“In an era of technological and communication advancement where traditional boundaries are transcending, it is imperative for both the Sri Lankan employers and policy makers to revisit our existing employment structures,” points out Sheamalee Wickramsingha, Group Managing Director, Ceylon Biscuits Limited.
Wickramasingha will be one of the panelists at the upcoming Employers’ Symposium to be held on November 9th at Cinnamon Grand, organized by the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC) under the theme of ‘Repositioning Sri Lanka- Meeting the Employment Challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. She will be sharing her insights under the session- ‘Rethinking Employment’.
This year’s theme of the EFC’s symposium is aligned with the changing business paradigms resulting from the technological advancements, particularly in the realms of information and communication. The symposium will draw experts from some of the leading EFC member corporates who will bring with them the experience and new ideas on employment-related issues, with the ultimate objective of finding sustainable solutions that would enable employers to incorporate best practices and employment strategies suited for their organizations.
Commenting on the importance of keeping abreast with the trends and demands of the modern-day world of work, to reap enhanced economic and social benefits as a nation, the Group MD, Ceylon Biscuits Limited adds, “We are heading towards a middle income country with no employment and lower income levels. This needs to change if the country is to prosper with the new status by adding more value to a job which will in turn raise the profile of the job and also generate higher wages.” She elucidates that, as a country we could no longer claim the “luxury of cheap labour” but instead should be technologically driven, the move which demands more skilled people. Calling for more efficient tools of tapping human resources in the country, particularly the untapped female labour, Wickramasingha lobbies for women-friendly labour legislation which would be conducive to a loftier workforce. “The need for flexible work arrangements which will enable women to strike work-family balance is overwhelming. Today young women will take up challenges given the correct environment.”
Wickramsingha who applauds women who have taken up jobs traditionally held by men, cites the example of female machine operators employed by several of Ceylon Biscuits Ltd’s factories. “We always attempt to facilitate a work place with infrastructure for women with children. Right now we are in the process of establishing a crèche in one of our companies which will be replicated in the rest as well.”
Several stumbling blocks at ‘organizational level’often impedes the process of ‘rethinking employment,’ opines Wickramasingha who cites non-cognitive, repetitive jobs in this regard.
“Such jobs don’t stimulate anyone,” remarks the Group MD who believes in the ‘engagement’ in the workforce at all levels. “Each job within an organization should be relevant, success should be shared and woes should be understood.” She also urges organizations to constantly evolve and embrace new thinking similar to what her organization aspires. “We strive to have careers at all levels and have had many examples of people going at the lowest levels making it to executive grades.
We support our senior management to be different and embrace new thinking. As an organisation we need to be constantly evolving with the needs of today.”
An advocate of ‘learning from shared experience,’ Wickramasingha who also serves as a council member of the EFC, applauds the initiatives of the EFC to facilitate the same. “Productivity is the key factor in being relevant in a very competitive world and this drive has to be an ongoing endeavor for which shared experience is vital.”