he challenges of a scattered workforce

Remote management: The challenges of a scattered workforce

How are organisations supposed to manage and pay remote workers in world defined by distance?

Looking at the world of work today, it has been cut in half. On one side is the office, the traffic and the regular flow of people into places and roles. On the other is the remote workforce, with staff doing their best to complete their roles using digital tools and versatile technology. The Covid-19 pandemic has effectively turned every working eye towards what’s being referred to as the ‘newsual’ – the new normal – and what this means for employees and companies. Organisations are grappling with unexpected challenges around payments, management and control. According to the General Manager of CRS Technologies, Ian McAlister, the most important activity any organisation can engage in right now is to keep calm and develop a plan.

Build a solid plan, implement it and revisit it often,” he advises. “Make use of technology where it can benefit the business, don’t make hasty decisions that can have long-term consequences, and communicate often. Engaging with your employees on a regular and personal level can make all the difference.

“One of the more difficult areas of remote working is the management of employees. It can be challenging to ensure that individuals are meeting targets, being productive or even coping with their new working conditions. To resolve this, consider hosting regular online meetings that conclude with clear deliverables. If everybody knows what they are expected to do, the metrics that will measure their performance, and how they are to do it, then they will be more engaged and more likely to do the work.

Cater to your employee’s mental health

“It’s also important to cater to your employee’s mental health,” McAlister continues. “Your people need to be as comfortable as possible so that their needs are being met. If they feel heard and they understand exactly what is expected of them, then they will feel of value to the organisation.”

Salary payments should be one of the few areas that remain unchanged during the remote working revolution, as long as no cash payments are required and a proper payroll system is in place. The legislation around the payment benefits is changing regularly and only a solid payroll system is capable of keeping up with these changes. Ensure that the business practises separation of duties and maintains corporate oversight.

“It’s advisable to take advantage of the financial benefits available in legislation, not only for the company’s benefit, but for the employees that are being affected,” says McAlister. “It’s very apparent that a remote workforce is the future so it’s worth putting all these processes – financial, managerial, operations – into place right from the start. They may not be temporary.”

The processes that are required

During the course of the pandemic, the business should use this as an opportunity to refine the processes it is putting in place as they can be used going forward. A well-developed remote working policy that achieves results shouldn’t be thrown out the door the moment the regulations allow office working again. Best practice is to genuinely set clear and agreed expectations, communicate often and personally, and measure outcomes against expectations. Reward those who deliver exceptional performances during these complex times and mentor those who are struggling; it will pay off over the long term.

“There is little doubt that the processes that are required for the lockdown will be used going forward as companies realise that it’s practical to work remotely,” concludes McAlister. “With time they will be modified to suit a more long-term scenario. The HR function will need to move from a more traditional method to one that can manage the vagaries of remote working, and there needs to be more trust between management and employees at all levels. However, I think that South Africa is mature enough to meet this challenge. In fact, it already has.”

Read More: http://hrpulse.co.za/office/crstechnologies/PressRelease.php?StoryID=290445

Ian McAlister GM CRS Technologies

Doing business in the post-lockdown world

At the beginning of March few anticipated the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on the lives of all South Africans. As the gradual easing of the strict lockdown conditions approaches, thoughts turn to how companies will begin their recovery. Ian McAlister, GM of CRS Technologies, looks at what to expect.

Friday, 1 May signifies the transition to Level 4 lockdown conditions which will result in several more industries resuming operations, albeit in a limited capacity. And while all the details around operational issues are still to be confirmed, expectations are that at least 1.5 million South Africans will be returning to work. In part, this is designed to get the economy back up and running following several weeks of virtual non-activity in sectors outside the essential services category.

New reality

“Even though there is still a long road ahead before the country reaches Level 1 (complete easing of lockdown restrictions), thoughts must turn to how companies need to approach business from an operational perspective. For one, a core management or exco team will have to spend most of their time at the office in order to direct the company,” says McAlister.

“Each exco member will have meetings with their direct reports at least once a week. This helps to ensure that employees obtain a clear vision of what their roles and responsibilities will be in this dynamic environment. Organisations simply cannot return to the way things used to be done.”

One of the positives that has emerged from the lockdown is the realisation of the practical benefits technology has on operations.

“For example, more business will be done via video conferencing as this not only saves time and money by eliminating travelling, but also leads to less traffic and congestion on our roads. The peak morning and evening hours could become greatly diminished as people do more things online.”

Optimising resources

The lockdown has also highlighted those employees who have simply become professional managers.

