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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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New IPS report on ‘Elasticity Estimates for Cigarettes in Sri Lanka’

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• New study finds that increasing taxes on cigarettes will have twin advantages of reducing cigarette consumption and increasing government revenue.

• Calculated tax and price elasticities of demand for cigarettes show that smokers are price sensitive: increasing cigarette taxes by 10 per cent will reduce consumption by 8 per cent.

• A simulation exercise shows that when cigarette taxes are raised in line with inflation and streamlined between 2020-2023, government excise tax revenue will increase by LKR 37 billion by 2023 and 140,000 premature deaths from cigarette consumption can be prevented in the future.

The Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka (IPS) has released a report which provides a comprehensive assessment of Sri Lanka’s historical and current tobacco tax policies to assess whether they are in line with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended best practices. The new report ‘Elasticity Estimates for Cigarettes in Sri Lanka’ is authored by Dr. Nisha Arunathilake, Harini Weerasekera and Chamini Thilanka, and is part of a series of IPS research focusing on health and education.

According to the WHO, significant increases in tobacco taxes are the best means of controlling tobacco consumption. High taxes are an incentive for quitting tobacco, reducing consumption, and for not initiating smoking. The report finds that although cigarette prices have gone up over time, cigarettes are still affordable for smokers as tax increases have not kept up with inflation and income increases. Further, the tax structure is not streamlined, and tax policy changes have been implemented in an ad-hoc manner.

The report provides an estimate of price and income elasticities of cigarettes, and uses these to assess the effectiveness of tax increases on smoking prevalence in the country by conducting a simulation analysis. The results show that increasing cigarette taxes by 10 per cent will reduce consumption by 8 per cent. Finally, the study used the estimated tax elasticities to model the health and fiscal benefits of moving to inflation-adjusted and uniform excise tax system over 4 years.

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DFCC Bank and AIA virtually recognise CEO Club award winners

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Launched in 2018, the ‘CEO’s Club’ Awards organized annually by AIA Insurance for DFCC Bank staff, has since been held in grand style each quarter. The event is intended at recognizing and celebrating DFCC’s staff on their exceptional achievements in providing protection to the bank’s customers by introducing AIA’s insurance solutions.

Despite the limitations posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the management of both DFCC and AIA were determined to continue the tradition of much deserved recognition for the DFCC staff who have excelled in providing insurance solutions to customers. As the first ever virtual AIA-DFCC CEO’s Club Awards Night, the event was held on Microsoft Teams. This pioneering event connected fifteen locations simultaneously, taking digital adoption to a new level, to celebrate award winners.

AIA CEO Nikhil Advani congratulated the winners, while commenting on the long-standing partnership between AIA and DFCC; “AIA are pioneers in Bancassurance in Sri Lanka and DFCC is one of our most valuable partners. Together over the years we have created a strong bond, driven by the common goal of providing protection and financial security to our customers. We are constantly defying odds and challenging the status quo and that is why we were able to take digital to the next level and ensure that these merited recognitions and celebrations took place, uninterrupted.”

DFCC CEO Lakshman Silva also applauded the winners and commented; “DFCC Bank, one of the oldest development banks in the country and now a full-service commercial bank, has had many trail-blazing initiatives. We entered into a partnership with AIA with the objective of enhancing our customer value proposition- and over the years have complemented each other, bringing exceptional value to customers. It was great, that together we were able to overcome the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and create an opportunity out of it, in creating a first of its kind digital event. This is what great partnerships do.”

Fifty-four CEO’s Club winners from across the island were recognized at the virtual Awards Night, for their achievements in 2019, with six others getting special recognition for their contribution as well. The top ten performers were Samitha Jayathilake ( Kottawa Branch) , Chamindu Anjana (Hikkaduwa Branch) , Dilini De Silva (Moratuwa Branch), Dinusha Jayathilaka (Anuradhapura Branch), Nuwan Abeywickrama (Kiribathgoda Branch), Anjalina Kumarihamy (Piliyandala Branch), Dilanka Jayawardena(Kaduwela Branch) , Lahiru Madushan(Central Sales Unit ) , Paskaranathan Ghengatharan (Kotahena Branch) and Lakshman Thambiraja (Batticaloa Branch ).

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Tokyo Cement and Chevron Lubricants quarterly results boost market

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By Hiran H.Senewiratne 

The CSE turned positive  yesterday with the releasing  of impressive second and third quarter results by two investor favourite counters, Tokyo Cement and Chevron Lubricants, stock market analysts said.

It is said that Tokyo Cement’s second quarter results recorded  Rs. 2.1 billion profit, which was a 183 percent increase compared to the corresponding quarter for year 2019, while Chevron Lubricants recorded Rs. 803 million in profits, which was a 29 percent increase compared to the corresponding quarter the previous year. Therefore, Chevron Lubricants announced a dividend of Rs. 3.50 per share for its shareholders yesterday.

Tokyo Cement’s impressive growth plus Chevron Lubricant’s dividend announcement removed the negative sentiment from the share market, which witnessed negative sentiments as a result of the government’s announcement of the three day Covid 19 curfew from today, market analysts said.  

Amid those developments, the market experienced a day full of fluctuations and both indices moved upwards, i.e., the All Share Price Index was up by 126. 39 points and S and P SL20 went up by 51.82 points    Turnover stood at Rs. 1.64 billion with a single crossing reported in JKH.  The latter’s 1.26 million shares crossed for Rs. 157 million and its share was traded at Rs. 130.50.

In the retail market top five contributors to the turnover were,  Tokyo Cement (Non Voting) Rs. 234.7 million (4.4 million shares traded), Tokyo Cement (Voting) Rs. 176.6 million (2.8 million shares traded), Expolanka Rs. 162.6 million (9.1 million shares traded), Dip Products Rs. 117.9 million (382,000 shares traded) and Chevron Lubricants Rs. 78.2 million (900,000 shares traded). During the day 55.1 million share volumes changed hands in 16138 transactions.    

 Further, two finance companies are going to merge to meet the co-capital requirement of the   Central Bank, which is, Rs. 2 billion; they are Nation Lanka Finance and Sinhaputhra Finance. With the merger the surviving entity would be Sinhaputhra Finance. At present both companies are struggling to meet co-capital requirements of the Central Bank. Once the merger happens they will be able to meet the requirement, stock market analysts said.

Sri Lanka rupee was quoted at 184.25/40 to the US dollar on Thursday while bond yields were largely unchanged, dealers said. The rupee closed at 184.25/35 against the greenback on Wednesday. Bond markets were dull with little activity, dealers said.

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