Birches Group has been keeping track of the volatile economic conditions in Zimbabwe and wants to share updates on the current labor market conditions there.  

Waning trust in local currency 

Al Jazeera reports that Zimbabwean authorities are struggling to pull the Southeast African nation from the grip of a severe economic crisis characterized by a rapidly devaluing local currency. Trust in the Zimbabwean dollar (Zimdollar) has been low after people saw their savings depleted by hyperinflation in 2008. Our July 2022 salary survey of the Zimbabwe labor market notes that the economy had dollarized between 2009 and 2019. 

Although the Zimdollar was reintroduced in February 2019, it continues to be sidelined in favor of the United States dollar (USD). Businesses and individuals see the USD as more acceptable overseas and better at holding long-term value. Because the Zimdollar became untradeable outside the country, employers were required to start paying salaries in USD.  

Local media outlets such as NewsDay have confirmed that demand for USD salaries has increased across economic sectors. In an opinion piece for New Zimbabwe, African affairs expert Teresa Nogueira Pinto writes, “There are now increasing fears that the country will experience another hyperinflation crisis as in 2008.”  

An exceptional situation 

Our Market Monitor categorizes labor market conditions according to six levels of volatility. Since mid-July, Zimbabwe has been classified as Level Five, indicating a prevailing practice to denominate salaries in USD or Euros. In our most recent salary surveys of the country, we have further noted that employer participants across sectors (including the NGO sector) now denominate and pay salaries in USD. This includes cash and in-kind benefits. 

However, our latest surveys indicate little to no market movement since February. We have not observed any activity in our multi-sector salary survey. But as of July 2022, we have seen minimal movement in our NGO salary survey: pay rates for support-level staff increased by 1.9% and at the professional or managerial level by 0.2%. Nevertheless, inflation has continued to soar in the triple digits since May. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the country’s central bank, reported an annual inflation rate of 256.9% in July from 191.6% in June. 

Next steps for employers 

It is vital to have policies and procedures to keep pay programs functioning and maintain business continuity in countries like Zimbabwe, where the labor market is unstable. A Special Measures Policy should be established to determine the triggers for updating salaries and benefits. In addition, organizations must decide how they plan to implement the next steps for their staff. Employees need to know that they can rely on their employer to assist them during times of crisis.

How we can help 

We at Birches Group have extensive expertise in developing Special Measures Policies for organizations across different markets and sectors. Contact us today to find out how we can create one for you. 

References:


Birches Group wants to provide updates on the current labor market conditions in Ukraine, where the situation has been volatile.

Nearly six months under siege

Russia’s armed attacks against neighboring Ukraine show no signs of ending, and fighting intensifies after months of escalated conflict, said Rosemary Di Carlo, United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, at a UN Security Council briefing in late July. As the 2022 Russia-Ukraine conflict soon enters its sixth month, attention is increasingly turning to longer-term humanitarian, recovery, reconstruction, and socio-economic impact.

The war in Ukraine has prompted a massive outpouring of support since it began on February 24. The UN and its humanitarian partners have offered aid to 12 million people. Help has come from food and livelihood assistance, protection services, mine clearance, and clean water and sanitation access. Emergency hygiene items, health care, mental health care, and shelter have also been provided to Ukrainians directly affected by the conflict.

The UN Refugee Agency estimates that nearly one-third of Ukrainians have been forced to evacuate their homes. Over 11.1 million people have fled Ukraine’s borders; within the country, over 6.6 million people remain displaced.

Global NGOs respond

The global humanitarian response to the crisis has been swift and dynamic. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least 250 local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were helping in the aid response—a number that has more than doubled from before the war. An ACAPS report noted that international NGOs have scaled up their humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine in recent months. They are settling in for the long haul while developing recovery and reconstruction plans.

For example, the Médecins Sans Frontières team has almost quadrupled, with more than 650 staff. Save the Children International, whose Ukraine program was one of its smallest worldwide, is now set to become one of the largest.

