Safaricom’s Strategic Human Resource Management

Overview

Safaricom is one of the leading telecommunication companies in Kenya. It has the largest number of mobile phone subscribers due to its wide coverage and numerous services it offers to its customers. The company, however, faces stiff competition from other telecommunication service providers that provide similar services yet at a cheaper cost. Apart from ensuring the company provides quality and affordable services to its clients, the company is faced with the task of taking good care of its employees to enable it to fulfill its goals and ambitions. An increase or reduction in the number of clients for the company will only be determined by the services they receive which are mostly at the hands of its employees. With frequent changes in technology, the company needs to ensure that its employees are at par with the changes and that it adopts faster to catch up with the environment.

The human resource department is crucial in ensuring that the company not only has the best workforce but also retaining them. In most cases, a company focuses much on the growth of its clients that they fail to realize the workforce behind such services. As other departments push for the growth and promotion of company products, the human resource department needs to ensure that the needs of its employees are met. Safaricom being a telecommunication company, its customers will interact with their employees more frequently and hence displaying a true picture of how they are treated. A frustrated and dissatisfied employee will reflect this on clients who are likely to withdraw their services from the company. Irrespective of how bad or worse a situation may get in the company when it is well handled, it will not have to drive away clients (Dowling, Festing & Engle, 2008).

In this paper, the focus shall mainly be on strategic human resource management of the company. Basing on the past performance of the company, the feedback from various stakeholders and the changing marketing trend, an audit shall be done on what needs to be improved. The paper shall also look at some of the risk factors that employees are faced with and how the company under the human resource department can counter it to ensure it’s smooth running. Even though the company remains to be the most preferred telecommunication company, things are likely to change if some factors are not considered on hiring, retaining and even firing of employees (Galloway, 2005). The mechanisms that need to be employed by the company to ensure the safety of its employees as well as motivating them to productivity will be considered.

Audit report

Safaricom has over 1500 employees located across the country, especially in the major cities. Apart from its direct employees, the company also has agents operating businesses under their names. This hence implies that the human resources department has more work to do than just take care of its internal employees. Even though the agents have to work independently hard to keep afloat, they have the responsibility of selling and marketing its products. They are hence entitled to good supervision and accorded with the necessary facilities to take care of their businesses. Just like any other organization, the human resource department at Safaricom is endowed with the responsibility of hiring, firing, retaining and general maintenance of its workforce. The department needs to keep all the necessary data of its employees, listen to their concern and provide them with the necessary facilities to carry out their work.

The department also has the responsibility of awarding employees based on performance, experience, and educational level. This is in the form of salary increments or promotions, which are supposed to motivate them to perform better as well as to improve the overall performance of the company. Recently, the company was put on notice over the renewal of its license on the provision of services, which is due to expire next year. There is a need for the company to adapt to the current environmental changes and consumer preference to serve its customers effectively (Laudon & Laudon, 2004). Safaricom is faced with the challenge of having to employ a new breed of the workforce that is more acquainted with current technological developments as well as training the current ones. Whichever project that has to be implemented, it will be costly to the company.

It is against employment ethos to fire an employee because the company feels that they do not have enough skills to keep up with the trend. If such a strategy has to be employed by the human resource department, it will be termed as a retrenchment, which needs to be done on an agreement basis and compensate the affected employee. It is mostly advised that the company takes up the responsibility to train its staff on new systems and technology than to fire them. It is also better when the company works with people that have served them for long and have developed trust with them than look for new people who may take longer to adapt to the company system.

Employment procedures can however never be avoided by the company due to other staff members that retire, resign, face irreversible injuries or die. The process of hiring new employees is never easy; as the human resource department has to scrutinize numerous application letters, they receive shortlist candidates and choose the best. It is never easy to tell who is most suitable for the job from thousands of applications received. Even though the department uses standard measurement procedures, the real picture is only depicted when applicants are hired and put to task. Some turn out to be a frustration while others deliver per the standards.

