Mobilising people to achieve an organisation’s goals is not as straightforward as mobilising any of its other resources because, well, you’re dealing with people. People have skills, experiences, capabilities, feelings, opinions, perceptions, attitudes and values that must be taken into consideration when crafting strategy. For example, when goals are set for sales targets, implicit in those goals are assumptions around whether the people responsible for reaching them are able and willing to do so. This is where human resource professionals come in. They know the talent pool better than any other person within the organisation, and should be able to influence the direction and implementation of strategic plans by offering their people expertise. One suite of tools that allows them to offer objective advice is HR Analytics.
HR Analytics involves “the systematic identification and quantification of the people drivers of business outcomes, with the purpose to make better decisions”.
Through HR Analytics, organisations can measure progress towards business objectives. HR practitioners achieve the following four outcomes:
An understanding of the performance of the human capital of the organisation
The ability to speak in an unambiguous language that is used and understood by all areas of the business, not just HR practitioners
Prioritisation of investments and justified decisions
The ability to influence the future of the organisation.
Getting started is not very difficult. Most organisations already collect a wide range of people-related information, including performance data, engagement scores, salary and benefits information, and so on. The key is to organise, analyse and communicate the insights from this information in a way that can influence strategic decision-making.
Antilles Economics and the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados (HRMAB) will be conducting training on HR Analytics during the month of April 2018. Participating companies not only learn about the main metrics used in HR Analytics and how to create and interpret them, but will apply their knowledge using their organisation’s own data. We expect, therefore, that participants will leave the training equipped with their own HR Analytics dashboard and the insights they need to implement their people-related strategies.
To learn more about the training, please contact HRMAB at (246) 228-5518.
 S. van der Heuvel and T. Bondarouk (2016) The Rise (and Fall) of HR Analytics
Antilles Economics and Blueprint Creative Inc. recently completed a pilot study of more than 440 employees in Barbados to shed light on how employees’ views could be influencing their employers’ brands. The concept of the employer brand encompasses all aspects of an organisation’s reputation as an employer, and embodies the idea that companies should have an articulated value proposition for its employees. If we accept that employer brands reflect an organisation’s value proposition for its employees, it is evident that employers should pay attention to three broad areas:
The experience that prospective employees have with the employer’s brand when job hunting;
The level of engagement of current employees and their overall attitudes towards their employers; and,
The response that current employees have to internal communication efforts that reinforce the employer brand.
In many instances, the first time an employee encounters an organisation’s employer brand is when considering the organisation as a potential employer. Therefore, understanding the needs of job-hunters plays a crucial role in how organisations position their employer brand. The main insight uncovered by the research is that not only are appropriate pay and corporate culture the two most cited criteria when choosing an employer, they are interlinked. 53% of respondents stated that the most important challenge when job hunting is finding a job that pays what they’re worth, while the second most important challenge is finding an organisation with a good corporate culture (38% of respondents). The study further uncovered that companies with poor corporate cultures are more likely to encounter a ‘culture tax’, an unofficial salary premium expected by employees to compensate for the poor corporate culture that they must endure. Together, the results reinforce the importance of the employer brand in attracting the best talent.
Employee engagement is an important concern in Barbados, and will become even more so if the country is to produce its way out of its current economic challenges. Apart from a small uptick in 2014 that was the result of decline in total national hours worked, productivity levels in Barbados have been falling since 2011. Boosting employee engagement has the potential to improve productivity levels in Barbados, as more engaged employees would result in a greater return on the investment made in human capital. As an example of the potential rewards that could be received by improving engagement levels, consider a 2013 article published by Gallup on boosting productivity in the United Kingdom. The article estimated that eliminating active disengagement from the U.K. workforce could result in productivity gains between £52 billion and £70 billion per year.
In Barbados, addressing employee engagement could provide an immediate boost to productivity, as our research estimates that the employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) for Barbados in 2017 was -52%, i.e. for every employee that is willing to promote their employer to others, there are five more that are detractors that may be damaging their company’s reputation through negative word of mouth. Furthermore, only 51.8% of employees consider their job to be a career, and 43.9% would like to be working somewhere else within the next 12 months. The eNPS score, along with these results, point to notable dissatisfaction amongst workers in the country. The results also raise the possibility that their dissatisfaction could be negatively influencing their employers’ brands.
An organisation’s internal communication efforts are typically the only formal attempt to articulate the employer brand to current employees. Organisations can use internal communications to drive home messages around its values and culture as well as communicating more practical information about financial performance and strategy. And, in today’s era of widespread social media usage, getting these messages out can be not only interactive and fun, but could also lead to useful insights that could further strengthen employer brands.
