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Toxic Workplaces Are Not Rites of Passage

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By Kelechi Eke, Head of Operations, DLM Capital Group

Nigeria’s Twitter space was agog with an investigative report from TechCabal this week – it was an expose into the startup culture of Bento Africa. This story stirred up an explosive conversation on Twitter about toxic workplaces in Nigeria with the hashtag #horriblebosses in which there were mentions of numerous companies.

Working retail has now become a horrible introduction to the workplace – a taxing feat with numerous responsibilities, low pay, and insensitive bosses – that everyone must endure at one point or the other in their career journeys. Employer’s priorities must shift from focusing solely on the profits at the expense of workers to treating employees with decency and respect. Things like how an employer reacts to time-off requests, especially when concerning health and family emergencies, matter.

According to 1.3 million Glassdoor reviews from U.S employees of Culture 500 companies collated by MIT researchers this year; these attributes – disrespect, non-inclusive environment, unethical behavior, cutthroat competition and abuse topped the list of 5 biggest signs of toxicity discovered in most workplaces. Other flaws mentioned by employees included excess bureaucracy, insularity, risk aversion, and an impersonal feel, just to mention a few. The organizational cost of toxic culture is not flowery – asides from an obvious increase in employee attrition, a poor employer brand makes it harder to attract talent. From the research, employees however prized the following attributes – putting people first, helping workers find and pursue their passions, bringing people together on a personal level, creating a space where people can be themselves, and empowering people to own their work.

Every leader needs to worry about toxic culture – and begin to look at ways to improve. Build atmospheres where your employees feel respected. Ensure your C-suite is comprised of supportive leaders and weed out unethical behavior(s) immediately you learn of them. Share challenges and successes with your staff, hold open forums, have open door policies, and embrace honesty (even when it is hard). It is never enough for your company to be awarded a ‘Best Place to Work’ for PR purposes.  Put in the work and earn that award on merit. No doubt, the Best Places to Work awards are a thing of pride, celebrated by the press, respected by investors, and pushed on social media, but what story do these rankings tell you? Is it the whole story? Just because a workplace has good PR or is deemed a ‘Best Place to Work’, should recruits all jump on the celebration wagon? The patterns with these workplaces (most of them big brand names) whose awards come on merit is that they lead with purpose, offer opportunity and growth, behave with transparency, listen, and adapt. Now, which of these does your company abide by? It is important to point out that what puts these companies on these award lists is much more than perks and benefits. Perks and benefits can only get you so far. They have to tie back to employees – their purpose, their goals, what helps them grow.

I urge all employees to continually stand up for themselves and realize when they are unfairly treated.  To employers, I encourage you to treat your employees as you would like to be treated.

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South Korean Doctors Walk Off Jobs, Demand Better Conditions

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A significant portion of South Korea’s medical workforce, consisting of over 7,800 interns and residents, have resigned from their positions to protest against working conditions and policy directives.

The mass resignation, emblematic of deep-seated discontent within the medical community, has thrust the nation’s healthcare system into turmoil.

Ryu Ok Hada and Park Dan, representative of the disenchanted junior doctors, highlight a chorus of voices calling for improved pay, reduced work hours, and increased recognition.

The doctors, often hailed as a crucial cog in South Korea’s esteemed medical infrastructure, decry being overworked, underpaid, and unheard.

The protests stem from a broader dissatisfaction with the status quo, with hospitals witnessing a surge in canceled surgeries and turned-away patients amidst the walkout.

Such disruptions underscore the pivotal role junior doctors play, particularly in emergency rooms, intensive care units, and operating theaters, where their absence is acutely felt.

At the heart of the issue lies the grueling work hours endured by South Korean doctors, who routinely face shifts lasting over 36 hours, far exceeding international standards.

Park Dan, head of the Korean Intern Resident Association, emphasizes the demanding workload, with doctors often exceeding 100 hours of work per week, all for meager compensation ranging from 2 to 4 million won ($1,500-$3,000) monthly.

The government’s response, marked by threats of arrest and license revocations, has only escalated tensions.

Despite orders to return to work, the doctors argue that such measures are unconstitutional and infringe upon their rights.

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo’s assurances of extended hospital hours fail to address the core grievances raised by the medical community.

Central to the doctors’ demands are calls for legal protection from malpractice suits, equitable compensation, and structural reforms within the healthcare system.

While acknowledging the plight of their patients, doctors like Park Dan express the difficulty of navigating a system that prioritizes policy over practitioner welfare.

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Kaduna Electric Implements 10% Salary Hike Amidst N110 Billion Debt Crisis

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Electricity - Investors King

Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (Kaduna Electric) has announced a 10% salary increase for its workforce, despite grappling with a debt of N110 billion and operational challenges.

The decision follows the dissolution of the company’s board of directors by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) due to its failure to settle the substantial debt owed within the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry framework.

Umar Hashidu, appointed by NERC as the company’s administrator under Section 75 of the Electricity Act, emphasized the strategic significance of the salary increment during a meeting with the management team.

Hashidu stressed the importance of boosting employee morale and enhancing overall company performance amidst economic uncertainties.

The salary adjustment is a proactive measure aimed at motivating staff in the face of prevailing economic challenges, noted Hashidu, acknowledging the pressing need to address the escalating cost of living crisis.

Despite Kaduna Electric’s struggles in meeting market obligations and complying with NERC performance indices, Hashidu expressed optimism in overcoming these hurdles through concerted efforts.

The announcement signals a period of transition and reform within Kaduna Electric, following the resignation of the former Managing Director, Yusuf Yahaya.

Despite the company’s debt burden and leadership changes, the salary hike reflects a commitment to prioritize employee welfare and maintain operational stability.

As Kaduna Electric navigates through its financial challenges and strives for improved performance, the salary increase serves as a testament to the company’s dedication to supporting its workforce amidst adversity.

It remains to be seen how this move will impact the company’s trajectory in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry landscape.

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UPS Announces 12,000 Job Cuts Amid Cost Reduction Plans

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United Parcel Service's (UPS)

Global logistics giant UPS has announced its decision to cut 12,000 jobs or 2.4% of its extensive 500,000-strong global workforce.

The decision comes as UPS seeks to achieve $1 billion in cost reductions, citing subdued demand and rising union labor expenses, as stated during its earnings call on Tuesday.

CEO Carol Tomé acknowledged the challenges faced in 2023, emphasizing the company’s commitment to focusing on controllable factors and fortifying its groundwork for future growth despite the adversities.

A UPS spokesperson clarified that the job cuts would impact less than 3% of the company’s total workforce and would not affect union-represented roles.

The reductions are expected to span across various regions and functions within UPS, with 75% of the cuts anticipated to occur within the first half of the year.

UPS’s fourth-quarter revenues for 2023 amounted to $24.92 billion, falling short of Wall Street analysts’ expectations of $25.43 billion.

Consequently, UPS shares experienced a decline of over 8% in Tuesday’s trading session.

The decision follows UPS’s agreement with the Teamsters union last July, which saw adjustments to the pay structure for both full-time and part-time workers.

This move is part of UPS’s broader strategy to streamline operations and navigate evolving market dynamics while maintaining its commitment to financial prudence and sustainability.

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