Anita Wiafe, CEO
A firm providing safety services to oil and gas companies expanded its business from the UK to Ghana and Ivory Coast in Africa. However, they had little knowledge about the work culture or the work ethics of the employees in the oil and gas industry in Ghana. They also had no idea of the labour laws and practices or the unions in Ghana, which signifies that they lacked knowledge in Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA). The firm realized that it would be difficult to work in the region without local guidance. Therefore, they asked Occupational Management Limited Africa (OML Africa), an international human resource management consultancy, for assistance.
OML Africa ran a preliminary assessment, and post that they came up with the following findings: the client was applying their UK policies to Ghanaian workers, which did not comply with the local labour laws of Ghana. Consequently, the workers took advantage of the loopholes in the firm’s policies, which resulted in unauthorized absenteeism, misconducts, abuse of health benefits, deception through invoicing of clients and suppliers and misuse of the overtime system, on the part of the workers, which was costing them thousands of pounds. When the firm tried bringing in some structure to make the situation better, the workers decided to form a union and demanded unreasonable benefits, allowances, and terms of employment.
At this point, OML Africa suggested the client to develop local HR policies and procedures that align with the Ghana Labour Act and local labour practices. The consultancy created HR policies, revised the existing workflow, and strengthened the approval chain to eliminate the loopholes by automating approval lines to pass through the UK head office. The HRM services provider took over the negotiations of the CBA with the workers’ union along with the client’s payroll administration, including expatriate payroll and work permit management. Disciplinary procedures, as well as sanctions, were implemented for the office in Ghana. They then worked with the HR manager in the UK head office to incorporate the UK practices that the client wanted to regulate throughout the company. The same procedure was repeated at the client’s branch in Ivory Coast and aligned with the labour laws and practices of Ivory Coast.
After going through OML Africa’s recommendations, the clients could take control of its people, systems, processes, and establish themselves in a foreign land. The client saved £50,000 by closing the overtime gap, negotiating out some financial items in the CBA and eliminating the deception through invoicing of clients and suppliers. The solutions provided by the HRM consultancy saved the client company from giving consent to such items in the CBA, which would have adversely affected their right to make redundancies, transfer, promote, hire and fire people.
Similar is the case with the companies vying to expand their business, seeking new business opportunities in emerging markets like, Africa. These organizations have little knowledge of the culture, contracts, agreements, recruitment process, and the functions of selection, training, performance management, remuneration and compliance systems prevalent in the emerging markets. The companies presume that the UK/ Europe practices could be applied to the new place as well, without understanding the culture and labour practices of the country they have chosen to operate within. As a result, when a company operates globally, it becomes difficult for their HR department to manage local and abroad talent, simultaneously, because of diverse HR compliance systems at different places.
We have used our international vision to develop support models that help our clients to manage their people successfully both at home and abroad
As such, companies with international growth potential, face new intricacies, requirements and responsibilities, and it becomes imperative to effectively manage this for both, the company and the people. OML Africa helps globally operating companies address these challenges by leveraging their both home and abroad HRM knowledge combined with international standards to support them avoid HRM pitfalls concerning international business expansions. “To stay updated with the changing world of HR practice we have used our international vision to develop support models that help our clients to manage their people successfully both at home and abroad,” says Anita Wiafe, CEO of OML Africa. She is a dynamic HR leader, with years of experience working in HRM space that spanned multiple continents.
Speaking more about the company, Anita says, “We have chosen to focus on how HR management differs around the world, and this has uniquely positioned OML Africa to be familiar with cultural awareness, language barriers, social differences and diversity promotion. We have also positioned ourselves to provide support to companies to transition into new cultures by providing the necessary support to them including all legal requirements as per the new country rules and regulations regarding employing people and labour laws.” Additionally, OML Africa offers local HR support to both home and abroad. The statement implies that the company ensures continuity of service to their clients in the UK/Europe operating internationally in Africa effectively.
Founded in 2010, OML Africa specializes in Organizational Development, Generalist HR, Talent Management, Advisory and Legal. The company offers automated HR Outsourcing services using technology to streamline HR processes, coupled with, Organizational Development consultancy to assist organizations with organizational design, structure, operations, and alignment. Another helping hand for OML Africa is its Talent Management portfolio, which includes leading assessments accessible all around the globe via an online platform.
OML Africa provides advisory services to its clients in the areas of employee engagement, wellness, health and safety, performance appraisal, compensation and benefits. Along with the advisory services, the consultancy offers legal services under the umbrella of HR risk services, which focus on HR documentation such as policies, contracts of employment, systems, HR due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, HR audits and advice on employment and labour practices.
Additionally, the labour dispute service of the consultancy is for international companies who find themselves in labour disputes over, for example, CBA, unfair termination cases, and breach of contract cases. Similarly, some of the other services of the company, including pre-case reviews, talent assessment and training development, and HR analytics help clients establish their business globally.
OML Africa hires experienced HR professionals both at home and abroad with strong local knowledge in HR to deliver its services. In fact, the company runs the African Association of HR leaders network with over 3000 HR professionals in Africa.
In a bid to continue helping the companies that ask for assistance, in setting up their business in the near future, OML Africa plans to increase its efforts to onboard its clients who have not yet automated their HR systems. It is aiming to partner with some of the leading HR Tech companies to work with it on HR digitization mission. For new and better solutions, OML Africa is collaborating with reputable cyber-security companies in the UK to offer training to HR leaders on HR data and cyber-security. The company is even paying prime importance to HR Big Data and security. The reason, being, that technology is the pivot on which OML Africa revolves, so the company is always on the lookout for solutions that will help in further polishing it.