Five steps to study success for working parents

In today’s challenging economy, many parents are taking on further studies, often in an effort to better provide for their families after graduating.
But studying while having to balance work and family responsibilities is not for the faint of heart, and could have a detrimental effect not only on the existing family budget, but also the general wellbeing of a family, if not approached with a clear strategy.

In the past, people studied in a particular discipline and were largely committed to that for life.

But in 2016, the landscape has altered completely. People are exposed to a great deal more information and experiences, and many choose to alter their career path, which may require further study later in life. Even for those who stay in their selected field, study is vital to ensure they remain relevant and up-to-date on the requirements of your field.

If approached correctly, further study can fast-track a career and give access to promotions or financial rewards that would have been otherwise unachievable.

In addition to financial reward, a change of career path and upwards mobility can also contribute beneficially to self-esteem and self-actualisation, helping parents to be the best role-models they can be for their children.

Modelling life-long learning and good study habits can help your children on their own study path and also provide valuable common ground and conversation opportunities, particularly in the teenage years. But to successfully handle the increased pressure and demands study brings to the family dynamic, everyone needs to be on the same page.

So what can parents do to make a success of further study while keeping up with their parental responsibilities?

Below are five important facets to making it work:

1. Do your research

Choose an academic institution that caters to your needs as a parent, such as those offering part-time and distance studies. Attending lectures on the weekend or from the comfort of your own home gives greater flexibility, especially for parents who work full-time. Smaller academic institutions also tend to offer greater individual support and flexibility, both of which are invaluable to a busy parent.

2. Have a plan B in place for every eventuality

Arrange for back-up childcare for those times when you are absolutely unavailable, for instance when you have an exam or presentation scheduled, just in case your original plans fall through.

3. Be honest with your children

Explain what you are studying and why, and show your children the value of a life-long-learning philosophy. School-age children often take great pleasure in having learning as a common interest with parents. Sitting together for study-time is both good bonding-time and a great way to model good study habits for your children.

4. Mentally compartmentalise

People are complex. An individual may be a mother, a worker, a student, a spouse and a friend all at the same time. However, it can be daunting to have your head-space filled up with all of your roles at the same time. Careful scheduling can help avoid this. Carve out blocks of time for each of your responsibilities, and don’t allow guilt or distraction from one area to intrude when you are focusing on another area.

5. Get support

Taking on tertiary studies as a parent will be challenging and time-consuming and can feel isolating and overwhelming. Speak to fellow students with children, join an online parenting forum and seek out others who are going through the same experience. Simply verbalising your challenges can be helpful, but chances are there may also be some useful advice in response.

When you are in the middle of an exam period and your little one has a cold and wants to be held all night, and your boss is drowning you in work, it can feel overwhelming and never-ending. But it is important to remind yourself that your studies have an end-date.

Visualise your journey: In one week I will have finished my first set of exams; in six months I will have finished my research proposal; in two years I will be walking across the stage at my graduation. Studying is not going to be easy; but it is most definitely going to be worth it.

Tammy Oppenheim is the Head of Programme: Faculty of Humanities at The Independent Institute of Education.

Changing the outsource versus insource debate

Information Technology (IT) as Energy is not a new concept but has been spoken about in the 90’s and the early 2000’s. It is the analogy were IT services can be regarded in a similar light to energy.
The question that arises is ‘should I generate my own energy or source it from a third-party supplier. The same can be applied to IT. The answer: you can do both.

First prize is to outsource as this is not your core business function. Secondly you generate your own ‘energy’ when required. IT as Energy is both a science and an art. It is a science as you need it to be methodical, calculated and controlled. It’s also an art as you need to see it as poetry in motion. It brings creativity, innovation, flexibility and automation to any organisation that wants to survive in today’s economic climate.

The debate around outsourcing versus insourcing is an ongoing one and brings in the question of balance. Today’s CIO needs to be able to achieve balance and understand both worlds of the science of IT and the art of IT. Outsourcing has undoubtedly become more attractive in the current tough economic climate that is forcing businesses to do more with less. Organisations are having to examine every aspect of their business and investigate the possibilities of both outsourcing and insourcing for almost everything. When IT is seen as Energy, the idea of outsourcing versus insourcing is understood a lot better.

The science and art of outsourcing

When IT is understood within the concept of energy, and principles of energy can be applied to IT outsourcing, this brings a logical conclusion to outsource certain functions. The factors that have to be considered are cost of service, the skills required to provide the service and management of services from the service provider. The science is the IT infrastructure operations and the CIO is charged with ensuring it runs well. The balance is which service provider will match the creativity to the organisation and the business strategic roadmap? Questions to ask include what does the service provider’s strategic innovation roadmap look like? Has the service provider already included flexibility in their offering and contracting model? How much automation has the service provider included in their service offering? The art is IT Innovation; meeting the CIO’s mandate of when and what innovation do I bring to the business and how does it fit.

