By SYCORAX TIYESA NDHLOVU –
Welcome to 2014 Let’s Talk Careers’ articles; and we promise to do better than we did in 2013 especially by bringing to you more specific career oriented articles from potential and seasoned career holders around our society and beyond. We pray for your continued support.
But what is interesting from each festive season is that some individuals and some organisations make a lot of money while other individuals and other organisations spend a lot of it.
In the process, the former sustain their happiness while the latter suspend their happiness. Where do you belong?
Arising from an illegal strike by nurses and Government’s firing of such nurses from employment and the subsequent cry from the dismissed nurses appealing to the Government to reinstate them because they have learnt a lesson from the consequences of going on illegal strike, one can conclude that formal employment is still the backbone of many lives in our country, and therefore, formal employment should be well nursed.
From such a background, one wonders why many workers in this country have poor work culture when they know that their livelihood is dependent on formal employment; and that if fired from their employment, their lives can be worse off than ever before.
But while some workers can be blamed for poor work culture and low productivity, it has also come to public light that some supervisors and some employers contribute to the currently pronounced poor work culture and low productivity in most organisations. Such poor work culture and poor supervision or handling of human resources’ related issues has, in some cases, led to industrial unrests in some organisations where workers have justifiably or unjustifiably been dismissed.
It is such poor work culture, low productivity and industrial unrests that every concerned Zambian doesn’t want to see continuing in 2014.
Recently, government fired more than 594 nurses from various health institutions in Eastern, Lusaka, Copperbelt, Northern and Southern provinces including University Teaching Hospital (UTH).
And Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) president, Leonard Hikaumba have appealed to Government to re-instate the fired nurses as they have now learnt lessons not to go on illegal strikes.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to remind you esteemed readers who are also workers, supervisors and employers to cultivate and develop good work culture in 2014 and beyond for these articles to be meaningful to all of us in our respective capacities.
To ensure that 2014 is a year of improved work culture and high productivity, one is also supposed to reflect on some of the events that happened in our organisations in the past.
For example, one of the civil servants in Mufumbwe District said the article ‘Timely Advice to human resource managers’ that appeared in Times of Zambia on December 14, last year, on page 9 covered a lot of issues that negatively affect staff morale in the civil service.
He said Dr Manda’s revelations at University Teaching Hospital (UTH) that some of the nurses who were fired for participating in illegal strike were actually sick or on annual leave and that some were actually working during the stated illegal strike; and that the human resource department didn’t consult other departments before submitting the list of nurses to be dismissed do not only happen at UTH but are also common in most civil service departments.
The concerned civil servant who didn’t want to be named for fear of victimisation said if higher authorities were aware of such ineffectiveness in human resource departments; and addressed such malpractices accordingly in the civil service, Zambia would develop faster than is the case now.
The reader said most of Human Resource Management (HRM) personnel don’t handle staff issues and appointments accordingly.
He cited a situation where a certain Diploma holder was appointed as a senior human resource officer, leaving out those who have better qualifications than that person in the same field; thereby making the same person supervising officers with higher qualifications and experience in HRM related functions than the promoted person.
It was noted that all such things happen because some human resource (HR) practitioners or higher authorities in the civil service give jobs to their relatives regardless of the qualifications such friends and relatives have.
He said the prevailing poor work culture in the civil service is not because most workers have bad attitude towards work; but it is because most civil servants are frustrated with the way most HR department’s personnel handle staff matters.
The concerned reader wondered whether controlling officers and higher authorities knew who were in the HR departments; and how things are managed in most the civil service departments.
He said if Government doesn’t act on such poor HR management related issues, then civil servants might continue being frustrated; and poor work culture and low productivity will also be the order of the day.
The concerned civil servant urged this writer to continue writing such informative and educative articles which reveal a lot of issues that affect individual career development processes and job creation is most organisations.
To put this article in context, employment is in different types; and its rewards differ from one type of employment in one organisation to another type of employment in another.
However, as an English expression goes: “a bird in the hand in worth thousands in a bush”. Each worker should know that before another job is found, the current job is more important than the one that might come later.
It is also important for every worker to know his or her capacity to compete favourably on the competitive labour market before deciding to develop poor work culture or to be involved in illegal strikes.
Whatever the case may be, 2014 should be a year of more improved work culture for more job security and labour related rewards from respective employers.
But as it has been alluded to in the past articles, improved work culture should be from both workers and employers.
This means that in 2014, employers, supervisors and workers in our country should all improve on their attitudes towards work.
If employers and supervisors are committed to their work; and execute their duties diligently, how can general workers have poor work culture? One can argue that what is common and true with general workers is also common and true with supervisors and employers.
Employers should reflect, understand and appreciate that workers produce goods and or services which customers and clients want to sustain the operations of an organisation.
This means that without the current experienced and skilled workers, an organisation cannot operate to customers’ satisfaction. Such poor performance in an organisation can negatively affect customers’ and other stakeholders’ attitude towards the concerned organisation.
This is why employers and supervisors should also handle workers’ related issues accordingly. Each employer and supervisor should change his or her attitude towards work and towards each worker. Be a good example in good work culture as a supervisor or employer. Supervise workers objectively, fairly and effectively.
Improved work culture and change of attitude towards workers will automatically improve on other workers’ work culture and attitude towards work.
This can lead to high morale and high productivity in an organisation. Such an approach to supervising workers can also lead to high quality goods and services to customer’s satisfaction that gives an organisation a competitive edge in a competitive economy.
Just as employers and supervisors should enter 2014 with improved work culture, workers should also enter 2014 with improved work culture.
Each worker should reflect, understand and appreciate that the current employment gives him or her an income to feed his or her family; and part of it is used as capital to run a business that supplements the current job’s income.
Therefore, each worker should commit himself or herself to the current job. Ensure that you develop more professional knowledge in your career through hard work. Develop more experience and skills in your field of study.
Do more assignments which can add more value to your CV. Don’t allow your CV to be the same every year. Do more professional functions to gain more knowledge, experience and skills which you can proudly add to your CV in 2014.
Employers should use effective two-way communication with workers.
This can be made easy in organisations where trade unionism exists. Workers should also communicate their grievances following the right channels.
Effective two-way communication between workers and their union leaders (where they exist) on one hand; and that between union leaders and employers can also promote improved work culture and high productivity and in the process, reduce or avoid industrial unrests in an organisation.
Let not 2014 be a year of finger pointing between workers and employers, between workers and their respective trade union leaders or between trade union leaders and their respective employers as was the case in some organisations in 2013.
Let 2014 be a year of improved work culture both among workers and employers. Let the year be for improved industrial harmony in all organisations including in the civil service and in parastatal firms.
Such an approach to work can contribute more to job creation and more money in workers’ pockets throughout the country.
The author is Trainer and Career Coach.
For comments and ideas, contact:
Cell: 0967/0977 450151 E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org