How employers react to external crisis
September 1, 2010 | IHRM Journal
When I saw the headline 5000 Kenyans to be laid off my heart was disturbed and I could not help feeling sorry for the victims involved. I wondered how such an occurrence can be curbed in future? Can the Human Resource practitioners come in to put their expertise such that a disaster like this does not recur?
It is so unfortunate that a crisis that took place thousands of miles away had a pinching effect on the local mwananchi in Kenya. The natural crisis which took place in April had a terrible outcome to our economy as well as the horticultural employees. The Iceland volcano eruption left many stranded because the air transport to Europe was paralyzed.
Employment is a major problem in the country, many have gone to higher institutions of learning but they have not secured a job in the high competitive market. If we are distraught about lack of jobs I don’t know what word would explain better the loosing of 5000 jobs.
I talked to a Human Resource practitioner Ms. Molent Okech on how an organization can handle risk incase of a crisis that is beyond his or her control; like the horticultural industry in the wake of the recent volcanic eruption.
Molent’s urged that as an HR one has to be a forecaster, ensure that the firm has a disaster or calamity management plan. She advised organizations to conduct regular research on what areas that could be prone to risk and be proactive to prepare in advance to avoid working under emergency.
“In the case of the horticultural industry the HR departments could have done out placing of workers , by taking them to other related organizations like the ones dealing with vegetables or fruits, she affirmed.”
She declares that she does not believe in sucking employees; but rather coming up with methods of keeping them. This can be by reducing their pay or foregoing some months without pay but still have them in the firm which is better than firing. The employees who should be sucked are the ones who are extreme or have gross conduct.
“Employees are like children in your house, you cannot throw them out of the house when they wrong you, instead you have to talk to them, communicate openly about your disagreement and then you will be able to understand them more.” She asserted.
A report filed in by Tom Odula from the associated press on the 19th of April sounded bells of doom for many families in Kenya stated that some 5,000 day laborers in Kenya had been without work since the ash cloud from Iceland shut down air traffic across Europe. This shows how one event can have drastic consequences in distant lands in today’s global economy.
Daniel Oyier has been eating only once per day since an ash-belching volcano more than 5,000 miles away caused him to be laid off from his
lilies for export to Paris and Amsterdam.
“If this goes on for a week, it will be really bad for us,” said Oyier, 23, who sat against a fence most of Monday near Nairobi’s international airport, hoping his employer would call him in. “I don’t know how I will make rent.”
Kenya has thrown away 10 million flowers – mostly roses – since the volcanic eruption. Asparagus, broccoli and green beans meant for European dinner tables are being fed to Kenyan cattle because storage facilities are filled to capacity.
The horticulture industry is Kenya’s top foreign exchange earner, making $922 million last year. Kenya exports 1,000 tons per day of produce and flowers – including roses, carnations and lilies, said Philip Mbithi, chief executive of the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya.
Mbithi warned of a cascading series of losses if the travel ban lasts much longer. Small-scale farmers who fund their operations through bank loans will begin defaulting on payments and won’t be able to get funding for next season if exports don’t resume, he said.
They say experience is the best teacher but I see it as a painful teacher, it is easier to learn from someone who went through a situation than go through it yourself. The question is how the horticultural industry and any other organization prepared incase of a disaster? We have experienced the pain but if we can prevent it from happening again the better, because prevention is better than cure.
At times we take too long to act, recently we had floods in the country that caused deaths and destruction of property in the country, Budalangi is now a cliché but no substantial action has been taken so far. This is a point to ponder for everyone who is and can be affected by a calamity or accident; what are you doing to help control the risk?
By Edna Kivuva Edd2682@gmail.com