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Managing a multi-generational workforce

Addressing the challenges associated with managing a multi-generational workforce

Each generation has different work expectations. How can organisations address this challenge effectively without compromising on its core values? Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, believes that while a standardised approach is ill advised, there are other opportunities to become more attentive to the requirements of a multi-generational workforce.

“Every generation has its own value system and way of working,” he explains. “Some of the millennial value drivers include receiving praise, being rewarded for participating, and the need to feel valued. Baby Boomers have a strong work ethic, are competitive, self-assured and independent, and unafraid of a hard day’s work.”

“Some might argue that one of the reasons behind these differences is that Baby Boomers had to work hard for everything they achieved and did not want their children to go through the same struggles they experienced. Consequently, they gave their children everything they wanted. Unfortunately, this cultivated a sense of entitlement.”

“Managing these differences can be extremely challenging. Baby Boomers sometimes view Millennials as being disrespectful even though the latter might not feel this is the case. Another example is that Baby Boomers were taught that it is essential to acknowledge mistakes made and as far as possible, correct them. Millennials, on the other hand, look for ways to hide their mistakes.”

Changing ways

Despite the criticism millennials face, one of the most often overlooked benefits of the new generation is that they can teach themselves.

Millennials rely heavily on sites such as YouTube to acquire skills they do not have when they need them. This can be something as simplistic as changing a flat tyre or more complex such as servicing a car. This negates the need for formal qualifications or having to rely on another expert to teach them.

“It’s simply a matter of doing a quick search online to find out how to do something,” says Myburgh. “Of course, there needs to be an understanding of how to effectively search for something online and which paths to follow to get the results in the shortest time possible.”

Separation anxiety

The evolution of technology has also resulted in the creation of a mobile workforce.

This means the various generations can be physically separated from one another. It is also an effective way of avoiding confrontations that could develop as a result of differing value systems, approaches to work, and so on.

Typically, older generations prefer their own office, while millennials enjoy working in an open plan environment.

“But even though splitting the generations might be an effective tactic, decision-makers should focus on teaching the different groups to respect one another’s differences and focus instead on their respective strengths,” Myburgh points out. “Creating a more collaborative work environment will bring its own benefits, especially as companies look to digitally transform themselves. Linking the generations together might just be the best way to do so.”

The impact of cannabis in the workplace

The impact of cannabis in the workplace

Even though the use of cannabis in the home is now legal, the potential exists for employees to arrive at work under the influence. Most company policies cater for the use of illegal substances while at work, but these need to be updated to reflect the new regulations, says Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies.

Studies have shown that cannabis can affect an employee’s occupational capacity in various ways. This includes performing tasks more slowly, performing poorly when handling routine, monotonous tasks, and difficulty in multi-tasking, taking instructions from superiors, making crucial decisions and operating machinery and/or motor vehicles.

“This means that, as with alcohol usage, companies can legally prohibit employees from taking cannabis in the workplace. After all, it’s their company and they control the rules. It is therefore important to include these restrictions in a policy, employment contracts, or even enforce it as a standard rule,” he says.

“Even if a business does not have a policy explicitly prohibiting this, action can still be taken against someone who smokes cannabis at the office, because common sense dictates it is not acceptable behaviour,” Myburgh adds.

Taking the test

What happens if an employee uses cannabis at their private residence and arrives at the office under the influence?

“From a policy perspective, there is no difference between taking cannabis and drinking at home. Consequently, the approach is the same as if the employee arrived at work under the influence. Of course, the challenge lies in proving that the employee is under the influence of cannabis while at work. Fortunately, there are various tests available that can detect the substance for months after use, and a saliva test can identify cannabis in the system for up to 24 hours.”

Myburgh points out, however, that even if a saliva test shows positive for cannabis, this does not necessarily mean that the employee is unable to work. “The test has merely proved that the employee used cannabis in the last 24 hours, which in itself is not an offence. The employee is only guilty if it can be proven that he or she is under the influence of cannabis.”

And while alcohol has a legal limit associated with its use, a saliva test for cannabis does not measure the extent to which the substance affects a person.

