Exploring the Feasibility of a 4-Day Work Week in Jamaica

The traditional 5-day work week has long been the standard, however, in recent years, there has been a growing global conversation around the concept of a 4-day work week, sparking debates on its feasibility and potential benefits. But what about Jamaica? Are we ready for such a change? Let’s delve into the possibilities and implications of a 4-day work week in Jamaica.

A four-day workweek offers the benefit of an extra day off each week, potentially improving work-life balance and efficiency as employees aim to complete tasks within a shorter timeframe. Additionally, with fewer days spent commuting and more time for relaxation, employees may experience reduced stress levels and increased job satisfaction. However, careful consideration must be given to workload management and potential challenges such as adjusting to longer workdays and ensuring adequate coverage for essential tasks and services.

Implementing a 4-day work week requires a shift not only in policy but also in mindset. Are businesses prepared to adapt? Are employees prepared to work longer than 8 hours per day? To what extent have employers  utilize the provisions of the Employment (Flexible Work Arrangements) (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2014 that was enacted to enables flexible working arrangements in Jamaica?

There are a number of factors to be considered in the Jamaican context:

  • Several Jamaican’s are paid hourly wages and are unable to work longer hours during the day due to familial arrangements. A 4-day workweek would have a significant negative impact on their finances.
  • Jamaica has a growing number of small businesses that rely on consistent operational hours. A 4-day workweek may disrupt these businesses’ ability to meet customer demands particularly if they lack the resources to adapt to the new schedule effectively.
  • There could be great economic repercussions if a 4-day workweek leads to reduced productivity. This will, in the medium to long term, impact job security and wage levels.
  • Jamaica’s economy is heavily reliant on the Tourism and Hospitality Sector. Implementing a four-day workweek in this industry could have implications for visitor experiences, staffing levels, and operational logistics.
  • Jamaicans are notorious for being resistant to change. Some employees may feel uncomfortable with the change and struggle to adapt to the longer workdays associated with a compressed schedule.

The concept of a 4-day work week presents both challenges and opportunities for Jamaica. Addressing these negative cultural and social implications would require careful planning, communication, and collaboration between employers, employees and their representatives, government agencies, and other stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition that minimizes disruptions and maximizes the potential benefits of a four-day workweek for Jamaican society.

Employee Engagement: Crafting a Positive Workplace Culture

Fostering employee engagement has become a cornerstone of successful organizations, and employers are increasingly realizing the impact that an engaged workforce can have on overall productivity, innovation, and employee retention. Engaged employees are not just committed to their jobs; they are connected to the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Key practices that foster employee engagement are:

  1. Recognition and Appreciation: Acknowledge employees’ hard work and implement peer-to-peer recognition programs where colleagues can acknowledge each other’s efforts.
  2. Professional Development: Provide opportunities for skill development and continuous learning.
  3. Work-Life Balance: Offer flexible work hours or remote work options where possible. Balancing work and personal life lead to happier and more engaged employees. Additionally, wellness initiatives, such as yoga classes, mental health workshops, or gym memberships, to promote employees’ physical and mental well-being.
  4. Regular Feedback and Performance Reviews: Provide regular, constructive feedback to help employees understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Performance reviews can be linked to rewards and recognition.
  5. Leadership: Leaders should exemplify the values and work ethic expected from employees to set the tone for the organization.

These practices are catalysts for transformation. The journey toward a highly engaged workforce is ongoing and requires dedication, adaptability, and an understanding of the unique needs of your employees.

The Impact of Employee Turnover on a Company’s Success

Employee turnover, the rate at which employees leave a company and are replaced by new hires, can have a profound effect on an organization’s overall success. Whether it’s voluntary or involuntary, high turnover rates can be detrimental to a company’s productivity and financial stability. Let’s explore the impact of employee turnover and why it is critical for businesses to address the issue.

  1. Cost implications: Recruiting, hiring, and training new employees incur substantial costs. Moreover, when experienced employees leave, so does their knowledge and expertise, leading to a loss in institutional knowledge and the need to train new hires from scratch.
  2. Disruption to workflow: High turnover disrupts the workflow and stability within an organization. When key positions are frequently filled by new employees, it can lead to a loss of productivity, increased workload on remaining employees, and a decline in overall team cohesion.
  3. Talent attraction and retention: In today’s competitive job market, potential employees consider a company’s turnover rate when making career decisions. High turnover can signal underlying issues within an organization and deter top talent from joining. On the other hand, low turnover rates demonstrate a positive work environment and an organization’s ability to attract and retain skilled professionals. By actively managing turnover and implementing strategies to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement, companies can become more attractive to top talent, gaining a competitive advantage.

