‘Engaged workers on the decline’

Concerned about the already high unemployment rate in Barbados, one senior human resources consultant is warning employers to be on the lookout for and correct the growing trend of disengaged employees.

Managing director of Caribbean Catalyst, Rosalind Jackson, said that over the past four years the number of actively engaged groups of workers had been on the decline, while the number of opportunistic workers (those concerned about self) had been steadily rising, based on eight areas of surveys carried out among companies entering the biennial Barbados Best Employers (BBE) Awards.

Massy Stores was recognized for being exemplary in employing people with disabilities. Here, Charles Lynch of Massy (Barbados) collecting the award from managing director of Caribbean Catalyst, Rosalind Jackson.
Massy Stores was recognized for being exemplary in employing people with disabilities. Here, Charles Lynch of Massy (Barbados) collecting the award from managing director of Caribbean Catalyst, Rosalind Jackson.

Jackson was delivering her report at the BBE Awards ceremony on Tuesday at Hilton Barbados Resort, giving comparative statistics between the four BBE programme years.

The BBE Awards, which were started in 2010, are designed to recognize and reward local companies with exemplary human resources practices, policies and programmes.

Jackson said that based on an engagement indicators survey, there was a 25 per cent improvement in the average leadership indicators for the large category this year when compared to 2014. There was an almost three per cent increase in the average leadership indicators in the medium category and a 3.5 per cent decrease in the small category.

Managing director of Caribbean Catalyst, Rosalind Jackson, presenting director of human resources at the Hilton Barbados, Cheryl Corbin, with the BBE Award in the large company category.
Managing director of Caribbean Catalyst, Rosalind Jackson, presenting director of human resources at the Hilton Barbados, Cheryl Corbin, with the BBE Award in the large company category.

“Looking now at the trends in the engagement indicators by category from 2012 to 2016, there have been drops in both the small and medium categories. The large category saw a 16 per cent increase from 2012 to 2016. This increase has been positively impacted due to the outstanding performances of the finalists in this category this time around. Very encouraging!” the consultant said.

She said there was need for the private and public sectors to be more effective and productive in helping to develop a Barbados that was sustainable for those to come.

“Our unemployment rate now stands at 11.3 per cent. That is still too high. We cannot let unemployment realities and the national debt burden, that generations to come inherit, grow without our managing it. We need to get more engaged,” said Jackson.

Guardian Group was the winner in the medium category. Here, Nigel Adams collects the award from Laura Lynch of Caribbean Catalyst.
Guardian Group was the winner in the medium category. Here, Nigel Adams collects the award from Laura Lynch of Caribbean Catalyst.

She reported that while “the really switched on actively engaged and engaged group” had seen decreases in the small and medium categories, there had been a marginal increase in the large category.

“Now, the opportunistic, they tend to be the ‘selfies’, focusing mainly on what benefits them. This group is marginally on the rise from 2012 to now. However, the good news is that this group has decreased among the finalists,” she said.

“The real job is to move the opportunistic to engaged or highly engaged. The tools to be used for this job are really how do we develop a need, a culture of authentic teamwork. The disengaged statistics show the medium and large categories trending in the desired direction. Unfortunately the small category numbers are creeping up slowly. All leaders need to monitor this aspect closely and work to re-engage this group; otherwise they can be quite toxic,” added Jackson.

She warned that unless employees were fully engaged and their talents developed, companies would not have a competitive advantage.

“I always say, just imagine the productivity and profitability improvements if we could shift our opportunistics to engaged and then take the disengaged either to opportunistic or exit,”
said Jackson.

Managing director of Blueprint Creative Inc., Ron Johnson, receiving BBE Award in the small company category from Valerie Hope of the Nation Publishing Company.
Managing director of Blueprint Creative Inc., Ron Johnson, receiving BBE Award in the small company category from Valerie Hope of the Nation Publishing Company.

In this year’s competition Blueprint Creative Inc. took the top award for the small company category; Guardian Group came out on top for the medium; and Hilton Barbados Resort was winner among the large companies.

In 2010, when the BBE Awards were started, 27 companies took part, the number jumping to 31 in 2012. However, in 2014, there was a drop to 27 companies taking part. This year saw 30 companies participating.

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