Legal route

“Criminal law dictates that a crime must be proven beyond reasonable doubt, but labour legislation relies on the balance of probabilities,” Myburgh continues.

For example, if an employee arrives at work showing clear symptoms of being under the influence of cannabis, and a saliva test proves usage over the last 24 hours, based on the balance of probabilities, the chain of events will in all likelihood lead to a guilty verdict and the employee could be dismissed.

Changing environment

Medical testing of employees remains regulated by Schedule 7 of the Employment Equity Act, which states: “Medical testing of employees is permitted if it is justifiable in light of medical facts, employment conditions, social policy, the fair distribution of employee benefits and inherent requirements of the job.”

It could be argued that it is an inherent job requirement to not be under the influence of any mind-altering substance, making the case for cannabis testing.

“A company could therefore legally require employees to undergo a test that could potentially strengthen its position in a disciplinary hearing, but this does not necessarily mean the company will be able to dismiss the employee, even if he or she tests positive. It all depends on the accompanying symptoms.”

Workplace policies should explicitly state the repercussions for arriving at the work under the influence, whether this is from alcohol usage, cannabis, or any other mind-altering substance.

“Considering that cannabis is no longer an illegal drug, company policies must be adapted to encompass employees being under the influence of mind-altering substances. Alternatively, the alcohol usage policy should be expanded to include cannabis,” Myburgh concludes.

Embracing workforce transformation in a digital world

Embracing workforce transformation in a digital world

Workforce transformation affects all aspects of business and companies must plan for the impact it is having and will continue to have on operations. Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, says the evolving business landscape means companies must start thinking now about the skills they need for the future.

There are currently two major catalysts driving workforce transformation.

The first revolves around modern generations and their preferences for work. Generation X thrives on freedom and responsibility in the workplace. For generation Y, work-life balance is a top priority, along with work satisfaction and developing lasting relationships with people who matter. While Generation Z prefers individual tasks over team-based work activities, they also value physical connection and prefer independence rather than isolation.

Secondly, technology development is having a significant impact on workforce transformation. As automation becomes more prevalent in business and people’s lives, certain jobs are becoming redundant while new ones are being created. Additionally, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is pointing to a merger between technology and how people work and live their lives.

Tech landscape

“It must be remembered, however, that people do not drive technology. Instead, technology drives people. Technology is the only way companies can gain a competitive edge. New technology is being developed daily, but it is meaningless if it is not implemented,” says Myburgh.

Moreover, just as technology drives business, so are people driven by business. “Everyone wants to be paid at the ed of the month and if a company decides to implement new technology, the workforce has no choice but to accept it.”

On the other side of the coin, the argument could be made that people drive technology.

“An example of this is the CRS Technologies’ Engage resource management and reporting tool. This is driven by the employers and employees who use it and is geared to making users’ lives easier without making them redundant.”

According to a Deloitte study, to attract modern employees, companies must offer vigorous training and leadership development with a tangible focus on diversity.

“Organisations must change how they recruit, retain, and develop talent,” says Myburgh. “Besides hiring smart, talented people, this can be achieved through the establishment of internal apprenticeship programmes, multifaceted career paths, and by matching projects with the required skills sets.”

Embracing change

To this end, companies can take certain steps to help employees adapt to and embrace this continual change occurring.

“In today’s business environment no one can afford to be resistant to change because change is constant. Any opposers (it is usually those who have been working a certain way for many decades that find it difficult to adapt) must be excluded because they will become an obstruction to the business by actively working against the change management seeks to introduce.”

Throughout this, communication is key. Management should be completely transparent about any change they plan to introduce so that all employees know what to expect, including the implications and consequences of the change. Any uncertainty could lead to resistance and it is therefore important to ensure that everyone has clarity on what is taking place.

“Change happens extremely quickly. Technological innovation can change the face of an industry almost instantaneously. Companies need to see it coming and be ready for it when it happens. Hold strategy sessions to find out what developments and innovations are on the cards. Business leaders need to identify innovations in the space in which they operate, including who their competitors are and what they are doing. Equally important is to keep an eye on some of the more unique developments on the horizon. This will ensure competitors are constantly striving to catch up with you rather than the other way around,” Myburgh concludes.

