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  • Australia sits in ninth place in labour productivity per hour worked, leaving room for improvement
  • Improving labour productivity requires a long-term and multi-faceted strategy, as well as certainty of purpose

Is productivity a dirty word?

It is a goal or desire of most businesses to improve labour productivity. In short, to extract increased economic output from labour and other resources while slowing (or reversing) the growth in input costs.

The “internationalisation” of our economy, exposing Australian businesses to unprecedented competition (including in the online market), and the deregulation of the labour market are some of the main external developments directed to this issue.

But has the mantra of “labour productivity” been so repeated that it has lost impact? Commentators are regularly portraying mining and a number of other industries as being in a productivity crisis. This crisis has been attributed to everything from the entrenched nature of unproductive employment terms, reregulation of the labour market, “red and green tape” imposed by governments, and even Gen Y and “the age of entitlement”.

So what’s really going on?

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