One of the biggest tasks that the telecommunication company has to deal with is keeping its employees safe and motivated at the workplace. This is because of the different activities they are involved in which are likely to cause a risk to their life as well as their health. Some of such tasks involve traveling to different parts of the country, delivering services and company products as well as addressing customer needs. This can turn out to be a hectic assignment especially when there is a system failure by the company that interrupts the provision of services. As the technical team is busy sorting out the issue, the customer care desk has to be standby with appropriate answers for clients who stream their lines (Tahvanainen, 2000).

In the process of addressing such customer needs, the support staff are met with tough clients who may choose not to understand. They may hence say all manner of irritating words, which may psychologically affect the staff. It may be difficult for a customer care employee to maintain a positive mood and attend to other clients especially after one has hauled abuses at them. The issue may be above the control of the support staff but just because they are the face of the company, they are supposed to handle the customers in the best way possible. Since they are monitored, any change in tone or attitude in handling a client is likely to cost them their job. When it comes to providing quality services to the clients, the human resource department may not care much about how the support staff were handled by their clients.

A recent study of the company has revealed some sought of mistreatment of the customer care staff. This is in line with health risks that are associated with them having to be on the call receivers and computer screens for longer hours. The company specifically employs customer care staff that has to go through tough modules to determine how good they are at using the systems as well as having quality communication skills. Even after passing through such modules, the customer care staffs need to work at ensuring that they maintain the quality in their voices. This is not an easy standard to maintain due to various stress involved and the fact that the devices may be harmful to their voices and ears.

Some customer staff members have been forced into early retirement from their jobs simply because they could not maintain the high-quality voice required by the company. Others could not go on with their work due to health issues they succumb to during service. Many of them claim that after lengths of working in such a position, their ears are affected due to low-quality communication gadgets provided by the company. If an employee faces such risks, they are not given alternative positions in the company but an early retirement package that is barely enough to cater for their treatment.

Vision

The company needs to develop a strategy that will ensure employees do not regret serving in the company. This may paint a bad picture on them, as the dismissed employees will tarnish their name and subsequently public trust of the company. Realizing how sensitive the customer care department is, the human resource needs to ensure that employees are insured against risks they are likely to encounter. Apart from giving them some good amounts of breaks in between their work, they also need to have avenues where they can unwind from frustrations caused. They need to have frequent medical checkups and treatments that include psychological treatment. Apart from just requiring employees to provide quality services, they also need to ensure that they provide them with a friendly working environment and quality working equipments.

As much as possible, the company needs to change customer care employees who communicate with clients over the phone. Working in a call center for long can be dangerous to a person’s health considering communication devices they use. There should be a maximum length, which the staff can serve in such a position and then transferred to other positions. This can be done on a rotation basis to ensure the safety of its employees. It may be easy for the company to fire an employee based on not being able to deliver quality services but it is very wrong when such inconveniences are related to what they do. It will also be motivating for an employee to know that even if they face injuries or health issues related to their work, they will be well taken care of and that they will not be dumped later on.

Models

To facilitate the needed change in the company, it will be important for the human resource to adopt legal policies that will ensure it honors its pledges to the employees. Such policies should be adopted as part of its employee hiring and retaining procedures. This will also minimize the temptations of the company wanting to fire someone on a performance basis without considering the possible cause of such an issue. For instance, if the HR makes it mandatory for its employees to have a medical checkup at least once in 60 days, they will be able to detect earlier complications and suggest a remedy. This will also help them in determining whether such complications are work-related or are caused by other factors. Knowing that an employee cannot hear very well will enable the department to know whether it is because of the devices they are using and take the necessary action.

It may not be easy for the company to know whether the equipments supplied to them are of good quality or not unless they are tested. Such testing is best determined by its results after they are used for some time. Such medical tests will ensure the company gets value for their supplies as well as protecting their employees from danger (Oke, 2007). The equipment also needs to be tested for quality to ensure that the employee is not blamed for their failure. This will also tell when the devices need to be replaced or repaired for effective services.

