We are still in the first trimester of 2018 and many organisations will be focused on strategic planning, one of the most essential, challenging and potentially exciting exercise for businesses.
Strategic business planning allows an organization to make fundamental decisions or choices by taking a long-range view of targets, both related to the bottom line and organisational culture – what it hopes to accomplish and plans around how it will achieve its mission within a specific time frame.
Organisations use strategic plans to set priorities, focus energy and resources, strengthen operations, ensure that employees and other stakeholders are working toward common goals, establish agreement around intended outcomes and results, and assess and adjust the organization’s direction in response to any changing environment.
While most of these strategic plans focus majorly on how to grow businesses and raise revenues, it should be noted that staff and the internal culture plays a key role towards the achievement of a company’s mission, vision and set objectives. Without staff contribution, business goals may never be accomplished.
Importance of Employees
Employees are the most important resource for any organisation. How employees are treated and how much they value the company they work for will have an impact on how the company performs. Diversity, work-life balance and remuneration, workplace conditions, personal development, health and, above all, safety and security for employees while at work/undertaking their duties (be it in an office, factory, warehouse, or in the field) are all issues that responsible employers need to address to ensure a happy, motivated workforce.
Every enterprise has a duty of care to its employees and others affected by its operations, thus putting in place the right security measures is critical to protecting workers and the organisations that they serve.
Safeguarding of staff, clients and the public is a core responsibility for any business or organisation. The moral imperative of putting people before profit is, or should be, a compelling objective. Increasingly, legal obligation is a driving factor too.
This dimension was brought into sharp focus by a landmark court case in 2015, when an international NGO worker who had been kidnapped and injured was awarded a large compensation pay-out, the court ruling that his employer had been grossly negligent in failing to mitigate and avert the foreseeable risks.
A further motivation for taking wellbeing seriously is reputation. Increasingly, international businesses realise the value of demonstrating a commitment to the welfare of their workforce. This has given rise to Corporate Social Responsibility policies, which see companies pledge voluntarily to improve their impacts on people’s lives within and beyond the organisation.
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Foreign investors, aid agencies and others coming to work in eastern Africa should be prepared to deal with some, perhaps unfamiliar, levels of uncertainty. While businesses and their personnel face threats in any location, new territory can be unsettling. Implementing an appropriate duty of care framework provides measured solutions to mitigate threats, both to the company’s assets and, more importantly, to its people. This helps ensure safe, secure working and enhances confidence – and can remove the impediments to doing business in a region that has so much to offer.
The practical solutions that might arise from a duty of care strategy include private guarding, surveillance, armoured transport and alarm systems, across both workplaces and residential settings. But it’s crucial that these measures be backed up with high-quality information, communication and education. Policies and procedures must be followed consistently, with responses to potential crises put in place. This integrated approach requires the engagement of a high-quality security service with local expertise.
The private security industry has attracted criticism at times for providing visible demarcation of the wealth gap. The reality is that for companies to provide a safe environment, such safety measures are vital. Security, in all senses of the word, is what businesses need to flourish – and the particular services that security companies provide are central to supporting development in some regions. Risk management organisations provide foreign investors with peace of mind, facilitating their market entry. In this way, the risk management industry is integral to the country’s long term economic development.
Security firms are often large-scale employers that provide steady incomes for Kenyans. The benefits to staff are of course dependent on their treatment by the security companies they work for – the best extend duty of care not only to their clients but to their own personnel too.
For companies, NGOs and other organisations operating in East Africa, an appropriate duty of care framework is critical to managing risk. Informed with the right knowledge and strategy, an appropriate level of protection can be implemented for both employers and employees – enabling safe, secure working in a region which can be an immensely rewarding place to do business.
Elizabeth Murunga, (The writer) is the Security Information Manager at WS Insight, a risk and security management firm.