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House of Cards; Employer’s View

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The job market is a living being, a being that grows, and evolves.. And it all depends on what you nourish it, may this nutrition be laws, be cultural habits or other things that help this fetus grow either into something amazing or a monstrous beast that gorges down anything it in its path..

To address the job market there are to parts to this equation, first the employer and second the employee.. I will focus perhaps on my first article on the employer but definitely I will not forget the employee.

Having worked myself in a number of local and multinational companies and having been exposed to a large portion of the region of Middle East and Africa this gave me, dare I say a helicopter view on how things work in our market.

I will be tackling some of the point that I believe to be quite serious and need to be addressed urgently. But before I start I would like to highlight two things. First I’m not biased to any entity neither employee or employer and second I will criticize the employees later on in a second article so there’s no pure evil vs good scenario.

So I will start with how we culturally view jobs in Egypt and how a large portion of companies deal with their employees. It’s quite simple “أنت تحمد ربنا و تبوس إيدك وش وظهر إننا مشغلينك” to translate that to “You should thank God and be extremely grateful that we gave you a job!” From that ivory tower perspective and despite this message is not literally sent out but is sent a lot of times in indirect and subliminal ways.

So first, normally everyone is happy to get a job but employers go the extra mile to make the employee feel the job he has been given is a mere miracle, not because he’s qualified or has the required skills and character! An employer shouldn’t treat the employee as such, directly or indirectly! It’s a simple equation really, you had an opening 5000 people applied, 1 of them got it it’s a choice you made based on your need. If you didn’t have the need this man wouldn’t be there so the employee should be happy he/she got the job. BUT employers shouldn’t later on in their career make it sound as a favor.

Second, ‘loyalty’ yes a word hardly existing in our today culture to begin with, if it exists at all. Companies push their employees away, because they do not want to invest in them ‘DESPITE’ having the budget but it’s because unfortunately a lot of Egyptian companies have followed the path of thought that believes that saving the company money from a forecasted budget is actually an intelligent move! While it is not. Company development and staff development not just helps develop the employee’s skill but gives them a sense that they are appreciated by the company and the company is willing to invest in them to help them grow in their career. And because that mentality a lot of employees now when they know they get a job in some company their mind is set to default that they will try to make the best out of it and punch out of the company to another.

Salaries, a lot of companies do not offer employees salary increases one way or another, and no one can say anything it is all legal. But dear employer please remember by squeezing your employees for 2-5 years without a decent increase is as similar as telling your employee ‘Please go find something else’ while he’s achieving and doing everything he/she can to get a foot in on the job.

After hours, a taboo topic.. Every company has after-hours but while putting this subject in the correct perspective we need to clarify that people have lives that get more expensive by the minute, not helping the company staff make sure that all employees are able to live a decent life, is a major problem.

Companies do not realize that by actually fairly treating employees and developing them, this will leave a positive mark on the employee and even encourage him/her to do more. Making employees feel like part of the team, they’re not just another cog in the machine. This has a tremendous impact employee’s self-esteem and hence productivity. Companies have an enormous chance by empowering, growing and developing their employees into creating an unmatched creative edge and generations of competitive employers across all companies.

An employee will go to work because of his salary, he/she needs it to make ends meet. But if we develop them right, the employees will do more and push the company into places the company has never been before.

Dear employer, consider that the human factor in your company is not just a number but in-fact a dormant turbo engine which will rocket you to success and a treasure. The more you take care of it, maintain it. It will always give you great results.. Please take these few words to heart and drive your company towards a better future.

By: Tarek Hassan Refaat

Photography: Mahmoud Mansi

Articles

Was it Critique,Training or Bluntly Bullying?

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Artwork & Writing By: Rim Abdelhamid

At one of the call centers I worked in, since day one, the manager and the trainers who were supposed to help us learn and get adapted to the job, they kept telling me how much negative and depressing they think I am. They even went as far as calling me a DEAD person. My manager enjoyed making fun of me by imitating how he thought I used to speak or how I sound, saying that I have speech disorder -because this is “funny”- just a joke! He even tried to get others to join in. It was always the same excuse: they’re “trying to help me get better at my job!” Even though it had nothing to do with my performance and it started the first day I started work.

Let me tell you why -them trying to help me- was a lie? How this is not a critique but in fact bullying? What is the aim of bullies? What are the types of bullying in general? How do they start? And how to stop it?

