Today’s release of the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Trend Report offers a thought-provoking insight into how Barbadian businesses, in both private and public sectors, ought to respond to an ever-changing labour market.
It blasted the conventional, if not cynical, wisdom among employers that workers are solely interested in a paycheck above all else.
Employees are more attracted to feeling a sense of belonging, esteem and experiencing self-satisfaction while knowing the work environment is safe, the survey found.
Senior Manager of Consulting at Deloitte Barbados Roger Hennis said: “Companies can’t just look at revenues and profit, companies have to look to say ‘how can I contribute to make society better and that is whether I employ people and make sure they are taken care of, that their individual needs are taken care of as well as the impact I have on society?’
“Giving them a job is not enough, there are three top needs for a person – self-actualization, the whole aspect of belonging and the whole aspect of esteem.”
He noted that while some companies have started to pay more attention to providing staff with flexitime and opportunities to keep their health in check, there is still some work to be done to cater to the changing needs of the workforce.
“It is really about helping a person achieve what they want,” he said.
“Companies also have to realize that in order to adequately compete, they may need to embrace more technology including artificial intelligence (AI).”
But rather than seeing the human being as a mere analogue anachronism in a digital world, technology shifts require an overhaul of employee/employer relations and the development of new culture.
Despite an enabling statutory framework and a strong tradition of collective bargaining and labour mediation dating back decades, Barbados needs a new work culture.
Archaic systems must be shunted aside. There is no room for a top-down approach to management, where employees are merely instructed, seen to work but never heard.
Far too many bosses, embrace the notion that knowledge is power, and greedily grasp this power by keeping what they know to themselves. This benefits no one, least of all the organisation.
Employees need the opportunity to influence decisions and have clarity on why certain decisions as made by management. Following a fair process in decision-making builds trust and commitment.
Equally, employees must be prepared to honestly invest their time, skills and knowledge into ensuring the company runs smoothly. They must be innovative team players who are ever ready and eager to learn.
The impact of this Deloitte report should be far-reaching and be required reading for our business and public administrators for it is a dossier on Barbados’ most precious resource: its people.
Essential to the success of any business is productivity. No matter the type or size of the operation, hiring the right employees is crucial to its efficient operation and growth.
But beyond the organisation, a skilled and efficient labour force is critical to our nation’s development.
There is a direct link to long-term growth, overall prosperity and competitiveness on a global scale.
But the future is not what it used to be.
The behind-the-desk, nine-to-five worker with standard qualifications and skills need no longer apply – for no such job awaits.
In comes, Generation Y – qualified, deeply technologically savvy, more innovative, more flexible, ready to take up the next best challenge.
And the human resource managers tell us the new worker is after much more than stable hours and a pension plan.
Research shows that people who put in more than ten years in a company are fast becoming relics, while the number of those leaving jobs after a year is on the rise.
So even while chronic unemployment and under-employment appear to be indelible features of the Barbadian labour market, whether in good times or in bad, changes in the workforce are relentless and picking up pace. Both employers and employees need to come to terms with the changing environment and be ready to adapt – or die.