HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT AND UTILITIES
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
Oct 08 - 21, 2007
The world is changing in an amazingly fast speed if you fail synchronize with the pace you might be destined to doom. The metabolism springs up numerous pros and cons for the laggards, who are reluctant to accommodate into diversities of time. Well-strategized consumer-oriented approaches unveil, of course, a bonanza of opportunities to becoming World Class Organization. In response to dynamics of market, the trends in recent years have been segmentation of large organizations into strategic business units competing for and delivering business solutions. Gone are the days when human were treated as mere an input of the production process of an organization, now they have become indispensable productive-effective and efficient-factor of production. The privatization policy got foreign companies begged major stakes in the national kitties. It was believed that this would prove a messiah to leverage core capabilities of hitherto public sector organizations; their services to customers would miraculously be improved because of expats' induction in the top and mid level management; and their standards would elevate to compete globally. What happened in reality? Are these public utilities keeping expectations of the people? Does money-game relegate national assets to eligible hands? Let's have a look and do decide your selves.
Electricity, communication, including telephony and railways, are the public-sought utilities in which the instances of people to people interaction are outnumbered. Henceforth, the need of inducting courteous staff at the entry level increases manifold. In addition to this, these are the utilities that are most sought-after. Prior to the government deregulation regime, in telecom sector monopoly of state-run company i.e. ptcl was constituted incorrigibly. The privatization and liberal market scene have made appearance of other competitors. Despite these changes, solutions to customers are neither satisfactory nor timely so far. The reason may hinge in the present corporate culture, instilling with similar values and norms that marred successful business operation in the past. Polychromic defines exactly the element what business culture in Pakistan comprises of in abundance that gives less value to time. Additionally, taking risks and initiatives are few of local managers' traits that in a positive light are fine but indicate to lake of planning skill. Japanese avoids taking risks, thus, pays heed to details. It helps them making calculated risks, if any. Another interesting trait, one observed, is that employees' usually do not know in Pakistan "how to say no", which consumes time unduly besides other thing. Normally employees are used to have long lunch breaks during office hours and often reluctant to come back after Friday prayers.
A telephonic focus group, to analyze the post-privatization scenario of ptcl, depicted that until practical training and development at the grass root level is not carried forward customer service satisfaction scale would not be improved nonetheless organization restructuring. Funds' allocation for the research and development should be raised in order to bring latest indigenous technologies up. ptcl has set up, however, R&D Fund pool, managed by a 17-person committee, annually receives 1% of the gross revenue of all the telecommunication service providers in Pakistan. It is said that funding for R&D activities, which are of interest to IT and telecommunications companies in Pakistan, is relatively easy. To develop skills in the field of Telecom Management and engineering, ICT was established offering several training telecom courses. In fact this institute is a good in house source of providing industry leaders. These training programs are open for every one especially designed for the telecom industry. Following privatization, employees are presented an option to depart the organization under VSS (Voluntary Separation Scheme). At a fine turning point, top management started realizing that unsatisfied customers could not flourish prosperous business environment. The difference between regular and contractual staff is told to be eliminated as privileges and remuneration being paid as per job descriptions.
Stephen J. Perkins, an internationally renowned HR practitioner, following his official visit to Pakistan, revealed in his book titled "Internationalization The People Dimension" the quality of education is the key in Pakistan. In order to retain and motivate the high potential people, benefits and facilities are the key attraction. There is a frequent reluctance of anyone to take responsibilities directly. In his suggestions to prospective foreign investors, he said, "you need a good local contact in the area, particularly in Pakistan where the ground "tends to shift very quickly" and you need to be able to carry out a "sanity check" on say, external advice offered. It is worth paying a good local "Mr. Fixit" over the odds, he can guide through the maze very quickly, efficiently and with an acceptable level of risk." These observations are, I think, self-explanatory. Notable was his considering of Mideast and Asia analogous market in terms of corporate culture found in there.
As of December 2006, KESC employed more than 18,000 staff, with more than 1,800 working in management. Fifty-eight percent of the employees are involved in network maintenance (T&D), 25% in customer support, 7% in generation, 5% in corporate and finance, 3% in engineering, and 2% in human resources. Forty-six percent are permanent employees with lifetime employment and pension benefits including guaranteed postretirement health coverage; 54% are contractual employees. In 2003, the government decided to privatize KESC through a competitive bidding process, which was supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through the Energy Sector Restructuring Program. The privatization process was concluded in December 2005 when the government transferred 73% of KESC's shares to a consortium of investors, led by KESC Power Limited (KESC Power), 60% owned by Al-Jomaih Holding (Al Jomaih), a Saudi industrial group, and 40% by National Industries Holding, a subsidiary of one of the largest Kuwaiti industrial and financial conglomerates. The new management formulated strategies to turn KESC into an efficient, reliable, customer-responsive, and profitable entity. Since privatization, no layoffs have been announced; and KESC's chief human resources officer noted company's plans to introduce performance-driven management and a reward culture by investing in the current employees. KESC approved recently to increase basic salary of the utility employees based on a detailed review of the various human resources related issues in the company. It was decided to introduce separate salary scales for specialized and generalist jobs by year 2008.
Investing in people pays off more than any other capital investment because human capital development gives an organization impetus to process competitively. Given that only 1.1 percent of total labor force of Pakistan has technical and engineering grads and post-grads degrees and no or less tendency to upgrade skills an all out survey should be conducted to ascertain prospective needs of manpower in the Science and Technology sector of Pakistan. Further more, international HR models, especially HR practices of Multi National Companies, should be emulated. It is not that domestic companies lagged behind in the race; few of them, obviously implemented best HR practices. They need to keep them in future as well.