Although the aid response has been positive, it has not been without challenges.

Challenges facing NGOs

As the Ukraine crisis pushes on, so has the demand for people with the skills and experience to fill critical humanitarian and development roles, Devex reports. With pledges to support Ukrainians continuing to be announced, Devex also notes a steady flow of job opportunities for development professionals. Among the international NGOs actively hiring in response to the invasion are Catholic Relief Services, HelpAge International, International Medical Corps, Red Cross and Red Crescent partners, Chemonics International, and Oxfam International. Response program managers, coordinators, and directors are among the advertised positions on job boards.

Next steps for employers

NGOs and commercial development organizations seeking to expand to or scale up their activities in Ukraine will need salary survey data. Salary survey data is a vital component in recruiting and hiring new staff. It helps organizations understand the market, identify key employees and potential talent, and ultimately make better decisions. Without this data, organizations are left in the dark and are unable to identify opportunities or assess talent.

Salary survey data can be used to benchmark compensation packages against the local market and help make informed decisions about how to retain employees. Survey data can also help organizations determine an appropriate salary for current staff, as well as the market rate for positions when hiring new people.

How we can help

We at Birches Group survey leaders in over 150 countries with a consistent methodology designed for developing markets such as Ukraine. We survey labor markets of different sizes, focusing on leading employers that set market trends. Our survey data empowers you to benchmark positions in local markets and to create salary structures tailored to each country’s requirements while conforming to global standards.

Speak with our consultants and experts to understand our data and how to use it for your organization today.

References:


Birches Group has been monitoring the volatile economic conditions in Sri Lanka and wants to provide updates on the current labor market conditions happening in the South Asian nation. 

The past few months have not been easy for Sri Lanka, and the condition has only worsened. The country has been facing economic, political, and social crises due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising foreign debt, and a depreciating rupee. According to a news report from BBC, the country’s inflation rate is now at 54.6% as of June 2022. Our August 1 Market Monitor shows that the exchange rate movement against the US dollar, Euro, British pound, and West African CFA franc in the past six months is at 79%. Moreover, after protests forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee to the Maldives and Singapore, Sri Lanka is in a state of emergency. 

Losing skilled talent 

These are challenging times for employers and staff in the South Asian island nation. It has been noted that there is an increasing number of skilled and educated Sri Lankans—from IT experts to hospitality and marketing professionals—who want to work overseas, where they can maximize the rupee’s devaluation and survive hyperinflation. According to Manusha Nanayakkara, the minister of labor and foreign employment, almost 168,000 Sri Lankans have registered to work abroad. Many intend to work in the Middle East, particularly in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An independent survey conducted in November 2021 by the country’s Institute for Health Policy reveals that 1 in 4 Sri Lankans wanted to emigrate if they had the opportunity. This ratio has increased to 1 in 3 in July 2022.  

Compensation in Sri Lanka and the Middle East 

Our July 2022 multi-sector survey indicates that compensation ranges in Middle Eastern labor markets are significantly higher than in Sri Lanka. Our survey results show that the average annual salary ranges for support staff at Birches Group Level 6 in Sri Lanka receive a minimum of US$ 5,810 and a maximum of US$9,896, while a senior professional at Birches Group Level 10 receives a minimum of US$ 14,246 and a maximum of US$ 23,517. In Kuwait, support staff at Birches Group Level 6 would be paid approximately seven times more, between U$ 48,054 and US$ 76,418, while a senior professional at Birches Group Level 10 would receive between US$ 108,420 and US$ 153,708. As the chart above indicates, the figures are even higher in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. 

