WWW.IPM.CO.ZA MAY - JUNE 2020 VOL45 NO.12
NKOSI SIKELELâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; IAFRIKA!
EMPLOYMENT J O U R N A L
T H E
I N S T I T U T E
P E O P L E
M A N A G E M E N T
@IPMSouthAfrica /company/institute-of-people-management-ipm @IPM4PEOPLE
CONTENTS Leading Africa
Gaps in the Law - A Vexed Problem
In the Face of Disaster - Technology to the Rescue!
Punctuations to One Africa
Africa Silencing the Guns - A Looming Reality?
Human Capital Development
Youth Employment Trends
Youth Employment Trends
HRM Strategies & Tactics
Master remote - The New Management Style
Do Performance Expectations Matter in the New Normal?
Entrenching Self-directed Learning as a Winning Tool
Insights and advice inspired
Youth Employment - A Strategic Perspective
19 PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
Are you Settling or Paying for Peace?
People Dynamics is the official journal of the Institute of People Management (IPM). The IPM is dedicated to the effective development of human potential. In terms of fast-emerging global challenges, it is critical to champion the strategic role of human resources and to acknowledge that both development and management are catalysts for growth. In the spirit of progress and support, the IPM provides members with effective leadership and access to appropriate knowledge, information and the opportunity to network with key local and international players.
ven the die-hard optimists have accepted that the protocols we adopted to contain Covid-19 are here to stay. Not only are they serving their purpose – helping the country and the continent contain the spread of Covid-19 and limit the ratio of deaths to infections, they have significantly lowered demands on the health system. So far, the health system reports a record low number of people admitted for common respiratory infections, owing to social distancing and strict hygiene protocols. Ordinarily, this would have translated to higher productivity for businesses, but due to limited industrial activity under Alert Levels 4, the full benefits have not been felt. Notwithstanding, benefits should be felt from Level 3 on, as more people return to work. Interviews with a couple of health & safety focal points give assure us that businesses will be ready to receive more employees as they trickle back to the offices after the March-April hard lockdown. Despite gains made from a delayed flu season, many HR executives are concerned about the mental health of the employees. Record high cases of anxiety have been reported by Employee Wellness Organisations across the board, affecting all levels of operation, while cases of depression are also said to be significantly higher year on year. As HR PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
executives, we need to stay vigilant and maintain ongoing advisory and reassuring communication throughout the organisations, whether employees operate onsite or from home. Despite lockdown challenges, PD strives to keep everyone focused on the silver linings, and on what is in our hands to keep people motivated and the wheels of the economy running. The variety of articles are put together to equip senior executives, managers, employees and aspiring HR professionals with practical, well-tested advice from an array of expert contributors. Pages 19-22 help us focus on our youth and gets us considering and digging deep on how we can alleviate the scourge of unemployment in support of the 2030 National Development Plan and ILO objectives. Embracing a new normal, we need to accept more self-development responsibility, hence the article on self-directed learning on page 17. We hope enjoy this edition as much as the team did putting it together. Devastating though the pandemic might be, we dare not allow it to have the last laugh. In true Ubuntu spirit, let’s look out for one another as we all continue to comply with health & safety regulations, preserving lives, protecting livelihoods and sustaining jobs! Stay safe!
People Dynamics provides a forum for debate and discussion on all issues affecting HR practitioners in South Africa, the African continent and beyond. People Dynamics is distributed to all members of the IPM and to other key decisionmakers in the industry. To receive People Dynamics regularly and enjoy additional benefits – including discounts on HR-related services and professional networking events - contact Welile Mabaso on welile@ipm. co.za. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of the IPM. ISSN No - 1019-6196
AFRICAN HUMAN RESOURCES CONFEDERATION
GAPS IN THE LAW
A Vexed Problem BY: IVAN ISRAELSTAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF LABOUR LAW MANAGEMENT CONSULTING
he Labour Relations Act (LRA) was developed by negotiation between government, employers and trade unions. Due to the fact that parties had substantially different agendas they were often unable to agree on a number of important details of law which were therefore omitted from the LRA. Some detail as to the intention of the law is provided in the form of codes of good practice. For example, included in Schedule 8 of the LRA is The Code of Good Practice: Dismissal which guides parties as to procedures and principles that should be followed. However, despite these codes the LRA still lacks some important detail such as in what circumstances an employer may fairly increase a penalty imposed on an employee. For example, in the case of Fourie vs Capitec Bank (2005, 1 BALR 29) Fourie was dismissed for failing to take out arrear cards. The arbitrator found that the employee had previously been given a final warning for the very same incident of poor performance. The dismissal was therefore found to be unfair and the employer was required to pay the employee compensation equivalent to 6 months’ remuneration. However, other decisions have allowed such penalty revisions in exceptional circumstances. While it is clear from the above that we cannot take any one case decision as gospel employers are still advised to keep up with case law in their efforts to discover what fair treatment really means. This is because: • in many areas the CCMA and courts have agreed with each other and
principles based on patterns of decisions are beginning to emerge in some areas of labour law. • there are a few case law decisions that, while not yet part of a pattern, have been so well conceived and reasoned that they provide valuable guidelines to employers and employees. The real challenge when turning to case law for help is to be able to: • Understand fully what the arbitrator or judge is saying in his/her finding and in grasping the meaning of the reasoning behind the decision • Understanding why two courts come up with different findings • Identify those case decisions that are truly relevant to our own case • Identify patterns and principles arising from a series of cases so as to extract the legal principles highlighted by these patterns • Accurately and validly apply the principles of case law to our own cases • Be able to argue why a case decision refuting the outcome we seek should not be accepted • Be able to use case law wisely in implementing discipline and dismissal at the workplace. The ability to use case law wisely and effectively in the light of the pitfalls outlined requires highly intricate skills developed over many years. Employers therefore require intensive guidance from experienced experts in labour law in order to be able to apply the inexact science of case law analysis and application. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
IN THE FACE OF DISASTER Technology to the Rescue!
PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
Technology saves the day for the new workplace, but it also throws the odd spanner in the works. BY: ROB BOTHMA, IPM FELLOW, HCM BUSINESS SOLUTION ARCHITECT - ORACLE CORPORATION S.A
he world as we know has changed, and will most likely be changed forever, both in our lives at home and our lives at work. Organisation were literally given days’ notice in which to review their employee base, their job roles and how they could transform as many employees as possible from being traditional office-based employee to home-based employees. Fortunately, South Africa has robust mobile networks and an evergrowing fibre network enabling many employees to remain connected. It’s quite amazing how fast mobile computing has taken over our lives, resulting in our mobile devices becoming fully fledged business tools. Who would have thought that our mobile devices would become the predominant platform for organisations to not only conduct their business online, but also the preferred platform for employees and managers to interact directly with the organisation’s internal systems? It’s not surprising to find that there are now four times as many mobile devices out there as there are personal computers. The abundance of mobile devices and easy connectivity has allowed the global workforce to explore the feasibility of working from home, which after the past couple of months is starting to become the new normal in many industries where it was thought that this was not feasible. This has resulted in the traditional view of the workforce and workplace been seen through new eyes, as many organisations and management teams have found out that employees working from home has many advantages for both the employee and the organisation. When looking at this new way of working, we find that organisations are being impacted by two primary factors: a highly connected and mobile workforce and access to rapidly enhancing HCM technology. Organisations and their respective HR teams quickly learnt how these factors would impact their employees and how organisations needed to evolve to take advantage of the situation as opposed to seeing these as a threat to the business. Despite this understanding, many organisations soon discovered being connected was not sufficient. The primary reason for this startling discovery surfaced when in a very short period of time, users were expected to start using the systems from their homes. Because legacy systems were not developed natively for use in the cloud, in order to use them remotely there was a requirement to have specific software loaded on each PC in order to avoid technical and security issues while accessing the corporate network. With the availability of cloud-based software
solutions organisations only require a connection to the internet and the relevant security credentials, thus making the transition to a mobile and flexible workforce far easier to attain. In the end, the future of work is all about people, your employees, and the way they work, where they work and how they can work, factors which are all being influenced through the latest technology, which is both driving and enabling these changes. Organisations will now be pressured by their stakeholders to review their traditional way of work, and how they need to adapt to the changing demands of the workforce. This change will continue to bring about a multitude of demands, as the role of every employee will have to be drastically reviewed to see how it can be changed to minimise the negative impact a reoccurrence of such a pandemic can bring. To effectively achieve this, organisations now need to ensure that they have access to the latest cloud based software which incorporates emerging technologies such as Chatbots, Machine Learning and Analytics, all tools that can help in drastically reducing the administrative load, while providing insights for data driven decision making, to ensure the sustainability of the organisation in these uncertain times. In a future that seems more uncertain today than ever before, we should remember that the new way of work is now a reality. Organisations need to ask themselves “Are we adopting the latest technologies to enable the new reality and avert a catastrophe should another disaster erupt, or ignore technological enablers thus imposing a threat to our sustainability?”
