass on the knowledge as they work their way through production planning. And the younger the person hired in the role, the better – as they can be expected to have a better understanding of the new technologies and methods that we have at hand today, and would be starting with a fresh slate, ready to explore their abilities to the maximum. They would act as the bridge between the office-level Executives and the factory workforce, and so, adaptive and comprehending people would be the best fit for these roles.

And the other methods include the ever-known financial or materialistic benefits. A workforce can be given a weekly target to meet, and the groups who meet the target could be given prizes in the form of electrical appliances, gadgets, all-expenses-paid vacations, or simply just monthly bonuses.

Author: Hasin Arman, Director, MB Knit Fashion Ltd; Founding Treasurer, BAYLA; Co-Chairman, Crisis Management Committee, BGMEA.

Many times, customers ask for plus orders, where they agree to pay for any extra number of products over their required orders that we can provide them within the same given time. Utilizing the fact that usually, management takes on orders that will bring profits, profits from the extra products can be used as an incentive to increase workforce productivity. Groups who can reach the order requirements and make extra products within the same amount of time can be given profit-sharing benefits, where the profit from the extra products would be equally distributed amongst them. This would not only encourage the workforce to reach higher targets but would also make them feel even more like a part of the company that they are working for – The latter of which is a benefit that goes to improve productivity and efficiency in the long run!

As the world advances at the fastest possible speed in all sectors, the need to keep up with the times only ever increases. And even with so many methods and techniques out there to increase workforce productivity, the main change needed is still the introduction of fresher minds into the sector, because they are the future business leaders of the organization. Young, educated, and capable minds really have the ability to not only prosper individually in the sector – But I strongly believe they have it in them to completely transform the RMG Industry, starting straight from the roots, all the way to the tips!

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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