Ugandans have been ranked as the laziest people in East Africa with the lowest labour productivity in terms of value-added per worker.
A 2016 survey on executive performance in the region, by Dr Norah Njuba an organisational development consultant showed that Ugandans’ poor performance is fueled by poor work ethics and socio-cultural factors such as, disabling beliefs, executive perception about themselves and about their leaders, and lack of a sense of urgency.
According to Dr Njuba, there are several inconsistencies in the labor market, for example, employers are demanding higher efficiency and productivity and yet the work-place is awash with highly qualified but non-performing staff. Another inconsistency is that there has been so much capacity building over the past 20 years yet productivity at the shop-floor has not changed and so there is mounting disenchantment with the Ugandan work culture and ethic.
She added that there is a disconnect between what employers and the market is looking for and what the products of our school systems are offering.
This is not the first indictment on the workforce of the country. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been ranking the country’s labour productivity among the bottom 25 out of 144 countries over the last five years. Also, the Global Competiveness Report (Schwab, 2014) indicated that compared to other countries in the East African region, Uganda has the lowest labour productivity. Closer to home, the Office of the Prime Minister in 2012 acknowledged that labour productivity is a major challenge.
In a bid to do something about the current predicament, Mr Sam Bwaya the executive director of Institute of Culture and Work Ethics (IWCE), a civil society organisation (CSO), that promotes ethics in the country said in a press briefing at Hotel Africana that they are going to organise the first Work Culture and Culture Day in Uganda.
“The purpose of the day is to promote ethical work culture in Uganda using homegrown tools and solutions. The time to mourn is up; it’s now time to act,” he said.
According to him, this is going to be an annual event which will first start with institutions and corporate organisations and later on involve individuals so as to instill a good culture towards work among Ugandans.
IWCE is an organisation that was motivated by present day performance challenges in the country. A doctoral research on executive performance in Uganda by Bwaya (2017) showed that there are major performance and productivity challenges hence a high risk that overtime Ugandans will lose significant job opportunities to foreigners if nothing is done.