In the end, the future of work is all about people, your employees, and the way they work, where they work and how they can work, factors which are all being influenced through the latest technology, which is both driving and enabling these changes. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
Afrika Martin Luther King had a dream. The world has come a long way toward it. Gadaffi had a dream. How far to its fulfilment?
PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
hanks to extreme diversity and disparities in Africa, the very idea of a united states of Africa seems like an illusion rather than a dream, let alone a plan. Yet, the African Union, a somewhat revamped version of the Organisation for African Unity, still makes a united Africa sound like a possibility. The romanticising of the Continent as “Our Mother” downplays the suffering of her people from varying levels of cruelty and tyranny meted out by self-centred and corrupt leaders. South Africans, escaping persecution under the hands of white “foreigners” under Apartheid, painted the continent red and were exiled in numerous countries that pledged solidarity with “the liberation struggle”. The dawn of South African democracy in the 1990’s was, therefore, seen as an African victory. The first democratically elected president became a hero, not for South Africa, but for Africa and the world. The celebration of this victory came in many forms. Firmer diplomatic ties became the order of the day, as South African embassies sprouted all over. The floodgates were opened as Africans “came home” to the country of the great “Tata” Mandela by the thousands. While some
A particularly special time that brings everyone together notwithstanding disparities, differences or distance, comes in May of each year. This is when the world celebrates Africa Month. Africa Day Celebrations
came as spouses or extended family to former exiles, many descended on the country to escape growing economic hardships as well as social or political ills experienced in their respective home countries. While it started off a wonderful African utopia, the country’s economy began to tumble, following on the global market crash of the 2000’s. Jobs became a scarcity and crime picked up. It was a matter of the survival of the fittest in job corridors. It didn’t help that those in power competed in running organisations aground with combinations of incompetence, impropriety, insolence and blatant corrupt activity. As high-scale looting was underway by both politically connected and top business, the country languished into abject poverty, with criminal elements taking advantage of desperate, unemployed youth. Urban communities began to degenerate into filthy ghettos and junk streets stranded by ‘overpopulation’, unbridled lawlessness and a lack of services. Despite this, and aside from a few eruptions of what was thought to be xenophobic driven attacks, Africans from north of Limpompo continued to enjoy the country’s hospitality, thanks to the majority of South Africa.
“The first time I watched a coverage of Africa Day celebrations I thought I was seeing a street fair, not unlike a New Orleans Mardi Gras or a Brazilian Carnival. At first I couldn’t recognise the streets, thinking it was some place in West Africa. I saw the most colourful garbs as crowds danced and strutted their stuff through the streets. When I finally realised what the festivities were about, I recall asking myself why there was no local traditional wear in the crowds. It felt more like a “non-South Africa” Africa day to me. And, not knowing who organised it, I had nowhere to air my concerns.” Celebrating behind ‘the seen’? Neighbourhood marches or street parades are but one way of celebrating Africa Day in South Africa. While some colour the streets, others are indoors discussing how to hold African leadership accountable to its people by providing a conducive environment for human development and socio-economic advancement. Durban, for instance, has played host to the African Renaissance annual summit since its inauguration by then President Thabo Mbeki in 1998. This, while Pretoria is home to the African Renaissance Institute housed at University of Pretoria, where the likes of Ngugi wa Thiongo contribute to the African leadership debate such as: An African Renaissance through African globalisation or through African africanisation – read decolonisation. Between the Summit and the Institute, they have hosted or entertained provoking thoughts by some prominent international writers, speakers, authors and activists, including the likes of Rev Jesse Jackson. Johannesburg, on the other hand, houses the African Union offices, or African Parliament – the other official leadership house outside of the Ethiopian headquarters. This venue enjoys a hosting of strategic discussions including issues pertaining to the advancement of the AU agenda and the continent’s good governance. Topics such as peer review of African governments and cooperation to promote trade among African countries get thrashed out, with regional treaties formulated for communication with the international world. Pillars of development for Africa continue to revolve around entrenching principles of democracy throughout the continent, advancing different expressions of African culture, addressing patriarchal oppression through empowering and affirming women’s roles in economic development, as well as mobilising youth to play an active role in STEM - driving a new digitalised Africa who comes to her own by ditching the dehumanised image of a mere consumer or resource, to that of a powerhouse of creativity and innovation. To celebrate Africa, woke media houses and theatres find ways of showcasing African culture through literature review, cultural documentaries, live music programs and a bouquet of different art forms. Comments a Soweto-born social activist: “I see Africa Day as a day to pledge my solidarity with the rest of Africa, hence in my gear for the day, I tend to look up the continent for inspiration. A MasaiMara blanket, an Ethiopian necklace, an Egyptian headgear and Ghanaian bright fabrics are but some of the things that appeal. Somehow, it doesn’t quite feel the same if I were to don isidwaba sesiZulu, uMbhaco wesiXhosa, or Seana Marena saBaSotho. That’s for our (local) Heritage Day. Africa Day is to tell my fellow Africans that we are with them, we are for them, we are one with them, and we are home with them.” OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
Silencing the Guns
A looming reality
Leadership mettle is tested on its ability to turn aspirations into achievements and goals into reality to the benefit of all concerned. PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
ith South Africa assigned the lead for the African Union, the country’s president is planted at the forefront of driving the Continent’s agenda, working with the rest of African Leaders. Will Africa get it right come 2063?