Next steps for employers 

Birches Group’s Market Monitor categorizes labor market conditions according to levels of volatility, with Level One as the lowest (reporting standard market conditions and market movement between 0–20%) and Level Six as the highest (where the country has reported labor market collapse, departure of most comparators from the market, and absence of reliable data on currency and inflation). In our most recent Market Monitor, Sri Lanka is now at Level Four, where labor market conditions reflect sudden, unexpected social or economic events, currency devaluation of 50% or more in six months or less, and there is disjointed and unclear comparator response. When the labor market becomes volatile, such as what we are seeing in Sri Lanka, organizations should place policies and procedures to keep pay programs functioning and to maintain business continuity. 

To avoid losing skilled employees leading to brain drain, organizations in Sri Lanka must address the situation by establishing a Special Measures Policy. Through the Special Measures policy, employers can define the appropriate triggers within labor market conditions that warrant a change or update in salaries and benefits. These triggers, in turn, outline what organizations will do to help cushion the impact of hyperinflation on their people.   

How can we help 

We at Birches Group have extensive expertise in developing Special Measures Policies for organizations across different markets and sectors. Contact us today to find out how we can create one for you. 

References: 

  • 1 August Market Monitor Report 

Birches Group has been keeping an eye on economic conditions in Ghana and wants to provide updates on recent developments in the West African nation. 

One of West Africa’s more prosperous countries has been rocked by a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation in Ghana reached 29.8% in June 2022, the highest level in two decades. The Guardian reports that food prices have risen by 30.7% since last year, and energy costs have sharply climbed. Transportation costs have also gone up. 

Our August 1 Market Monitor further indicates that the Ghana cedi has seen an exchange rate movement of 34% against the US dollar, Euro, British Pound, and West African CFA Franc in the past six months. As inflation persisted and broadened, hundreds took to the streets of the capital Accra to protest the deteriorating economy. 

President Nana Akufo-Addo has stressed that the economic challenges the country is facing are the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The government is seeking a support package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which visited Ghana in July. In a July 13 statement, the IMF said that such adverse developments “have contributed to slowing economic growth, accumulation of unpaid bills, a large exchange rate depreciation, and a surge in inflation.” 

What the labor market indicates 

The Ghanaian labor market exhibits rapidly evolving market conditions. Birches Group’s Market Monitor categorizes labor market conditions according to levels of volatility, with Level One as the lowest (reporting standard market conditions and market movement between 0–20%) and level six as the highest (where the country has reported labor market collapse, departure of most comparators from the market, and absence of reliable data on currency and inflation). In our latest Market Monitor, Ghana is classified as Level Three, where there are rapidly evolving market conditions, movement of more than 40% in the last 12 months, and multiple reviews and revisions are typical amongst comparators. While the surge of inflation has been swift in the country, labor market data has not moved as fast.  

Based on our salary survey analysis, no labor market movement was observed in July 2021.  

The chart above shows labor market movement in Ghana against reported inflation rates from July 2021 to July 2022 based on Birches Group’s multi-sector salary survey. As seen in the chart, labor market movement significantly increased in 2022, but inflation rates have always been much higher and moved at a faster rate from 2021. We believe this is because inflation or the cost of living is not directly proportional to the cost of labor. 

Next steps for employers 

When labor market conditions become volatile, such as in Ghana, organizations should establish policies and procedures to keep pay programs functioning and maintain business continuity. Through a Special Measures Policy, organizations need to determine the appropriate triggers based on labor market conditions that demand an update in salaries and benefits. Organizations must also decide how they plan to implement the next steps for their staff. Employees need to know that they can count on their employer to assist them amid the burgeoning crisis. 

How can we help 

We at Birches Group have extensive expertise in developing Special Measures Policies for organizations across different markets and sectors. Contact us today to find out how we can create one for you. 

References: 

  • 1 August Market Monitor Report 

Birches Group and The HR Partners held a Webinar on March 2, 2016 on the subject of “Managing Compensation in Developing Economies.”  If you were unable to join us, or just want to listen to the content again, you can watch a video of the full webinar below.

Date:  Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Time:  9:00 (New York) / 12:00 (São Paulo) / 14:00 (London) / 16:00 (Johannesburg) / 18:00 (Dubai)

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