Flexi-hours deliver efficiency improvements

Flexi-hours deliver efficiency improvements

With a flexible schedule allowing employees to work hours that differ from the conventional company start and stop time, Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, says this approach has had a significant positive impact in the South African market.

“More organisations are adopting flexi-hours as they derive better performance from their employees. For example, flexi-hours are usually coupled with strict daily targets that need to be achieved. If these are not met, flexi-hours are removed,” he says.

Myburgh believes that apart from those who work in the service industry, office hours should not be regulated as flexi-hours contribute to staff happiness. “Not only do staff spend less time in traffic as they can commute when the traffic is lighter, but they also spend less time away from home. Consequently, staff are not as tired and do not burn out easily.”

The technology for implementation flexi-hours on payroll already exist

“Of course, flexi-hours are not a legal requirement. This means that if the system is abused, companies can take away the benefit. Employees therefore need to be responsible and held accountable if such a policy is implemented at the organisation,” he says.

Despite concerns around the implementation of flexi-hours on payroll, Myburgh says the technology already exists to accommodate such a system. For example, a time and attendance system feeds the relevant data into the appropriate database. The hours are logged and the relevant pay calculations made automatically and accurately. This applies even if everyone is working different hours.

From a practical perspective companies still need to ensure there is someone at the office during its core operating hours (usually between 09:00 and 15:00 or from 10:00 to 14:00). Of course, this depends on whether the staff are responsible and do not abuse the system.

“Similarly, if employees do not take advantage of the flexi-time and deliver on their job requirements, the company may consider doing away with core hours altogether eventually. It must be remembered that as long as flexi-hours improve productivity, the system should be embraced.”

The benefits to productivity and efficiency cannot be ignored

According to Myburgh, it really comes down to ensuring there are strict targets in place that must be achieved.

“With the labour law providing for the maximum number of working hours, there should be no impact on implementing flexi-hours. Of course, these flexi-hours must not exceed this maximum amount. There is so much potential for embracing this effectively at an organisation. The benefits to productivity and efficiency cannot be ignored and can be used as additional motivation for employees to complete their work on time and on spec,” he concludes.

Onboarding a vital element for employee retention

Onboarding a vital element for employee retention

Simply having an onboarding process for new employees is no longer good enough. Ian McAlister, General Manager of CRS Technologies, believes those organisations who make staff feel like valuable resources from the first day at the company can gain critical competitive advantage.

The statistics back this up.

Companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. Unfortunately, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their business does a great job of onboarding. Additionally, most organisations stop their onboarding process after the first week, leaving new hires feeling confused, discouraged, and lacking resources.

Hardly surprising that the Society for Human Resource Management has found that employee turnover can be as much as 50% in the first four months for hourly workers, and 50% in the first 18 months for senior hires. And while a poor onboarding process cannot take all the blame for these figures, putting new appointments on the back foot from the get-go certainly does not help matters.

“Companies can ill afford not to do the basics right when it comes to onboarding. Things like providing a desk, laptop, stationary and so on for relevant appointments are not nice-to-haves but essential tools for the job. A negative onboarding experience can very quickly give a sense of disillusionment and have new staff looking for opportunities elsewhere,” says McAlister.

Process-focus

Effective onboarding programmes not only do the fundamentals right, they also clarify the employee’s role in the business, build confidence in the company, and aid in developing relationships with key staff members.

Onboarding provides a critical link between attracting and hiring a person and making them feel engaged with the organisation. Doing this effectively helps the company fulfil on the promises made during the recruitment and hiring process. It provides a foundation for the employee experience and positions the brand reputation of the organisation to the employee in a very direct way.”

Furthermore, if the onboarding experience is positive, then new hires are likely to recommend the employer to others. Considering how valuable employee referrals are to identify and attract new talent, the value this offers cannot be underestimated.

“During onboarding, the company has the best opportunity to position the culture of the organisation to the new appointment. Many businesses adopt the mantra of people-centricity, but how many implement it when it comes to their internal resources? Mentoring and teamwork done through experiential means are invaluable to make an individual feel part of the company early on.”