Silencing the Guns – A View
For Africa to be truly at peace with herself and for her to grow and prosper, the guns have to be silenced at all costs and by any or all means necessary. When the African Union adopted the strategic goal or objective of Silencing the Guns by 2020 no one would have anticipated that the lofty and noble objective, would be subsumed by the more pressing need of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The managing of this crisis and the resultant economic calamity that ensued have, understandably, taken over as the primary challenges that need to be confronted and defeated, if Africa – South of the Sahara at least – is to emerge somewhat unscathed from this. When President Ramaphosa assumed leadership of the continental body, the African Union, he correctly mapped out his programme which had at its apex, the silencing of the guns. This goal was thrust upon President Ramaphosa, because the timing of his leadership gave him no choice. Of all the AU Objectives, this is one of the few that had an achievement date – when adopting this strategic objective the members of the African Union saw it fit to attach a timeline to it. Thus it was said the guns should be silenced, throughout the whole continent, by the year 2020. This was therefore, an unavoidable objective for the incumbent Chairperson, irrespective of whomever it would have been. Africa – At War since 1950s
One would not be exaggerating if they intimated that Africa has never really been at peace since the beginning of time. Unlike European wars, which are properly documented and have start and end dates, African wars have been ongoing for decades if not centuries. While Europe may have suffered from inter-State full blown conflict most of the time, Africa has suffered mainly from intra-State low intensity conflict. This has allowed some African countries to have conflicts that have been raging for over 30 years without really affecting the entire country. Most of conflicts in Africa, while intra-State, have been regionally based. The Nigerian Boko Haram conflict is a case in point. This conflict is confined to a certain part of the country, while other parts of the country are allowed to continue with life as if the State is not at war. This has contributed to some Governments turning a blind eye or completely ignoring the conflicts raging in their countries by concentrating their authority on the parts of the country they can control. In Uganda, one would be forgiven for thinking the Lord’s Resistance Army Rebels have been completely defeated. Turning a blind eye on the LRA has allowed President Museveni to create a false sense of security for Ugandan citizens around major centres. However, for citizens in the periphery there is no security, peace or economic or social development for them. Effects of War on Development
To truly understand the effects of continuous conflict on development, one needs to look no further than Somalia and Sudan (Darfur Region and South Sudan). Somalia has not seen peace and stability in decades. As a result of this – citizens of this country have not had any meaningful economic activity in that country. Most of the services that so many of us take for granted, provided by central or even local governments, are non-existent in Somalia. Basic services, such as security, health and education are severely OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
curtailed, if at all present, in conflict areas. When the central government is struggling with maintaining peace and order and has to continuously fight for its survival, resources tend to be prioritised for keeping the incumbent governments in power. When the authority of the central government is threatened, all other responsibilities of the government, save for security, suffer. As a result of this, citizens have to rely on the goodwill of foreign governments and aid agencies for their education and healthcare. Security being the sole preserve of the State, citizens having to fend for themselves in this regard. Foreign actors are not allowed to render direct security support to locals. With education provided for by foreign nationals, the impact is that only a few lucky individuals get to access basic education and even fewer get to access tertiary education – mostly in foreign institutions. Most of the populace are left outside the education circle and thus are doomed to perpetual poverty and despondency. Economic growth is the main indicator of economic development within any geographic location. Countries that have experienced prolonged periods of conflict tend to have very low or negligible economic growth levels. After the Second World War, Europe had to be rescued by the Bretton Woods institutes, such as the IMF and World Bank. But even then, for those organisations to have a meaningful impact – there had to have been peace as a requisite. Naturally, economic development tends to follow places that have an absence of war of conflict. The imperative ingredient of economic development, private and official investment, will never risk investing their capital in conflict ridden countries or areas. The presence of private actors is a necessary requirement for countries to grow and develop. States can only do so much in pulling their citizens out of poverty, in creating employment and technological innovation. Private players, such as MNC’s and Conglomerates, have an added responsibility of creating employment opportunities for citizens of their host countries. In conflict ridden areas, these MNC’s and Big Corporates, tend to steer way clear of these areas. The absence of private players and investment puts an extra burden on the State. The State becomes the main employer and this inevitably leads to corruption and nepotism. If all opportunities are to be derived from the State, it stands to follow that occupying a position of authority within the State apparatus puts one in a prime position to be the arbiter of opportunities. If one has a weak ethical code then one becomes available to the highest bidder. The South African beer maker, South African Breweries (SAB), tried venturing into South Sudan – when that country gained its independence from Sudan. However, they soon realised that their foray into Juba was premature since soon thereafter South Sudan degenerated into armed conflict that persists till today. Having taken the risk of being the first multi-national company to establish themselves in Juba, they had to withdraw and abandon their operations in Juba, fearing for their safety and fleeing an environment that became hostile to business. The ability of central government to exert authority and collect taxes is the primary way in which central governments derive their revenue. Through these tax revenues governments are then able to implement social and security projects and thus project state power whilst ensuring that development is achieved within a secure environment. In the
absence of these revenues, the central government is weakened and rendered ineffective. The authority of the State is also undermined because you get private actors who are more resourced and capable than the State. Political power then tends to drift from politically elected officials to economical appointed officials, who tend to exert their influence using economic means, without holding any political office and driven by narrow and selfish interests at the expense of the populace who insist of holding elected officials to account. Conflict makes the prevalence of this scenario possible – parts of the country that are not under government control are left at the mercy of whichever warlord that happens to rule at that time. The centrality of the State is undermined. Uniformity of policy and government objectives is absent. This then gives rise to shady characters who thrive in cases where there is no rule and order and benefit from so-called “war economies”. When the State is unable to both exert its authority and to collect taxes, multi-nationals then tend to be more powerful that the State. In this case, government policies are developed and passed that will favour the multi-national companies. Development tends to be skewed in favour of the MNC’s. Locals who are alive to this unpalatable state of affairs, are then subjected to the severest form of repression and suppression. State institutions are then unleashed against the very same people that these institutions are meant to serve. A weak State can never be in a position to implement developmental goals. A weak State can never maintain peace, law and order in the geographical area that it governs. It is therefore imperative that the guns are silenced, Central Governments empowered, so that development – economic, social and otherwise – is achieved. After all, this is the fundamental and most basic of all United Nations principles – the right of any state and nation to defend its sovereignty – which is also the basic tenet of all national constitutions but has been denied of many African nations due (neo and post) colonial interventions of various forms and guises including the use of MNC’s for this purposes. Entrepreneurial activity and free enterprise is the primary avenue through which private citizens can drag themselves out of poverty and become meaningful players and contributors of economic development of their country. When conflicts are rife, individuals tend to lose all their entrepreneurial drive and ambition. After all, what is to motivate them to be innovative and entrepreneurial when the most basic human rights are likely to be trampled upon and the state unable to fulfil its most fundamental obligations with national interest at the core of such decisions and actions?
The fact that not all African countries have internal strife and conflict is something that should be taken advantage of.
PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
Attainment of Peace – Strong Central Governments
For the guns to be silent, and peace be attained, the centre needs to hold. Central governments need to be strong, both politically, economically, socially and militarily. They need to be equipped with the best equipment, skills, processes, individuals and resources that would allow them to attend to any emergent threat – may it be security, social, environmental or economical. For Africa to be at peace, African solutions need to be found and adopted to resolve African challenges and problems. This also applies to the equipment and products that we employ to solve our
challenges. History has repeatedly shown us that not all Western or European solutions are applicable to African challenges. The export of regional ideologies and practices to other regions need to be done with due regard to the (cultural and historical) differences between the two regions. Africans need to take charge of their own renewal and revival process. The most developed countries on the continent need to be at the forefront of this process. South Africa, and its economic sectors – who are undoubtedly leaders on the continent, need to work with their African counterparts in developing and championing solutions to our current problems. This is more so in the domain of security. We cannot as a continent, outsource our collective and individual security to forces outside the continent. Forces who are motivated by their own self-interest and survival. For these forces, it is in their best interest when the numerous conflicts persist from Libya in the north, to Nigeria in the west as well as to Somalia east and the DRC centrally with Mozambique completing the axis in the south. This is because from the continued conflict the West continues to reap various benefits which include but are not limited to geo-political influence and most importantly economic benefits both direct and indirect. Placing Africans, both black and white, at the forefront of finding solutions to African challenges will ensure that Africa’s interest are the driving force in that process. The South African Defence Industry can play such a role as for years it has equipped the South African National Defence Force and prepared it for the multiple deployments, and ensured its successful preparation, readiness and participation in various missions both within and outside the RSA. To this end, the SADI has ensured that the SANDF is capable of executing its Constitutional obligation of defending the country and protecting its sovereignty. This has allowed the South African Central government to be strong – and by extension this had deterred any potential would be rebels or insurgents. Who is to say, if the South African government had not been strong, the Boer Afrikaner Right Wing elements would not have tried their luck? We have seen such in Mozambique where RENAMO fighters have continuously taken advantage of the challenges of the FRELIMO government and inserted themselves militarily in Mozambican political discourse. Recent ISIS related insurgency is the result of the same conditions that have previously allowed RENAMO to thrive. Calibre of Individuals Required to Drive the Continent Forward
That the guns will eventually be silenced, is not in question, what is in question is when this will be and whether Africa has the right calibre of individuals to get this done – and most importantly the individuals that will take Africa forward after the guns have been silenced. While it
is still in question, as when the guns will be silenced, one thing we can all agree on is that it will not be in 2020. However, it is still possible for Africa to start investing the in the calibre of leaders and individuals who will be suited to the task, of development, at hand. The fact that not all African countries have internal strife and conflict is something that should be taken advantage of. This means African countries that have peace and stability should be working very hard at, firstly, attaining economic prosperity for their citizens, secondly, assisting countries less developed to get on the path towards development and lastly, working with the AU to bring an end to hostilities to countries where they still persist. Of course, this will require political intent and will. Without political will, nothing will be done. However, political intent alone will not be enough to achieve the desired outcome. There is also a necessity to prepare our countries’ workforce with the necessary skills and competencies that will allow them to deal effectively with the challenges of the future. In this regard, HR practitioners have a critical role to play. HR practitioners will have to assume their rightful role of being influencers of industrial, economic and educational policies, of their respective countries. The development of scarce skills will have to be the collective responsibility of both government and private sector. Private industries will have to inform government of the required skills and government will have to come up with policies that will make the development, of such skills, possible. Through curriculum development (at the basic education level) and introducing incentives to private companies (at industry level) will ensure that overtime African countries have the relevant skilled workforce that can compete successfully with countries such as India and China for global manufacturing opportunities. Africa’s young population places Africa at the cusp of global dominance. It is therefore imperative that we, as Africans, led by an activist citizenry and empowered politicians, develop policies that will see to it that Africa’s youth play a meaningful role in the development of the continent and the world. One way of doing this, is by equipping this young population with skills and knowledge that will place them at the forefront of the digital revolution. Being at the forefront of recruitment, for private sector companies, HR practitioners are best placed to influence decisions on curriculum, industrial policy and infrastructure investment by governments. Africa’s future is certain however, not inevitable. Concrete and deliberate actions will have to be taken to ensure that it materialises. Beyond equipping African governments/states to defend their nations and sovereignty, African government will have to acknowledge that our best assert is our people – we need to properly equip and train them to get them ready to lead the next phase of the developmental struggle and to do so within a secure and stable environment. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
The New Management Style Modern people-management principles have all but rid the workplace of micromanagement, with positive results on organisational delivery. BY: ROB DANIEL, MD, ROB DANIEL ASSOCIATES
he growing need for virtual operations further stretches people managers, testing the effectiveness of goal setting, coaching and dynamic performance management. It also represents an acid test for team maturity. Irrespective of team maturity levels, with remote work becoming an imperative, remote is the management style way beyond the pandemic. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic is expected to change the way we work now and into the future. As organisations suggest to those that display Covid-19 symptoms to “self–quarantine and everyone else to practice “social distancing”, remote work has become the new “management style”. In this article, we define remote work, discuss how it is implemented; examine its benefits and look at challenges arising out of working remotely and explore some tested solutions to these.
