Tuesday, September 04, 2012

tuesdays not in turkmenistan: labor law

This is the first in several back-dated entries. I started penning this entry during my last rotation and had intended to publish while I was at home. However, my busy home schedule precluded finalizing my thoughts on the subject. Additionally, it skirts along some potentially sensitive work topics that I am generally reluctant to avoid so my comments will be couched and somewhat vague as I will not discuss specifics about work. As always, my opinions are my own or those of my sponsors.

We have been rolling through some changes for local staff at work related to local labor law compliance. The issue is relatively straightforward in a broad sense. Work has a general compensation philosophy. There are certain ways we wish to pay people given the nature of the work (ie: field work, offshore, remote, etc) and to stay competitive with other employers in the industry. At the same time, there are certain ways we must compensate local employees according to the local law. Of course, local law trumps the company's general compensation practices. Furthermore, anytime you change how people are paid (not how much they are paid, but the nature of the way time is tracked, procedures, etc), they can become very defensive. I have seen this at two previous locations when somewhat similar changes were made. Even if you demonstrate to people that their overall pay will be either the same or higher, there is still a great deal of skepticism. This is normal, even expected, and taking the time to explain this to people is part of the job.

However, what has surprised me the most is who some of the most resistant employees have been during this process. I have certain expectations for our engineer population, both in terms of their work performance, but also what I would broadly call their world view. They work for a large, international company and are in a small and provincial (in relative terms) country. They could conceivably be working for local company, but they chose to work here instead. Working here is nothing short of an excellent springboard to get outside of the country. This includes the training opportunities that are afforded to them in other parts of the world as well as the chance for an international assignment. I like to view working here as an an excellent opportunity to "get out" for a local engineer. By this, I mean a chance to see, work, and live in other parts of the world. Some may want to do that for the rest of their careers and some may want to get out for a while, make more money, and then come back home. Either way, they have opportunities here. However, they only have those opportunities if they invest the time, effort, and have a decent view of the long-term. I expect the engineers here to have that long-term view, or at least a conceptual understanding of why it is important. Perhaps they have a hard time letting go of home, or don't really want to take an assignment outside of Turkmenistan. That is understandable, but they should comprehend why that will limit their opportunities in the company.

1 comment:

Buickguy said...

Hm-m-m. This looks like an incomplete blog entry. Like you were trying to make a point, but decided not to. Surely your point was not in the first paragraph where you say, "...work topics that I am generally reluctant to avoid ...". Hm-m-m. This could be confusing.