The results of the study show, however, that organisations in Barbados may not be fully taking advantage of internal communications to strengthen their employer brands. 40% of employees that took part in the survey stated that their organisation’s management team did not communicate with employees on a regular basis, and 48.6% believed that their personal values and their organisation’s values were not aligned. In both cases, these employees had lower eNPS scores than their counterparts who benefitted from more frequent communications as well as those that believed their personal values and their organisation’s values were aligned.
How to Access the Executive Summary
In the report, we suggest ways in which organisations can strengthen their employer brands by paying attention to these three areas: the employee experience while job hunting, employee engagement and internal communications. To read the entire executive summary, click here. By downloading the report, you will automatically be signed up to receive notification when the full report is available.
Do you already subscribe to our free newsletter AE Quarterly? If so, it should already be in your inbox, ready for you to delve into our new content. If not, what are you waiting for? AE Quarterly features articles written by the AE team on business topics relevant to our Caribbean audience.
The featured articles in the December 2017 edition of AE Quarterly include:
A Preliminary Look at the Mass Market, Mass Affluent and Wealthy in Barbados
Age and Employee Satisfaction in Barbados
Why Train Employees – An Argument for Training and Development
Subscribing to the newsletter is free, and if you haven’t already signed up to receive yours, you can do so now by clicking here.
We’d love to hear what you think and any suggestions on the types of articles you’d like to have us feature, so feel free to email us your feedback and suggestions at
One of the biggest travesties to me in strategic planning – yes, I know I’m being dramatic – is that companies do not incorporate economic forecasts and scenarios into their strategic plans.
I don’t count mentioning the outlook in the background section when you’re setting the tone for the rest of your plans. To me, that’s like when you’re interviewing someone and you ask about their education. It’s an ice-breaker. It is only relevant if they’ve learned something practical and can put it to good use in your organisation. Otherwise, you’re just giving them an opportunity to relax a little. Many companies use economic forecasts in the same way: as introductory material to break the ice and help other people relax in the knowledge that they’ve given this a little thought.
Another common use is as an item to check off a list, which happens frequently in institutions where employees have to compile economic indicators and send to their executive team or board of directors. They couldn’t tell you what the numbers mean or what the implications are for their company, but they’ve ticked the box and can happily move on to something else. What’s worse is that often the executives and board of directors also tick the box that says they’ve seen it, and no one discusses what the numbers mean.
Maybe I should be happy that they’re at least doing this bare minimum, but it’s hard to watch when there’s so much more value that can be tapped.
Here are a few ways that our clients have used economic forecasts and scenarios to help ground their strategies:
An insurance company used our forecasts of economic growth, unemployment, insurance claims, insurance premiums and new policyholders to adapt their strategic plan immediately following the 2007 global financial crisis. They were able to brace for the economic slowdown in Barbados before it arrived by implementing revenue-enhancing and cost-control measures as a matter of urgency.
Our client in the global consumer goods industry was considering expanding their operations into the Caribbean. They hypothesised that the size of the middle class in the Caribbean was growing and could represent a lucrative market. We estimated the size of the middle class and forecasted its growth, which the company then used to select the best countries for investment.
Amidst all of the discussion about potential downgrades to the Barbados dollar and further austerity measures, our client in the financial services industry commissioned an economic scenario building exercise to investigate the impact of various options being debated in the press. The resulting discussion included senior leaders and was designed to ensure that each area within the organisation understood the likelihood and potential impact of each scenario.
There are many other ways that economic forecasts and scenarios can be used in companies. The most important thing to remember is that your organisation does not operate in a bubble; it is part of a wider network of interconnected companies, government institutions, international agencies and consumers. You affect and are affected by the decisions that each player makes. Staying on top of economic trends, and using them to your advantage, is just as important as staying on top of consumer trends.
In Barbados, consumers can pay for goods and services using cash, debit cards, credit cards, cheques, or direct debits (automated payments) from their bank account or online services that link to their credit/debit cards. Our client wanted to understand why the use of certain payment methods was declining while others were increasing, as some of the popular payment methods were more time consuming and posed security challenges, and it, therefore, was not intuitive why they were so popular.
What we did
The payment market has four major players:
Consumers – they determine which payment methods they prefer to use to conduct their business
Merchants – they determine which payment methods they are going to accept within their companies
Financial institutions – provide the various methods of payments to both consumers and merchants, and therefore partially influence what is available in the market
Payment processing companies – provide and operate the platforms on which the payments are transacted; in Barbados these include both private companies and Government-operated clearinghouses.
Each of these players could be making strategic decisions that influence the use (or non-use) of the available payment methods. Background analysis ruled out the payment processing companies as potential influencers, as they had not changed any of their fees, rules or processes in the time period under investigation. To determine how the other three players could be contributing to the observed trends, we conducted a survey with consumers, a survey with merchants, and stakeholder interviews with financial institutions. The findings of all three exercises were analysed and collated into a summary report that highlighted the main factors that explained the changing use of payment methods. The results were then presented to both our client and some of their key external stakeholders.
