Speaking to Chrome Digest recently, the Human Resources Director (HRD) Mrs. Joyce Nton explained the idea behind the Early Birds award, how and why it was initiated and the purpose it hopes to achieve.
The Early Birds award: its beginnings
The Early Birds award was actually approved by the Chairman, Sir Emeka Offor on 17th September 2013, with the intention of achieving a number of purposes including among other things, improving punctuality among staffers, forming part of assessment of staff members and creating a disciplined workforce. The award was however, set up as a result of staffs’ “lackadaisical attitude to work”. It was an award that came to reward staff for doing what they ought to do without compulsion or inducement. Similarly, just as there was an award for punctuality, so also was the opposite called a “reprimand” for perpetual and habitual late comers which could lead to unfavourable management decision against the employee(s).
Before the award was instituted, the attitude of late coming to work traversed from junior level workers to management, which showed little or no level attachment or identification from the habit. Many staff believed since their superiors came to work at 10 am and what they were supposed to do was dependent on instructions given by such superior, they were encouraged to resume just a tinily bit before him or her. This belief had to be corrected and as such the reward and reprimand was made to cut across the whole cadre of staff from the management to junior staff. Late coming to work among senior management staff appeared to drive the whole late coming custom to a high level and an action to reverse the trend birthed the Early Birds award.
Procedures and steps taken
The selection process is done by the Human Resources department and to ensure transparency, some measures were put in place to achieve that. The first step taken by the department was to exempt themselves from the award for if they were to be included, there was every possibility winners would always emerge from the department because they come earlier than other staff to be able to record staff punctuality. The second measure was to produce an excel spread sheet with every employees name where daily resumption time of every worker was recorded throughout the year. The process kick-started with Chrome headquarters but presently runs simultaneously across Chrome Group subsidiaries. A register exist for the whole Group with names of every staff attached to colour codes showing arrival times. On those colour codes, staff who went on operational trips, were on leave or who came late are identified. These procedures are strictly followed to show impartiality.
Selection process for awardees
On the process of selection after records have been collected at the end of the year, the HRD stated: “Let’s take the Chrome Group sheet for instance, you see some staff have red colour run right through and you know this is just an unrepentant late comer. Then for people you find white all through, though you scarcely find people white all through, this shows such staff is a perpetual Early Bird. So you pick out Early Birds who perpetually come early through this process to identify each because the award is for a few people. Mostly we do two staff per subsidiary but for a subsidiary like Kaztec, which have more offices, we can’t do only two. Hence, if the Kaztec office is small we take one, if it is a big Kaztec office we take two. If there are ten people coming perpetually early in Kaztec, we now sit down, take that pain and say, Monday this week who came earliest, next week who did and so on. If there are three staffs who perpetually arrived at an average of say 7:12 a.m and 7:30 a.m and I came at an average of 7:45 a.m and another came at an average of 7:50 a.m, the one who comes earliest using this timing gets the award.”
The results from each subsidiary are sent to the Chairman every month who in turn takes the pain to look at them. This process is done for the whole year though most staff does not know “how serious we take it”. Also, not everybody can get the award but it was noted that the Human Resource department was very transparent about the exercise.
Number of awardees and reprimands since the exercise began
Since its inception in 2013, seventeen staff in total had won the award. In 2013, just six staff won it and this was because the exercise was only approved in September 2013. “What happened then was that, we had to do a trial run in Abuja. We only did for the Chrome Group headquarters and Kaztec Oguda and don’t forget we didn’t have Kiss FM at that time. So in 2013, Michael Agada, Tochukwu Odukwe, Uchechi Obasi, Jacinta Ezenwata, Idris Habib and Solomon Inniodu all won it. However, in 2014, 11 staff made the award list. This number increased because subsidiaries in Calabar, Lagos and Abuja offices were included. Those who made the award list for 2014 include Michael Agada (twice in a row), Deborah Akale, Jacinter Ezenwata (twice in a row), Kelechi Nwachukwu, Solomon Iniodu (twice in a row), Udeme Okon, Ifeyinwa Okafor, Kingsley Etuonu, Abah John, Olabunmi Afolabi and Joan Okpagu.
It was pointed out that coming to work early showed a trait of responsibility on the path of employee which helped in career management and promotions. While some were rewarded, few others too received reprimand letters duly signed directly by the Chairman. Perpetual late comers have had their reprimand letters sent to the Chairman to append his signature. Significantly, few staffs in 2014 were noted to arrive perpetually late to work 206 times out of 261 working days even when there are 365 days in a year in which 104 days are weekends. “This shows that the person doing this has not realized what he/she is doing and most time people do it without realizing they are actually doing it but records do not lie.”
Award to be replicated in other categories?
Apart from the Early Birds award, there also exist the Accident Free Policy awards for drivers. This award is like telling the drivers they are appreciated for driving throughout the year without involving in any form of accident or the other. Twenty seven drivers won the award in December 2014 for driving safe and keeping accident free.
Response from awardees
Debora Akale (Reception), one of the beneficiaries of the award was surprised and never anticipated to be among the selected winners. Being an awardee to her was a lesson which was to take her job seriously. She advised anyone who wished to be part of the exercise to take their job seriously and come to work early. Michael Agada (Protocol/Logistics), another awardee who was receiving the award the second time in a row was glad to be named again in 2014. He thanked the HRD and management for the award. He stated that being punctual to work was a habit and part of the discipline he imbibed while growing up.
Message for the New Year
My New Year message to them is that we shall all grow together this year. As the company grows, we grow and I wish all to shine on in Jesus name Amen.