With analysts predicting a volatile rand in the month of May, it is likely that South African business is going to be sorely challenged to make targets and achieve their main objectives for the balance of 2017. The country as a whole is struggling to maintain its predicted growth for the year and business sentiment is not great, but what opportunity does this environment create for you?
Whether you are sitting in management or reception, in supervision or admin, this environment can and will bring specific challenges, but also specific opportunities. It is, however, possible that we will not see those opportunities when they come as we will not be prepped for them.
At Staff Training we see again and again how slowly the big wheel of business actually moves, whether in private or public enterprise. A recent conversation with a senior project director had me aghast at the amount of money we waste by simply not adapting quickly enough.
The scenario is thus. A large national organisation employing professionals with scarce skills have adjusted their HR programme to recruit kids at school level already, offering them opportunities to go to senior schools with strong science and mathematics departments. Nothing unusual there. Should the kid choose not to pursue tertiary education in the field required by the organisation that expense is written off. Commendable. Should the kid decide to pursue a degree in the field required, they are funded. Commendable. In return once graduated that young adult has to repay the loan either with time worked or through a buy-out. I’d say that is fair. However, and this is the crux...
The organisation has a terrible work ethic. They tap blood from a stone and then some more. They discipline people for not delivering and at the same time they withdraw resources despite the fact that they are taking on more work than ever before. They expect their staff to work until eleven o’clock at night and be back at the office at six in the morning. They are the poorest payers in the industry for this particular discipline, but once you add their incentive bonuses, they do become one of the highest paid.
Ah you say, so if someone works hard they get great remuneration. Yes, that is true. However the company is getting people to work double the amount of time for less than double the cost. Essentially this workforce is being abused. And the results are showing. At the moment the young and educated graduates are working there because they have to. Over 80% of them are leaving as soon as their contracted period expires and there has been an increase in the percentage of funded graduates buying themselves out after a year or two of working. The organisations access to highly skilled and highly experienced professionals is becoming more and more limited. Their pool of professionals prepared to work for them is declining.
There is a clear and definite trend. The skilled millennials are not staying. The response from HR? Millenials do not want to work. Should this HR face their current dilemma with their blinkers off and their eyes open to possibilities and opportunities, they would be able to use this very negative scenario to persuade their top management to encourage a better work ethic, they would be adapting (and very quickly) to the changing environment and demands of the different generations. They would be seeing what opportunity there is to leverage the information they are being given through statistics alone to bring about change. They would be protecting their very expensive ROI, yet they aren’t.
So this brings me back to the original question. What is the best thing you can do whilst the rand is in the play park?
Firstly: I would like to suggest that you prepare for change. There will definitely be many changes in the South African business arena for the balance of 2017. Whether these be diversity driven through generations, gender, or race , or whether they are necessity driven is immaterial at this stage. Analyse the stats and look for opportunities in those.
Secondly: I would suggest that you encourage your personnel to become alert to changing patterns and that you remain open to any suggestions, alternatives and possibilities, encouraging engagement in the work place. Collaborative solutions are the way of the future; it is simply no longer possible to remain aware of all the dynamics at play in the workplace as one individual.
Thirdly: I would suggest that you engage with your clients. They will be affected too, do not be the supplier that falls off the supplier list because you did not adjust quickly enough.
Fourthly: I would suggest that you look at both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation factors influencing your workforce as your workforce will be affected through direct or indirect retrenchments, escalating cost of living and additional personal stress.
Finally: Ensure that whatever you do can easily be adapted in the future as we are living in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA )times.
© Debbie Engelbrecht is the MD at Staff Training. Staff Training is a leadership and soft skills development company. With workshops including emotional intelligence, personal mastery, tools such as the Enneagram and highly trained and experienced facilitators Staff Training are able to assist you with your change management initiatives. Call 0861 996 660.