Czech productivity levels reach the international average

For many years productivity levels in the Czech Republic lagged behind the country's neighbors to the west. But the latest statistics suggest that Czech workers are now working more efficiently. Productivity levels have reached the average for the world's most industrialized countries. Maida Agovic has been looking more closely at the newly released figures.

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The Czech Republic's productivity level has increased since last year, and is now estimated at 62%, which is also calculated to be the worldwide average. This comes as a result of international research about global productivity conducted by two consulting firms, Czipin & Proudfoot and Gallup.

Despite being a country that has only just ended its transition from a communist command economy, the Czech Republic is holding a steady pace with its Western counterparts.

Klaus Harrer, one of the people who compiled the statistics, agrees that, although the ideal productivity level lies at 85%, Czech results are far from disappointing:

"The productivity level in the Czech Republic has reached a level which is only 2 percentage points behind Germany and the United States, which is a very good evaluation, and significantly higher than in Hungary."

The study suggests that Czech productivity levels could be even higher. Czechs spend exceptionally long hours at their workplace, but they appear to waste a great deal of this time - the equivalent of 103 days annually. For example, while Czechs need nearly 2,000 hours per year to achieve a productivity level of 62%, the more efficient Germans achieve 64% in three quarters of that time.

The two main obstacles to productivity growth both in the Czech Republic and on the international level are identified to be "insufficient managerial planning and leadership" and "insufficient control." Those two account for an estimated 77% of problems hindering productivity in this country, far more than in Western Europe and even in other Central and Eastern European countries. So if the survey is to be believed, Czech managers really need to pull their socks up. But, on the other hand, management-labor communication does not seem to be a major problem:

Photo: European Commission
Harrer: "While only 6% of Czech managers are concerned about ineffective communication leading to decreased productivity, figures from Western Europe go up to 30% in Britain, 40% in Austria, and 45% in Germany."

The productivity level fluctuates across different sectors of the Czech economy. While the telecommunications and automobile industries are experiencing constant growth, the productivity of the textile industry is decreasing.

But despite individual setbacks, Mr. Harrer predicts a bright future:

"When we take into account that the Czech Republic has very long working hours and increasing productivity levels, then we can say that this is a good basis for positive development. Salaries in the Czech Republic are lower than in Germany for example, people here work more, at almost the same productivity levels, and all these factors make this country a very attractive location for foreign investment."