14 Jan 2020

This means war!

In these tense political times, with the set-up of police/military checkpoints in several Jamaican towns and the threat of World War III on the global stage, leaders in general, and HR professionals in particular, ought to be mindful of the negative influence that local and foreign affairs can wield over their workforce. Tension, anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are very real, often undetected, factors that can adversely affect team cohesion and an individual staff member’s performance. These and other unaddressed personal and work-related issues can also have significant bearing on an organisation’s overall performance. They manifest in increased irritability and disagreeableness, which tend to spark arguments and conflicts over the smallest of matters.

Local and foreign affairs aside, issues within the workplace — take sexual harassment for example — have even greater propensity to cause stress and anxiety among workers. Often, these conditions escalate when companies fail to recognise the importance of establishing meaningful off-duty relationships by creating a supportive ecosystem for team members who are experiencing challenges.

Conflict Resolution 2.0

In tandem with the increased awareness around the world in recent years of gender equality and workplace sexual harassment, many Jamaican companies have been making an effort to comply with legal and moral codes of conduct. However, many HR practitioners can attest that taming the monster of sexual harassment in the Jamaican context, in particular, is a Herculean task indeed. In a culture where displays of bravado and crassness towards females are often met with cheers from male counterparts, addressing the psychological barriers of behavioural change is difficult, in some cases impossible. Therefore, a preventive strike approach to mitigating potential conflicts — through intensive and continuous assessment at recruitment, and training during employment — is one of the best places to begin.

Win-Win Situation

The truth is, regardless of background, upbringing and socialisation, most intelligent human beings understand when another person does not want their affections. The challenge for leaders is to break down the company’s guidelines in a manner and language so all team members get the message in a way they truly understand, for the situation could arise just because someone thinks that a particular phrase or action, even when rejected, is merely a way to poke fun and is not that serious.

The light at the end of the tunnel for organisations keen on developing a winning and harmonious team dynamic is to reassess current team members, and to follow up with ongoing team-building and sensitivity training. The big opportunity lies in developing a system to detect these characteristics at the recruitment stage.

This will require more than the usual face-to-face interview process. A complete social and psychological profile of each candidate is the new MO for getting a 360-degree analysis of who companies hire to represent their brand and core values — for, in the age of instant sharing and global reach, one posted conflict or toxic employee can make or break a company with the swipe of a finger.

Until next time, leaders, keep lookin’ up!

 

Debra Fraser MBA, is CEO of Caribbean HR Solutions, a board member of the BPIAJ and the Global Services Sector, a member of the Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica, and Society of Human Resources Management. Please direct comments to dfraser@caribbeanhrsolutions.com or www.caribbeanhrsolutions.com

 

Read more:

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/this-means-war-_184278?profile=1270

 

30 Dec 2019

Who you are online often matters more than who you are on your résumé

It wasn’t that long ago when, to get all the background info you required on a job candidate, one had to use some serious journalistic or detective skills. Then, a recruiter had to make several phone calls to query an applicant’s resume and interview declarations. But the digital revolution has changed the game forever. Since just about everyone is on social media and many users never think about how what they post will portray or affect them in some distant future, quite a large percentage of them prejudice their chances of landing that dream job long before they’re even ready to submit their application. The new MO is that right after perusing a resume, and BEFORE deciding to interview the applicant, the recruiter Googles the person to examine his/her digital footprint. So, depending on that digital alter ego, that call may never come. Welcome to the future… when your past follows you everywhere. (cue creepy evil villain laugh).

Follow Me

In this age of Instagram, WhatsApp (and yes, people still use Facebook) it has come to pass that the young and the restless never give two hoots about how that questionable photograph, expletive-ridden post or song will appear to the world. Despite well publicised warnings about being socially aware and responsible on digital and traditional media platforms, prospective and existing employees persist in jeopardising their occupational career with poor decision-making, all for a few more likes and follows. It’s all good and well to present a clean-cut image of oneself throughout the interview and probationary period. However, sooner or later, that offensive post will show up in someone’s timeline, and then comes the all-access pass to the HR or GM’s office to answer to the company’s employee rules & regulations violation.