The company has been noted to be taking advantage of the goodwill it enjoys in the market due to its wide coverage and shifting its attention to the clients rather than employees. The profits enjoyed by the company are mostly used to expand its services and introduce new products. This leaves the very employees that helped them reach such heights frustrated and less motivated. This is because the growth is never reflected in their salary increment and a better working environment. Apart from those who may be lucky to get promotions, the rest of the staff, have to work on the same salaries for years. Furthermore, they are forced to work for extra hours or during odd days if they have to get that extra pay. The company has an employment policy where staff members who voluntarily choose to work on special holidays get extra pay for their work. Such a payment may however not compensate for inconveniences caused to them, which can be frustrating. Such sacrifices may also not reflect on their performance and increase their chances of a possible promotion. It would be more rewarding if they knew that the sacrifices they make during such crucial moments would be noticed.

Employees are part of the company’s growth and making them feel that way will go a long way in motivating them. It should be noted that even though employees came after the establishment of the company, they are an important asset that determines how far it grows. Irrespective of strategies that the management employs to improve the company, it will all be in vain if they do not receive the needed support from their employees. This hence means that the company needs to ensure that the systems introduced in the company are appreciated and supported by the workforce. This can only be facilitated if they are involved in the decision making process of the company (Ulrich, Brockbank, Yeung & Lake, 1995). The company should have forums where they interact with employees and let them know what is happening as well as seek their input in the running of the organization. Since employees are the ones who understand how the company is perceived by the external environment, they should always be given a chance to share their views on what needs to be improved by the company.

The growth of the Company will be facilitated and maintained when employees grow through their responsibilities. The work environment should hence be a place where such growth is encouraged. One of the easy ways through which innovation and invention can be encouraged is by handing over the tasks to employees. Being given the chance to solve some rather challenging issues will make them develop the need to improve on them as well as want to perform better. Irrespective of the education level of an employee, the company should never underestimate their ability to provide solutions to the company. When they get such opportunities, employees will know that the company trusts them and hence developing more confidence in them.

The human resource department mostly worries about the need of getting the right employees to get work done not realizing the treasure they already have. One sure thing is that a work environment exposes an employee to more skills than theoretical knowledge they acquired while in schools. Such exposure makes them more innovative considering the challenges they face. These employees may hence be in a better position to handle some issues in the company compared to a newcomer who may first need to understand how the system works. Instead of trying to get new people to have certain work done, the human resource department needs to explore all options within the organization. This implies that when there is a new position in the company, existing employees should be allowed to apply for it before it is advertised to the public.

Employees who have been in the company for quite a long time may get frustrated when the company employees a new person to probably head their department when they felt they have the ability. Having worked for a certain department for long, an existing employee is in a better position to handle its affairs due to their experience. This is true irrespective of the minimal academic qualification they have. This is simply because when it comes to the practical working environment, it is more about the experience one has in a similar environment rather than the theoretical skills they have on the same. It will hence be fair if the company honors such loyalty by allowing its long-serving employees to fill up vacant positions before resorting to a new person (Baron & Kreps, 1999).

Barriers

The implementation of a successful strategic human resource management may not be easy to achieve for Safaricom due to several barriers. For instance, Safaricom is a telecommunication company in an environment where communication technology keeps changing, it may be quite challenging to retain some of the old employees. When it comes to accepting and adopting change, the older generation may be quite rigid citing some reasons. This may hence frustrate the company’s efforts in training its current employees on new systems. There is also the issue of routine where employees get so much comfortable in it that they are not ready for change. In expanding its services and diversifying them, the company would prefer to move with some of their experienced employees. The issue, however, rises when the company cannot convince such employees to change location or even department.

These challenges can, however, be overcome when the company categorically adopts policies that will require employees to be flexible. Employees should be reminded regularly of the need to adapt to changes made by the company for them to keep afloat. Knowing that such changes will not only benefit the company but also they will make them more willing to adjust. It should not appear as if they are being forced to change yet they should also not be pampered to adopt them. Attractive packages that will let the employees not feel the inconvenience will also make most of them adapt to the change faster. Arrangements should always be made in advance for an employee and his or her family where transfers have to be facilitated. This should also be followed by informing them earlier so that they prepare their households.