A journey

In fact, investing time and resources in identifying the strengths of a new employee are great ways to build a close bond with that person. It shows that the business values the employee as an individual and does not see them as merely a number or cog in a larger wheel.

Generally, new appointees will have more than 50 activities that need to be completed during their onboarding period. This can include everything from signing documents, completing administrative tasks, and delivering certain learning goals during the process.

“Moreover, the potential for complicating the onboarding process is clear. Yet, companies should view it as part of a larger journey the person will be taking with the business. By doing the groundwork when a new hire starts, the company is positioning itself for the potential of a long and fruitful partnership into the future,” McAlister concludes.

The role of the stokvel in the organisation

Role of the stokvel in the organisation

South Africans are well-known for their participation in stokvel saving schemes where members contribute a fixed monthly amount that is paid out to a specific member on a specified date. Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, says employers can integrate these payments into existing processes to make it safer and more convenient for those members.

“With stokvels still an integral part of the lives of many South Africans, employers could offer this as a savings option to employees, as most payroll systems incorporate the functionality to do so. Contributions could be deducted monthly or at predetermined periods, the monies kept in a fund, and then paid out according to processes established,” he says.

Additionally, Myburgh believes that a company can further encourage savings by offering to contribute a small percentage to the fund.

If a business does decide to introduce a stokvel or transfer funds to an established one, it is important to establish a contract between all the parties involved. This should stipulate the amount being contributed, its frequency, how payments are made, when monies (including interest) are paid out, and so on.

“Putting this in place mitigates the risk of either non-contributions or someone running off with the money. However, despite the popularity of stokvels in the country, employees should ask themselves whether their money is not better placed in an investment fund with the interest and other returns directly payable to themselves, rather than sharing it with members of a stokvel.

Education

Even though part of the appeal of a stokvel is the social networking aspect, the employer can still play a key facilitating role.

“A company can initiate the discussion, put options on the table, and establish a structure for the stokvel,” says Myburgh. “Furthermore, it can prepare relevant agreements and advertise the stokvel to the staff. As mentioned, the business can also offer to contribute an amount as an additional incentive.”

The benefit of the employer managing the process means that any pay outs can be done via mobile money transfer, which is especially important for those individuals who do not have bank accounts. Unlike a traditional stokvel where cash is common, a company can find alternative (and safer) ways to distribute funds to members.

Alternative savings vehicles

Looking beyond a stokvel or investment fund, a company can provide its employees with a voluntary savings programme. A percentage of the employee’s salary can be deducted every month and received as a lump sum payment at the end of the year – almost like a 13th cheque or bonus.

Alternatively, if the company already pays a fixed year-end bonus, it can offer to tax employees on this amount in advance on a monthly basis. This enables them to receive a larger amount at the end of the year. However, it is essential that employees sign a form acknowledging that the company may do so. If the employee leaves the company before the bonus is paid out, the onus is on them to claim back the money from SARS.

“The most popular option is for employees to pay an additional voluntary contribution to a provident, pension, or retirement fund and receive a tax benefit on the contribution,” says Myburgh.

All these savings options can help to improve engagement with employees and position the business as a caring employer, a vital competitive advantage in today’s connected environment.

CRS advocates SCARF

CRS advocates SCARF model to employee engagement

CRS Technologies supports the SCARF model to employee engagement as an effective means to boost productivity, agility and operations within a digital business.

Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR business unit, explains that within the context of employee engagement and the role of staff in business, each SCARF model element can increase or reduce engagement in an interaction.

SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness and Fairness,” he explains. “It is significant because it speaks to people development and the internal and external resources employees rely on to develop and work to their full potential.

Status looks at the relative importance of people or how individuals perceive their own worth in relation to other people.

Certainty is about reducing ambiguity. The brain seeks certainty in order to make predictions; it is normal to want to know what will happen.

Autonomy is about the ability to rely on oneself and the perception of having control over an environment.

Relatedness is about connection and a sense of belonging, while fairness is the perception of being treated fairly.

Why is SCARF significant to a digital business?