Employee turnover can have far-reaching consequences for a company, impacting its financial health, productivity, and talent retention efforts. Utilizing the services of a human resource management company such as CEAC Outsourcing Company Limited, with a thorough hiring process, is one proven way to ensure employees with the perfect skillset and personality are hired which will reduce turnover and foster a stable and thriving work environment.

HRM: Evolving Trends in Jamaica

The world of work has certainly undergone significant changes in recent time and continues to evolve. There are several new trends in Human Resource Management (HRM) that are being implemented globally, including in Jamaica. These include:

  1. Work From Home and flexible work arrangements: With advancements in technology and the availability of high-speed internet connectivity, many companies are offering their employees the option to work remotely or have flexible work arrangements. This trend has become even more popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Focus on employee wellness: Companies are increasingly focusing on employee wellness to improve job satisfaction, productivity, and overall well-being. This includes offering wellness programs, mental health resources, and flexible work arrangements.
  3. Emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion: Companies are becoming more aware of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This includes actively recruiting and retaining employees from diverse backgrounds, creating inclusive policies, and providing diversity and inclusion training.
  4. Data-driven HR: Companies are increasingly using data to inform their HR practices, from recruiting and hiring to employee retention and engagement.
  5. HR automation: Automation technology is being used to streamline HR tasks such as payroll processing, benefits administration, and employee record keeping.

In Jamaica, these trends are being utilized to some extent, although the level of adoption may vary depending on the industry and company size. For example, some companies in Jamaica are offering Work From Home options, while others may not have the necessary technology infrastructure to do so. Similarly, some companies are investing in employee wellness programs, while others may not have the resources to do so.

However, it’s worth noting that in Jamaica, not all of these trends may be as widespread or fully developed as they are in larger, more developed countries. Nevertheless, companies that are implementing these trends are likely to see benefits such as increased employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Additionally, adopting these practices can help companies stay competitive in an increasingly global marketplace.

CEAC Committed to Hill Run

CEAC continued its ongoing contribution to the Hill Run, St Catherine community in July, by renovating the community signpost and replacing the old community Notice Board. The improvements will allow residents to better communicate with each other about local events and advisories and more, while the renovation of the sign will brighten and beautify the Hill Run town square.

Jolene McGregor, Senior Incinerator Operator of HAZPRO, CEAC’s Waste Management Service, pointed out that the company considered itself a part of the Hill Run community, and is therefore vested in its long-term development and sustainability. In recent months, CEAC has also taken on other community enhancement and improvement projects, such as the planting of over 50 Seaside Mahoe and Santa Maria saplings, which will eventually grow to become flowering trees. The saplings were planted in and around the community, and were selected for their hardiness and adaptability to the local climate.

“We are a part of this community, and as stewards of the environment, we are committed to helping our neighbours and the wider Hill Run community enhance and improve the area overall.” McGregor added

How To Win Over A Potential Employer

Apply for jobs which you qualify for

Many times we receive applications from candidates that don’t match job descriptions they’re applying for. With hundreds of candidates in some cases, each resume gets no more than a 30 second initial review. When candidate experience and application position don’t line up, chances are the HR/hiring officer wont even read the resume. The best thing to do is to quickly qualify yourself because the employer won’t have time to do that for you.Write a targeted letter for the position which you are applying for It’s truly amazing how many candidates wish to “utilize their skills in a challenging work environment”. Customization counts in this area. Take some time to do some research about the company you’re applying

Target your cover letter to the job

Your cover letter (CV) is most likely the first bit of communication you will have with a hiring officer. Take this moment to introduce yourself and a little bit of your personality. In this case, again ensure that your CV is customized to the job of which you are applying. Specifically mention the position and how you plan on adding value to the organization.

It should go without saying, however please spell correctly. If you want to stand out visually, try and incorporate a degree of creativity on the document itself.

Lead with your strengths 

In distinguishing yourself from dozens of other applicants make sure to include your background and experience and explain how it is relevant to the position you’re seeking. If you’re just leaving university, lead with your education & degree while letting the potential employer know what clubs/associations you might have been apart of.

Avoid “notice me” calls

After resume submissions, we receive calls that act as a ‘follow up’ to confirm if we have received that specific resume. Please don’t have a potential employer filter through these applications just so they can notice you. More times than not, these followups categorize the candidate as difficult .

When you submit your resume, wait for the hiring officer to call you. If you don’t receive a call, chances are you did not make the shortlist.

Telecommuting in a post-COVID Economy

Since the outbreak of covid-19 Jamaica has been experiencing massive effects from the imposed trend of work from home.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) has been one such industry feeling a brunt of weight, especially following Alcorica’s outbreak which significantly shifted the country’s response to the pandemic. The President of the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSOJ) Gloria Henry states that at least 40% of BPO staff island wide are currently working from home and has requested a continuance of these arrangements until the end of the year to keep employees safe and employed as well as to support social distancing protocols. 