What workplace bullying is…

When giving a critique one gives it based on actual facts. They could give a certain advice, or simply just tell the person what they’re doing wrong, etc… But it’s never calling them names; that’s abuse. What makes abuse turn into bullying is it not being on all employees but a specific one targeted, and over a prolonged period of time (not just one incident). The harassment behavior could be by one or more colleagues (subordinates and/or superiors), where the one being targeted is unable to defend his/herself. In that case it’s no longer a bad management issue, or a bad behavior by one individual but in fact one person being alienated; BULLIED.

How bullying is like at the workplace?

You might think it is physical? But no, bullies are smart! It cannot be psychical because it could cost them their job and even get them arrested. However, it’s a mental abuse. For example, telling you something hurtful in a way of “joking” or putting you in situations that could affect the quality of your work like unrealistic deadlines. Also, it could be things like yelling, threats or sabotage. Whatever it is, it is an action that could cause stress to the victim. And could cause them to feel trapped and it is repeated over time.

In my case, I was forced by that same manager to work overtimes and on weekends. And even without extra pay. Spending every day, and almost 12-13 hours a day, sometimes with no breaks, with no time to eat and no way of getting good sleep or the rest my body needed. And I couldn’t risk losing my job. Why though? Why would someone bully another at work? POWER AND CONTROL. The bullies in this case just want to feel in control and they do it by bringing others down. In my situation, I was the only one in my team with past experience in that field, the only one who didn’t need training so that was my manager’s and the trainers’ way to “put me in my place”. They didn’t have any real critique so they tried to gain power by verbal abuse, by overwork, by putting me down and stressing me out.

What makes victims not speak sometimes or have a hard time reporting the issue? Because of the charming personality of the bully. You’d think you can tell that the person in front of you is a bully but it’s actually hard to tell. Since bullies manipulate others with poker face. They are self-centered and in some cases sociopaths but likeable.

I was always being told it’s an “advice”, they’re “helping” me. All in the midst of me being bullied. I was made to think I deserved the way I was treated.

In other cases, bullies could come after you in a non-direct way. For example, by emailing a manager telling them you’ll meet a certain deadline when it’s impossible for you to do so, they’re not coming to you directly but instead they’re putting you in a situation where you can’t really decline, knowing you’ll be in a hard and stressful situation. They could work on making you lose your job in that same manner. So basically, they’re not monsters hunting you down literally, they’re just that guy/woman sitting next to you smiling while putting you intentionally in stressful situations. Making you feel stuck all the time.

Well, how to stop bullies?

The thing about bullies is that they test their target victim. So, if you right away push back, you’ll be ok. But if they managed to get to you, they won’t stop easily. You need to always address the situation head on. Call out the behavior and leave the situation, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it might be for you at that specific moment. Instant action is a must. You should also document every single detail big or small. The reason why sometimes bullying incidents go undisciplined is the lack of evidence. Stick to facts, to what happened and do not allow anger or other emotions to cloud your action. Then reach out to the HR and bring the incident to their attention.

To conclude the key to end bullying is to remain calm, confident and immediately push back, by calling out the action then reporting it if it’s repeated.

If there is anything, I wish I could have done differently is not letting my emotions control me. While I didn’t get angry, but instead I felt stuck, depressed and worthless. I let them put me down and I accepted the idea that I deserve to be treated this way, this is why I never reported what happened. I should have only focused on achieving my target because that’s what evaluates the quality of my work, not what anyone thinks. I wish I could tell my old self that: “Harassment, stress and overwork do not help anyone. Teamwork, respect and positive work environment does. Always know your work duties (targets) and your rights as well.”

If anyone who’s going through the same experience is reading this, I hope you know now what to do.

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Articles

Work Slave

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Written By: Yasmine Gazzarine

Edited & Published By: Mariham Magdy

Nowadays, HR managers struggle with work place ethics. At this critical time where every detail is shared on social media, we, as employees, are not prudent enough to choose what to share and what not to share.

On the other hand, HR is confused what could be the criteria to judge upon or what should be taken seriously and what should not be taken into consideration regarding the employees social media posts.

Let me take you through my personal experience; I’m a consultant and trainer, in addition to my full time job, out of my bigger aim to influence the new generation. One day I found my personal photo among my trainees printed by the work printer. In a way or another, I knew who printed it.