What is Remote Work?
“Remote work” is when individuals, teams, employees, or independent contractors, to accomplish a shared organisational purpose, work/operate from anywhere, e.g., at home or in a distant location, other than at their designated physical place of work or employment. Remote Work facets
This results in individuals or teams having to communicate largely over virtual platforms. The expectation is that modern technology will enable us to maintain connectivity and to conduct our business without sacrificing standards of performance and collaboration, even though we may be dispersed geographically. Some remote workers are full-time, others may have the flexibility to work remotely if and when PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
they choose, and then there are those with no choice as is the case with the periods of enforced lockdown coupled with social distancing during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. A Workplace challenge
Are we ready to work remotely? Are we ready to manage individuals or teams working remotely? We may be excited at either one of these prospects, but are we all familiar with the associated challenges? While there are a lot of similarities between managing remote staff and managing those on-site, it is however a mistake to assume that a remote employee is the same as the one in the office. Remote staff are faced with unique challenges and these have to be understood. Challenges faced by remote staff include: ´unplugging” after work, lack of face-to-face contact with clients, colleagues and supervisors, lack of reliable connectivity and limited information access. There are other practical aspects such as distractions at home, incidental interruptions, loneliness, etc. The more we understand the needs and challenges of working remotely the more prepared we will be for what is increasingly becoming the norm. IMPLEMENTATION Type of Work
Where is remote work more suitable, you might wonder. Rather than economic sectors, it will be more useful to list job types or work performed. This will give a better idea of the environment where the strategy can best be adopted. Job types or work best suited include, inter alia,: design, development, online marketing, writing/ editing, customer support, call centres, teaching, accounting, data entry, virtual assistants (e.g., secretarial), social media management, commodity trading, sales, etc. Planned approach
Successful implementation, at a high level, include the following activities: Create multidisciplinary and multi-level steering committee; identify your need/s, objective/s and benefit/s as well as the degree of urgency; assess organisational/team/individual readiness; plan a pilot down to individual jobs if necessary; communicate about the project; encourage participation and value input; provide the technology that remote teams will require; train where necessary; draft/adjust policies and procedures to support the
initiative; pilot the program and evaluate; fine tune; communicate the final project plan; implement the remote work project; evaluate the outcome after a period of time; communicate the results of the evaluation; prepare for whatever the next step will be. Organisational Preparedness
Despite the increased prevalence of remote work over the years, many organisations are still not equipped to adopt or create an adequate “model” for working remotely, and may struggle to meet the operational requirements of those with a preference for working remotely. While many do have the communication tools and software to go that route, they have concerns and biases about giving “autonomy” to employees. On the other hand, when organisations with the appropriate mind-set based on trust implement the proper tools and software, and put the correct processes in place, remote work can be a game changer. BENEFITS OF WORKING REMOTELY Core value focus
A sudden change to work-from-home or working remotely can often be a boon for many organisations, especially with employee feelings of accountability and appreciation that accompany such a step. Further, it gives organisations opportunities to re-evaluate core culture, existing structures, and business processes that may have been stunting performance and growth in the past.
well as ability to execute. Employees should be made aware of the need and reasons for the change to remote work; next at both the individual and group levels the wanting to, desire or motivation for change must be addressed through providing an understanding of “what is in it for them”; as the change to remote work moves into implementation, knowledge about the change needs to be developed and questions must be answered around what the change will “look, feel and sound like”; next the resources and capability to implement or execute must be provided and developed; and lastly, the change to remote work must be reinforced to prevent things going back to the old behaviours and ways of operating. Some “to dos” supporting the above are dealt with in more detail below. Employee Stress Levels
It doesn’t matter how much you prepare the team, some members are going to find it more stressful than others when working remotely. Look for signs like disorientation, fewer emails, and also quietness during virtual meetings. Solutions include: Show empathy; increase frequency of contact and encourage team members to do the same; involve Human Resources/ Employee Assistance to offer encouragement and support. It will be opportune for the Chief Executive to be more visible through video and voice recordings to calm people down and to reassure everyone that there is “light at the end of the tunnel”. Organisational Values
Borderless talent sourcing
Because talent has no borders, from a workplace perspective, the impact of remote work will also be felt in the quality and quantity of resources that become available for recruitment from an expanded geographical area. Heightened engagement and autonomy
Providing autonomy, demonstrating trust and being transparent are best practices and “must haves” in remote work situations. They promote employee engagement, retention, motivation, improved morale, and employees feeling valued.
Organisations have over the years spent much energy agreeing on organisational values, culture, and the supporting behaviours. These have included treating employees as stakeholders, treating them equally, promoting long term relationships, creating productive work experiences, development, etc. Introducing a new concept like remote work will mean there will be general uncertainty about these. Solutions include: Reinforce the culture, the values, model the supporting behaviours, and remind staff of the channels to deal with “non-compliance”; ensure your policies are not contradictory and support working remotely. Policies
Diversified client base
Diverse teams are able to relate to a wider range of customers and users than homogeneous teams. Remote work diversity can give organisations operating in differing markets a competitive edge. Similarly, while remote work is not ideal for every organisation, it does provide an opportunity to rethink team composition for more creative problem-solving capacity. CHALLENGES, AND SOLUTIONS, ARISING OUT OF WORKING REMOTELY
Awareness of the conditions that can promote and reduce the success of remote teams help to improve the way we operate. Here are some of the challenges or “to dos” pertaining to remote work. These must be addressed, whether in an emergency scenario or not. Employee Preparedness
Most organisations have not been set up for this, neither psychologically nor with the infrastructure. People are wondering what is going on with the company, with their objectives, with their clients, and in their environment as a result of this shift to remote work. Solutions include: Interventions should address soft (psychological) and hard (technological) issues, i.e., willingness and confidence as
Every organisation has expectations, whether work is remote or not, around “conditions of employment”. Clear and well communicated policies and procedures will facilitate in keeping everyone focussed. Solutions include: Clarify expectations around hours of work, availability (personal versus work life), recruitment and selection, promotion, training and development, remuneration, leave, performance management, etc. Communication/Access to Information
The risk of misinformation is high. Probably the biggest challenge facing remote work is intermittent/limited communication or a complete lack thereof. Email is not enough. Without the right tools personnel talk less to one another, have less “mutual knowledge”, feel isolated, and remote work suffers. Solutions include: Brush up on your on-line communication skills. Make it easy for everyone to ask questions. Promote regular two-way dialogue between managers, the team as well as colleagues. Use instant messaging channels, video conferencing, daily checkins, and voice notes. Try to maintain at least the same levels of communication as previously. The efficiency of remote work improves when rules of engagement are clear, e.g., timing of calls, frequency of calls, etc. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
Display trust in and support the team. The alternative will be a manager who is frustrated and over concerned at the loss of “sight” of the team which could lead to inappropriate micromanagement. Solutions include: Don’t become consumed with and look for performance problems; rather allow the performance management and goal/task setting and review systems to take care of these. Clear Instructions and Transparency
When people understand why they are doing something they can see how what they are doing fits into the bigger picture. Consequently they can prioritise more effectively and are more likely to take ownership. Solutions include: Provide clear expectations and instructions with reasons; have shared communication channels.
managers must improve relationship building and monitoring techniques; managers must find out the barriers to performance that the team has overcome and where colleagues have been of assistance. Innovation
With uncertainty we all become hesitant and risk-averse when attempting something new or complex in order to reduce the prospects of failure. It is during uncertain and desperate times that we often need greater innovation to extricate ourselves and come out stronger. Solutions include: Support innovation and provide safety nets for failure; share successes; support initiatives to find something new where the risks are worthwhile. Virtual Meetings
Building a connected team goes a long way towards building trust which makes managing conflict easier. A big challenge is creating closeness among team members who may never have met one another in person, or have had very limited face-to-face interaction. Solutions include: Create a sense of community and “mutual knowledge” by creating space to discuss personal well-being, or use video calls to create a more intimate atmosphere; arrange annual conferences for the team members to attend in person.
