Saturday, August 17

A decent lunch is the key to higher productivity

Eurostat’s index of ‘Labour productivity per person employed and hour worked’ — in which the ‘EU 28’ benchmark is 100, the UK’s score in 2018 was 99 and France’s 116. It reminds us that the French skilled worker is a lot more productive than his British counterpart. I have been studying the Frenchman in his native habitat to find the secret of his efficiency, and I think it has to do with the hours he doesn’t work, at midday. The restaurant Auberge de la Nauze at Sagelat, Dordogne, for example, had a fleet of vans in its car park mostly belonging to a local water company, whose operatives were tucking merrily into an excellent no-choice three-course menu — €18 for us, no doubt cheaper for them as regulars subsidised by their employer. But having had to call out the same company the next day, I can report that its service was as swift and effective as you’d wish from any utility. Higher UK productivity in the coming free-trade era will depend, of course, upon radically improved levels of innovation, automation, skills training and capital investment, but let’s also learn the French lesson that better lunches make happier workers. (Martin Vander Weyer, The Spectator)

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