Gearing up in a Cul-de-Sac ?

“I am in charge of HR in a company in Lagos. Nigeria. The problem at hand is that the employer didn’t want to bend from a traditional way of running a company. Furthermore, the employee has been productive; and they are calling for increase in salary because their take home pay is very low, and this development has resulted in labour turnover. On the other hand, the employer is not ready to review the staff salary even after several discussions and proposals I had with him in respect to this issue. In addition, the employer wants productivity at all costs but is paying lip service to employees welfare. What can I do?”

Source: Employer- Employee strife, an HR concern from Lagos Nigeria

Most of us have worked in firms where we had little option to bring in the changes that we deemed fit. We worked within the limitations and changed our jobs at the first best opportunity. The only take away that we gained was a set of learning on how to consistently deliver under pressure. Often such difficult environment pushes us to achieve and create  a breakthrough, merely to survive.

Here are a few suggestions that we offer Tunde.

  1. We understand that a detailed plan was presented to resolve the bottlenecks. Use that information to prepare a dashboard with time stamps for early warning signs with a respective estimated loss. Identify the number and the batch of employees that you may loose within a time frame and the loss of productivity, thereby revenue, due to this attrition. Plan the bill-ability of the new-hires, including the learning phase and cost of error by them. Jot down the doables and the undoable wishlist. Let it remain fictional in the beginning. As time prospers, few situations will offer its implementation. This will remain your tool to set the strategies for future. Make sure, this dashboard can be viewed by the decision makers.
  2. Accept and acknowledge the in-achievable requirements as expressed by the employees. This might sound rude and anger many. However, remaining honest will gain credibility, that would be valued in the long run. Here’s an example of it. An IT major used to explain the CTC to the candidates during the interview, which would not  indicate the deduction. This resulted with a considerably  low take-home salary, creating dissent in new hires, when they joined in. The hiring strategy changed, explaining the complete salary structure to the candidates. This shocked many and resulted in offer rejections. However, the ones who accepted it, agreed to work and remained satisfied.
  3. Understand the limitations of the employer. Request not for a hike but transparency. The fear of losing productive employees may freeze even a supportive employer. The strategy for profits widely differ in terms of perspectives. The human reasons for not issuing a hike, when shared , will anger employees, but avoid creating false hopes. Rocking the boat is a terrible idea. Neverthless, if the roof is on fire, its useless to remain calm.
  4. Judicious treatment by the employer is every employee’s dream. However, an equilibrium such as this have many factors that contributes to it. A steady revenue, a matured employer, a dedicated employee, a contributing and productive environment , to name a few. The effort contributed by the employees and best compensating offers made by the employer, coupled with basic amenities creates an expectation. No matter how humanly these requirements may remain, they seldom actualize. Identifying those areas as red flags and preparing for a talent pool may offer the HR a stop gap arrangement. A robust hiring and a stable training function topping the chart.

A complete solution may remain synonymous to an ideal situation. A tight situation is best resolved when the limitations are announced and accepted. Avoid brushing the issues under the carpet. Honest treatment stands apart from being brutal. Create and remain focused on the takeaways. This momentary flux would eventually be over with acceptance.

Tell us what would you suggest Tunde and do if you were to manage a situation like this?

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