The world of work is changing before our eyes. From a global pandemic that is shifting work practices daily to global movements and protests against anti-Black racism in society, professors from the School of Human Resource Management are contributing to the discussion in meaningful ways.
Kelly Pike, assistant professor industrial relations, explores the deteriorating conditions of garment-sector workers in Lesotho in one of the recent articles titled “How to Protect the Women Who Make Our Clothes? Worker Voice is Vital in the Pandemic”, published on the blog of London School of Economics.
The article sheds light on Lesotho’s garment sector which accounts for about 90% of jobs, employing around 40,000 workers (80 percent of which are women). The pandemic has left them in devastating circumstances which not only include loss of wages but they have also “lost the supports provided by (the better) factories: childcare, meals, healthcare.” The “concerns have evolved into fears”, the article states, since these workers strive to address their magnified troubles of how their children would be fed or clothed.
Another highly significant point is also raised in the article highlighting that “brands and retailers must commit to limit COVID-19’s effects on their supply chains, including by paying manufacturers for finished or in-production goods.”
The voice of the worker and the effectiveness of listening to the workers themselves seem to be the only solution during such crisis. Prompt action is required where the worker voice will remain at the heart of policy responses and actions taken to improve the worker-management committee workings. The International Labour Organization (ILO) – the UN’s labour agency, has also issued COVID-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry, which aims towards a rapid action to support manufacturers and preserve workers’ incomes, health, and employment.
Jelena Zikic associate professor and Viktoriya Voloshyna HRM PhD candidate, explored the relationship between the city and a new migrant in a recent article published on The Conversation. Titled “As City Life is Restricted by the COVID-19 Pandemic, New Residents Find Creative Ways to Manage”, they highlight questions such as “how do newcomers - especially migrants - learn about the city that is to become their new home?” and “what happens when this discovery process is interrupted by new pandemic response rules governing public urban life?”
They share with readers a systematic process where newcomers look to re-establish lives and careers and adjust to a new environment when they move. Then go on to explain “the important role that specific city artifacts can have in migrant integration journeys.” Migrants try to absorb their surroundings and often times tend to compare the newness with what they have experienced in the past. Interactions with the city’s resources and public artifacts all lead in connecting dots for a new identity and a way to cope with the changed landscape. Zikic and Voloshyna believe that these migrants have the ability to formulate creative ways of exploration even in uncertain times which will lead to societal contributions soon.
Addressing the COVID-19 cons, Zikic also expressed her views in another article on The Hamilton Spectator titled “Why You Need to Take a Break — and What to Do on a Pandemic Staycation”.
“It’s the perception that if you’re taking a vacation, it’s seen negatively and you’re not dedicated enough to your life at work,” said Zikic.
However, she explains that our minds need time off whether it is for those who are in a constant cycle of anxiety and stress due to job search, or those who have started working from home. The chances of utter exhaustion and burnout remain high which do not help in thinking afresh and we fail to refocus.
The complete story shares great ideas which we can integrate in our work routines for a refreshing reset:
Workplaces on the other hand seem to be undergoing a pressing concern which Marie-Helene Budworth, an associate professor, discussed in a publication in The Star titled “Want A Diverse Workplace? Rethink the Entire System, Including the C-Suite: Experts”.
She sheds light on the much-discussed issue of realistically incorporating diversity into a workplace. According to her the idea that organizations undergo trainings or manuals to become inclusive actually “foster a false sense that your bias has been reduced.” She further adds that this often leads to a doubling down of bias because a person ends up thinking “I’m not biased, I don’t want to be told how to do this, I can do this” and therefore there’s a bit of doubling down.
Budworth also points out the false sense of security in an individual’s ability to make such decisions. The problem is rooted deeper, it is in fact in the system where the processes need to be revised from scratch. In hiring practices various methods are applied, but the fact remains that a toxic work environment cannot be fixed by workshops.