Face-to-face meetings internally and with clients will no longer be the norm. They will be replaced by virtual meetings where best meeting practice will go beyond clarifying the purpose, circulating an agenda, generating a list of who should attend, not having distractions during the meeting, etc. Solutions include: Introduce video conferencing so attendees can see one another; create a safe environment as some may feel uncomfortable meeting in this way; manage time extra carefully as you won’t have the opportunity to walk into/drive to someone’s office thereafter to discuss things further.
Many feel that effective collaboration is the key to success as it is necessary to maintain productivity levels and projects on track. Solutions include: Team messaging, video conferencing, file sharing to facilitate feedback, remote brain storming as well as decision making. Including employees in goal setting conversations, and providing regular positive and constructive feedback helps create a collective mind set towards achieving goals.
Without clear expectations accompanying your instructions you will have difficulty measuring, tracking and providing feedback on outputs. Solutions include: Project management tools; time management tools; focus on what should be accomplished; emphasise the importance of roles and outputs to team/organisational success; and, because of reduced visibility of staff, managers must improve relationship building and monitoring techniques.
Virtual communication is different. It requires more equipment than a laptop and mobile phone, and it will not necessarily be perfect or completely effective. Working remotely requires everyone involved to have access to the necessary technology and collaborative tools. This is to ensure that organisations can execute faster through keeping work organised and prioritised while ensuring that everyone is always online and on track. Don’t assume everyone knows how to operate within a virtual environment, or is comfortable doing so. Solutions include: Appropriate work/office accommodation whether at home or elsewhere to work remotely; direct, one-on-one and team messaging technology to provide secure real time access to people and information that email and social messaging apps cannot; video conferencing to communicate face-to-face from just about anywhere; file sharing; digital note taking; process automation to speed up routine tasks; upskilling to use the various tools that include: Cloud Computing, Zoom, Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, TeamViewer, etc.
Focus on Outputs and Not Processes
The work-from-home and other remote landscapes will mean we are juggling with work, personal and family commitments while attempting to do our jobs. This sets up opportunities for each of us to operate in situations that have interests that are often conflicting. Solutions include: Managers must pay more attention to what actually gets done (outputs), and focus less on process; managers must emphasise to the team the importance of outputs.
Business continuity and productivity do not need to suffer over the medium to long terms as a result of working remotely. While there might be delays initially, business continuity and productivity must at least be maintained and even enhanced. We can’t observe everything our team members are doing under normal circumstances. Our mindsets must change; we must be willing to believe and to learn that our teams will perform while working remotely. We must give them the correct tools, review priorities, monitor performance (outcomes) in the same ways we have always done, and stop focusing on process. Remote work has been around for decades. The difference is that today we have all the technologies to do the work as well as to communicate and to collaborate remotely. People are probably not going to completely or permanently change the way they work. The option to work remotely is most certainly going to expand our repertoire in terms of the way we operate.
Role Definition and Measureable Outputs
During times of disruption, uncertainty, change, or attempting something new, we all enjoy some kind of acknowledgement for our efforts at mastering the situation. The same holds true for entering a new remote work environment or learning to operate some new technology. Solutions include: Because of the reduced visibility of staff, PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
Do performance expectations matter
in the new normal? BY: BELIA NEL, CPT
Critical times call for minimalism and optimisation in all areas of management. Have you worked out the essentials?
often write about performance matters and this time is no exception. In all organisations, large and small, irrespective of industry, performance issues seem to be a hot topic. As we are all struggling to get upstream with how we need to change our work habits and routines, I was thinking about expectations, and particularly how they relate to performance. So much has been written about expectations â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in personal, customer and work relationships. Our attention and thoughts are heightened during this time of turmoil, uncertainty and change. We hear, listen to, read and engage in so many articles, webinars, online meetings, online learning and much more. And I often ask â&#x20AC;&#x201C; what is expected? What is the outcome? How can I apply this? Will it improve my performance? So little seems to go the way we planned or OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
how we anticipated the expected outcomes or results, albeit personally or work-wise. Unrealistic expectations can be exacerbated by trauma during the world-wide lockdown and social distancing of many countries. This seems to bring out a set of behaviours whether covert or overt – good or bad. For example, anger is a behaviour manifesting in avoiding responsibilities, sarcasm and stubbornness to name but a few. And this could result in bitterness, a very negative construct particularly in our personal lives and possibly spilling over into our “new” work environment and online interactions as well as the long list of things we (and/or our managers) are expecting from us during this time. I want to turn the focus of expectations to workplace relationships. Expectations are closely linked to barriers which affect performance and these are key to positive outcomes and results. However, I have found during normal circumstances people are usually blamed when performance drops. These barriers show up in many ways - in operations and processes, such as technology issues or challenges, the individual or team’s competence and capability as well as organisational barriers, for example poor strategy interpretation and vague or unrealistic expectations. Unclear expectations bring their own dilemmas which could result in poor performance. Below a matrix indicating various barriers interfering with clarity of expectations and affecting performance. The clusters of potential barriers are grouped for operations, people and organisational impact across an input – process – output context. Expectations, like barriers can be viewed from people, operations, processes and organisational levels. Some examples at these levels are: People level expectations: staff and management could have different non-articulated expectations promoted unknowingly by corporate culture, eg leadership assuming most employees are engaged and motivated. Operations and process level expectations: certain operational
and business processes driven by assumed knowledge of tools and how-to’s and perpetuated by a misaligned value chain causing undue performance expectations. Organisational level expectations: unrealistic and assumed perceptions from a strategic point of view, eg that communication channels are working well in all functions of the organisations.
In my work I have noticed that performance barriers exist mostly due
Performance Barriers Matrix
PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
to expectations poorly clarified and presented in a simplistic message format. It typically starts with ill-written job descriptions that are mostly culprits especially when inadequately linked to strategy and performance goals of the team, division or organisation. Given that these job descriptions mostly dictate the performance standards, results, quality, and quantity of work to be delivered, they are usually also managed in over-complicated performance management systems. Many years ago when I started out in the higher education field, I realised adults learn and perform best when they know what is expected, why they should learn and how it could be applied in the workplace – the old adage – “what’s in it for me?” Fast forward many decades and it seems to be the plight of many organisations of how to achieve the best performance from employees. I share 10 ideas to contemplate when you want to consider a performance change and to understand better the barriers affecting expectations. 1. Whether employees’ expectations align with organisational expectations. 2. Have an in-depth rethink of how strategy and objectives are shared with employees. 3. How these objectives may best be shared – the most simplistic messaging format. 4. The extent to which you know whether employees are engaged and involved with your passion to achieve and deliver. 5. Assess whether you are achieving the required results from your performance management system. 6. Whether there may be an alternative/better way to write job descriptions. Or whether performance descriptions would be preferable. 7. Ascertaining whether your employees are engaged and living and feeling your values. 8. Identifying processes which should change due to the “new world of work” (NWOF) and how these changes may affect/not affect the performance of employees. 9. Discovering whether employees know and understand their role and contribution in each phase of their employee life cycle value chain. 10. Determining whether employees are clear on how best to serve customers and whether this is in line with organisational purpose and values. Identifying if employees recognise “what is in it for them”. In my view, performance matters can easily be complicated through unrealistic expectations and complex or inappropriate messaging systems. This reminds me of an advertisement of a decade or so ago a financial institution ran across multiple media platforms, portraying a small demographic of the population in greenleafed suburbs enjoying the outdoors. This is an example of an unrealistic expectations to achieve performance – obtaining more customers or building the brand. Either way my perception is it failed and I am not sure what the effect and outcome of the campaign had on employee engagement and performance. This is a potential lesson learnt of how performance results are linked to expectations.