“By this I mean there are people who have made a career out of attending on-site meetings and overseeing other people’s tasks,” McAlister explains. “The current climate of remote working has exposed these individuals in that they are not quite sure what they should be doing now. If they do not start delivering value post-lockdown, they could very well be on their way out.”

“Additionally, there is a group of people who are sitting at home and do not have much work to do because they are not being allocated tasks. This exposes their lack of value to the company.

“The lockdown provides the perfect opportunity for managers to evaluate their teams, as it shows them who the valuable and productive members are and enables them to identify those individuals capable of working on their own. These are the people who simply get on with the job without requiring a lot of management input. Furthermore, such a process will empower management with insights on the skill sets of each team member and identify where to optimally use staff resources.”

“The reality of business in a post-lockdown world will be significantly different to what was in place before, but this will require a leadership who is willing to adapt and learn from the lessons of the past several weeks. Of course, technology will have a role to play but the focus must now turn to creating a more enabling working environment for those employees who have proved themselves to be assets.”

Read more: https://retailbriefafrica.co.za/doing-business-in-the-post-lockdown-world 

Nicol Myburgh HCM Business Unit at CRS Technologies

Social Media Hiring: Risks and Complexities

Social media may be in the public domain but the personality online is not necessarily the person in the real world.

“Love life! Drinking it all!” The moment a person hits Send on a social media post it enters the public domain. Their plan to drink an entire bottle of champagne is now known by everyone who reads the post, from their best friend to their colleagues to the HR director of a company they want to work for. According to Nicol Myburgh, Human Capital Management (HCM) Business Unit at CRS Technologies, social media posts can be used to form opinions about people and can potentially affect reputations and career options. It’s entirely legal for organisations to view the information, it’s in the public domain and does not contravene POPIA, and it is equally fine to form opinions. What isn’t acceptable is being discriminatory.

“It’s easy to form inaccurate conclusions and opinions of a person’s character or lifestyle, especially if these are based on their social media activity,” says Myburgh. “For example, if someone is tagged in a photo where alcohol is present, the potential employer may think the person likes to party or has a drinking problem. The conclusion they draw will depend on the photos, but the consequences could be that the person doesn’t get the job.”

The second consideration is who is sending the information. Those photos of you consuming alcohol may have been shared by a friend or a colleague who tagged everyone. The tags can be removed, the tarnish to your reputation cannot. Always ask – is this image one I want the world to see and does it represent who I am? For the employer, jumping to the wrong conclusion could open the door to discrimination – just because a person has a certain political stance or drinks at parties doesn’t mean they can’t do the job. Decisions cannot be accurately made based on a person’s social media profile.

Information that affects the rights of others

“When you share posts on social media, you relinquish the right to privacy by making information available to the public,” says Myburgh. “While a company may not discriminate against you based on your social media profile, it’s difficult to prove that this is what it did. This can affect future employment and reputations. For employees of a company, however, the situation is different. If you share information that affects the rights of others, this could affect the company brand. This is particularly relevant in cases where the employee has listed the company they work for.”

Employees can be dismissed for sharing information that violates a company’s code of conduct. One example of a grey area that’s arisen from this is cannabis usage. “There is no one-size-fits all approach to social media and the boundaries that protect employee and employer,” says Myburgh, “and most incidents need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Protection of Personal Information Act

“As a general rule, use common sense when you post,” he continues. “Don’t tell the world where you work and don’t bring your company’s brand into disrepute. Be wary of having colleagues as social media friends as they will see what you post and can bring it to the attention of management. If you take a sick day but post pictures of yourself at the beach, you’re heading for trouble. You also need to be wary of what you ‘Like’ on social media because if those are seen as discriminatory you can be deemed guilty by association.”

Employers do have access to what potential employees share in the public domain and employees permit them to see this information just by posting it. “If you don’t want to be judged by your after-hours actions, don’t put them on social media,” Myburgh advises. “While POPIA – the Protection of Personal Information Act – is yet to come to South Africa, it will have no influence on how employers’ access social media posts in the public domain. So, be smart.

“If you’re looking for a new job, wanting to grow your career or planning on staying with your current company, be careful about what you post in the public domain. Don’t link your activity to your employer, use a fake name if you really want to be active on social media, and most importantly, practise common sense.”

Ian McAlister GM CRS Technologies

The realities of remote working

The 35-day national lockdown (extended from the original 21 days) is placing a significant economic and emotional strain on employers and employees alike. Some industries have been forced to shut down completely while others have enabled their staff to work from home. Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies, believes remote working is about more than ensuring staff have a reliable internet connection.