“Not only does it help decision-makers develop an effective, sustainable employee management strategy, but it also helps employers enforce the strategy and measure the results,” says Myburgh.

“Consider the influence of trends like gamification, based on the application of game design elements in non-game contexts. The SCARF model for employee engagement takes this to a new practical level for businesses and people development.”

To illustrate, gamification brings in point systems and leader boards (status), a clear roadmap and real-time feedback (certainty), control of progress and direction (autonomy), multiplayer environments and teams (relatedness), and unbiased and unfiltered feedback (fairness).

“There is a lot we can learn from trends like gamification in business and how technology can transform systems to develop people,” says Myburgh. “We know an engaged employee is fully in tune with company objectives and operations, and how best to use resources to achieve these objectives. That is what drives a passionate, dedicated member of staff, and what differentiates companies in highly competitive industries in the new economy today.”

By applying the SCARF model with approaches like gamification and other tech-driven business development methodologies, decision-makers can attract, retain and maximise the investment in people.

The importance of enterprise solutions in a digital world

The rapidly evolving digital landscape in SA and the importance of enterprise solutions in a digital world

The rapidly evolving digital landscape in South Africa is seeing larger organisations focus more on optimising their business processes and improving cost efficiencies to remain competitive. Ian McAlister, General Manager at CRS Technologies, says this is where the advantages of using enterprise solutions become apparent

Enterprise software provides for a more configurable and scalable environment where the organisation can tailor the solution to help meet its strategic objectives. So, even though software designed for smaller businesses is more affordable, its inability to scale according to the growth needs of an enterprise makes the investment a waste of resources. Consequently, companies should rather consider how best to integrate bespoke solutions into their operational environment,” says McAlister.

Of course, this approach does take more time (at least initially) and requires specialist skills (often something the organisation does not have), but the long-term platform it creates makes the investment worth it. This is not to say a company should rip and replace its legacy infrastructure in favour of something different. Instead, it entails a detailed assessment of what is being used and identifying the components that are most critical for upgrading.

Easy to be tempted by the allure of going the cloud rout

“Unlike cloud solutions, companies own the enterprise software they purchase outright. This means that they could continually fine-tune the software to evolve as its business requirements change. Furthermore, this more nuanced approach can ensure the business can more easily expand operations into new territories without being concerned about issues such as data sovereignty that often complicate cloud approaches.”

Perhaps one of the most pressing issues when it comes to enterprise software, is its inherent security over solutions designed for smaller companies. Because it installs directly on organisational services, the connection is generally more private and secure as opposed to transferring sensitive data over the internet to a cloud provider.

“It has become easy to be tempted by the allure of going the cloud route. Yet when it comes to the performance, security, and scalability most needed for a large company, enterprise-specific software solutions should be a business priority,” McAlister concludes

To read more about this topic, <click here> to download our free White Paper ‘Choosing the right software for your enterprise or small business.

Dealing with mental issues in the workplace

Dealing with mental issues in the workplace – rethinking the recruitment process

The use of anti-depressants in South Africa has increased by more than 50% over the last five years. This, together with the classification of some mental illnesses as disabilities, is resulting in organisations having to rethink how they approach the recruitment process, says Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies.

Some companies specifically recruit people with disabilities because it counts towards their employment equity and BEE rating, but not every individual is forthcoming about their mental illness.

“If a potential employee who has been diagnosed with a mental illness that could impact their work performance does not disclose it if asked during the appointment process, the company could have grounds for termination later. However, because employees cannot be discriminated against because of their disability, the reason for their dismissal would therefore be the material impact the disability has on the job and the fact that they misrepresented themselves,” Myburgh notes.

From a legal perspective, the Employment Equity Act (EEA) protects people with disabilities against unfair discrimination in the workplace. The Disability Code of Good Practice sets out key aspects on the employment of people with disabilities. Ultimately, it comes down to how the impairment affects a person’s ability to work.

Enabling environment

“For its part, an organisation can take several steps to assist employees who are suffering from a mental illness,” says Myburgh. “This can include the likes of allowing additional sick leave, providing moral support, offering flexible work hours, and even offering the services of a psychologist or psychiatrist.