Human Capital Development
A person who seeks self-improvement must design specific tasks that instigate learning. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls.
Self-directed Learning as a Winning Tool Nothing like uncertain times to create and sustain a culture of self-directed learning to get people and organisations to thrive! OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
Human Capital Development
BY: SABELO MYENI, DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR, MINDWORX
earning is considered one of the most important tools to build individuals, teams and organisations. Many of us quote Alvin when he said “the illiterate of the 21st Century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” The gist of the message is that if as individuals, we do not evolve with times we are likely to fail in the future. The world keeps evolving; this requires human beings to change and adapt. One of the tools and strategies that can help individuals evolve is Self-directed learning, also known as SDL. What is Self-Directed Learning?
An old definition by Knowles (1975) defines Self-directed learning (SDL) as a natural psychological and cognitive development that takes place as human beings mature intellectually (Knowles, 1975). It is the ability to be aware of your skills, owning them and choosing to develop them. It also includes knowing what you need to learn, how to learn it, and being able to judge if you’ve learnt it (Loyens, Magda & Rikers, 2008). In simpler terms, it is transferring the responsibility of learning from the instructor to the learner – or in this case, the employee. The notion of self-directed learning is one of the fundamental foundations of learning because it taps into effortless natural human behaviour that allows the individual to direct their learning as they see fit. One may ask: “why is SDL so important right now, especially in the era of a pandemic such as the COVID-19?” Well, SDL is one of the ‘essentials’ on the planning board for most professionals currently. This approach, when used properly, is known to enhance productivity in the work place and to change the attitude and culture as it enables the creation of a vigorous and workable learning culture in the organisation. With today’s technology and unsettling world of work, employees want and are required to find answers to their workplace challenges more readily than ever. Types of Self-Directed Learning
The concept of Self-directed learning transcends individuals. When carefully studied and embraced, it integrates organisations, teams and individuals. In essence, SDL impacts three levels; organisational, team, and self or individual. In today’s world of business, all elements above contribute to the success of people and organisations as a whole. Organisational level
Organisations are living organism as they are made of people. Without people, there is no organisation. At this level, organisations must embrace the culture of SDL to thrive. When one studies serious events with huge economic impacts such as COVID-19, it can be argued that organisations that will survive are those who are quick to learn, adjust and change with times. For organisations to achieve such agility, they need to create an environment where people are encouraged to learn, to be entrepreneurial and innovative. At this moment, companies are looking for better ways to thrive during a very difficult time. This could mean the following: a. Creating a culture of learning – SDL organisations are good at creating environments that allow employees to learn and succeed in what they do. Employees must be afforded opportunities to learn new skills as long as what they learn and do is in alignment with improving and contributing to their ability to work. b. Invest in upskilling and reskilling of employees. The world has PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
changed and is continuing to change for good. Organisations need to focus on retraining their employees to repurpose them for the new world. Team level
Below the organisational level is the team level. This level could be a business unit, department or even clustered teams within departments. Teams implement organisational strategies. They drive operational excellence in strategy execution and implementation. Teams that are self-directed have common traits such as the ability to collaborate, communicate, co-create and innovate on the work they do. During difficult times, some teams are more affected than others. In order for these teams to succeed and resolve challenges, they need to quickly learn new ways of working and problem solving. For example, before the rapid spread of COVID-19 and subsequent lockdown, people, especially teams preferred to work together in offices or shared physical spaces. This became a challenge the moment those teams could not go to the offices. HR teams in particular had to find ways to set everyone up to be able to work remotely. For the first time, managers and leaders found themselves running meetings on different collaborative technologies. They had to learn, and learn quickly. As a team, they had to learn how to communicate, work, resolve conflicts and manage performance without having to gather in common areas to discuss these. For teams to succeed, they are forced to direct their own learning as opposed to the traditional group learning methods. Self/Individual level
Perhaps this level is one that is directly linked to SDL. It is the foundation of the team and organisational levels. Learning is personal and perpetual. Therefore, individuals should always embrace and foster the culture of self-directed learning and development. a. Understand the business environment – business and commercial acumen is very important in today’s ever-changing world. Individuals should understand the environment they operate in to spot opportunities, solve problems, manage changes and forecast the future. Unfortunately, an organisation or colleagues do not always have the time to drive individuals to understand their environment unless there is a need to do so. Minding the gap means being aware of the changes and creating a new future for yourself as an individual. b. Sharpen and develop new skills – As jobs change, new skills are required to fulfil those jobs. It is important to CONTINUOUSLY acquire new skills that are on demand and allows individuals to do their work innovatively and creatively. Individuals could tap into online learning programmes (most of them are free nowadays), read extensively about their work and interests. c. Diversify yourself – learning is not just taking up new courses and reading. It requires a total shift in mind-set concerning life in general. Working for a company, in a certain department does not mean one must always confine themselves in that area. Having a job and source of income does not mean one cannot think of other good ways to diversify their income generation. All it takes is for one to need to do something new. By doing something new, one is challenging themselves to learn new things, explore new opportunities and contribute meaningfully to society. The world is doing away with fixed structures such as fixed employment, fixed learning, fixed jobs etc. The world is multidimensional, therefore individuals who will succeed are those who will embrace multidimensional, self-directed learning.
Youth Employment Trends
INSIGHTS AND ADVICE inspired by
the ILO Global Youth Employment Trends With overwhelming global HR challenges, youth must recognise that their job future is in their hands. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
Youth Employment Trends
here may be differences in job landscape among developed and developing countries, but globally, youth has their work cut out as far as breaking barriers to employment. The following factors gleaned from the latest ILO Survey show just how much harder youth should be prepared to fight for a place in formal employment. It drives the point home, perhaps, that reviewing lifestyles, targeting new economies and finding space in nonmainstream industries may well be the way to leapfrog employment clogs and avoid an arduous career journey that would compete head-on with their older, more educated and more experienced counterparts.
