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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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Cinnamon Air resumes daily scheduled flights in Paradise

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Cinnamon Air, Sri Lanka’s premier domestic airline, has resumed daily scheduled flights after a temporary suspension during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline is the only domestic carrier in Sri Lanka offering daily scheduled flights and the only such airline to operate flights from the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) with a dedicated passenger terminal and aircraft maintenance facility.

As the airline resumes its daily scheduled flight operation from 15th December 2022, the entire Cessna 208 fleet of Cinnamon Air will operate to destinations such as Sigiriya, Castlereagh, Trincomalee, Batticaloa (serving Pasikudah), Koggala and Weerawila from (BIA) and Water’s Edge Colombo. The daily scheduled flights were temporarily halted during the pandemic due to the sharp decline in tourist arrivals (the key source of demand for the airline) to the country.

However, while strictly adhering to health and safety protocols, the charter flight service continued without disruption. During this period of reduced demand, Cinnamon Air geared itself to better serve its customers through streamlining operations by relocating to a new state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance facility (hangar) at BIA, which is in close proximity to its passenger terminal. As visitor arrivals improve, the airline is expected to be the preferred choice for safe and convenient mode of travel for tourists to swiftly reach popular destinations within the island.

Regarding the resumption of the scheduled flight operation, Sean Dwight, the Chief Executive Officer of Cinnamon Air, commented, “We have been a premier mode of transportation to many individuals visiting Sri Lanka, enabling them to reach popular destinations throughout Sri Lanka in a hassle-free manner at a fraction of the travel time.

To ensure smooth connectivity with our flights, without long transit times, we have synchronized our flight times with the arrival and departure times of Sri Lankan Airlines and other major international airlines. He continued, “as the tourism industry in Sri Lanka is regaining its volumes, we are poised to add value to foreign travelers’ experience in Sri Lanka through our scheduled flights which, in turn, will enhance the image of the country as an upmarket tourist destination. In fact, our passengers consider us as an attraction in addition to being a mode of travel due to the unique experience of taking off and landing on water as well as the breathtaking aerial views of Sri Lanka. Further, in order to ensure that our travelers have a safe and enjoyable travel experience, we have health and safety protocols in place, on board as well as prior to boarding the flight”.

Cinnamon Air (www.cinnamonair.com), owned and operated by Saffron Aviation (Pvt) Limited, is a joint venture between Sri Lanka’s largest listed conglomerate, John Keells Holdings PLC, MMBL Leisure Holdings (a part of the Mercantile Merchant Bank Group) and Phoenix Ventures (parent of the Brandix Group). In addition to scheduled flights, Cinnamon Air also offers charter services to and between all Airports and Water Aerodromes in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, all Cinnamon Air scheduled flights operate in codeshare with Sri Lankan Airlines, consequent to which they are also available for sale throughout the Sri Lankan Airlines network and all Travel Agents around the world via Global Distribution Systems, under a “UL” designated flight number.

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Earnings from merchandise exports decline for first time since March

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External Sector Performance – October 2022

Earnings from merchandise exports declined in October 2022, on a year-on-year basis, for the first time since March 2022, mainly due to lower earnings from garments exports. The decline in import expenditure continued in October 2022, (y-o-y), for the eighth consecutive month, despite recording an increase, compared to September 2022.

The merchandise trade deficit recorded a notable contraction in October 2022, compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the workers’ remittances steadied and earnings from tourism improved in October 2022, whereby earnings from tourism crossed over USD 1 bn during January-October 2022, while workers’ remittances reached about USD 3 bn during January-October 2022. Foreign investment in the government securities market and the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) recorded a marginal net inflow during October 2022. The Central Bank continued to provide forex requirement to finance essential imports, exhausting the liquid level of gross official reserves. Meanwhile, the weighted average spot exchange rate in the interbank market remained around Rs. 363 per US dollar during the month .

Merchandise Trade Balance and Terms of Trade

Trade Balance: The deficit in the merchandise trade account narrowed to US dollars 285 million in October 2022, compared to the deficit of US dollars 502 million recorded in October 2021, despite it widened compared to September 2022. The cumulative deficit in the trade account during January-October 2022 recorded at US dollars 4,389 million, declined from US dollars 6,501 million recorded over the same period in 2021. The major contributory factors for the decline in the cumulative trade deficit are shown in Figure 1.

Terms of Trade: Terms of trade, i.e., the ratio of the price of exports to the price of imports, deteriorated by 4.0 per cent in October 2022, compared to October 2021, as the increase in import prices surpassed the increase in export prices.

Performance of Merchandise Exports1

Overall exports: Earnings from merchandise exports declined by 11.9 per cent in October 2022, over October 2021, to US dollars 1,051 million for the first time since March 2022. Meanwhile, export earnings in October 2022 recorded a decline for the second time on month-on-month basis. A decline in earnings was observed in industrial and agricultural exports, driven by lower demand mainly for garment exports due to increased global inflation conditions, while a marginal increase was recorded in mineral exports. Cumulative export earnings during January-October 2022 increased by 8.9 per cent over the same period in the last year to US dollars 11,032 million, which was mainly driven by the improvements in industrial exports.

Industrial exports: Earnings from the export of industrial goods declined in October 2022 by 13.4 per cent, compared to October 2021, mainly due to the decline in the exports of garments by 12.9 per cent, food, beverages, and tobacco by 51.3 per cent (primarily, miscellaneous food preparations) and transport equipment by 60.7 per cent (due to the base effect of exporting cruise ships in October 2021). Exports of garments to most of the major markets recorded a decline (the USA, the EU and the UK). Further, earnings from exports of petroleum products that comprise bunkering and aviation fuel also declined due to lower export volumes despite a notable increase in average export prices in line with higher global fuel prices.

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CSE’s net foreign inflows cross Rs 20 billion mark

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By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The CSE remained bearish yesterday with net foreign inflows year to date crossing more than the Rs 20 billion mark, while both indices began the fresh week positively, stock market analysts said.

Amid those developments the stock market was positive throughout the day, because China has expressed its interest in debt restructuring for Sri Lanka. It has invited the IMF delegation to begin a discussion, market analysts said.

Both indices showed an upward trend. The All- Share Price Index was up by 72.7 points and S and P SL 20 up by 43.6 points.

Turnover stood at Rs 3.1 billion with two crossings; those crossings were reported in Expo Lanka Holdings, which crossed 2.3 million shares to the tune of Rs 403 million and its shares traded at Rs 205 and John Keels Holdings 2.9 million shares crossed to the tune of RS 427 million with its shares trading at Rs 147.

In the retail market top five companies that contributed to the turnover were; Browns Investments Rs 626 million, Expo Lanka Rs 289 million, Dialog Rs 169 million, Lanka IOC Rs 142 million and LOLC Holdings Rs 118 million.

It is said that high net worth and institutional investor participation was noted in Expo Lanka Holdings.

Mixed interest was noted in Lanka IOC, Aitken Spence and JKH, while retail interest noted in Brown Investments, LOLC Finance and SMB Leasing.

The transport sector was the top contributor to the market turnover on account of Expo Lanka holdings.

During the day 149.5 million share volumes changed hands in 23000 transactions.

Yesterday, the US dollar parity rate was Rs 371.75.

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