EFC kicks off Employers’ Symposium on emerging trends

Friday, 1 November 2013 00:02 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Sarah Hannan The Employers Federation of Ceylon hosted its second annual symposium for employers at Waters Edge, Battaramulla yesterday. This year’s theme ‘Working Out of The Box – New Practices’ focuses on the emerging trends and how organisations employ workforces nationally within the current labour regulatory framework and how they relate with international frameworks. The symposium continues today 1 November starting off with a debate on ‘Should work be done within an employment relationship?’ The session will end with the presentation of three case studies and summing up and conclusion remarks by International Labour Organisation Senior Specialist – Employer Activities for South Asia Gotabaya Dasanayaka. The inauguration ceremony was attended by top executives from leading organisations, HR personnel and academics as well as National University of Singapore Lecturer Lowe Joo Yong, Oracle Corporation Regional Director ASEAN Akkasha Sultan, International Labour Organisation Senior Specialist – Employer Activities for South Asia Gotabaya Dasanayaka, EFC Chairman Sunil G. Wijesinha and EFC Director General Ravi Pieris. Engaging employees Delivering the keynote address for the event Yong spoke of the emerging trends and how employers could think out-of-the-box and engage their employees in an interesting way at the workplace. He also drew the audience’s attention to the changes that are taking place in the modern employer and employee and brought out an example from the image of top executives in social media and computing. “When Mark Zuckerberg goes for a presentation his attire is usually jeans and shirt and he portrays a more informal look so that he can engage with the audiences better. As employers we not only need to think out-of-the-box but we also need to act out-of-the-box. I would like to bring to your attention a four letter word: ‘guts’. As a teacher I always am careful not to mention the word ‘teaching’; instead I say I am ‘learning’. We need to have the guts to implement change and by doing so we will act out-of-the-box as well.” Changing and impacting the work environment Yong also focused on how employers can change their work places and make an impact by engaging their employees. “People often need interaction in their life and the lack of interaction can easily bore them. Try and change the way you interact with your employees. I would like to bring out an example, where a candidate had participated in a job interview and had been informed by the interviewer that as a company policy they do not allow their employees to surf the internet during office hours. Having heard that, the candidate had instantly refused the job offering. “I put this in front of one of my classes and their initial reaction to the incident had different approaches. One student went on to say that the candidate should have respected the company policy and accepted the job while on the other spectrum a student stated that the candidate should have ideally requested or suggested that the employer allow the employees to surf the internet during meal breaks. “But another student stated how important it is to be connected and have online access at all times. Internet has now become an important tool in our lives. Employers have to now focus on the values of their employees’ lifestyles and understand that the modern employee is not willing to sacrifice their lifestyle for their job.” Defining work arrangements Yong mentioned that the days where long terms of services were recognised are gone and at present it has converged to recognising commitment to work and an employee’s performance. Yong reiterated that employers need to adapt to change whilst building a constant mutual understanding between their employees and the management. “We are coming across individuals who do not want to pursue a career which does not have other aspects to their life. For instance, only half the amount of law students actually practise law and chose to become lawyers. On the other hand there are wider varieties of occupation that allow individuals to combine their career interest with the lifestyles like actors, models and people in the entertainment industry.” Dynamic relationship between employer and employee Yong further added that nowadays career is not limited to earning money to put food on the table where an individual had simple objectives as to support and nurture the family. “At this time parents are more understanding and they are telling their children to go ahead and pursue their aspirations. So their objectives are becoming sophisticated and they are given a choice of being responsible towards the family and at the same time enjoying their lifestyles.” Yong also mentioned that there is a convergence from long term service to commitment toward the work place and how an individual performs. “As employers we need to come to terms with loyalty and we need to redefine long term of service. Length of service is now converging into commitment towards the job. We need to understand these changes and adapt to these new trends. A constant mutual understanding needs to be established between us and our employees, which in turn will allow us to overcome difficulties in implementing change in the work place. I would like you to remember to go ahead with your guts and as I would say: Hear it! Learn it! Do it!” Focus on the knowledge worker Wrapping up the inauguration ceremony Pieris said: “As an organisation, EFC needs to be sensitive to the needs of the employees. With the emerging trends we need to penetrate the knowledge worker. New employment contracts for the knowledge worker need to be established and we need to remove barriers that prevent people from obtaining employment.” After a short intermission the symposium focused on Oracle’s experience in working out-of-the-box. Oracle Corporation Regional Director ASEAN Akkasha Sultan walked the audience through an illustrative presentation on how they have succeeded in adopting change. This was followed by International Labour Organisation Senior Specialist – Employer Activities for South Asia Gotabaya Dasanayaka’s insightful presentation on ‘Triangular employment relationships and ILO instruments’. Panel discussion An interesting and informative panel discussion under the theme ‘Blue ocean thinking around the perfect recruit and perfect employer’ was moderated by Mohamed Adamaly, which included panellists from the employer end: Dialog Axiata PLC Director/Group CEO Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya, HSBC Sri Lanka CEO Patrick Gallagher, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Suresh Shah and WNS Holdings Managing Director Dushan Soza; and from the employee end: Hansini Wijesooriya, Hasini Viranga Abeywickrama, Shanil Wijesinha, Rashmika Nawaratne and Ayanthi Matarage. Wrapping up the day’s event PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Nishan Ranasinghe presented the findings of the survey conducted in the IT/BPO/KPO industries. Pix by Upul Abayasekara