Do It For The Love

Simply put, in this new world where workplace diversity and gender sensitivity are catchphrases being enshrined into company culture, employers of choice are mindful when assessing their prospects not just on the basis of their qualifications, but equally so, on their social footprint. Case in point is the recent widely circulated video of the Edna Manley College valedictorian expletive shout-out during his speech. To many socially savvy and probably younger onlookers, it may seem cool. However, for blue chip companies and any organisation keen on traditional values, this could be a major red flag. See, to be selected valedictorian for a prestigious college is akin to being promoted to manager at a reputable company. Now, how would it look to have your star manager cuss some choice Jamaican vernacular at the annual shareholder’s meeting? Privacy as we know it, is a thing of the past. Employees need to get with the times and recognise that who you are online often matters more than what you present on your résumé.

 

Until next time, leaders, keep lookin’ up!

Read more……

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/who-you-are-online-often-matters-more-than-who-you-are-on-your-r-sum-_183219?profile=1270

02 Dec 2019

Evaluation versus adulation

Slowly but surely, we’re progressing from the days when years of service or tenure in a position served as proof of an employee’s value to an organisation. Those were the days when clocking your hours, coming in early and leaving late proved you were the ultimate team player, willing to sacrifice for the cause. Fast forward to the present when proficiency is measured by analytics that show an individual’s actual contribution to the company’s bottom line. To be able to effectively gauge a team member’s net worth means creating objective measurement tools, essentially a system of evaluation or appraisal. This is where the human resources (HR) professional leads the transition from promotions and recognition going to the boss’ pet or office favourite, to the most deserving employee.

Danger! Don’t exclude formal assessment

The practice of using subjective and personal metrics to promote team members does continue in many smaller organisations, as the CEOs may not have the benefit of a human resource manager to support the formal alternative. However, they are realising that they exclude formal evaluation procedures at their own peril. Impulsive or personal decisions often have a way of backfiring when the person is not the right fit for an elevated position. Much like the succession planning paradigm we discussed in the previous article, managing up (or out) requires careful planning and execution over a period of time. The principle of hiring slow and firing fast also applies here, in the sense that we deliberate and assess carefully before selecting the next leader in the organisation value chain. Note though, that the opposite applies to managing out team members who no longer add value to the company. To be clear, that could simply be due to them having aspirations that your firm no longer satisfies. So a mutually beneficial separation may just be ideal.

Manager or Leader

Many senior management personnel still don’t fully appreciate the difference between managing and leading. Some confuse passive aggressive behaviour for being firm or decisive. The unfortunate reality is that often these managers mean well but can’t differentiate between telling and showing; giving someone a fish or teaching them how to snag those elusive water dwellers. Ok, enough with the analogies. The point is this: for any blue chip organisation intent on hiring and keeping the best and brightest in their ranks, they must develop systems to track and train not just the obvious leadership candidates, but everyone in the company must be able to see a path to upward mobility to create a truly level playing field. To do this, leaders must start in the mirror by assessing their management and interpersonal relationship styles and critically gauge if they, themselves, are part of the problem. Thereafter, by taking responsibility for their role in the process, they can more authentically engage their peers and charges in meaningful conversation towards determining the best prospects for leadership positions, and quite honestly, which employees have run their course in the new and improved version of the company. Failure to have this ‘Kum ba yah’ moment may eventually lead to managers themselves being managed out of the organisation.

Until next time, leaders keep lookin’ up!

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/evaluation-versus-adulation_181048?profile=1270#disqus_thread

02 Jul 2019

BIRCHES GROUP ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP WITH CARIBBEAN HR SOLUTIONS (CHRS) IN JAMAICA

Birches Group, a global market consulting group that provides salary and compensation data to developing countries, is pleased to announce its strategic partnership with Caribbean HR Solutions based in Montego Bay, Jamaica. With over ten years of experience, Caribbean HR Solutions provides outsourced HR solutions such as recruiting, employment agency, payroll & benefits and HR consulting to its clients. Having clients from various sectors in the country, Caribbean HR Solutions provides practical Human Capital management for companies entering the Caribbean Service Center market ensuring they access the best talent available.

