Tired Moneymakers Vs Creative Frontrunners – The 2 faces of Greece

Posted by Δημήτρης Τιμοθεάτος on Δευτέρα, Ιουλίου 14, 2014 with No comments

By Haris Bailas 

Ancient Greeks, Aegan blue, many things come in mind when mentioning Greece. Regrettably, all of them connected to either the environment or history. Despite, Greeks’ business competence – especially of those still living in Greece – has been in question over the past years.

According to a continuous recycled “myth “, Greece has the highest rate of public sector employees all over Europe. Until last year, public sector employees could not be fired once employed and were not evaluated for their performance. Thus, affecting the performance of Greece’s total labor force.

May 2010 and the financial support Greece received from IMF and euro area Member States, one of
most important aims of the Economic Adjustment Programme and Troika’s requirements was to improve the competitiveness of the economy and consequently the productivity, which at that time was accused to be at very low levels.

Greece became in a very short period EU’s black sheep and Greeks, the lazy, low productivity people, which were paid disproportionately to their outcomes.
To set things straight, according to the International Labour Organization (a specialized agency of the United Nations – www.ilo.org) and recent data retrieved for 2012, Greece has a 23% rate of public sector employees. So, Greece has proportionately more workers in government entities from: Spain with 17%, Australia with 18%, France 20% and Canada with 21%; equal percentage to UK (!), Belgium (!!) and Slovenia; less than: Ireland with 25%, Estonia with 26%, Finland 27%, Hungary with 27%, Sweden 28%, Denmark and Norway with 33%.

Although, I do not wish to commence a conversation on the appropriate level of public sector employees, allow me to observe that countries that have more public sector employees than Greece, are countries in a better financial situation than ours and Spain, which has fewer, also received the help of IMF.

Also, official figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2012 display that the average Greek worker toils away for 2,017 hours per year, which is more than any other European country. Out of the 34 members of the OECD, Greece is 3rd just behind, South Korea and Mexico. On the other hand, the average German worker - normally thought of as the very epitome of industriousness - only manages 1,408 hours a year.

Greeks work 43% more hours than the Germans. So, even if quality of work is the criteria as some people may argue, we need to take this high difference into account.

Furthermore, in the capitalist globalization occurring, it is a fact that the share of Euro-exports to world exports was 35.8% in 1990, in 2000 it decreased to 29.7% and by 2010 it was 26.3%![i] In other words, within two decades, Eurozone countries have lost more than a quarter of their competitiveness, measured in terms of their share in world exports. So, maybe it will be better to focus on the reasons behind this decrease and the loss of EU’s overall competitiveness than solely to the “lazy” Greeks.

Having clarified the above and regardless of how we came to this point in Greece, since there are several views and political stands on the policies imposed by neoliberal globalization, it is a fact that Greece’s production structure and competitiveness was almost shattered. Hence, a new order is starting to shape…

Two different Greeces are steadily distinguished: 9 to 5 employees, interested only in concluding their job description on one side, and dedicated, hands-on, every-day impresarios, who seek every opportunity to differentiate on the other.

But why this lack of motivation? Someone may easily have thought that Greeks, after being accused of sluggishness and underachievement, they would have tried to persuade the world for the opposite. Well, this is not happening and there is a simple reason behind it. No motives are given. During my whole professional life, I was taught that you should motivate people to perform - from the top to the lower levels – and not force them.

Of course, motives that may be inspiring for someone, for another may be of no use. In my personal case for example, the possibility to acquire knowledge on new cultures, environments, countries and people, has always been my sole inner “carrot”.

Despite, our country’s organizations private or public, emphasize only in money as a key motivator, rather than knowledge. In a new age society that is changing with a rapid pace and the vast flow of information available, I find the weight of such motivators rather light, especially for young generations.

It is not irrelevant (apart from current unemployment rate which is very high), that in a recent survey conducted by the University of Athens, 1 out of 2 young persons below 24 years old, would leave from Greece to work in another country, if they had the financial resources.

I consider that now it is the time to emphasize more in sharing and promoting knowledge.

Things need to start changing and we need to have the possibility to proudly say that we are gaining knowledge through our work rather than just earning money.

[i] World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002, (Table 4.5) & World Development Indicators 2012, (Table 4.4).
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