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Business management

Unpaid work (by Everton Gubert)


Content originally published in 2017.

Without fear of being happy, I am proud to say that I am Brazilian. I was born in an extraordinary country, with a huge diversity in virtually all areas and with incredible potential to be explored when compared with other countries. This potential is such that I could write a book just talking about it.

And just because I like this country so much, I invest a lot of energy and give my own share to improving things that are not yet positive. Among them, what bothers me a lot, perhaps because I work with management and with a focus on ongoing improvement, is precisely our productivity and, consequently, our competitiveness.

Last month the World Economic Forum, in partnership with our Dom Cabral Foundation, released the latest version of the Global Competitiveness Report and the ranking that evaluates 137 countries in this benchmarking. Unfortunately for us, Brazil in in the shameful eightieth place. That’s right! We’re not even in the middle of the table.

It is from reports like this that come those conclusions that point out that an American worker earns the equivalent of four Brazilian workers. And at first sight we can’t just imagine that. Our worker is very hardworking and works hard. It’s not a matter of being kind of lazy. We’re a hard-working people. The key point of the problem is the quality of the outcome. Most of the time, our workers perform roles without focus, process, methodology, performance indicators and without leadership capable of inspiring greater commitment and productivity.

And all these issues concern what I call the “fence gate inwards.” That is, they are aspects and actions that practically depend on no one else but the managers of the companies. However, when we go to our “fence gate outwards” characteristics, then the overall picture becomes even more challenging. If we observe our laws, especially labor laws, our education, infrastructure and tax burden, then we can understand why we are in a weak position in terms of competitiveness as compared to other countries.

Even so, I want to bring some encouragement and show examples. I know hundreds of companies that do not appear in this position and I can guarantee that if they represented our country, we would be competing head to head with the best, doing things great. What I see in common among these super competitive and sustainable companies is that the management process is at the heart of the strategies and there is a lot of time, investment and energy dedicated to make it more efficacious.

These companies are champions in the battle against unpaid work – one of a company’s biggest waste. I call unpaid work all that work that produces no value for the business’s client. I will take the banking system to exemplify this concept. A while ago, just before the technological revolution, we needed to go to the bank branches in person and we had to stand in long queues for a long time waiting to be just served. This delay, which in many cases even exceeded one hour, is unpaid work. While the customer is queued, the bank is not generating any value for its customer or for itself.

Bringing that concept to our reality in the agribusiness and more specifically to pig farming, I can very often perceive a series of unpaid work in the farm processes. Repeated heat mating, diarrhea at farrowing facilities, animal composting above the permissible volume, extra medicine injections… Anyway, all the work done that does not generate value for the farm is a waste.

In addition to the examples above, which others can you see? And more importantly, which ones aren’t you seeing? Therefore, I’d like to leave here the invitation, or the provocation, so that we can review our processes, from the reception of the gilt to the exit of the piglets for slaughter, and find out what are the opportunities to tackle unpaid work that we can take. This is a simple exercise, but it delivers great results. Give it a try. You may be very surprised.


Article extracted from Feed&Food Magazine, written by Everton Gubert, founder and director of the Innovation area at Agriness.

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