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DOT Personnel Services (Jamaica) Ltd.
30th Anniversary e-seminar
October 6, 2001

Transforming the Workplace through Increased Productivity and Better Customer Service
Keynote Presentation by: Revd. Canon the Hon. W. M. Gordon, M.Div. CD, Custos of Kingston

"Economic activities normally have at least three different constituents whose interest is usually not perfectly

aligned. Firstly, there are the persons who organized the activity and who usually are motivated by making as much profit as possible.Secondly, there are the workers who are employed to make the goods and/or services. These people would like to get the largest possible wages or salaries. It appears that the higher the wages and salaries the lower the profits. The interests of the worker and the owner of the business seem to be in conflict. The third interested group is the consumers. Consumers want the products at the cheapest possible prices. The lower the price of the good, the smaller will be the profits and/or the wages which workers are able to get. It therefore seems as if the interests of the consumers, that of the owner of the business and those of the workers all seem to be at odds. We have here what appears to be an unholy trinity. The entrepreneur is squeezed by the consumers for lower prices and by the workers for higher wages. Sometimes two of the three groups are able to gang up as it were on the third, to extract gains.

In a protective environment the owners and the workers are able to force the consumers to pay high prices so that they can have profits and high wages. The government can create this protective environment by preventing competition in the market place. This can be done in a number of ways. The government can give a monopoly position to a company thus limiting the choices of consumers examples are to be found in electricity, non cellular telephone services and water. The only choice here is to buy or not to buy. If the products are regarded as essential, then we the consumers feel we have little, if any choice. In such situations, prices are usually higher than needs be, with the workers and the owners benefiting at the expense of the consumers. The government can also create a protected environment by reducing the amount of competition local firms face by restricting imports or putting tariffs on imports. By so doing it also reduces the choice which domestic consumers have.
The smaller the quantity available or the higher the prices of the alternative goods, the less choices the consumers have therefore the less power they have to defend themselves against the local business people and the workers. We can therefore think of protection of the local market not so much in terms of the protection of domestic goods against foreign goods but more in terms of protection of local entrepreneurs and workers against the discipline of the local consumers. When there is protection of the domestic market there is a restriction of competition which results in the local entrepreneurs and workers being able to extract more from the consumers than they would have been able to if there was greater competition.

Globalization is now the new reality; this means that the world is becoming more of a global village. The ability of individual states to impede the flow of goods and services is greatly reduced. This change has come about because of changes in technology which makes the world more interconnected than it has ever been at any point in human history. The ability of any state to dispense favours to a select group of entrepreneurs and workers at the expense of the consumers of that country is becoming less and less. It is now possible to stay in Jamaica and contract an architect in Florida to design your house to be built here in Jamaica. The competition across the borders is not just in terms of goods but also in terms of services. The level of competition is likely to intensify in the future. It is not inconceivable that in the future a consumer in Jamaica will be able to choose between a telephone company in Florida for local telephone services. Consumers being the numerical largest groups are unlikely to allow political pressure to be used against them.

It is desirable that our workers and our entrepreneurs obtain a decent standard of living through appropriate wages and profits. This however should not happen at the expense of the consumers. The entrepreneur is caught between consumers and workers. He earns his living from the difference between what the consumer pays and what workers receive; with consumers seeking to pay the least and workers wanting the most. The entrepreneur's role is vital as it is he who brings the various parts together to organize production. Without an appropriate return for his efforts he will cease to provide this service. Workers want the highest possible standard of living and so, a good wage. Collectively workers make up the majority of consumers. Without adequate wages consumers will not have the ability to buy that which is produced. Without consumers, production will dry up and workers and business people will suffer.

On the surface it appears as if we are destined for perpetual conflict with at least one group always the loser. Fortunately, however, things are not as bleak as they appear. What is required for consumers to receive inexpensive products and entrepreneurs to make profits is not cheap labour, but rather cheap labour per unit of output made. If a worker is paid $1000 per day and she produces one shirt per day then the labour content of that shirt is $1000. This shirt will have to be sold for well in excess of $1000 if the entrepreneur is to recover the $1000 paid to the worker and the money spent on the material and machinery used to make this shirt and also for him to make a profit. If the consumer is able to secure a shirt elsewhere of similar quality, that cost less than $1000 he will not buy the shirt produced by our worker and our entrepreneur. Our entrepreneur will soon be out of business and our worker out of a job. Consumers are not simply going to buy a shirt because it was made by a Jamaican firm using Jamaica labour. Our consumer has limited income and an unlimited amount of things which she would like to buy. She is going to spend her money in such a way that she can get the most amount of things i.e. she will always be looking for the best possible prices being totally unconcerned about where the items were to be made and by whom.