Shortly following the outbreak, the GOJ imposed a work from home order requiring employees to do so if possible. On June 1st 2020 this effect expired and was replaced with a “work smart, work safe” order, essentially leaving the decisions of telecommuting up to individual employers. Going forward Prime Minister Andrew Holness stated in a press conference on May 26th 2020 that “ we should allow people to work from wherever they can be most effective”. 

Employers assessing the feasibility of telecommuting have multiple variables to take into consideration, however should not address it as an all or nothing proposal. 

How do employers benefit?

It goes without saying that some jobs are better suited for telecommuting than others. Knowledge workers such as lawyers, scientists, accountants, designers, and academics all incorporate tasks which can be remotely monitored by management. Industries such as transportation, sports, retail, food, and entertainment are not so easily operated from a remote standpoint.

Employers and HR strive for optimal performance in the workplace and in most cases, measure it numerous times throughout a year. Interestingly, 
In a 2019 study published by the Journal of Business and Psychology, researchers found that employees whose jobs were highly complex but did not require significant collaboration or social support performed better when telecommuting than when working in the company’s office.  
Additional research conducted by Stanford University supports these previous findings by identifying a 13% increase in productivity levels for employees who are given access to work from home compared to their in office colleagues.

How do employees benefit?

In a study conducted by Global Workplace Analytics, they found that 80-90% of employees wanted a work at home arrangement incorporated into their employment arrangement. Employees working from home are able to benefit from this by directly saving on costs associated with transportation such as petrol purchases, toll fare, or taxi/bus fees. More importantly, telecommuting gives persons the opportunity to be closer to their families.

Environment & Personal Well being

The principle benefit to reduced motorist activity can be directly linked to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions vehicles produce such as CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane.

Globally, the transportation sector is responsible for 14% of all CO2 released into the atmosphere and as much as 28.2% in the United States whose culture is heavily focused around car ownership (not so different from Jamaica).

The effects of air pollution are known to be hazardous to human physical health and have been widely studied, however recent research coming out of the University of Washington (Seattle) provides evidence showing a significant correlation between particulate matter (PM) exposure and an increase in psychological distress. On a neurological level, exposure to PMs contributes towards “neuroinflammation, oxidative stress, cerebrovascular damage, and neurodegenerative pathology via several cellular and molecular pathways”. Additionally, neuroinflammation and cerebrovascular damage have been found to increase the risk and/or exacerbation of certain mental illnesses such as depression. 

Indirectly, the presence of these PMs in the environment fundamentally changes the behaviour of exposed persons as they choose to spend more time indoors, subsequently reducing their vitamin D intake (sunlight),  physical activity, contact with parks and green spaces, as well as other people.

By implementing telecommuting in organizations, employers are able to contribute to a reduction of these greenhouse gasses and help create an environment that is more attractive to the people.

Waste Production

Paper and plastic waste plague our island society and can be found everywhere in our environment, from our streets and gullies to our rivers and oceans. It’s inescapably clear that we have a waste management problem. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that approximately 67% of paper products are reclaimed in the United States whereas 75% of plastic waste is sent to the landfill. Locally the recycling situation is much more dismal and inconvenient for most Jamaicans as the vast majority of plastics and paper end up in the municipal waste stream to be land-filled.

In the past three years, steps have been taken by the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) to minimize the effect of these waste streams on the environment. Notably, the recent ban on single use plastics took full effect on January 1, 2020 and continues to be enforced by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA). Other agencies such as the Recycling Partners of Jamaica (RPJ) have encouraged recycling activities by doubling the price of plastic bottles back in 2019. 

The progress Jamaica had made thus far must not be downplayed and the agencies responsible for these changes are to be highly commended. The question going forward is how do we continue to make progress in this area and set the bar for others to observe and follow suit? A strong case can be made for telecommuting.

Summary

Consideration must be given by employers as to which jobs can effectively be incorporated into a remote work environment.

Implementing telecommuting can most definitely come with some challenges. This said, it could be a productive step towards addressing some greater concerns relating to overall personnel satisfaction and environmental degradation.

Mortgage Options for the New Homeowner

It’s never been easier for Jamaicans to qualify for mortgage loans than it is now.

Just recently, the Government of Jamaica has “eased the tax burden on real estate transactions”, causing a frenzy of new financing options to come forth from private banking institutions. These options vary between institutions as it relates to promotions and rates, however their goal is to work with you on your home ownership journey.

Choosing the appropriate lending institution will come down to your budget and preference/existing relationships with the banks you currently operate at.

