(photo: Workers doing maintenance, by World Bank, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Companies Have to Become Human Development Organisations

It’s safe to say that investing in your people is like investing in government securities – it leads to high returns. The workforce is any company’s most valuable asset—no matter what the size, location or even the industry.

In the Finding Impact podcast episode #04 we interviewed Michael Kuntz who talked to us about a unique way to keep a low-skilled workforce engaged and motivated. Michael had worked on this challenge which he saw working in Nigeria, where there was high absenteeism and frequent switching from one job to another. In his investigation into the problem, he found that low-skilled workforce development is a knowledge gap in the sector that needs to be filled. A business which has high margins or has a professional workforce can get away without giving too much attention to this, but early stage businesses which employ low-skilled workers can’t ignore it.

He talks about Generation Enterprise, an organisation he worked with that develops “street youth” into skilled workforce. There is a lot of youth flowing into the urban settings in the city but there are not enough opportunities for them if they don’t have the right skills. To solve this, they developed a model that unlocked the potential of youth to become agents of economic development and social change in their communities.

A few key insights from the interview emerged:

  • If you make training available to the workforce, they can acquire the skills needed to develop their capacities and grow not just professionally, but also as individuals.
  • Creating a stable working environment is important. Helping them see a career progression pathway helps them stick in their role.
  • Creating a feedback loop is essential, which allows employees to understand what they have done well or not, contributing to the personal development process.

There is a lot of great work being done by various social enterprises working to find ways to retain a low-skilled workforce. A few of them include – Samasource, Wave Academy, Kalibrr, DDD Africa.

At the end of the day our aim is to value our employees – they want to feel important, they want to feel like they’re a significant part of the organization. Attending to these needs and values results in not only positive feelings for the employees but also leads to lower staff turnover and increased job satisfaction, ultimately leading to higher productivity.

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(Written by: Akanksha Khurana, Photo credit: Workers doing maintenance, by World Bank, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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