Going back to our example, supposed we paid our worker $5000 per day instead of $1000. You would probable say that we were certainly foolish to do this, because when we paid $1000 the business was not successful. Well suppose our worker was able instead of just making one shirt per day but to make 25 shirts per day. The labour cost per shirt in this case will be $200. These shirts are now more competitive than the previous one. The productivity of the worker in the second example was higher than in the first and this makes the business viable, each shirt can now be priced lower than before. Consumers are now willing to buy. Notice that our worker in the second example is making much more money than in the first example. The entrepreneur is able to make a profit in the second scenario. Higher productivity made it possible for the business to be viable i.e. for a price to be charged that is high enough to cover cost and low enough that consumers will be willing to buy. Higher productivity made it possible for the worker to receive a higher wage without making the business non-viable. Higher productivity allowed the price of the shirt to fall and consumers to be happier. Productivity is the key to economic success. With higher productivity we can have prices falling and wages rising at the same time. Higher productivity opens up more space for entrepreneurial activities which means expanded businesses and more goods and services. Increased productivity is the key to a better material standard of living.

Having established the importance of productivity to economic well being the question that now confronts us is how to increase productivity. Working harder is of course one way to do this. By working harder I am including simple things like being at work when we ought to be at work i.e. if work starts at 8:30 a.m. we are at work at 8:30 a.m., if lunch is 1 hour then we take no more than one hour for lunch. Working harder and being at work when we ought to, will increase our productivity. If we got this right our productivity would jump significantly. However, continued growth in productivity cannot come from working harder only. We have got to learn to work smarter. The productivity of a worker is not only dependent on how much effort he or she exerts on the job.It is possible for an individual to exert an enormous amount of effort and get very little accomplished. The productivity of a worker depends on the skill of the worker and the quality of the tools with which the worker works.

If we want to have a good life in this country we need to ensure that our workers are highly skilled at their various crafts. Too many of us think that a skill is simple an endowment, a gift you either have or you don't. Skills are developed through hard work. One of the biggest components in skill is education - knowing how to think. The productivity of our workforce starts with the educational system. What our youngsters learn in school greatly influence their ability in later life to function as a productive worker. Unfortunately many of our youngsters do not understand the importance of education while they are in school and pay too scant regard to the opportunities which they are afforded. Many complain that they don't see the relevance of what they are required to study in school, they don't see how some of the subjects taught will help them in the workplace. Education is about training the mind to think, not about learning specific tasks. The ability to think enables an individual to master complex exercises, to take complicated things and reduce them to manageable parts. Without this ability, the skill the individual has, is useless. Think of a plumber who is very skilled, who can pull down pipes and put them back together very quickly. Such a plumber is valuable only if he is able to combine the dexterity of hands with an intellect which is able to comprehend the interconnection of the various pipes and pumps which make up the plumbing system. Before he can attempt to fix whatever is wrong he must understand how the system is supposed to work. He then combines this knowledge with what is actually happening to figure out what is wrong. The one requirement that is common to all tasks in the working world is the ability to think. The ability is a learnt one, which is developed primarily through the school system. Our youngsters need to understand that even though they may never use the lessons learnt in chemistry or physics in any direct way, it is still important to master these subjects. The bigger lesson being taught through these and other subjects is the "know-how" to organize information in such a manner that the mind can use it, in other words, the ability to think. If our workers cannot process information effectively and quickly they will not be able to master their various tasks.

On top of the general ability to think, there is need to learn the specifics about one's profession or job. It would be wasteful if an individual had to figure out from first principle, every situation and every problem that he or she encountered in his or her work. Studying a specific task such as nursing or plumbing, gives an individual the advantage of the collective knowledge of all those who have gone before. When one is studying to be a policeman one learns about techniques that would have been developed over time in policing. We cannot expect to take young bright people and put them on the street to figure out the art and science of policing without any training. Studying the specifics in one's chosen field is therefore vital to increasing productivity in that area. We need to benchmark ourselves against other countries. We have to find out what are the average qualifications of and average length of time spent in schooling for the various categories of workers in other countries. We can then set similar standards for ourselves. If the average number of years of school for an economist in other countries is 8 years, then we must ask ourselves why we think our economists will be able to perform as well as the foreign economist with less years of schooling.

