Wednesday, Sep 18, 2019
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Progressive workplace policies

I’ve had the benefit, in fact blessing, of living, studying, and working in diverse environments. I consider myself a global citizen with a pretty open mind and worldview. Differences do not scare me, they excite me. I want to learn about other cultures and practices to appreciate the vastness of our global community. It also helps me to appreciate my own culture and to analyze it as well. I join the growing community of enlightened professionals that believe the place where we are based is a wonderful place to live and work, while there are aspects that need to change and modernize. It is more pronounced the more I interact with people around the world and teach current practices in human resources.

What are some progressive policies we can implement in the Bahamian workplace?

Work time

It is undeniable that we spend the majority of our waking hours at work. The desire to be at work so much isn’t as great for some as it is for others. This is why progressive organizations are doing things to either make the workplace an easier, more comfortable place to spend a lot of that time, incentivize the time invested at work, or allow flexibility in how and where work is accomplished.

Bahamian workplaces do a lot to track time and monitor people at work. In some cases, it is with good reason because there are those employees that waste time or steal time through lack of productivity, poor attendance, or tardiness. However, I didn’t realize how much employees are policed until I worked with leaders from America who felt it okay to say take the time you need to tend to personal matters. It was as if they understood that once you get the work done, that you were also a person outside of work and that part of you mattered just as much.

Which policies does this impact? Flexitime, working remotely, overtime or time in lieu for managers are a few. Flexitime allows the employee to choose their work times. Working remotely allows employees to work from home or from a location of their choice. Managers getting paid or time back for excessive hours worked is already in place for some organizations; however, managers are barely able to take the days off they earned, creating a vicious cycle of overwork and managers feeling unappreciated. Some countries have actually legislated a shorter work day or cap off the total number of hours someone can work in a week.

Leave and welfare policies

Progressive companies are giving employees more time off they can take in a given year, like unlimited vacation, or family leave for both men and women for the birth, adoption, and care of a child. Some companies have on-site day care which is a great relief for working parents, especially for single parents, again both men and women. Gym memberships, coaching, ongoing learning in or outside their job, cross training, mentoring, employee assistance programs for counseling and support are other ways companies contribute to the overall wellbeing of their employees. One may say, is all this necessary? If you want to attract and retain a talented workforce, then yes, it is crucial to the business.

Equity in opportunity, pay and promotion

One of the greatest cries of today’s Bahamian workplace is equal access to fair compensation, benefits and growth opportunities as their counterparts, whether local or expatriate. There seems to be a gap with great employees being discovered by great companies. There is disparity in pay and benefits being offered to local candidates versus expatriate ones. People are being promoted based on who they know, who they have influenced, mileage obtained, leverage gained, tenure, or even appearance. Certainly getting promoted based on experience, ability, and qualifications seem to not factor into the decisions at all. Then there are subsequent issues of performance, effectiveness and efficiency that the underperforming create that the performing have to fix. What a mess!

“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace,” states Doug Conant of Campbell Soup.

If we want to win, we have to think about the state of affairs within the organization. These principles of success can’t just come from watching multinational leaders in business and say what they are doing is not realistic or attainable. They are possible for businesses in smaller nations as well that are classified as ‘third world’. In my view, being ‘first world’ begins with a mindset and corresponding actions. There must first be the belief that this is possible and needed. Then, the day will come when the textbook principles I get the immense pleasure of teaching to HR professional hopefuls become our new normal, a reality based on fairness and progression not mediocrity, nepotism, stagnation, and regression.

• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, mentor, and activist who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals ‘live limitless’ by identifying purpose & vision, aligning to purpose through authenticity, and breaking free of limiting mindsets and practices. For comments, queries, strategic solutions, and bookings, email simmone@thelimitlesslifecoachingco.com.

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