Yet the cost benefit of outsourcing often trumps the decision to keep IT functions in-house and as such, business believes that by outsourcing they can simply handover a function to an outsource service provider and that they will achieve a year-on-year reduction in IT spend. Just as energy is viewed as a cost to the business so too IT is viewed as a cost centre, especially when IT functions are deemed to be non-core. However, it is not so simple.

Insourcing, putting IT in control of business value

Insourcing allows organisations control of their IT operations to ensure a reduction of costs. The challenge is knowing when to reduce costs and understanding the business desire for new products and services. When IT controls the business value of IT services by allowing themselves understanding the business and the industry that they are in, this is a monumental game changer. This is achieved by gaining a deeper understanding of the business and increasing focus on core functions by taking small steps to outsource certain non-core aspects that are operationally done better by others.

So why the see-saw effect between outsourcing and insourcing? Such a back-and-forth discussion is usually because IT is running in the ‘maintain’ mode of IT operations i.e. keeping the lights on. Being stuck in mode one of operation – run and maintain – gives rise to the business case to outsource as time and budgets constraints inhibit the move to mode two where innovation, flexibility and agility comes in. The key for business is to insource resources that understand the business and introduce enterprise architecture functions that will match business expectations. Gartner has dubbed this bimodal IT delivery yet companies are still in a place where the question to outsource or insource is dependent solely on perceived cost effectiveness.

Outsourcing versus insourcing

When IT organisations start to adopt the “IT as Energy” concept, they can start to focus on what value can be derived from IT services that are outsourced. The focus now shifts to either the public Cloud market for certain services as well as the private Cloud market for other services, in essence, that show business value.

This does not take into consideration that while the business may reduce costs from an operational perspective, as the business continues to use other services, IT spend will increase due to acquisition of other IT services that was not part of the business.

Another potential pitfall of outsourcing arises when the overarching service contract does not provide the business with sufficient flexibility to move in and out of the contract in a scalable manner. Flexibility within the contract when choosing a service provider should be foremost in mind, especially with regards to the contracting period for services. Gone are the days of multi-year contracting terms.

Customers are looking for flexible contracts; they want to have the flexibility to change service providers in order to guarantee the required levels of service delivery. Some clients may experience service delivery challenges; they may not be large enough to warrant foremost attention when they have an outage.

It’s time to approach the debate from a new angle

Gone are the days of poor service delivery. Customers are now wiser with regards to genuine and authentic service delivery and IT outage is no longer acceptable from a business perspective. Organisations are starting to question how the delivery of IT services is affecting the businesses ability generate new products, meet their own customers’ expectations of providing quality services and finally, increase capacity when business demand increases unexpectedly. This change in focus is what will enable businesses to increase revenue and market share. This shift is seeing the outsource versus in-house debate changing.

In short, we shouldn’t be talking about outsourcing versus insourcing. It is important for companies to realise that the decision is not exclusive and that the conversation should be around multi-sourcing instead and a new way of doing business, which will be discussed in the next article of this series.

AJ Hartenberg is the Portfolio Manager: Data Centre Services for T-Systems, South Africa.

How businesses can make the most of learnerships

Companies that are obliged by law to contribute to the country’s Skills Development Fund (SDF) through paying the mandatory Skills Development Levy will find a number of important benefits if they include learnerships in their annual Workplace Skills Plan (WSP).
A learnership is a work-based learning programme directly related to an occupation or field work that leads to an accredited NQF qualification. They are managed by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). Businesses looking to undertake skills development either for their own talent pipeline or to contribute towards education in this country can enter into learnership agreements with their current employers or with unemployed candidates.

Considering how skills development has become such an important aspect of the B-BBEE scorecard, companies can use learnerships effectively, not just for talent development and management, but also to boost their B-BEE levels.

Skills Development is now a priority element of the B-BBEE Scorecard providing companies with opportunities to earn 20 vital points. A business that fails to achieve a 40% minimum threshold of those Skills Development points is penalised on their rating.

You can claim eight points if you invest 6% of your payroll on training Black people. That used to be 3%. If you engage 2.5% of your employees in learnerships and internships you can earn four points; and then gain another four points if 2.5% of your workforce is made up of black unemployed learners. Then there’s an additional five points to be claimed if you are able to employ those unemployed learners at the end of their learnerships programme. So, it’s really important to invest wisely in relevant and quality learnerships that result in the development of specific skills to the level that would be an advantage to your company.

