Barbados’ work ethic and etiquette have sunk to a new low, particularly among school-leavers, with officials yesterday raising concern that the situation was approaching a national crisis.
Human resource professionals have identified a lack of letter writing skills, poor deportment and speech, as well as a lack of teamwork, as some of the worrying trends that must be addressed if Barbados is to become more competitive.
The labour relations consultancy organization Regional Management Services Inc has partnered with the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) and the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) to organize the inaugural World of Work Showcase in an attempt to address the problem.
However, they know that they have their work cut out for them.
“You are looking at the letters of application and looking at the outline of the resume and you are wondering, ‘what happened here?’” Vice president of HRMAB Donna Hope said yesterday at the media launch of the showcase.
She said the problem was not limited to secondary school leavers but extended to university graduates as well.
Hope made reference to cases where employers had reported that some individuals were using text message language in their letter-writing and some applicants went to job interviews knowing nothing about the organization at which they intended to work.
And there were those, she said, who, having secured interviews, displayed shocking behaviour.
“Even when people come to an interview, in terms of business etiquette, your phone is on the table; and we have had some instances where it was reported . . . that persons go into an interview and they are asking the interviewing panel or human resources person if they could plug in their phone . . . . This is where we are lacking and it is very serious,” Hope complained.
NISE Chief Executive Officer Kim Tudor called for a national response to the issues, stating, “if it is almost like a national crisis then it needs a national solution.
“We in leadership positions need to ensure that we prepare our young people appropriately.”
Managing Director of Regional Management Services Inc Dennis DePeiza added that not only was the issue prevalent among young job seekers, but the more mature adults were also falling into the trap.
He said this was particularly pronounced in the way they dressed, such that “you don’t recognize if it is a party, work or some other activity”.
DePeiza said too many young people appeared to lack an understanding of teamwork at the corporate level, leading low productivity.
“You will have a problem with the moral in the workplace, you will have things like absenteeism arising because you will have a lot of internal conflict,” he said.
The World of Work Showcase is designed to introduce secondary and tertiary school-leavers who are 35 years old or younger to job opportunities and accepted standards to be followed by entrants into the world of work, among other critical areas.
The one-day event takes place at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on June 20 and is expected to attract over 700 participants.