Under this partnership, Caribbean HR Solutions will co-sponsor Birches’ multi-sector survey and help promote survey participation to all their clients and other Jamaican entities. Together, both entities will also be exploring possible compensation management training events, webinars and other activities to provide professional development opportunities for HR practitioners in Jamaica.

In commenting on the partnership, Debra Fraser, CEO of Caribbean HR Solutions, said “We are excited to enter into this partnership with Birches Group. Being actively engaged in the HR industry for over 20 years, I believe that this partnership will provide Jamaican employers with competitive information to maintain their most valuable assets (employees). Over the years, Jamaica has been struggling with access to credible/specific data to make strategic employment decisions. We are pleased to partner with Birches Group as their solutions will move our clients and Jamaica in the direction of being a data-driven society.”

Julienne Sayoc, Manager for Private Sector Business Development for Birches Group, added: “This collaboration with CHRS creates a mutually advantageous partnership that expands CHRS’ product and service portfolio while it allows Birches Group to increase and sustain its visibility and penetration in the market. Combining Birches Group’s expertise in compensation and benefits solutions with CHRS’ well established presence and cross-functional HR expertise will undoubtedly bring about synergies that will ultimately benefit our mutual clients.”

For more information about this partnership, or to learn more about Caribbean HR Solutions and services, please contact us.

Download the press release here.

13 Jan 2020

Holidays and Your Payroll

Holidays can affect your payroll in a variety of ways. Perhaps one of the most obvious ways is that employers are required by Jamaican law to pay their employees at a premium. Another impact holidays can have is getting your employees paid on time.

Holidays affect your payroll because they are also bank holidays. This means that the banks are not open for operations and transfers will not be completed on that day. Hence, if your payroll falls on that date, not having proper preparations in place can cause your employees to be paid late. Whether you are on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly payroll schedule, there will be a time where holidays affect your payroll. It is important therefore to properly prepare for bank holidays to avoid mishaps.

Upcoming Jamaican Holidays 2020

 

*Brackets represent the date on which the holiday is actually observed

30 Dec 2019

‘Tis the Season

It’s that time of year again when we make dietary promises and resolutions that we probably won’t keep. It’s also the time when employees are hopeful, expectant even, that management will open the coffers and give a nice fat Christmas bonus for all their hard work.

But not so fast!

HR professionals have changed the game with the implementation of systems of appraisals and evaluations. In the new game, it’s metrics that primarily determine if, and how much, an employee will receive. Going are the days of equitably sharing a percentage of net profit among the troops.

But it’s Christmas, and if you can’t wish for the best, then…

Celebrate Good Times

For many employers of choice, it’s both a time for reflection and recognition. There are the customary staff awards and parties, sometimes a message from the CEO about how the company is doing and possibly a teaser about exciting developments on the horizon. It’s also a great opportunity to reinforce the message about how critical their performance has been to the overall success of the company. In short, it’s a great time for the CEO and senior management to shine while paying homage to the actual stars, their employees. Through investment in their assets, tangible and human, organisations lay the foundation to reap profits, especially as it relates to improved customer service delivery levels, which can in turn translate to sustained profitability. In the end though, especially in blue chip companies, though employees want recognition for their contributions, they also want to own a piece of the enterprise in stock options, shares or playing more critical roles via promotions and partnership. And what better way to celebrate success than to share it with those who help create it?

Many Happy Returns

Feel-good factor aside, the realities of a rapidly evolving local and global economy dictates that leaders are always in planning mode. ‘Adapt or die’ is more than just a popular cliche; it’s a rallying cry that when worked into the DNA of the company’s culture, challenges team members at every level to bring their ‘A’ game all day, everyday.

This all sounds great in a general or department meeting. However, unless employees also inform new innovations and strategic decisions via an open-door policy environment that encourages asking difficult questions and positively disrupting the status quo, companies won’t realise their full potential and likely end up losing some of their stars to their competitors. In addition to having a system to funnel ideas and suggestions to improve the company, some firms take it to another level by hosting full-on inspiration conventions to fuel friendly competition and discover the next big thing or star. So even though Christmas is the time to celebrate everything family, a culture of year-round recognition and engagement is possibly the most sustainable way to generate happy returns for the bottom line and team morale.

