In a few months, the year 2021 will be drawing to an end and I cannot help but remember a UK-Ghana Investment Summit, held on 15th and 16th October 2018, which saw a gathering of a number of Ghanaian and UK business representatives, delegates and speakers as part of the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce’s, and the UK and Ghanaian Government’s drive to ‘improve trade between Ghana and the United Kingdom’
As we seek to establish Ghana as a leading emerging economy, I believe it is also time to take an in-depth look into the HR Management structure of our Country, specifically, Remuneration and Compensation packages, the challenges faced, and the sustainability of the system’s current structure as it stands. A lot of drive has been placed by the Government on developing a number of industries, including Transport and Infrastructure, Agriculture, Information Management, and reducing Unemployment; however, not much is noted on HR Management Structure and Policies, the one system which is neither industry nor sector specific, and plays a key role in employment.
The ‘Unemployment Rate in Ghana in 2018 was expected to be 2.50 percent by the end of the year, an increase of 0.10 percent from 2017, with a long-term projection of 2.00 percent by 2020’. Although unemployment is largely seen as a macroeconomic issue, I believe consolidation / homogenisation of current HR Management policies could contribute towards the reduction of unemployment, paving the way for a stronger Ghanaian economy.
With hundreds of thousands of businesses operating in Ghana, in the Private, Government ( Public and Charity) Social sectors, it is difficult to have a ‘one-size fits all’ HR Management system that will cover the different needs and operating structures of various businesses. However, it is important that as our economy develops, we have HR policies and structures in place that are at par with other leading economies. What changes then can help bring about a more effective and robust system that will not only work towards alleviating unemployment but also see a high employee retention? Below are a few suggestions that we could consider:
- Adaptation of global HR Management Standards
The Ghana Standards Authority noted to be “an Agency of Government responsible for developing, publishing and promoting standards in the country” together with the Institute of Human Resource Management Practitioners (IHRMP), could adopt global standards as a benchmark from which businesses align their HR Policies and Remuneration packages. It is important to note that employees (not only customers) are the back-bone of a healthy business. People-centred policies therefore, go a long way to improving the bottom-line, establishing a productive organisation culture, and ensuring increased employee engagement and retention.
According to the International Organisation for Standardisation (the ISO), “Studies show that a high-performing human resources (HR) department, with effective people management and recruitment, is linked to greater economic performance of the organisation and plays a key role in instilling company values throughout the workforce.”
A number of privately-owned businesses and charities, especially those that have global operations may already be operating under these standards. It would still be beneficial, however, to have this as the main benchmark for all local and international businesses in the Private, Public and Charity ( Social sectors). With the GSA working together with government and private businesses or institutions, a more in-depth accountability system will be established.
- Establish an Independent Whistle-Blowing Body to oversee HR Management operations across sectors
It is important that all employees are treated fairly and equally. In instances where employees (and/ or employers) believe there to be unfair treatment, an independent whistle-blowing body (other than a labour union) can provide mediation for both parties.
This will help develop a system of care and respect for both parties and will enable increased employee/employer engagement leading to increased input and output. Mediations could also see to the provision of relevant internal and external training, if not available, provide a safe atmosphere for growth and learning, as well as help develop or establish unbiased conflict resolution teams or wardens.
- Increased collaboration from both private and public sector industries with the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (if not already existing)
The Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations has a ‘Fair Wages & Salaries Commission set up to:
“1. Ensure fair, transparent and systematic implementation of the Government public service pay policy;
2. Develop and advise Government on and ensure that decisions are implemented on matters related to:
- Salaries, wages, grading, classification
- Job analysis and job evaluation,
- Performance management and indicators, and
- Allowances and benefits in the public service with the ultimate objective of consolidation of the allowances and benefits;
3. Undertake negotiations where compensation is financed from public funds.”
If not already existing and operating, it would be beneficial to create a separate Commission or team for businesses in the Private sectors set up to function in a similar format as above.
- Transparency in Renumeration and Compensation packages based on international sector-based skills-grade
An open and transparent universal grading system of jobs across industries and sectors based on relevant skill-set and position will provide a benchmark system for individuals. This provides an understanding of how one’s pay is linked to their skill-set whilst ensuring a balanced pay structure, and helps to avoid gender-pay imbalance. A governing body could also be created to hold HR within businesses accountable for inaccurate or inconsistent pay grades.
Alternatively, HR Managers within institutions could be innovative in implementing standardized systems. A system where all actions and inactions are publicly known to generate a specific number of points is a good example of transparency in remuneration. A step further will be to publicly inform workers on the monetary value of these points. A typical example is a ‘Leadership League Table’; by this, all leaders of an organisation will start the year at the same point. If leaders falter in meeting expectations, they lose points and move down the league table. On the other hand, if leaders succeed in meeting and exceeding expectations, they gain points. The points could be counted quarterly or monthly, depending on the HR Manager or Management’s discretion.
Constant contributions and feedback from workers will inform the methods that incite more excitement about winning points. Such a system for remuneration will boost communication between the HR department and all other departments.
- Attractive, competitive and flexible Remuneration packages
Better remuneration and compensation packages in line with Inflation rates, as well as flexible working hours, will increase employee retention. Agile working (being able to work from home or mobile working) allows for increased input from the employee (especially by avoiding time wasted during traffic jams). It also results in increased output for the employer.
- Internship, apprenticeship and mentoring programmes
Businesses, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy, could provide University or College graduates with internships, apprenticeships and mentoring programmes. This will not only contribute to the reduction of unemployment but equip graduates with much needed skills. It could also provide a way-in into working with companies when full-time opportunities become available.
The above suggestions by no means serve as an exhaustive list to be followed and as mentioned earlier, a number of businesses have already adopted most, if not all of these practices. I do strongly believe that a national adoption of the above suggestions to improve our Country’s HR practices will contribute greatly to ensure better industry standards and help bring back the ‘Human’ aspect of our Human Resource Management strategies. This will also provide the opportunity, as a benchmark platform for businesses struggling with their HR policies, to improve and enable a stronger economy.
As this year gradually comes to an end, I pray that we all reach new leaps and bounds in our endeavours. May the Grace, Life and Peace of God be with you all.
By: Marie-Louise Annan
Founder – Mishkan Ministries and Missionary Group