The Bare Facts:
1. The youth labour force participation rate is decreasing globally 2. The share of young people in employment is also declining 3. Youth enrolment in education shows positive trends 4. Youth unemployment rates are stable but remain higher than those for adults 5. The potential of young people is not being fully harnessed 6. Employment quality is still a challenge 7. Technological advances and access can mitigate or exacerbate employment challenges faced by youth 8. Risk of automation is highest in jobs held by young people 9. Automatable jobs are associated with more difficult labour market transitions, particularly for young people Source: ILO 2020 Global Youth Employment Trends Facing the Reality
Most technology-driven job displacement impacts younger employees, the majority of whom occupy entry-level or repetitive type jobs. While technology can mitigate employment challenges among techsavvy, urban-based youth, it can further marginalise those who lack resources and reliable connectivity. Automatable jobs are typically repetitive and not highly engaging intellectually. Often they do not encourage much critical thinking or complex decision-making by those occupying them, which, in most cases will be younger people. Redefining your own Landscape
With unemployment a pandemic, especially in developing countries, it is crucial that young people plot their own future employment pathways. Research has shown that higher education provides entry to high-decision-making, less automatable jobs. Given high costs of education, alternative paths can be pursued, including taking up part-time work to fund one’s studies. Although studies show that corporate world, particularly the private sector has a tendency to favour university graduates, there is evidence that youth with sterling performance in vocational training are as much in demand in niche sectors looking for their specific skillset. Technology - The Good
With more time in their hands, young people have greater opportunity to get intimate with technology through gaming and social media. It’s no secret that most middle-aged senior managers call tech-savvy teenagers to the rescue when their computers hang, and call pre-teens to help navigate their fancy smart phones. An ability to harness this social technology aptitude can be built and directed toward bridging the gap between gaming and work. PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
Making Lockdown Lemonade
While unemployed youth may lack the access to the workplace to make the digital connections sought to build the necessary work transitions, the pandemic presented a perfect opportunity. Youth can take advantage of relatives working from home, by merely observing and paying attention to “the day in the life” of their close relative. I personally have found young people sharp in troubleshooting and very helpful in suggesting solutions for something the office IT guy would have had to help me resolve. It takes more time, but as we figure things out, all of us are learning. Taking advantage of lockdown access and youth’s early socialisation to technology, working adults can mentor them, and make learning in techno centric environments easier for the younger people when opportunity opens up for them. We all need to be more intentional in transferring proficiency into job functions - making the connection between social technology functions and the workplace. Finding the Right MOOCS and APPS
While connectivity and electricity may pose challenges to youth in outlying areas, making the most of what limited resources and windows they have can allow young people to gain useful skills. One way is through mastery of their own tech toys and communication instruments in the household. They can also make use of open-source learning sites and cost-free apps that can operate offline, to engage in studies that will give them access to niche industries or high-demand fields. Non technology-related
Although youth labour force participation is on a decline globally, and the share of young people in employment is declining, this is no reason to throw in the towel. This should inspire better planning. It means that young people should be open to community-based volunteer work that gives them skill and experience to place them in a better position when entering the formal workplace. Tailor own Solutions
It is also worth noting that developed countries have the disadvantage of ageing communities and an ageing workforce. It is in their interest, therefore to introduce as much automation as possible to ease the work for the older generations. Africa, on the other hand has no shortage of a youthful workforce. However, if the continent continues to rely on job markets created in developed countries, we will see youth wasted as a resource. As stated by the ILO, “the potential of young people is not being fully harnessed”. Adopt a Regional Outlook
South African is teeming with youth from all over the continent that have descended to find better opportunities in the country. African youth should indeed look and think beyond their immediate borders to the rest of the continent, when contemplating opportunities to practise their expertise or ply their wares, so to speak. There’s more homogeneity within the continent as far as service needs and commercial consumption are concerned, compared to either the Eastern or Western markets. South Africa may be more advanced in certain aspects than its neighbours’ and vice versa, and everyone may have an unexplored desire to import some youth competencies for contract work or development projects. Manage Expectations
The ILO report makes a big deal out of the decline of quality jobs. “Quality jobs” refers to formal, meaningful jobs, for which workers are paid no less than the minimum wage. Some definitions extend this
Youth Employment Trends
and relate quality jobs to those that offer employees security through retirement savings, paid leave, and other perks. Based on the current economic reality, and the global resignation that SMME’s are the answer to economy growth, it is not surprising that “decent work” targets haven’t yet been met in the workplace. SMME’s operate on tight margins, and often on a hand to mouth basis. There is little wiggle room to fund market seasonality, hence employers will hire as and when there is demand in the market. With Labour Unions opposing temporary work and pushing for permanent jobs in line with the ILO “decent work” targets, most SMME’s simply resort to automation or running family shows. Such has been the decline in formal employment or quality jobs, that Unions are increasingly turning to domestic workers to make up the numbers- an industry “hard to win”, given the reality of an over-supply of migrant temp-workers who prefer the loose strings scenario. Rethink “Secure”
The reality, therefore, is that young people cannot idealise a far-fromideal employment environment. Seasonality of businesses doesn’t have to equate to insecure jobs or non-decent work. Employment based on work rostered around different employers throughout the year is a reality very much embraced in the gig-economy. Maintaining a rigid outlook on employment may lead to one passing up immediate opportunities that, although not looking secure or ideal, can offer more flexibility and sustain one’s livelihood. Make gigging work
While it is reasonable to aim for gigs that live up to the minimum wage mark, income may vary from quarter to quarter. it is, therefore, important to manage the balance between expenditure and income. It is also important to look at all elements that make up expenditure and manage these closely, eliminating duplications and wastage. It may well be that the dearth of permanent jobs or full-time employment is one way to offer young people the flexibility they need, to travel, experience different industries and find a more natural fit or calling before settling down on one that offers “security”. It also might teach the youth better self-management in relation to budgeting and savings
– foregoing the “paycheque slavery” that compromised the older folk into complacency. Enjoy Trade-offs
Young people need to be prepared to do proper evaluation of their ideal lifestyle, whether they are employed full-time or not. There are subtle wastage factors that individuals overlook. For instance, take-away meals for a month may be the equivalent of 3-months’ worth of home-prepared meals. Home-cooking helps you manage your health (and weight) as you decide exactly what goes into each meal. On a compromise, you may do an occasional take away or dine out, while most meals are prepared at home. Think Consolidation
If you and your siblings are singletons and live on your own, think of the triplicated rental, electricity bill and service costs. Think of what economies of scale you would achieve on sharing these plus groceries, cleaning bills and so on. If your family can work from home, it is worth considering what savings you can enjoy by consolidating digital contracts, whether for Fibre internet, telephone or cable television monthly fees. Pace Your Growth
Even outside of your immediate family, reviewing your costs and pooling resources with friends, colleagues may contain your expenditure needs, and therefore lower your “basic” salary needs. Compared to a rival’s demands, your lower salary needs open you up to more job opportunities that can reinforce your formal qualification and offer the experience you need before stepping into higher-responsibility roles and better-paying jobs. Life Offers no Guarantees
Take time to study National Graduate Employment Trends and peruse comparative statistics on university enrolment and fields of study over the last decade or so. This should aid you to either adjust your current course towards more secure prospects, or to adjust your expectations relating to secure employment. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
Youth Employment Trends
A Strategic Perspective
hereas it is the aspiration of the global community to reduce youth unemployment as declared in ILO’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, many countries may consider youth employment challenge a secondary problem given the cross-cutting high unemployment rate and the displacement of mature workforce. A spiralling growth of retrenchments has seen thousands of employees joining the unemployment ranks. The more experienced ones among retrenched employees tend to have a full basket of home responsibilities and financial commitments, thereby immediately presenting a higher negative impact on the economy than younger, less active citizens. With an ever-growing pool of displaced workers, how can employment grow among young people, most of whom lack experience? A Qualitative PD Study conducted among Recruitment professionals and recruiting line managers early 2020 sheds some light, showing us that the curtain hasn’t closed on youth employment. Experience vs Attitude Notwithstanding the general value tag placed on experience, there are organisations in which (a learning) attitude trumps experience. These are entities where experience doesn’t serve employers much; where non-adaptive, experienced workers may prove retardants of progress if struggling to shrug off old, often costly entrenched ways. Contributors from the entertainment industry, for instance, say their field is constantly adapting to different tastes, standards and expectations. A worker with experience and no flair is of less value than one who thinks on his or her feet and goes an extra mile to make the “impossible” possible. Experience vs Achievements The study suggests that young people who demonstrate an ability to learn and successfully apply themselves to new situations are considered attractive in dynamic enterprises, likely more so than their older counterparts with staid experience.
PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
As could be expected, most contributors insist that a CV that’s made colourful by several exciting projects where the candidate has provided remarkable support or contributed to some innovation, is more valuable than a CV covering a decade of hum-drum, insignificant roles. Rather than measuring experience in years, dynamic entities measure experience by achievements. Even a collection of achievements from school or university projects, to social volunteering stints or patented ideas puts a young person ahead in the candidates list. Experience vs Special Competences Our respondents also highlighted jobs which require a brand new set of competencies, some of which are yet to land in the mainstream institutes of higher learning. Young people set themselves up for dominance in such fields through early-adoption, often using online-based international colleges or free internet-based self-study to gain mastery. Most of these are arty, IT and creative design-related. Experience vs Youthful Attributes Certain jobs lend themselves to physical strength, high energy or endurance. Those who recruit for jobs in massive manufacturing plants, logistics stores and warehouses admit to considering physical attributes when evaluating candidates who might be involved in heavy lifting. Although, for health and safety reasons, respondents foresee automation eventually taking over these jobs, they claim that the majority is generally filled by younger recruits, based on a standard fitness test. Senior Management Roles The majority of respondents owned up to being “less likely to recruit candidates with no experience” when recruiting for strategic, leadership roles, or senior positions. Respondents claim that they find experience to have direct correlation with age, thereby making age a default factor where senior roles are concerned.