Until next time, leaders keep lookin’ up!

 

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/-tis-the-season_182217?profile=1270

06 Nov 2019

Show me the money by Debra Fraser

The legacy of the garment manufacturing industry which was buoyant in Jamaica in the 1980s and 1990s is that it created the perception that all outsourced business process services are created equal. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is a fact that the core purpose of the outsourcing industry is to find more affordable labour markets to perform critical business functions remotely. This is done because it is usually more costly to provide those services in the company’s domicile country. However, a lot has changed with the evolution of global services, the style in which the industry is now being re-branded.

The Call Centre Stigma

With the enduring reputation of call centres in the minds of jobseekers, even blue chip employers of choice in the global services sector have to work on positioning their brands as premium service providers. Multinational corporations like Xerox, for example, have to continuously market themselves as innovation leaders, not mere cheap labour managers. This is where recruiters and human resource professionals have their work cut out for them, because a big part of that effort is engaging tertiary-level graduates at job fairs and pre-qualification information sessions. For, when attorneys-at-law, engineers and medical professionals are full-time employees for Fortune 500 companies operating in the business process outsourcing space, it is a clear indicator that high-level skills, as much as flexi-hours and virtual offices, are the new normal in this New Work Order.

Speaking of virtual offices, on Thursday this week — November 7 — the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ) will be facilitating the Global Leadership Summit in Montego Bay with a combination of virtual and live presenters. This type of innovation is proof positive that perspectives in how and where we work are evolving with our needs to be active and productive participants in a truly global community.

Perception vs Reality

Nearshore Americas, one of the region’s leading information sources for the process outsourcing sector, recently conducted work environment and salaries-based surveys in several companies based in Jamaica. Generally, the information revealed that a large percentage of the employees surveyed expressed comparative or high levels of satisfaction where working conditions, benefits and the overall compensation package is concerned. Some referenced the opportunity to make extra money by meeting quotas and qualitative targets and that they benefitted from savings made via lunch subsidies and health care benefits.

The reality is that average global services workers have higher starting salaries than their peers in similar positions. Additionally, the rate of ascension through the ranks via promotions and performance-related bonuses is even higher. Companies that perform analytics and provide trend insights affirm that the probability of promotion to supervisory and management levels in the outsourcing industry far outpaces the rate in traditional sectors. It’s no wonder workers employed to firms keen on keeping them happy and fully engaged in a holistic work culture tend to stay and grow their résumés and net worth faster with a proportionally rewarding working environment.

So, while it’s not all about the money, statistics prove that if it were, as a career path to upward mobility and financial independence, the average worker has much better odds in the global services sector than most other industries.

Until next time, leaders, keep lookin’ up

Read more

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/show-me-the-money_178682?profile=1270

07 Oct 2019

Here comes the boom!

All indications are that Jamaica is trending upwards economically — from being ranked 7th in the world on the most entrepreneurial country index in 2015; being awarded a second time by Bloomberg as the world’s number one performing stock exchange, in 2018; and being rated as the 6th best place to start a business globally in 2019 by the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. It’s little wonder investors are eager to plant financial roots in Jamaica. But macro-economic optics aside, is all this foreign exchange and economic activity trickling down to the factory floor and into office cubicles?

Rising Tide Raises All Boats

It’s natural for employees at all levels to expect a salary increase when the company they work for flourishes. So when all factors point to a growing industry and sustained company profitability, human resource personnel get frequent nudges about opportunities for promotion and increases in basic salaries. It’s important for leaders to recognize that frank and frequent conversations must take place with their team members to prevent alienating them, and to be in control of the narrative. Simply put, perception is often reality, especially for the so-called average worker at the bottom of the corporate totem pole. Quite often, as HR professionals we do more mediation than team-building because organisations allow the communication gap to create an ‘US vs them’ internal stand-off, which is never good for manager-employee relations, or for business. Employers of choice ought to make it a priority to have an open playbook in place that clearly outlines paths to professional development, upward mobility, and succession planning if they intend to keep their employees fully engaged and committed.