“We have been fortunate that due to the nature of our business, the transition to a remote working environment has been a relatively easy one. Our systems are all accessible via our networks. The only component that required a bit of tweaking was the setup of interpersonal communications and associated processes,” he says. “Consequently, we will continue to provide our services offerings remotely during the lockdown period, ensuring our clients receive support and assistance while keeping their businesses operational.”

Proactive approach

Two weeks prior to the lockdown, CRS began migrating its staff to this new environment. Initially it focused on those employees who were already equipped to work remotely. Following this, it prepared the payroll division for the transition to a virtual environment. “This paid dividends as CRS did not experience any disruption to operations when the lockdown was instituted,” says McAlister.

Some of our staff are used to working remotely from time to time. The biggest difference now is that the concept has been extended to all our employees, all the time. To date, we have seen an increase in productivity which could be attributed to a combination of the novelty factor for some and a reduction of client requests. However, employees admit they get more done without the unnecessary interruptions typically associated with an office environment,” he continues.

Quiet confidence

While McAlister admits it is still early days to quantify the improvements experienced in productivity across all departments, the current drop in client requests have seen employees able to catch up on tasks that were backlogged.

“At the moment, I feel more comfortable that we can work remotely, and that business will continue unabated. We are fortunate to have staff who have grabbed this as an opportunity to show they can work independently. As more companies realise the advantage of remote working, the way business is managed post the lockdown period will change significantly.”

“As far as CRS is concerned, we intend to be more outcomes-based and flexible with desk space and time for our employees. We will continue to empower our people to accept responsibility for their working hours and structure their days to deliver the best value possible,” he concludes.

importance of employee mental health during lockdown

The importance of employee mental health during lockdown

Even though the extension of South Africa’s lockdown until the end of April may not have been unexpected, companies would do well to consider the mental impact this prolonged period of isolation could have on their employees. Beyond the economic repercussions of the 35-day lockdown, the human issue cannot be ignored, says Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HCM Business Unit at CRS Technologies.

“The realities of remote working have been driven home in recent weeks, especially to those who have been caught off guard about the complexities this would entail. On a basic level there is ensuring people have the means to work remotely, for example, having reliable internet access. However, employees must now acutely balance their home and professional roles in a restricted environment. Managing a conference call while the children are playing close by might be distracting to the uninitiated, not to mention the added pressure of trying to meet targets while doing home schooling,” he says.

Senior employees who have experience in working from home might have a good understanding on how best to fill their day, but for those who do not know how to structure their time to ensure they fulfil their responsibilities, companies must be on hand to help.

“Management should give clear instructions to staff, with deadlines and measurable targets. There is a lot of free software available online to facilitate remote working and monitoring. Some software can push tasks to people while others encompass a time sheet management system which can facilitate project teams or departments.”

The new normal

Beyond this, however, staff who are unfamiliar with the new remote working dynamic will have difficulty changing their mindset to stick to office hours. The temptation might be to sleep late and catch up on work after hours, but this potentially disrupts the team dynamics, especially when people are reliant on one another to meet specific deadlines.

And then there is the real concern about managing issues such as burnout and isolation during remote working.

“The best way to deal with isolation is to ensure employees are in constant communication with one another,” Myburgh advises. “Even though they are working in a ‘virtual office’, employees must be able to speak with their colleagues at any time. This can be achieved either through daily team calls or just having a quick chat with a colleague to share in each other’s experiences.”

Closely monitor employees to ensure they maintain work-life balance

Burnout is also a significant risk when the home becomes the work environment. Nothing stops someone from working around the clock or even slotting in an extra hour or two to make up for time usually spent in traffic.

“This is where management must closely monitor employees to ensure they maintain work-life balance. It simply cannot be all work or the employee risks serious mental and physical harm. Key to this is being in constant communication with one another. Even though physical proximity is restricted, nothing stops the company from promoting team culture and doing fun activities through virtual means.

“The reality is that business will never return to normal following the lockdown. How employees adapt to the new style of working will depend on how company leaders help drive this change,” Myburgh concludes.

The rights of employers during the lockdown

The rights of employers during the lockdown

With South Africa’s lockdown well and truly underway, companies are facing unprecedented times. Even when the country was in the throes of the State of Emergency in the 80s and early 90s, work continued, albeit with strict social controls in place and a strong police and military presence. But business as usual has not been possible for many organisations, leaving employers perplexed about the issue of salary payments. Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HCM Business Unit at CRS Technologies, examines the situation.