Before you make a decision, make note the following things;

  • If you are a first time buyer you may qualify for a special mortgage
  • Take the ‘safest’ mortgage that is available. This is especially important if you are planning to live in your house for 5 years or longer 
  • Ask your lending agent to provide you with refinancing information. Rates can change in the future and you might be able to secure more favorable opt

Current Local Mortgage Rates

https://jamfinfacts.com/mortgage/    (*Rates as at May 31, 2019)

SmartHomes is here to help you on yourjourney and help get you one step closer to your dream home. We have an abundance of experience in financing and have individual relationships with various lending institutions. If you need assistance, or are confused as to which direction to take, feel free to reach out to us. One of our representatives will be happy to guide you along the way.

5 First Time Home Owners – Tips

  • Start saving for the down payment – Its typical for prospective home owners to put down 20% in anticipation of their first home payment, however many institutions allow for down payments of less than 10%. Note that if this is done it may result in higher overall costs.
  • Seek guidance for a professional financial organization for mortgage options – Lending organizations are here to help you achieve your home ownership goals. Here in Jamaica, there are many options for you to choose from. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON MORTGAGE RATES AND OPTIONS FOR THE NEW HOME OWNER = > Link to article #4.
  • Obtain a preapproval letter – As the time gets closer to your first home purchase, you will need to obtain a pre-approval letter from your preferred lending institution. At this point, your lender will take an in depth look at your finances to get a better understanding if you can afford the purchase. When the time comes to purchase your home you will appear to be a serious prospect to the development company.
  • Choose the appropriate house and neighborhood – Chances are that when you make your first home purchase, you will be living there for more than 5 years. This being said, it is important to do your due diligence on the surrounding community. Ensure you spend adequate time researching local schools, hospitals, activities, and crime statistics.

Benefits of residential Solar/PV systems

Type of Systems

Grid Tie – Is a simple installation of panels where there is no storage present. This system allows the user to reduce their electricity cost by making direct use of energy generated. Unfortunately with this method, it will not be able to produce power during an electrical outage and will be unable to store energy for any duration of time.

Off Grid – This is the best option for persons who live in remote locations and have difficulty accessing the traditional power grid. This involves setting up a comprehensive system of panels, batteries, inverters, charge controllers, and service panels that will allow complete grid disconnection. You will not receive a bill for you electricity usage and is generally connected across.

Grid Tie with Storage – This system is great if you are already connected to the grid but would like to reduce your energy costs while making use of the stored energy your panels have generated. If there is a power outage, you will be able to draw current from what you have saved.

Typical Cost of Systems

Solar-PV is the least expensive way to provide electricity to your home, but exactly how much does this system cost?

Typical power consumption for a 2 bedroom house is ~120 KWH/month. Each solar panel has the ability to generate ~.68 KWH/day (contingent on weather conditions) or ~20.4 KWH/ month. In order to generate enough current to provide for the entire house you would need;

  • 6 panels
  • 4 batteries
  • 1 Inverter
  • 1 controller

A system this size provided by SmartHomes will cost ~1.2m JMD.

Should I use Solar PV panels for my home?

Setting up a PV solar system does inherently come with some upfront costs, namely, batteries, panels, and other hardware needed in the installation and transference process (contingent on the system you choose).

At the end of the day, the decision to invest in solar energy is up to the home owner; however before making the decision, one should take a few things into consideration.

  • Savings – If enough energy can be generated from the panels and subsequently stored, your power utility bill could be little to nothing.
  • Clean & renewable – Although modern day PV panels operate around ~20% efficiency, the solar energy that is harvested is 100% renewable.
  • Excess Revenue – Extra energy that is generated from panels can be sold back to the grid.

Taking the leap and installing solar panels is well worth it in the long run. Not only will you be able to see a significant reduction in your energy bills, but you will have the peace of mind knowing that you and your family operate on clean energy.

Electric Vehicles: The Wave of the Future?

Countries such as Norway, Iceland, and Sweden have taken the lead in the international marketplace as it relates to electric vehicle (EV) adoption. At the forefront of this revolution, Norway boasts a 49% acceptance and usage rate amongst its citizens.

Other countries such as the USA have been attempting to replicate these results, however at ~ 1% adoption they still have among way to go.

The reality is that the transportation sector makes up the principle amount of emissions released into the atmosphere.  To this note, government law makers are implementing policies in order to progress the development and adoption of this industry.

Government of Jamaica

Why make the switch to an Electric Vehicle?

Savings

  • EV owners are able to reduce their fuel bills by more than 66% by running their vehicles on electricity vs automotive gas
  • EVs are constructed with much less moving components. This will subsequently lead to less maintenance costs over the lifetime usage of the vehicle.

Environment

  • Less pollution – EV vehicles release 0 emissions. Not only with this benefit the environment as a whole, but the air in our cities will be cleaner to breath if EV adoption rates increased.
  • Environmentally friendly materials – Many of the EV’s in production today are making use of recycled materials to incorporate into the productions process.
  • Renewable energy – As an EV owner, you will be able to decide where your energy comes from. In many cases PV solar panels are built into EV charging stations.