The sad reality is that inflation always seems to win. The true value of money erodes faster than the rate of increase in average salary levels and the cost of living, so to the majority of workers it can often feel like being on a treadmill where running as hard as you can still doesn’t get you closer to your financial goal. More and more companies internationally are awakening to the new mindset of the modern worker. Today’s tech savvy, free-spirited employee understands their personal value more so than the traditional punch-clock worker. They understand that technology makes work easier and hours spent doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity. Consequently, headhunters now find more and more that job seekers want to be in working environments that allow them flexible work hours and/or the opportunity to work from home. This means that they still expect to get paid well but also have freedom to explore other non-conflicting sources of income simultaneously. To acquire and keep employees’ full attention, leaders must recognise that a new day has come where a more knowledgeable workforce expects more for their valuable time, in dollars, and appeal to their sense of overall job satisfaction.

Until next time, leaders keep lookin’ up!

Read more:

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/here-comes-the-boom-_176419?profile=1270

24 Sep 2019

What’s love got to do with it?

For the new generation of workers, company loyalty is often a fluid notion; a commodity to be traded to the highest bidder. Employers of choice must therefore be mindful of the cost and customer service implications of high attrition rates and try to mitigate this by ensuring that their pay and benefits package is attractive. It’s especially important when employees see the company growing and being profitable but don’t see it reflecting in their salaries. Recognition programmes and company perks can only go so far, and it’s not like they are considered legal tender at the supermarket.

WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU LOVE…

Some say the sweet spot is when you get well-paid to do something you’d probably consider doing for free anyway. Take for example an executive buyer whose job is to travel the world, shopping in the most exciting cities, purchasing designer wear. Who wouldn’t want that job, right?

However, any human resource (HR) professional can also attest that in order to keep employees happy and engaged at the end of the day, they must have enough disposable income to save, pay for school, or buy a house or car. In this regard, job satisfaction is directly correlated to compensation. That ultimately is what matters most, especially to line staff. Therefore, organisations that choose to retain earnings, pay higher stock dividends, or invest in expensive infrastructural projects in lieu of reinvesting in their most valuable asset — their team members — stand the risk of losing them to companies that recognise and value them enough to pay them what they’re worth.

Notwithstanding, many HR professionals struggle to access accurate or recent compensation information to create competitive compensation packages. Companies like Birches Group help to provide this type of accurate and up to date compensation data which managers can use to create competitive packages.

NO ROMANCE WITHOUT FINANCE

On the other side of the fence — where employers are concerned — job security as it used to be known is a thing of the past. Now it’s mostly about, what have you done for me lately? The concept may sound reprehensible to more seasoned campaigners, but the truth is that many organisations are no longer bound by that unspoken contract — that “we will do our best to ensure your job security and compensate you equitably”. The sad reality is that one day you will have a job and next week 500 employees are cut in rationalisation exercises designed to make the company more agile and efficient — which, in English, means you’re fired.

But people aren’t stupid; not most of us anyway. When staff members see the company’s profitability booming, new locations opening, managers’ motor vehicles being upgraded, they begin to ask questions, like, “What about me? Where’s my pay raise? I want nice things too!”

And you know what ultimately suffers the most from this situation, the company they USED TO work for. That’s when manager’s scramble for advice from HR service professionals about how to keep their best and brightest. No wonder many in the job market have become occupational mercenaries, ruthlessly seeking new opportunities when their future with their current employer looks bleak. It then becomes a case of ‘do unto others BEFORE they do unto you’. Thank you, next…

Until next time, leaders keep lookin’ up!