“The legal basis of payment for employees is that where the contract of employment exists, the employer has a duty to tender work, and the employee has a duty to tender their services for such work,” he explains. “If the employer cannot provide work and instructs the employee to go home, the employer is required to pay the employee. The only example where this was not the case is contained in the Metal Industries Bargaining Council Main Agreement. This deals with supervening impossibility of performance on the part of the employer, and if procedures are followed, the employer is liable for lesser payment to employees.”

No work, no pay

“The pandemic has created a situation outside the employer’s control,” Myburgh continues. “With employers forbidden to offer work to employees and employees not permitted to tender their services while in lockdown, a situation has arisen where both employers and employees cannot fulfil their contractual obligations to one another.

“Consequently, according to the letter of the law, for the period of the lockdown employers are not obliged to pay their employees. The situation is one of ‘force majeure’ and can be insured against.”

Myburgh advises companies to check whether the provisions of their business insurance policies contain such an indemnity. “While these provisions are standard practice in countries that frequently experience natural disasters, in South Africa, where natural disasters are less common, the provisions often do not exist in policies except in a limited scope.”

Fortunately, however, Myburgh says there are several steps employers can take to alleviate the burden on their employees:

  • Allow employees to take their accrued paid annual leave entitlement.
  • Extend unaccrued paid leave to employees. This would normally only accrue later in the leave cycle.
  • Assist employees with UIF documentation.
  • Provide part payment of wages and salaries.
  • Where possible, apply for government assistance.

Remote working 

While the internet enables companies to implement remote working practices where it is possible to do so, this may only be suitable for certain sections of the workforce and, depending on the nature of the business, the work may be of reduced scope and would not attract full remuneration as specified in the contract.

According to Myburgh, in this instance employers can come to an arrangement with these employees in respect of deliverables and associated remuneration. “In effect this would be an agreement to temporarily modify or amend the contract of employment in respect of work and remuneration.

“Of course, once arrangements are put in place, the employer must document everything and make it reviewable once the lockdown ends. Should the lockdown period be extended, the employer needs to be able to change its arrangements.”

One of the key questions that remain is whether a company can engage in retrenchment proceedings during this time.

The lockdown does not suspend the contract of employment, Myburgh notes, it merely prohibits the physical proximity of employees in the workplace. “The employer is therefore still entitled to issue retrenchment documentation, provided it can consult with employees (even if this is done in writing). The employer is obliged to consult for a period of 60 days from the date on which the retrenchment notice is issued.”

“The long-term impact of the lockdown remains difficult to predict,” Myburgh concludes. “However, employers and their employees must work together to identify ways to mitigate some of the economic impact on the business if companies are to continue operating once the lockdown is lifted.”

Ian McAlister GM CRS Technologies

The potential of professional

Software and technology solutions replace admin and tedium with professional freedom

By Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies

The world is driven by digital. Organisations are bombarded with the terminology of technology – digital transformation, disruption, AI and automation. For many, these solutions provide a quick and simple route to cost-saving, efficiency and productivity; for others, they are a concern. Will the technology that takes over the admin, the drudgery and the mundane tasks that they once did replace them? Are their skills no longer needed? In the accounting profession these questions have fundamentally changed how professionals approach their roles and the future. Software and technology solutions are increasingly taking on the data capture, analysis and number crunching roles, but this doesn’t herald the end of an era, it is the beginning…

The more that technology evolves within the financial arena, the more it provides professionals with the freedom they need to leverage their expertise and provide the business with far richer support and insights. In the midst of the furore that surrounds automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, lies one truth – the human component is critical. It is professional accountants who can understand and interpret the information provided by software and who can use the data to shift the organisation’s dialogue. An apt description, considering how Investopedia describes the accountant as someone who can speak the ‘language of the business and all things financial’.

Manage finances across far more frontiers than ever

From payroll to the chief financial officer (CFO), there’s always been the impression that the number crunchers are just that – bean counters with their value measured in returns and cost efficiencies. Today, CFOs and accountants have become critical to the sustainable success of the organisation. Now that the software has taken on the drudgery, they’re expected to manage finances across far more frontiers than ever before.

The Practice of Now report, an analysis of insights from more than 3 000 global accountants, reveals that 90% of accountants agree that the job has undergone a cultural shift driven by client, marketplace and technology. Now, the accountant has to manage regulatory controls, compliance requirements, and be technically savvy. For it is they who will take the data generated by the systems and business intelligence (BI) and ensure that it’s interpreted and used in ways that deliver value. It is the accountant who will ensure that the organisation is capable of using technology to take advantage of the information economy.

