Personnel Services (Jamaica) Ltd.
30th Anniversary e-seminar
October 6, 2001
the Workplace through Increased Productivity and Better Customer
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
wish you all success in this seminar."
The above can be copied providing it is not used for commercial
purposes and the source is identified.
Dot Personnel Story
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".
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
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Personnel Services (Ja) Limited
Tel: 926-7893/968-0730-2, Fax: 968-2885
53 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5, Jamaica W.I