Impact of Project
In light of the findings, our client revised their corporate strategy to better encourage the use of the payment methods they preferred, and developed a supporting marketing campaign. Their approach therefore spanned both marketing and product design, and early indicators suggest that their efforts have started to result in the market changes that they desire.
A Caribbean development programme, designed to support community development through the provision of grants for community projects, was labelled as high cost due to its relatively high Country Administration Cost to Grant Making Ratio. In other words, the administrative cost of providing the grants far exceeded the total value of the grants that were actually provided. One possible explanation could be that the structure of the programme was either not cost effective or it did not allow for the generation of sufficient grants. Antilles Economics undertook a study to assess the root cause of the high costs and determine the most efficient, effective, results-generating, sustainable and cost-mitigating structure to manage the programme. One unique characteristic of the programme was that it was designed to ensure that support was provided on a country-by-country basis and it was important that this decentralized approach was maintained in any solution.
What we did
We began by reviewing a number of documents on the programme to ascertain background information as well as to lay the foundation for the other approaches to be used. We also gathered information on the management and cost structure of similar programmes internationally to identify best practice.
We then conducted interviews with key stakeholders to establish an initial assessment of the pros and cons of the current system as well as to gather details on the process for approving and providing grants. We also solicited ideas from the volunteers that drove the execution of the programme on the ideal management and cost structure as well as where cost-cutting measures could best be applied. This ensured that any recommendations reflected the experience of those working within the programme, were framed within a set of feasibility parameters and allowed volunteers to maintain the flexibility necessary when utilizing a decentralized framework.
Finally, information was gathered on cost-effective technology solutions that could supplement the existing systems and allow for further cost savings. Wherever possible, these solutions were incorporated as complements to the existing system.
Impact of Project
Four reorganization options were identified and compared in four main areas: ability to maintain the spirit, practice and objectives of the programme; flexibility in the business environment; organisational structure and processes; and, ability to effectively manage staff and volunteers. Criteria were established for each key area and each option was scored based on its ability to achieve the criteria. The best-performing option was recommended to the client. Since adopting the new structure, the client reported improved motivation of staff and increased grant requests.
I’m pleased to introduce AE Quarterly, our email newsletter that will feature articles written by the AE team on business topics relevant to our Caribbean audience.
I would have mentioned our plan to introduce AE Quarterly in our first post of the year, and I’m happy to announce that the inaugural edition has been released. The main goal of the newsletter is to promote discussion on topics that affect doing business here in the region. We all know that there is not enough independent thought on Caribbean business, and we at Antilles Economics are doing our part to close the gap.
The March 2017 edition includes the following articles:
From the Minds of Marketers with Greg Hoyos
Exploring the Green Economy in Barbados
The Barbados Mortgage Market After 9 Years of Economic Strain
Subscribing to the newsletter is free, and if you haven’t already signed up to receive yours, you can do so now by clicking here.
I’d love to hear what you think and any suggestions on the types of articles you’d like to have us feature, so feel free to email us your feedback and suggestions at
Caribbean countries are largely dependent on fossil fuels to supply most of their energy needs. In Jamaica fossil fuel imports account for 28 percent of merchandise imports, and for 27 percent in both Guyana and Cuba. One of the main consumers of energy imports in the region is the transport industry.
Having regard to this, a study – “Greening Vehicular Transport in the Caribbean” – was commissioned by an international donor organisation. The main goal of this project was to conduct a cost-benefit analysis to assess whether the electrification of transport in a small island economy – Barbados – could reduce dependence on fossil fuels, boost economic growth and enhance sustainability.
Antilles Economics was engaged by the organisation to conduct the study and present the results at a regional workshop involving policymakers.
What We Did
This project required a number of research approaches. First, stakeholder interviews were conducted with individuals in transport, finance, and electricity generation and distribution. Second, a survey of consumers was conducted to assess their willingness to use and pay for electric vehicles as well as their general opinions and views on greening transport. Finally, the primary data collected was combined with secondary data to provide an assessment of the potential impact of greening transportation on foreign exchange reserves, business investment, the environment, fiscal balances and economic growth.
The study found that greening the transport industry could hold a number of macroeconomic and environmental benefits, such as having a national store of renewable energy. The paper also reported that there is demand for electric vehicles but the current incentive structure is somewhat perverse.
Impact of Project
The results from the project were presented to a regional group of stakeholders and policymakers interested in transportation. Since the dissemination of the report more countries in the Caribbean have begun the electrification of their transport industry, particularly in the OECS. In addition, many of these countries have reformed their tax and duty structure to make electric vehicles more economically feasible.