On the issue of the older staff not wanting to adapt to the changes, the company should feel free to introduce young blood that will make the older staff feel the need to change. This strategy will work for the company in two ways; firstly, the older staff will feel threatened by the introduction of new ones and hence motivating them to perform better. This should be facilitated especially after the efforts of the company to make them adapt have been frustrated by their resistance. The second way the strategy will work is that the younger employees will make them understand the current needs of the clients and make them understand why they must adapt to the change (Batt, 2002). Since they are new, the company should ensure that it sides with the younger ones and hence making the older feel odd and out of place. The company will subsequently achieve its goal of making them either adapt to the change or leave the company.

In as much as employees are an important part of the growth of the company, those who are not ready to grow with the company should not be entertained. The human resource department should therefore not feel bad about having to terminate the services of employees who are rigid and stubborn. It will be better and worth to have new employees that are willing to grow the company rather than retain the old forks and fail to attract a new breed of clients. Safaricom is not the only company providing telecommunication services in Kenya; it faces stiff competition from other companies such as airtel, yu, and Orange. If it lags in the delivery of services by retaining and attracting new customers, other companies might take over and hence operating on losses.

Strategy

The selling strategy of the aforementioned plan will rely on the fact that Safaricom has other telecommunication companies that are competing it. The biggest responsibility of the company is to keep afloat. Since the company has been concentrating on the expansion and invention of new products, the suggestion that it needs to concentrate more on human resource management will awaken them. The plan will draw the attention of the company on the fact that if its products and expansion plans have to succeed, then they will have to give more attention to human resource management. It is more of a fact that most of such companies will pay less attention to how human resource management is operating especially if they continue to experience growth in its products. Helping them realize that they are neglecting an important sector that is likely to harm its operations will help them buy into the idea faster.

The company may have also been negligent especially in considering the quality of equipments supplied which employees use. With this plan, they will be able to realize how important it is to consider which company supplies them such equipment and whether it is giving them value for its money (Pynes, 2009). The plan, therefore, is not only touching directly on employees but also on the accountability of the human resource department. Realizing that some employees have scandalized the company claiming that they accrued injuries and were never compensated, the plan will help solve the issue. This is because the human resource management will be compelled to look into the allegation through regularly checking on the health status of their employees about the equipment they use.

Most of the current complains are not only on the escalating prices of the product but also on how clients have been mistreated in the hands of customer care support. The selling point of the project will, therefore, help the company realize that there could be nothing wrong with its employees but the strategies used to handle them. The current issues facing the staff at Safaricom will not be solved by changing employees but rather ensuring that they have a good working environment. The project will open the eyes of the company to the role of the human resource management where they need to empathize with what the staff goes through during work. Once they realize this, they will be able to implement the strategies pointed out, such as taking care of them psychologically and giving them good remuneration packages to motivate them.

Another reason that is sure to make the planned sale is that it is based on practical lessons that are derived from experiences. What has been highlighted is drawn from other telecommunication companies. Since they are dealing with the same products, they are likely to be encountered with similar challenges. If the company claims that some of the issues addressed do not affect them, it will be countered by letting them know that some things do not need to happen to teach them a lesson. They can hence employ them to ensure they do not fall victim to some issues that are making other companies not succeed in their endeavors (Torraco & Swanson, 1995).

Justification

Human resource management is a crucial department in the organization. Its role should not be limited to the hiring of new employees and ensuring that every employee is paid. There is much more to the department that should not be ignored. A company’s success is mainly determined by the efforts that the employees put in. Failure to take good care of the employees will lead to unsustainable growth. Many times, when the company does not experience the growth it requires to see, it may look for solutions elsewhere not realizing that all that is needed is in the hands of its employees. Employees interact with the products and the clients more frequently than any other person does; they hence are more knowledgeable on the issues affecting the company and therefore being able to deliver the needed solutions. Looking for such solutions elsewhere rather than within the employees may not yield the needed fruits.

Human resource management can be considered as the force behind the entire company. However, if it is not well utilized, the staff may be less serious about the affairs of the company. As Safaricom looks forward to having its employees work for them to reach their goals, they need to ensure they work hard for the employees. This will minimize any work-related tension and stress and therefore promoting the sale of the products. Let Safaricom be a company that everyone desires to work for rather than an alternative where a person keeps up as he or she looks for a better job. This can only be achieved if the human resource management plan is followed keenly.

References

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