While this does place the profession in new and relatively uncharted territory, it also provides opportunity. Business owners want financial advisors who can give them directions through murky economic and political climates and who can help them make sound decisions for the future. They want people – professionals and experts – not just data and software.

Accountants are replaced by software

Technology gives accountants who are paying attention the scope to expand their skills and embed their value in the organisation because it’s their human insights that make the most difference.

The future is not one where accountants are replaced by software. It’s a future where accountants leverage their intellect and experience to get the most from software. This is the real future, where technology gives accountants much-needed freedom stretch their financial wings and reshape their value to the organisation.

Article Source:  CFO

Ian McAlister GM CRS Technologies

Constant payroll crises a sure sign you’ve outgrown your software

Processing your company’s payroll should be a breeze, but if your payroll department is living from one crisis to the next, chances are good you’ve either outgrown your HR and payroll software, your solution provider, or both, says Ian McAlister, General Manager of CRS Technologies.

“The workplace is constantly evolving and HR and payroll systems, together with the vendors who provide them, need to be flexible enough to keep pace with these changes.

“Unfortunately, however, many solutions are presented as current but are characterised by outdated, legacy technologies that fall short of the modern capabilities needed to meet changing business and compliance requirements.”

Ongoing payroll disruptions significantly increase the likelihood of errors

According to McAlister, it’s not uncommon for payroll administrators to rely on Excel spreadsheets and manual processes to perform specific tasks, simply because their payroll system lacks the requisite functionality.

Ongoing payroll disruptions that necessitate repeated manual intervention significantly increase the likelihood of errors,” he says. “These are not only time-consuming to correct, but turn paydays into an organisational nightmare of never-ending delays and queries about late and inaccurately paid salaries.

“Consequently, unless there is continual investment in research and development to upgrade and maintain the system, a break down at some point is inevitable.

“Add to this an inability to comply with complex payroll legislation and you’re looking at a crisis of epic proportions. Besides the financial ramifications, the reputational damage to the organisation can be monumental as trust in the company wanes and with it, employee morale.”

So how do businesses ensure they stay at the forefront of payroll technology?

According to McAlister, price is not an indicator of cutting-edge innovation, nor whether an HR and payroll system will be a suitable short-term fit to a particular organisation.

“It’s important to look for a solution that not only meets your current HR and payroll requirements, but also incorporates a developmental roadmap that is cognisant of the shifting technological landscape while aligning to your long-term organisational strategy.

“Mobile computing, the fourth industrial revolution and changes in employees’ expectations over how and when they get paid are just some of the market forces currently impacting the HR and payroll arena, and it’s essential for companies to ensure that the solution provider they choose is on top of these developments.”

Equally essential are sound functionality and legislative compliance

McAlister points to three solution components that are critical to ensuring salaries are never at risk. “Owing to the nature of the information stored in a payroll system, robust security features are imperative. The correct safeguards must be in place to ensure that data integrity is never compromised. This includes leveraging the best benefits of hybrid cloud computing.

“Equally essential are sound functionality and legislative compliance. The solution should encompass all aspects of the HR and payroll function and be capable of managing the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment to retirement.

“Additionally, as tax authorities become more meticulous and HR legislation increasingly complex, companies need the assurance that their HR and payroll solution delivers up-to-date regulatory compliance, wherever the employees are deployed nationally or internationally.

“Finally, when it comes to finding the best HR and payroll provider for your business, companies should look for a partner that facilitates investment in engaged employees. A proven, legislatively compliant and comprehensively supported payroll solution is the first step to achieving this objective.”

fraudulent sick notes

Sick note controversy: Fraud or ill health

Employers and employees have rights when it comes to sick leave, but fraudulent sick notes are a rising problem

In the wake of Jacob Zuma’s alleged medical certificate presented to court in January 2020, there has been widening controversy around these documents and their validity in the South African workplace. For companies and employees, sick notes are essential when it comes to verifying ill health and non-attendance at work, but when these are modified or faked, the repercussions can lead to loss of earnings for companies and potentially loss of reputation and career for employees. Faked sick notes constitute an act of fraud and can lead to dismissal.

Everyone is entitled to 30 days’ sick leave

“Everyone is entitled to 30 days’ sick leave over a three-year cycle, but many people use up the last few days of sick leave they have left before the next three-year cycle begins,” explains Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HCM Business Unit at CRS Technologies. “Some even go so far as to plan their sick leave in advance.”