“Should the employee’s condition worsen, the ‘reasonable accommodation’ must be adjusted. If necessary, the company should consult with appropriate experts at its own cost. Based on their assessment, working time and leave could be adjusted, specialised support could be provided, and training and supervision in the workplace can be offered.

“This all depends on the employee and the degree to which the illness affects their performance. In other words, it must be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all approach that can work in this regard.”

Companies must always be guided by the affect an illness has on the business. Employees who are appointed with an existing illness must be accommodated. “If the situation becomes operationally intolerable, termination can be considered. It is all about whether the person can perform their job function or not,” Myburgh adds.

Be compassionate

“Companies would do well to become more compassionate employers,” she continues. “They must remember that they are dealing with people. If person is about to have a breakdown, find out why and provide support wherever possible. If someone is crying at the office every day, something is wrong, so ask the question.”

Although employees with mental health issues can potentially impact others in the workplace, this is where support comes in.

“Each individual must be treated and managed in accordance with their unique needs. A company should be guided by what works best in a specific situation. Also, the services of a reputable outsourced HR services provider can go a long way towards ensuring the business does everything it can to support employees suffering from mental illnesses effectively and respectfully,” Myburgh concludes.

Government’s NHI plan – like it or not, there are implications

The new Government NHI plan – if you like it or not, there are implications

It is fair to say that South Africa’s National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill 2019, introduced to the National Assembly on 8 August, is a contentious issue and remains a talking point for both employees and employers.

As CRS Technologies, our first point of departure (and advice to all business leaders and employees) is to equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible. As the saying goes, ‘forewarned is forearmed’, and it is always best to have a firm grasp of would-be legislation in order to best prepare, avoid problems and secure any advantage.

The first question to ask is: ‘Why has the government introduced the Bill?’ Well, it aims to achieve several objectives,  but the main ones to focus on for now are universal access to quality healthcare services as per Section 27 of the Constitution, and the establishment of a National Health Insurance Fund that will be managed to purchase healthcare services on behalf of users.

The Bill has drawn criticism from some circles

That is a synopsis of a broader set of objectives, but the government is positioning the Bill as a means to assist medical scheme members with their high out-of-pocket costs.

The official position is that the government acknowledges that state medical staff and hospitals cannot cope with treating the majority of South Africans who do not have a medical aid.

It is also fair to suggest that the Bill has drawn criticism from some circles, specifically from those who are concerned over the affordability of the NHI and the capacity to manage this fund.

There are, of course, implications for both the employer and employee.

Every South African citizen will become a member of the NHI Fund and citizens who earn an income will contribute towards the NHI Fund. The contribution percentage that could be levied on an employee and its employer has not yet been determined.

Levy an extra tax on taxpayers’ personal income

Government will levy an extra tax on taxpayers’ personal income and use the money it will save by not giving taxpayers tax credits for being a member of a medical scheme.

Government will use South African citizens’ tax money, as well as some of its healthcare budget, to buy services from public and private doctors, specialists and hospitals that are accredited with the state.

The fund will cover a range of medical services, treatments and procedures for free, except if it is not a medical necessity, and on an annual basis, government will determine what prices will be paid for by specific services.

It is very important to note that citizens might be expected to register with a GP who is contracted with the state. Each contracted GP might have a set number of patients who they will service for the NHI Fund.

Medical schemes may disappear and foreigners won’t be covered

There will be strict rules about seeing specialists: people won’t be able to go directly to a specialist, but will have to obtain a referral first.

The state will buy medicines for everyone, medical schemes may disappear and foreigners won’t be covered. Foreigners visiting South Africa must have travel insurance to receive health care services through the NHI Fund.

The fund will be managed by a CEO, who will be appointed by the Minister of Health.

All these aspects could have serious and long-term implications for the general welfare of South African households and, by default, the country’s workforce. No tax credits for medical aid payments will impact on the purse-strings, and one can only but express concern over rising unemployment (at 29%) and a pressurised economy.

At the very least it is best to understand this possible legislation and how it could affect your operation and your employees.

As always, we invite you to contact our legislation team at info@crs.co.za if you require any additional information.