To ensure that our labour productivity continues to grow, we need to keep working at improving our skills and knowledge of our disciplines. Too many of us have not furthered our understanding of our discipline since leaving school. Human knowledge is ever expanding. A doctor, who left medical school twenty years ago, should realize that the state of knowledge in his field has expanded greatly since he graduated. For him to continue to be relevant, he must find a way to stay abreast of the developments which are taking place in medicine. The same is true for all fields. Too many of us hide behind experience. If we are not careful, experience will be the thing that signals how obsolete we really are. Experience teaches us how to deal with what has occurred before. In an environment where knowledge is constantly changing, we cannot simply rely on experience. We have to keep abreast of rapidly changing knowledge. This is not easy; it requires much effort. We must read extensively within our disciplines if we are to remain relevant. Someone who today works really hard applying the techniques of 18th century is completely irrelevant. His or her hard work will not translate into enhanced productivity.

The tools with which workers work greatly affect their productivity. A man using a backhoe is able to dig a much longer trench in a day than a man using a pickax and shovel. We must not however think that the greatest productivity comes merely from substituting more advanced tools for a less advanced one. New machinery usually requires a new way of organizing production. It is a mistake to think that offices should simply replace typewriters with computers. A computer is not simply a more advanced typewriter. The coming of computers allowed the production process in offices to be reorganized. Computers, the intranet and the Internet allow businesses to completely reorganize their production processes. A firm, which simply replaced the typewriters of the typist with computers, would not have been able to survive. New technologies being new organizational structures. These new organizational structures usually have implications for workers. Often the old jobs give way to new jobs. The tasks, which secretaries use to perform 20 years ago, are different from those being performed by secretaries today. It is probably more accurate to refer to secretaries today as administrative assistants. Increasingly shorthand and typing are becoming less important in the job of a secretary. Today, more and more people are able to type. In such a situation less and less people will be hired exclusively for their ability to type. The search for increased productivity changes the technology we use, the way we organize our businesses and hence the skills that are required. We have to recognise the evolutionary process and realize that it is futile to resist it. To fight it is to invite the resistance of the consumers and the ultimate collapse of the business enterprise. Workers have to anticipate these changes; the best way for them to do this is by keeping up with new developments constantly taking place within their professions.

I have spoken so far about the need to improve productivity. This is all aimed at reducing the prices consumers will have to pay, while allowing a decent standard of living for the entrepreneur and workers, the consumers must spend if the entrepreneur and the workers are to receive an income. Lower prices are important in a competitive environment. However purchasing decisions are not made purely on the basis of prices alone. Within a competitive market environment the consumer is sovereign. The consumer gets what the consumer wants or the consumer will not spend his or her money. In addition to good prices the consumer expects good service. The consumer demands good service before, during and after the sale has taken place. Before the sale is made the consumer expect that the business will spend time and effort to inform him or her of all aspects of the products and answer all queries. During the sale the consumer expects that the sales staff will be courteous and devote the required time to the transaction so that he or she is not kept waiting for an unduly time in order to conclude the transaction. The relationship with the consumer does not end with the conclusion of the sales transaction. In many cases there is after sales servicing involved. Even when there is no explicit after sales servicing, consumers may have questions, which should be treated with the same urgency as that which existed before the sale took place. There is always the possibility of a repeat customer. If a consumer is dissatisfied with the service received and he has a choice as to where to spend his money, it is highly unlikely that he will choose to return to the business with which he is dissatisfied. More importantly, the most persuasive advertisement is "word of mouth". A dissatisfied customer is likely to do great damage and a satisfied customer is the most effective form of advertising. If a customer is treated shabbily he is unlikely to say that the employee who he interacted with is normally a pleasant person who was just having a bad day. The customer who was turned off on that one off day is a customer lost for life. That customer is also someone who is likely to discourage his friends and acquaintances from doing business with that enterprise. We don't get a second chance to make a first impression.

Good service is required from all who work within the enterprise, not only from the sales staff. Any employee, who interacts with the public, represents the company to the public. The accountant who refuses to return telephone calls is providing poor service. The finance department that fails to pay outstanding bills on time, is tarnishing the image of the organization. Word of inappropriate business practices towards suppliers have a way of reaching consumers and can affect their impression of the enterprise and therefore their willingness to spend their money with that business.

While businesses compete on price and quality, increasingly firms are also competing on service. Competition is three fold, price, quality and service. In order to survive, the firm must score high points on all three accounts. Increased choices for consumers mean that they are less likely to accept high prices or inadequate service.

I wish you all success in this seminar."

Copyright - Dotnews

N.B. The above can be copied providing it is not used for commercial purposes and the source is identified.



The Dot Personnel Story

Dot commenced operation on October 6, 1971. Founder and Managing Director Mrs.Dotsie Gordon (right) says: "The provision of temporary, interim contract and permanent personnel is a very challenging one".

The company has maintained high standards of excellence and quality customer service. Dot Personnel Services (JA) Ltd, is truly a household name in employment. Dot traditionally invites clients, staff and well wishers for a one-day seminar/workshop on "Quality Makes The Difference".

