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A holistic approach to People Management

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Business Oriented People Management by Franklyn Amerasinghe which is to be launched soon, validates that people management is about understanding that the people employed are more than a resource to earn profits and they are as valuable as the investor himself…

by Randima Attygalle

‘Thousands of students are now looking at entering the field of ‘People Management’ and one drawback for them is that usually they study Human Resource Management as part of a curriculum for certification, but they often have no exposure to a holistic analysis of how the ‘People Management’ function is integrated into the functioning of the business.’

The preface to Franklyn Amerasinghe’s latest compilation, ‘Business Oriented People Management’, which is to be launched soon, underlines the fundamental objective the author seeks through his work. The author who alludes to the Human Resource or the HR function as ‘People Management’ further qualifies: “the term ‘Human Resources’ leaves an ugly taste in the mouth. It seems to look at the human element as just another resource like money. People management is about understanding that the people employed are more than a resource to earn profits and they are as valuable as the investor himself.”

The book which deals with the evolution of human resource management, the corporate sector and its rules for governance, people management and performance management, globalization and international obligations, labour legislation, collective bargaining, leadership, dispute management and much more, enables the ‘People Manager’ insights into how decisions are taken and also indicates the benefits for Boards of Companies to have a people-centric focus in their business policies. The sustainability of the corporate and the social aspects of the business are also given attention.

The book, Amerasinghe explains, provides a basic picture of how a private sector organization complies with its multitude of obligations relative to all stakeholders. A publication by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), Business Oriented People Management’ , as its one time Director General/CEO, Amerasinghe notes, is “conceived as a supplementary aid to all those responsible for managing people whether they be designated as HR Personnel or not.”

Amerasinghe who was also a Senior Specialist at the ILO for Employers’ Organizations in East Asia, translates his wealth of experience in his scholarly pursuits. A prolific writer credited for many functional compilations on mediation and cooperation at workplace, conflict management and social dialogue, he has also served on many prestigious Boards and Committees in the public and private sectors.

His latest work provides insights to the executives managing people and how they should fit into the overall achievement of business plans. An unfortunate trend the author notes, is for such executives to look very exclusively at their immediate tasks and targets neglecting the larger picture of the organization. “The fact that each executive contributes to fulfill a corporate plan is sometimes forgotten in pursuit of personal goals. Moreover, many think that following blindly, and without question, policies handed down by higher management is loyalty and is sufficient. Every employee at whatever level should be encouraged to contribute to the development of the company and its policies. Some areas of activity mentioned are for the purpose of identifying the People Manager as vital in the business interests of a private sector organization which is dynamic and looking for sustainable growth,” notes the author adding that the People Manager has two distinct functions: his personal performance and to encourage others with whom he interacts to play their part in corporate performance.

Current management structures, the author observes, reflect that increased responsibility for handling people rests outside the traditional HR Department, although laying down policy and monitoring what is done at departmental level would still remain with it. “Thus the book is meant to assist all managers who participate in managing people,” he says. The advent of digitization and new forms of work arrangements have shifted the ‘circumstances’ of the HR Manager to another level thus changing gears in his/her performance role, says Amerasinghe. “The traditional role of the HR Manager, however, remains the same which is to make the employee contented and motivated to contribute to the organization.”

Paying significant attention to the skills needed on a day to day basis such as dispute handling, negotiation and communication, the book also focuses on industrial relations, an area which the author feels is now quite overlooked, as the HR function looks more and more towards isolating people at work and dealing with them individually. “This does not usually work in the Sri Lankan setting as there is a cultural desire to indulge in collective thinking, especially in rural areas.” The era when production and service centres were in Colombo has been replaced by a policy of moving to rural and suburban centres, with a large number being in Industrial Zones which attract a large number of rural workers.

“The rural worker is conditioned by peer pressure and a strong resistance to change from their traditions. The COVID pandemic which has seen mass loss of jobs especially at lower levels will probably bring back industrial relations to merit more consideration again,” observes the writer.

Amerasinghe’s latest compilation also enables a window to the past in which corporates tackled issues of their employees. Originally the intention was to have an employee who dealt with ‘fire-fighting issues’. The development of HR strategies as a means of keeping employees in line with business requirements was aided by circumstances such as the debacle of the unions in July 1980 and the disillusion which followed. “There has been a remarkable change in the culture of blue collar workers by the movement of collective power to the workplace as opposed to the earlier reality of workers being made to follow the dictates of political parties and their interests,” says Amerasinghe whose latest book balances the advantages of collective agreements against the desire of employers to make employees more focused on their individual terms and earnings which as he says is the key component in the strategy to motivate employees to be more productive.

The COVID situation as the author further observes, brings out a new dimension, which is the futility of legislation to guarantee terms and conditions of employment in the face of employers not having the capacity to meet their legal obligations “The law cannot force employees to stand up for their rights when confronted by a situation when they must either accept what is offered or starve.” The book deals with the legal situation and the need for employers to think of their social responsibility towards employees. “Moreover, in the long term they may have look for new employees when they need to think of ramping up their production or services again.”

The author in his work refers to the Personnel Managers of the past who grew into managing people by long association with the organization. “The more experience one has at the lowest levels of an organization, the more effective one could be. HR personnel should have compulsory internships. Through my book I try to focus on the need to fully comprehend what the organization is about and its responsibility which in turn devolves on the management.” He also goes onto note that there is an onus placed on the management to afford opportunities for the HR personnel to constantly upgrade themselves and be innovative.

