Are Ugandans the Laziest Employees in The world

According a report from a 2016 survey on executive performance in East Africa, Uganda reportedly has the laziest people in East Africa with the lowest productivity in terms of value-added per worker. Let us assume this is true, what could be the problem?


Sometimes one may regard another as lazy when in fact that “lazy” person just needs to understand what is expected of him or her. For some employers, an employee should simply be present and ready to take orders and execute them immediately. However, this is not how most people work. In fact keeping someone unsure about their role in the workplace not only affects their productivity but also their motivation to work.

It can be expected that if an employer is paying someone a monthly salary and have given them a job but there are no set targets or expectations or any solid understanding of what exactly their job entails, then it is likely that they will take their time doing the little that they do understand. However, eventually they will simply perform that bare minimum and since they are not learning anything new, they will become demoralized and eventually burn out, which ultimately will reflect poorly on their productivity and the overall productivity of the company.


What is often forgotten when speaking about “lazy employees” is that most Ugandan employees have got informal employment contracts. They have no certainty when it comes to their employment. Their roles are not written out anywhere, their work hours are not “set in stone” and their output is not clearly spelled out. Most times even the role they are expected to play is so fluid they may not know what exactly they are expected to do.

If the employee had a written employment contract in a document and it details the duties, responsibilities and entitlements of an employee, the employer is more likely to get better output from the employees because he or she knows what is expected and what they are not allowed to do (e.g. sleeping under their office table after lunch time).

Where an employer pays an employee basing on the output of the employee, there is a higher likelihood that the employee will produce more output because it means more money. This does not mean that the employer should exploit the employees by paying peanut wages, but rather having the employee get paid a fair amount for the work that they are doing. Remember an underpaid employee is not likely to perform well.

One way an employer can do this is to divide what the employee earns in a month, the number of hours the employee is supposed to work (standard employment hours in Uganda are 45 a week, the maximum set by law is 48 hours exceeding which an employee is entitled to overtime pay) and divide that per hour with outputs attached to it. For example, the employee is expected to do an expected amount of work in an hour. If the employee does the work of two hours in one hour, then they shall be paid two hours’ worth for that one hour.

In addition to having the employment terms streamlined, the entrepreneur will have to be (or provide) hands-on management to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of the employees. This is necessary to ensure streamlining of the business activities.


Conclusively therefore, no matter how lazy everyone else in other businesses may be, the productivity in any particular business is determined by the efficiency of the management system and the work environment as well as incentives available. Keeping people in office for 9 hours every day does not equal actual work output. Underpayment has also never been motivators for hard work, in fact, paying employees too little has been shown to contribute to absenteeism, absent mindedness while at work and job-hopping.



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