 

 

Read more

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/what-s-love-got-to-do-with-it-_175319?profile=1270

09 Sep 2019

Adapt or die…the Kodak lesson

The laws of nature apply in the jungles of Africa as much as they do in the concrete jungle, aka the corporate workplace. Recent business history is littered with the obituaries of market-leading companies that snubbed or embraced new technologies and processes. Two companies come readily to mind — Kodak and Xerox. Both were so entrenched in their respective core markets that the very function of their flagship products became global jargons. A ‘Kodak moment’ was synonymous with using their camera to capture the moment, and ‘Xerox-ing’ a document meant you photocopied it. By virtue of that, one would have expected them to adapt to the requirements of the market and outclassed any competition. Kodak should have evolved into a massive digital imaging business insulated from the likes of Sony and Canon, but the company failed to adapt, filing for bankruptcy in 2011. Xerox, on the other hand, pivoted from focusing on machinery to become one of the world’s leading business processes firms. The difference? Adapting to emerging markets and technological trends, and a willingness to invest in their most important resource — their people.

Humans are naturally resistant to change, whether at the level of ownership, senior management, or employees, but i the intention is for the business to not only survive, but thrive, companies must come to terms with the need to adapt to changes in the market. In order to make adopting new technologies palatable, leadership and HR practitioners must collaborate to create the ideal culture and conditions for employees to embrace innovation and learn new technology.

The catch-22 is when more experienced employees need to acquire new skill sets just to keep up with fast-emerging global trends. The generational gap must be bridged as baby boomers and millennials learn differently and interact with technology from diverse and often differing perspectives. Many organisations will find it challenging to manage this fast-moving and dynamic process internally and may require assistance from an HR management company as a strategic partner to entrench sustainable talent acquisition and retention policies and procedures. Whether it’s executed internally or externally, clear, detailed goals, effective communication and continuous training are critical transitional deliverables of the process. These could go a long way in helping organisations develop workplace diversity and reinforce a culture change, thereby minimising employee uncertainty and increasing the longevity of the business.

Until next time, leaders keep lookin’ up!

 

Read more

http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/career-education/adapt-or-die-the-kodak-lesson_174225?profile=1270

26 Aug 2019

Education or experience — Which is better?

The general consensus is that attaining higher education presents one with more employment opportunities. Consequently, the more advanced the accreditation achieved, the more a candidate will have his or her pick of attractive positions. While this is mostly true, there are numerous cases of college dropouts leading Fortune 500 companies. The irony of it all is that often, less academically qualified individuals are the ones hiring personnel with master’s degrees and doctorates, which gives rise to the question: Which is more important, education or know-how? The reality is that HR practitioners can attest that a healthy balance of qualification and experience is ideal; but which one is more likely to get you that job?

 

Level Up

The catch-22 of that overused word ‘experience’ is that you have to first be employed to gain it. Therefore, if as an academically qualified candidate your Achilles heel is your lack of actual, on-the-job experience, potential employers are going to have reservations about whether you can hit the ground running or will need time to match your theoretical knowledge with real world applications. Employers of choice unanimously seem to favour candidates with a ‘high ceiling’ or upside, that is to say, those with great potential and with most of the right qualities and qualifications, as opposed to those who are experienced but might have already passed their professional peak. This is where HR professionals and CEOs have an opportunity to create the environment for their employees to be continuously learning. By facilitating higher education and training opportunities, staff members not only become more competent at their jobs but tend to feel a sense of loyalty to the company. Inevitably though, while organisations should in their own self-interest and that of their employees seek to encourage skills and competency upgrades, the bulk of the responsibility lies with the individual if in fact they are serious about climbing the corporate ladder.

 

Moving On Up

It then becomes a matter of who most applies him/herself in all the ways that affect the company’s core targets and objectives. This means that some objectives may have different benchmarks than others. So, while a sales associate will be revenue driven, someone in quality control may be assessed based on how few complaints are recorded. The new approach to leadership now requires managers to always be in succession planning mode, constantly testing and preparing their charges to become upwardly mobile within the organisation. This paradigm dictates that any leader who isn’t hiring team members who can or will replace them are either stuck in the old ways or out of touch with what is required to make a business successful and sustainable in the long run. Recruiters and HR partner companies are recognising that organisations with a clear path to promotion opportunities and transparency, where documented cases of the company filling management positions from within the organisation are evident, those companies lead the way in attracting the best, brightest and more experienced candidates. But make no bones about it, one way or another, the rules of engagement must be learned and strategically applied if the office mail delivery person is to one day occupy the CEO’s chair.