Experience vs Education Most respondents claim to be likely to recruit candidates with no experience for entry-level roles, low-involvement posts, (supervised) technical roles, fixed-term project support, admin coordination, as well as highly specialised technical posts. Most admitted at being more likely to recruit graduate candidates with no experience than non-graduate candidates with no experience. Results were hung, however, when it came to choosing a more experienced non-graduate candidate versus a non-experienced graduate candidate, “dependent on the field or level of work”. The study injects hope for youth employment, demonstrating that with self-exertion, open-mindedness and tenacity, young people can land good jobs. The writing is on the wall, however, that with so much supply and such little demand in formal employment, one has to evaluate their true chances of making it to the front of any particular queue. Youth and Entrepreneurship One respondent suggested that the entrepreneurial route may be a viable alternative for those willing to exert themselves and grow their business skills. It is said to be lots of hard work, but work that saves young people lots of suspense and anxiety from waiting for the unknown. A recruitment and training officer who once worked for a Youth Development agency admits to high intakes in state-funded youth learning and training programs. But he commented that, sadly, there is a much lower “graduation” rate. “By graduation I am not referring to mastering course material, which most of them did. But I mean, we had very few individuals who actually exited the system with successful, independent businesses that offered sustainable employment to others. Most played games becoming perpetual youth development beneficiaries. They moved from one local agency to the next, doing what the industry termed “double-dipping”. With government trying hard to create work for SMME’s, some became dependent on small-time tenders – again,
moving from one government agency to the next, and being rotated in one SOE service-provider database to the next, benefiting from Corporate SME Development programs across sectors.” Reflecting on this, one wonders whether this was an offshoot of serial tenderpreneurship in the making. It is hoped that our youth will support the national plea to clean up both government and business procurement processes, and not fall foul to corrupt tendencies that are robbing the country of its true economic potential. Whether starting a job or a business, we wish to have our youth focused on goals and strategies that secure their future and livelihoods without seeking perpetual dependency on a funder or even an employer. Much as industries change and markets shift, the workplace can do with healthy attrition as people give of their talent then find ways of extending their talent either in running their self-sustaining enterprises, or getting involved in programs that uplift the community. The statistics of unemployment in South Africa suggest a dire lack of creativity and tenacity in building and sustaining a vibrant economy that can engage all its citizens, among both policy makers and captains of industry. The fact that South African employment sector is unable to maintain or fully utilise its experienced workforce and is incapable of absorbing new graduates is an indictment and a signal for a need for new productivity avenues and alternative lifestyles. Notwithstanding, youth who wish to play in the formal employment sector do well to maximise their chances of success. This is by investing in good quality education from reputable institutions, and/ or by accumulating relevant field experience through part-time work, vacation jobs, volunteering in industry’s research and development programs, and through mentor-shadowing. The reality is that, in a depressed economy, when jobs do come up, employers have several candidates that provide hire options. It is critical to raise oneself well above the rest by showing multiple ways in which one is better qualified. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM
HRM Strategies & Tactics
Are you Settling or Paying for Peace? “Do you believe in cheque-book terminations?” BY: GARY TAYLOR, HUMAN CAPITAL STRATEGIST AND IPM FELLOW
was once asked this loaded question at an interview. To say it caught me by surprise would be an understatement, but it did get me thinking. The question revolves around the issue of individual settlements, the kind of dilemma which all HR executives face, namely: are we prepared to pay what is necessary to make the problem person go away? There are only few of us who would want to admit to cheque-book Employee Relations, and yet the more experienced HR Directors (when pushed) will admit to having approved some pretty hefty settlements in their time. Offering a “full and final” settlement can arise from a whole range of circumstances, and is agreed to for a whole bunch of reasons. As a PEOPLE DYNAMICS | May - June 2020
matter of principle, some employers prefer never to settle, and here’s why: • “Bad Precedent”
• The fear of creating a precedent is the greatest obstacle. The thinking goes “if we settle this case, then we will have every dismissed employee having a go at us.” There is some substance to the employer belief that (despite signed confidentiality clauses) settlements get leaked by vindictive ex-employees, as it is almost impossible to trace the source of the leak. No self-respecting HR director wants to be known as an easy touch. • “Bad Public Relations”
• From an internal PR point of view, it may appear that the employer has been forced to settle, ie they have a weak case, and are paying to appease their conscience for having made the wrong call, or having failed in procedural fairness. Everyone knows that the matter is going to be discussed in the hallways, and the employer does not want to be branded as paying for their mistakes. • “Principle” - euphemism for Pride
• HR departments preach that internal processes can legitimately be
HRM Strategies & Tactics
challenged by lawful external routes. Therefore, it is almost flying in the face of due process to opt out by paying for the problem to go away. We like to say that “it’s a matter of principle” when we most often mean that it’s a matter of pride….corporate or individual pride. • Deep Corporate Pockets
• To back this up, companies have deeper pockets, and can generally ride out litigation more easily than individuals. Some employers even dare the ex-employee to take them on while looking for another job, at the risk of becoming an unattractive applicant with a reputation for “challenging the ex-employer.” The emotions of the case and people involved can generate corporate testosterone at toxic levels. On the other hand, if there is one thing that good ER people have learned over the years, it is pragmatism. Labour jurisprudence is liberally sprinkled with cases which have drawn on for years – some more than a decade, and ER people do not relish drawn out cases. Lawyers have a different view of the word “settlement” to the one we use in general conversation. To labour lawyers, a settlement simply means resolution of the matter, ie it’s over. The parties might not be happy, but it ends the saga. Quote my IRDP Prof Blackie Swart at Stellenbosch Business School who said: “a good settlement is when both parties are equally the donner in!” This comment came after a lifetime of experience! So, what are the reasons in favour of “paying for peace”? A mixture of the following points make it worthwhile to some employers:
Are principle and pragmatism really on opposite ends of a spectrum? Recruiters will tell you the “cost” of hiring someone, but what is the cost of keeping someone who shouldn’t be there? marketing and promotions, but seem to think that an individual labour dispute is a sure winner. • Corporate Image
• An amicable “divorce” from a senior person probably does the corporate image better service than crushing him in court (let alone losing). If it has not worked out for a top person, try to find common ground, and let both parties walk away. The spin doctors will issue a statement about an amicable parting to pursue private business interests, and the matter is forgotten by detractors and external parties in no time. By contrast, an aggrieved ex-executive can come back to haunt you in ways you cannot imagine when revenge becomes their new goal.
• Less Time; Less Stress
• Primarily, it stops a long process, which is likely to involve important company people staying trapped in aggravation and a dispute-mindset, rather than focusing on the core business of the organisation. One of the delicate roles of the employee relations practitioner is explaining to line management just what is involved in the “let him take us on” option. The joys of hours and hours at the CCMA (if you can even get parking) let alone a court process in the expensive hands of the legal profession. This process does not care about year-end operational requirements, budgets, performance review season, etc., when witnesses (some of whom might have left you) are being dragged out of core operations to testify months later. This time factor is one of the reasons why arbitration is sometimes attractive, in that it brings relatively swift, non-emotive and final settlement for both parties. • Agreement to Disagree
• The mature employer realises that the end of an employment relationship is not really about “fault.” Particularly when the employer has decided that it no longer wants the individual in its employ, it is preferable to pay out a lumpsum rather than have a disgruntled and possibly subvertive person on the payroll while you grind through the technicalities of due process, appeals, and the cost of so many internal people, in addition to the legal fees. • No-gamble Option
• A full and final settlement carries with it the cost of buying the employer out of the vagaries of an unfavourable judgment from the CCMA or courts, whose judgments have on occasion been described as Russian Roulette. It is surprising that we’re okay to spend large corporate fees on other such uncertain activities as
Of course, there is no rule or guideline as to what constitutes the point of no return in a settlement. The USA seems to be very generous in paying people to leave. One well-known RSA powerhouse paid an about-to-join CFO several millions to NOT take up his signed offer when late references pointed out their hiring mistake. Remember that the settlement is not just about paying money for someone to leave without a fuss. The astute HR settlement negotiator will be looking for other key issues to achieving resolution, such as preserving individual reputation, kind references, notice period, medical aid continuity and other very personal reluctance-to-sign issues, which often turn out to be deal-makers when resolved. Even the wording of the internal staff announcement is an important aspect to be resolved, to prevent the deal going sour. This is even tougher at executive level when shareholders might get involved. Investigate lawful win-win options like a tax-free exit if the termination is an early retirement or retrenchment, which increases the size of the take-home settlement at no extra cost. So, do you now believe in paying for peace? Are principle and pragmatism really on opposite ends of a spectrum? Recruiters will tell you the “cost” of hiring someone, but what is the cost of keeping someone who shouldn’t be there? What is the cost of not settling? It’s funny, but some people even baulk at the word “settle” when they believe it has the connotation of settling for second prize. Others prefer the win-lose scenario, and are prepared to endure a lot of blood to achieve a win. Perhaps we can learn from the animal kingdom, where the battle might be rough, but mostly not with the intent of “taking the opponent out”. Most times, the parties just walk away and settle for an outcome which ends the conflict and allows both parties to get on with the important things of life. OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE IPM