It is indeed a pleasure to join this morning for this Staff Forum. This would be the first-ever Staff Forum since my appointment as SGP and I am delighted that we are able to get this important monthly event going after all the disruptions of the last 2 years.
The Staff Forum is an important event where all staff are given the opportunity to: voice their concerns on relevant matters; raise questions or suggestions on any lingering issues; and seek clarification from management on any issues affecting the Department as a whole.
But it is important to stress that the Staff Forum is just one of many ways in which staff can raise questions or highlight issues of concern. We have other avenues available for staff to contribute to, such as the Managers Forum, internal committees and so forth. And you have your supervisors and managers as the first point of contact for any questions or general grievances. If that channel does not work, then you have other avenues available. These are provided for in our Policy On Two-Way Communication. We also have the Department’s Employee Grievance Procedure as stipulated in the Human Resource Management Policy and Procedure Manual.
Whilst the Staff Forum is an opportunity for staff to raise questions, we have to ensure that the Forum does not deteriorate into endless discussions about small matters that can be better addressed and resolved elsewhere.
The Forum is also an opportunity for all staff to meet in one room as a team.
It can be an opportunity to clarify and reinforce the Department’s strategic goals and what it is doing to achieve those goals in terms of our corporate plan and corporate requirements that we have to adhere to.
Now to the theme of today’s Forum – “Don’t Ever Give Up, You Will Surely Reap The Fruits”.
The theme speaks for itself.
We must continue to be resilient against the challenges we face as an organisation and as individual staff.
I believe we have been very strong and resilient facing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years. Many of our plans and aspirations as an organisation had been disrupted due to the pandemic and its fallout. And we have not been alone as the whole country had been affected. I recall that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Fiji we were asked to be considerate and think of our fellow Fijians who had lost jobs, had reduced work hours and pay. We are indeed blessed to have continued to receive full pay throughout the pandemic.
We are in recovery mode. So, it is crucial that we get back to some of the important work that we were unable to get done. These are things like our corporate planning, quarterly and annual reports, review of our work processes or SOPs, review of job descriptions, strategizing on how we can do better and ensure our services to Parliament is more efficient and effective.
It is also important to get all the little things done, all the little tasks that may seem mundane and lack glamor. “Don’t Ever Give Up” not only means not surrendering, but it also means clearing all the little tasks and pending work instead of letting these gather dust on our worktables or in our email inbox.
I wish to be firm and stress that as Secretariat to the Parliament we must continuously work to improve our services and strive to maintain the highest standards. We also should be constantly alert to the larger economic situation and the resulting budget allocations to the Department. We have to continuously adapt to situations and emerging challenges as and when they arise.
This may involve redirecting our resources to where they are needed most. It may also mean redeploying staff to other positions, amending core functions or putting in additional responsibilities to a position. In addition, some posts may need to be de-established. We are not here to create positions or enlarge the organisational chart, we are here to provide robust support and facilitate the work of Parliament in an effective and efficient manner.
The decisions by management on organisational changes are made objectively and not based on subjective personal assumptions.
These are all part of the change management – it is a way of dealing with transforming the Department’s processes, goals, technologies and work systems. It is meant to effect positive change to help staff adapt to change. We cannot be a static organisation that is stuck in the past. We are in 2022 and not in 1992!
At the corporate planning workshop in December we had agreed as a team to re-look at and review our job descriptions. This is an important process that needs to be done annually or as and when we face new challenges. JDs or PDs need to accurately reflect the actual work or functions undertaken by the staff holding a position. Simply, JDs are reviewed and modified to ensure that they properly or accurately describe the job – and given the immediate response the Department had rolled out with the Work-From-Home policy, it is now ever-more crucial to do so.
As individual staff we should be asking ourselves daily or weekly – what have I produced today or this week? What outcomes have I contributed to? These are questions that we have to continually ask ourselves and in doing so, also reflect on our 9 core values as well as our code of conduct.
I would like to conclude by thanking all of you again for your hard work. As I mentioned earlier, we have been resilient and under so much pressure we have been able to facilitate the continuance of Parliament’s work or parliamentary business despite COVID-19. This achievement has been due to all our hard work as a team, our dedication and perseverance during a very difficult time.
However I must end by reminding us that we cannot let our guard down. The coronavirus is now endemic and it is here to stay. We must continuously adjust, innovate and adapt.