 



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DFCC Bank facilitates the continued growth of Sri Lankan SMEs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

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The unprecedented surfacing of the COVID-19 pandemic has left a lasting scar on the global population and economy. With no precise warning on the horizon, businesses everywhere were thrown into the deep end, and survival seemed uncertain during the peak of the pandemic. In Sri Lanka, a nation where SMEs form the integral backbone of the economy, the ill effects have been taking a heavy toll on businesses both fiscally and mentally.

However, we as Sri Lankans are resilient at our core, and with the integral support of frontline workers, officials, and essential services such as our banking partners, we set forth on a journey to assess, adapt and survive. One such story about perseverance through a valuable relationship comes from K.S.K. Menan of Star Food Store (Pvt) Ltd, and his trusted banking partner, DFCC Bank.

Emerging from humble beginnings, Menan’s story is one that inspires patriotism, and reaffirms the importance of giving back to your motherland. As a self-made entrepreneur, Menan was successfully engaged with the departmental store industry in the United Kingdom, when one day, he decided to leave everything there and come back to his home, Sri Lanka. He was on a mission to give back to the country that had given him so much, and that led to the birth of ‘Star Food Store’ in Kokkuvil, a supermarket equipped with all the necessary household essentials. DFCC Bank had been by his side throughout the entire journey until the opening of his outlet, and even more when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

“When Imoved back to Sri Lanka in 2016, the very first account I opened was with DFCC Bank, and with their support, I was able to open the first‘Star Food Store’ in November 2019. However, when COVID-19 struck, everything came to halt. When restrictions were relaxed, I faced multiple problems with bringing things back to how they were. DFCC Bank stepped in and gave me overdraft facilities, helped clear my cheques, and provided additional funds at a low interest rate”.

Today, Menan has been able to open a second Star Food Store outlet at Achchuveli in August 2020, and a third at Idaikkadu in February 2021. He states that expansion is the last thing most businesses consider during this turbulent time, however, the X factor that has allowed him to do this is his banking partner.

“The confidence an entrepreneur gains with the right banking partner is immeasurable, and I have been able to find that with DFCC Bank. They have always gone out of the way to ensure my venture’s continuity, from sending someone from the branch immediately if there is an issue with the card machine during business hours, or even understanding that loose change is important for a supermarket and sending bags of coins from the Colombo branch for business use. I now have plans of constructing a state-of-the-art shopping complex in Jaffna, and look forward to working with DFCC on this project”.

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Covid-19 third wave fears dampen stock market

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

The CSE witnessed a steep decline following worries over the possible outbreak of a  Covid 19 third wave in the country and the continuation of selling pressure for certain stocks in the market, stock market analysts said.

CSE investors worried over 52 new cases being detected in two retail stores at Pamunuwa and at a state bank in Colombo at the end of the April holidays. Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry warned of a possible surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks, market analysts said.

  Consequently, the All Share Price Index declined by 2.9 percent and S and P SL20 dropped by three percent. Major companies sought after by investors negatively contributed to both indices during the day. According to  market analysts,  these companies  were:  LOLC (27 negative points),  Expolanka (19 negative points), Vallibel One (12 negative points), Hayleys (11 negative points) and JKH (10 negative points).

All Share Price Index went down by 198.39 points and S and P SL20 down by 93.89 points. Turnover stood at Rs. 3.7 billion with a single crossing. The crossing was reported in Ceylon Cold Stores (CIS), which crossed 60000 shares to the tune of Rs. 35.4 million, its shares traded at Rs. 594. 

In the retail market, five companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were: Browns Investments Rs. 717.6 million (114 million shares traded), Expolanka Rs. 480 million (9.8 million shares traded), Hayleys Rs. 392 million (five million shares traded), Dipped Products Rs. 389 million (6.9 million shares traded) and LOLC Rs. 193 million (587,000 shares traded). During the day 197 million share volumes changed hands in 31305 transactions.  

Sri Lanka rupee quoted firmer around 192/194 levels to the US dollar in the spot market on Tuesday, while bond yields slightly eased, dealers said. Sri Lanka rupee last closed at 194/198 levels to the US dollar in the spot market on Monday. The Central Banks Telegraph Transfer rates stand at 187.93/191.97 levels below the spot rates on Monday.

Sri Lanka’s rupee has come under pressure amid money printing and low-interest rates, despite the worst import controls since the 1970s, observers said.

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SAT launches F5 portfolio to deliver secure digital experiences

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(At left) : Edgar Dias, Regional Vice President of Channels and Partnerships, Asia Pacific, F5. (At right) : Sanjaya Padmaperuma, CEO of SAT.

South Asian Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, announces its appointment to be a distributor for F5 within Sri Lanka and Maldives to deliver secure digital experience to enterprises.

The cutting-edge technology is a portal for delivering applications and data with greater agility, security, availability, performance, and scalability.

F5’s portfolio of automation, security, performance, and insight capabilities empowers customers to create, secure, and operate adaptive applications that reduce costs, improve operations, and better protect users.

“With the increasing necessity for digitalisation in the workspace, now more than ever, organisations need proven solutions to help secure their businesses. Adding F5 to our existing portfolio gives South Asian Technologies, a more omniscient opportunity to equip our partners and customers with best-in-class application security and delivery solutions. As F5 enables adaptive applications, the SAT team is ecstatic at the prospect of securing our clientele with robust security offerings that have a proven history with Fortune 500 companies across the globe,” said Sanjaya Padmaperuma, CEO of SAT.

Every company today is in the digital experience business. In the wake of COVID-19, customer expectations are higher than ever, as the experiences garnered are the primary way that people interact and transact with just about every organisation at present.

F5 helps organisations deliver and secure the premium digital facilities that customers demand by enabling adaptive applications which, like living organisms, will naturally adapt based on their environment – growing, shrinking, defending, and healing themselves.

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