One seminar was addressed by Dr. Hopeton Dunn, Lecturer in Mass Communication at the University of the West Indies.The following are excerpts from Dr. Dunn's presentation:

"I am pleased to learn, of course, that the main focus of today's seminar is on quality. There was a time when quality was really associated with an end product in the form of some kind of hardware.

People would define and determine quality on the basis of whether a particular product had the durability and the attractiveness that we would find useful. That approach to quality is part of what is changing as the wider economic environment changes. There was a time as well when the mainstay of our economy was the hardware sectors, manufacturing, mining and agriculture.

This to a large extent remains the case. But what is happening is that the service sector is increasingly overtaking the traditional hardware product sectors not only in this product sector but the entire global economy.

By the service sector of course we are referring to such major service industries such as tourism, banking, administration, entertainment etc. These are the big money earning and employment industries emerging on the horizon.

At the heart of these service industries are people-to-people who are engaged in developing new ideas. So instead of mainly hardware products we are finding a great emphasis now on the production of ideas - the production of creative innovations that will allow us to do old things in new ways and so earn a greater yield from our efforts utilizing some of the technology which allows us to be more efficient.

Now, when we talk about quality and we talk about productivity, a lot of people associate that with technology, and it is true that we all use technology to help us in being better and more efficient in the things that we do. But I think it is important to recognize that at the heart of any technology and central to, is human resource development, very much the things that Dot Personnel has concerned itself with over all these years. I am saying that regardless of how high the technology is, regardless of whether we have it in our offices, CD Roms, laser printers, automatic scanners - all of the technology, what is going to make the difference is the quality of the people who are employed to use that equipment.

We come then to the question of communication as an important part of our striving for quality. One of the big problems we have in communicating is an inter-generational communication problem. Many of us who recognize the importance of education, recognize that importance of high quality, somehow cannot reach the younger people - children in school in this global environment. We have to ask ourselves why is this so? Is it that we are not using the appropriate language of this particular generation or are they totally careless of what they ought to be? It provides us with an opportunity to review our own systems.

We communicate every day non-verbally. People come to conclusions about us upon our arrival and therefore when we are representing ourselves it is important to take that into account. This doesn't mean we need to become regimented in someone else's impression of how we ought to look, of how you ought to speak, and I am not even speaking now of necessarily embracing only the Queen's English. I think you need to know the Queen's English but we also can be ourselves in our culture in the way that we speak and behave. But you can be yourself, you can speak and relate using your own language as well as the Queen's language and create the impression of a positive image and a quality approach to whatever you are doing. And I am saying those are critical considerations in the way that we work.

Now, having said that, I think it is also important to recognize that certain other factors play an important role too in what kind of positive quality image we convey. Part of this has to do with the absence or presence of reasonable financial rewards for the work that we do, motivational incentives, within our organizations and appropriate working environment. If somebody is engaged in a place that is eternally hot, in a place that is very small and uncomfortable, it is very unlikely that all of a sudden when the phone rings they are going to communicate that ease, charm and quality which we would like to see reflected in the image of the company. I am saying that there are some factors of that nature which are vital in preserving quality and in promoting quality in the way that we want".


Quality Is Job #1 As They Say

For some time now, business has had a preoccupation with quality, and total quality management, hence we should ensure that quality will make a difference.

While in a way it should not matter, there are different degrees and manner in which quality can be achieved or executed. For those of us who travel, the approach to the island on our return, whether at the Norman Manley or Donald Sangster airports, usually gives a feeling of excitement. While the aura of returning home is a feeling of love and a yearning for things to get better.

But from dreaming up there in the sky, one is soon brought back to reality. The dream usually ends on landing. It is replaced with frustration of one sort or other, mostly stemming from the portrayal of bad attitudes.

Whether in our personal or business lives, we will never be able to develop to our best without a display of quality attitudes. There is no useful purpose in a display of quality attitudes by the staff on board the aeroplane for example only to encounter frustration from other persons who are part of the industry. Each is involved in one quality process, namely customer satisfaction, and the poor quality of one will most certainly affect the high quality of the other.

Quality is not just a competitive tool, it is a way of life. If we are serious about making it one of our life management skills, then quality must be far more comprehensive than the frustrations of quality control and quality assurance. In learning to make a commitment to quality, we must be able to assess where we fall on the quality scale, analyze what will be required to ensure that we continuously produce quality and select the best approach suited to serving quality.

If we can achieve these then we will be well on our way to contributing to a better quality of life for ourselves, our businesses and the nation on a whole.

Dot Personnel Services (Ja) Limited
Tel: 926-7893/968-0730-2, Fax: 968-2885
VM Building
53 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I

Email: jobs@dotpersonnel
Website: www.dotpersonnel.com