According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act employers may request a sick note from an employee who has been absent from work for more than two consecutive days, or on more than two occasions during an eight-week period.

The note must be issued by a medical practitioner or someone who is certified to diagnose and treat patients, and who is certified with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). In addition, the HSPCA has developed a fairly stringent list of rules that must be met when it comes to medical certificates. Some of the stand out points include:

  • Specific details around the practitioner, such as name, address and qualification;
  • The name of the patient;
  • The date and time of the examination;
  • A description of the illness in layman’s terms; and
  • The exact recommended sick leave period.

“A sick note may include the doctor’s diagnosis but only if the employee consents to this disclosure,” Myburgh points out. “Additionally, the actual dates on which the employee is unable to work, not the date of the visit to the doctor, must be stated. The doctor’s signature alongside the employee’s name and surname is also required to ensure the sick note’s legitimacy.”

Sick notes are not a joke

It’s important to note that the information around the medical condition affecting the patient is only released at their discretion. If the patient is uncomfortable with full disclosure, the practitioner can frame the diagnosis in a way that doesn’t give away too much information. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the note is forged, but only that the employer may want to further verify the note with the relevant practitioner.

“However, a sick note on which the dates have been changed, doesn’t have the practitioner’s name or practice number, and isn’t filled out correctly should be cause for concern,” Myburgh continues. “If a person says they are sick and hand in a fake note, they could ultimately face dismissal on the grounds of fraud. Following a disciplinary hearing, it’s very likely they will be asked to leave as the trust relationship between employer and employee has been broken.

Sick notes are not a joke or a clever way of using up sick leave on a fantastic holiday. If the note isn’t valid and the employee is discovered, they could lose their job and their reputation. For employers, it’s important to ensure that any note handed in meets the stringent criteria laid out by the HPCSA to avoid sick leave fraud and loss of earnings. Either way, sick notes are meant to be used by those who are genuinely unable to work so that both employer and employee are protected,” Myburgh concludes.

Nicol Myburgh Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies

Managing tech addiction in the workplace

On average, people touch their phones almost 3 000 times a day. This is hardly surprising given how we are exposed to technology in every facet of our lives. With this comes the risk of tech addiction, which can have a seriously negative impact on work performance, says Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HCM Business Unit at CRS Technologies.

“Some of the most common forms of tech addiction are gaming and social media. In fact, internet gaming disorder is featured in the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases. Studies show that males are generally more likely to become addicted to gaming, while females are more susceptible to social media. In many instances, the addiction does not revolve around the technology itself, but has more to do with the dopamine fix that comes with the instant gratification of moving up to the next level of a game, or receiving ‘likes’ for posts shared on social networking platforms,” he explains.

For their part, companies can formulate policies to put healthy guidelines in place around the usage of technology in the workplace and establish boundaries that will ensure a healthy working environment.

But, cautions Myburgh, they must make sure that employees adhere to these guidelines.

“Some companies, especially those in the manufacturing sector, go so far as to eliminate cell phone usage during office hours, especially during meetings. This ‘forces’ employees to talk to their colleagues and interact meaningfully with one another.”

Looking beyond policy, businesses can also institute tech-free zones where cell phones and laptops are not allowed. This encourages employee interaction and reduces the time people spend looking at screens.


“Like any other addiction, the impact of tech addiction on workforce performance is significant,” Myburgh continues. “For example, staying up all night to play games will see employees too tired to be productive at work. Similarly, spending long periods of time on social media platforms can lead to a drop in performance and even costly mistakes when people invariably become distracted.”

Another consequence of tech addiction is that more people are opting to send text messages rather than conduct a face-to-face conversation. “One has only to look at the younger generation’s lack of vital social skills because of their smartphones to see how this is impacting society’s ability to form relationships,” says Myburgh. “This is likely to worsen as children increasingly become exposed to technology at an extremely young age. Just imagine the long-term impact of replacing a baby’s rattle with a tablet or smartphone.”

Next steps

From a practical perspective, companies can consider setting up counselling sessions for affected employees and enforce stricter rules to limit technology usage when it does not form part of the core requirements of a job role.

“Even after putting all these mechanisms in place to assist employees, if the addictive behaviour continues, the company could have no choice but to charge the person with misconduct if they wilfully disobey a rule. All told, tech addiction is a very real concern in the digital world and if something is not done to curb its prevalence, it can quickly spiral out of control,” concludes Myburgh.

Article Source:  CHRO South Africa

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