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How companies can make the most of migrating Jamaicans

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2012 | 4:00 AM

Francis Wade, Guest Columnist

In my column of March 25, 2012, I provided advice for individual professionals who are considering migration from Jamaica.

In that article, I promised to examine the corporate perspective and highlight the ways in which companies waste the opportunities that are created when their employees migrate.

In today's world of Jamaican business, most firms do little or nothing when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities that are associated with a relocating employee.

A farewell lunch and well-wishes typically spell the end of the story as few make a serious attempt to benefit from these departures.

A staff member's migration is viewed as a loss for the company and a gain for the individual. Often, colleagues treat the soon-to-be-former-employee like a lottery winner.

Instead of focusing exclusively on the sad feelings of separation, Jamaican executives need to adopt some of the best practices which are now commonplace on the worldwide business stage.

Companies must make an effort to maintain connections with professionals who are moving from Jamaica to a different region of the world.

A continuing relationship is often very beneficial for the individual and the company alike.

Right tactics for the job

Here are a few actions that businesses may wish to consider when a staff member announces a move to a different part of the world.

The first tactic: prepare for the loss of all staff, long before they migrate or quit. The approach is simple: break down the job into a system of processes, skills, and capabilities associated with the position and document these points so the information can be used to train a new employee. This involves much more than photocopying a job description.

There must be complete and thorough documentation of the processes that the individual uses to complete his/her daily tasks, along with shortcuts, tips, and key contacts.

With this valuable asset, businesses can rest easy knowing that they have taken measures to ensure a smooth transition and the continuity that is required to stay afloat.

This transition can be even smoother if an employee is asked to maintain a continuing role during the transition period, perhaps on a part-time basis. This can be done from anywhere in the world, especially if the employee is keen to maintain the connection, while also earning some extra income.

The second tactic involves using social networking technology.

Up until recently, the word 'migration' was synonymous with 'disappearance'. When a professional left Jamaica, he or she was lost to the country, the profession, and the company. Once an individual left the country, future contact was typically accidental - comprising of a run-in at the plazas during Christmas, or a random encounter on an overseas flight.

Today, communication knows no boundaries. Distance is no longer an obstacle, a fact that can be confirmed by anyone who uses sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

These social networks have revived connections that were long abandoned, and professionals who utilise these communication tools often turn into master networkers. Those who ignore social networking websites will quickly find that they have been left behind as they fail to maintain potentially valuable contacts.

Companies are no different. Anyone who has ever worked for your firm can be viewed as an important asset, and when they migrate, they can become more than just a statistic in the turnover metric. Instead, they can become an important contact who - with the
assistance of social networking technology - can fulfil some of the
following roles:

1. A source of new ideas - It is not
difficult to predict the futuretrends that will arise in many Jamaican
industries. Simply visit North America and observe what is happening
there. This can be a very effective way to predict the business trends
that will occur in Jamaica in the coming weeks, months, and years. An
ex- employee can become a valuable "ambassador" who will keep your
company informed on the latest and greatest trends.

2.
A possible returnee - If there is even a slim chance that the
individual may return to Jamaica in the future, maintaining a
relationship may encourage him or her to return to your business with
more experience and new, more developed skill sets.

3.
A more productive worker - The cause of higher productivity in foreign
companies is a mystery to many local managers. Maintaining connections
with former employees is a strategy that can serve to expose companies
to higher standards of performance and
accountability.

4. A business liaison - An ex-employee
can open doors, providing your firm with access to new markets,
opportunities, and alliances with other businesses, organisations, and
professionals.

Global firms like
McKinsey & Company encourage ex-employees to play these roles
and others. Many major players on the world stage have even gone as far
as to establish formal alumni groups with their own communication
channels, special gatherings, and unique perks. It is their way of
building a powerful global network that serves to strengthen the firm
and expand its capabilities.

Francis Wade is a
consultant with Framework
Consulting.columns@fwconsulting.com