Public sector workers who have survived Government’s retrenchment programme have been left deflated and unable to produce at their optimum.
That assessment was given today by Senior Counseling Psychologist at Network Services Centre, Anderson Kellman, who told Barbados TODAY that many public sector employees were still struggling to come to grips with the situation.
“Understand that the whole issue of retrenchment is not about persons who have not been working well. There are persons who were excellent workers and they’ve gone home . . . . If you have worked in an organisation for the past ten years with someone who was working well and you see that person go home, you are thinking to yourself, ‘perhaps my time will come soon’ and then your response could be such that you become disengaged. You [believe] you are going to lose your belongings and that can impact your productivity. Multiply that across the service and you can see how that can have an effect on national productivity and within the entire public sector. I’m not saying it is to that extent, I’m saying based on my experience over the past 15 years at Network Services Centre where we dealt with some of the bigger mergers and restructuring processes; we know that those are realities that have to be addressed,” he said.
Kellman was speaking after the media launch of the re-engagement seminars in the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) held at the National Insurance boardroom in the Frank Walcott building in Culloden Road, St Michael this morning.
Meantime, director of Public Sector Reform Michael Archer said the recently introduced Employee Support Programme, which helps displaced workers transition to unemployment status has been well received.
The new EAP initiative, combined with counseling programmes and interventions of the NSC, aims to boost morale and increase productivity among the remaining workers.
While it is open to employees in all Government agencies and ministries, those sections which were significantly impacted by the retrenchments are being particularly targeted.
Kellman disclosed that more than 200 people have utilised the service since the layoff process began this year, seeking assistance in the areas of substance abuse, anxiety, depression and reactive depression.
“A loss of a job is a very serious loss, it doesn’t only speak to the loss of money but the loss of one’s place in the world; loss of friendships. So when we have a job loss it can have a number of effects on our psyche, which at times, if it is not dealt with, can become even more problematic psychologically.
“That is what we are doing now in the re-engagement process . . . . There [are some] persons who have expanded roles, there is less manpower and therefore they have to do more. And so, unless persons are re-engaged, then we will have a major gap in what is expected and where they are, which can then undermine whatever gains are made in the reduction of the wage bill,” he said.
“This is such a critical time in our country that we don’t want to have no stone unturned and we want to get our productivity up because if it was a problem before the cuts, then you can almost be sure it is going to be a major problem after. And so we want to be able to get ourselves back to a level that is comfortable. Sometimes people think if it is not broken then don’t fix it, but it may be broken and you don’t know,” said Kellman, as he called for full cooperation.