The surprise was that it’s my dear beloved boss who did so, I confronted him in front of the section head and he just snapped shooting “I’m your boss and I’m free to do whatever I see appropriate, you’re my subordinate and I got unlimited authority to investigate you”.

For a moment I saw myself wearing prison outfit in dark dungeon dragging these feet cuffs and this big metal ball. Is working in an organization means being deprived from your free days? To cut it short I took my action to condemn this act as freedom trespassing which is illegal and unethical.    

That drives us to the concept of work place ethics, does that means policies and procedures within the organization?!, or is it a personal factor depending on the culture, behavior and heredity ?! Going through some search we can easily find that the work place ethics definition is “the ability to maintain proper moral value within the workplace”. It is an attitude that shapes the way an individual performs his/her job duties with high moral standards.

This leads us to a more important question “Do you want to be a boss or a leader?” supportive or frustrating? In my point of view, every boss should or better be a leader. If you recognize that one of your staff has a potential or a sparkling skill, please win this employee, benefit from him, make him or her your ambassador.

As he/she demonstrates his/ her skill inside or outside the work environment he/she makes the organization image very good. As he/she delivers the level of professionalism within your organization outside…imagine what would this add to you later on?

Moreover, the competition between work-mates should be healthy and for the best of the organization. There is nothing wrong if your subordinate excels you in some skills or in some domains. Work environment is all about integration.

May be if we put clear fine-tuned policies and procedures this can enhance or guide the existence of preferable work ethics and their application.

In the Egyptian work environments there are always written policies in the background but what really rule the situation are norms. Egyptians are emotional people who are prone to consider anything you post on social media a direct projection on somebody or a certain situation.

But as HR, shall we take what’s posted on social media seriously?! or am I supposed to monitor every post of every employee?! In my humble opinion if a post contains bulling sentence against a colleague or the organization I shall take it seriously only in this case.

Anyway to avoid such problems, simply set rules, communicate it and apply it over all the organization. Be aware not to encourage ever an employee who spread rumors or snitches even if it’s for your own benefit cause Karma always gives you back what you give.           

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Articles

5 Reasons Why Smoking is Good for your Employees and Workplace!

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Written By:
Mahmoud Mansi

The average number of smokers consume around one pack of cigarettes a day or less. During their working hours they will take at least five short breaks in order to smoke. During these short breaks there are various unnoticed benefits for the concerned employees and for the organization. No doubt smoking has its harms as a habit, however we can see a different perspective…

1-Back, Neck and Eye Pain Release

Continuous working on the desk causes back and neck pain, same goes with staring at the screen for a long time and forgetting to rest. Nonsmokers in most organizations tend to spend more time on their desks forgetting all about taking short breaks.

2-Brainstorming and Communicating

Many smokers would agree that during their “short breaks” they mingle very well with colleagues or managers, talk about KPI’s, discuss concerns related to work, suggest ideas, share solutions and communicate more freely than inside the office environment.

3-Meditation, Less Fatigue, More Focused

If not mingling with others, some of the smoking breaks are all about solitude, spending time with the self, breathing slowly and contemplating the view or some ideas. This solitude and quick meditation gives the person the chance to take a mental and emotional break from the stress environment then return back recharged and ready to complete the day.

4-Fresh Air and More Exposure to Sun

Employees are almost trapped all morning and evening at the office, they forget that they need to breathe fresh air instead of the air conditioner and be exposed to natural sunlight. Many employees suffer vitamin D deficiency because of that reason.

5-More Connected to Personal Life

Usually spending most of the time answering office calls, emails and delivering tasks on the laptop or doing some paperwork, employees forget to check their social media updates, call a family member or answer a message sent from a friend. Work keeps them detached from the community and it might cause increase in stress or anxiousness. With breaks employees tend to check their personal messages and have a chance to connect and fulfil their social needs.

Solutions!

Healthwise, smoking is harmful, and smokers – like all other people – are attached to a habit. Every person has a different habit that they wish to change or not!

The purpose behind this article is to see the other side, and how professionals can change the system of the organization in order to provide the discussed five benefits to ALL employees (smokers and non-smokers), and therefore have a working environment that cares about their employees’ backpain, neck pain, eye dryness problems, providing channels of informal communication and innovative ways to brainstorm, caring about employees’ fatigue and nourishing their souls and minds with meditation, giving a chance for employees to be daily exposed to the sunlight and nature, and giving some measured space for them to connect with their families and community.

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