We are excited at the way that learnerships help to build an effective workforce and connect learning to actual career paths. In these times, when both talent management and B-BBEE levels are so crucial to business, you have a fantastic opportunity through learnerships to groom unemployed people for potential recruitment within your organisation.

Investing in learnerships also provides companies with opportunities to capitalise on various reimbursements, grants and tax rebates. For instance, employers who pay the Skills Development Levy to SARS, who are registered with their SETA and submit their WSP and Annual Training Report each year, do qualify for further reimbursements on their SDL spend, making, which can be used towards the cost of the training.

These benefits aside, the core purpose of learnerships is, of course, to ensure that the business is empowered by a relevant skills base over the long term. The unique advantage of learnerships is that they are work-based and delivered onsite in a company’s environment. They can, therefore, be specifically and strategically designed, and then embedded within the context of your organisation’s talent development objectives and goals.

Learnerships are typically implemented over a 12 month period with the learners attending an average of three days of training each month in addition to completing their assessments.

Richard Rayne is the CEO of iLearn.

HR Tech: The key to workplace transformation

Never before has human resources (HR) been more important to the success of a business than now.
In a world where technology is more pervasive and the new Millennial generation are entering the workforce, business will rely more heavily on the human resource department to ensure that key talent is found, and retained.

Here are key themes to look out for in the ever evolving HR space

1. Cloud is revolutionising HR

Today’s corporate reality is the digitisation of business models and industries. Technology is transforming the HR and payroll environment. The modernised HR and payroll environments are aggregating employee data into a single location and it allows for platform integration to save time and money as well as improving employee engagement.

Cloud-based applications continue to transform the HR and payroll environment. Access to Cloud also facilitates quicker decision making with workforce planning and predictive analytics to make critical decisions in the future by providing access to rich data.

2. Systems integration

HR, payroll and business management solutions are moving closer together as organisations adopt integrated solutions. From recruitment to performance management, integrated HR systems are breaking down the silos within an organisation and they provide a complete view of the business’s relationship with its employees.

With integrated solutions, businesses can achieve higher levels of automation across their businesses, become more productive and efficient, and gain better visibility into their performance.

3. HR’s change to data driven decision-making

A recent report by Deloitte on Human Capital Trends revealed that 77% of executives now rate people analytics as a key priority, as technology makes data-driven HR decision making a possibility.

HR departments should refocus on strategic talent management, skills development, building the employer brand, and performance management. When they automate routine processes, they can free up hours for the more strategic aspects of their job.

Automated systems also capture rich data HR managers can use for talent analytics that give insight into trends such as staff churn, the costs of training and development, employee and organisational performance, and the skills they may need to attract and develop to support the business’s future growth.

4. Embracing Mobility

A 2015-2016 HR Systems Survey conducted by Sierra-Cedar also revealed that in the last three years there has been a 70% increase in company’s investing in mobile-enabled HR technology, 20% of these are planning a major initiative in the next 12 months. This just shows how mobility is becoming more integral to business and how we as HR practitioners will need it to be able to facilitate this organisational change.

5. Compliance

We will continue to see more demand for software that helps companies to improve record-keeping and decision making thus helping them to become more efficient and productive. Businesses also require solutions that will ensure compliance with stricter tax and labour laws that are always changing.

6. Online recruitment will come to the fore

There are many tools that can streamline the recruitment process, from managing job applicants and filtering CVs, to interviewing and screening candidates, right up to the on-boarding process. Though the human element will always be important in HR, companies will continue to extend their tools such as online applicant tracking systems, talent communities, social media and internal career portals.

Conclusion

The gist of it all is the increasing role that technology is going to play in the HR function. For HR practitioners this is an exciting time, where we will be able to broaden our skills base and become trusted advisors within organisations and play a larger part in its success.

Sandra Swanepoel is the Managing Director, Sage HR & Payroll.

Millennials make a cultural and technological impact on society

In a bid to continue celebrating and recognising the efforts of young people doing great things post 1976, South African Millennials have the potential to create remarkable cultural and technological impact on society and the business world.
Known today as The New Boom, Echo Boomers and Millennials – it is no surprise that organisations are realising the importance of understanding how to engage millennials in the workplace. Millennials are fast becoming the most productive generation with the right combination of management and motivation in the workplace.

The interest in the Millennial generation is largely due to the immediate and long term effects on society, resulting in a massive shift in opinion on social issues over the past decade; this generation is racially diverse, unattached to politics or religion and linked to social media communities – the distinct generational identity is evident in the way they interact with peers. Organisations are realising that the divide between Millennial generation and non-Millennial is growing rapidly, this disconnect between the two generations impacts on employee engagement, retention levels and ultimately, the bottom line.

It is important to understand the significant differences between the two generations in the workplace, engaging employees who are part of the millennial generation can lead to increased effectiveness in supervising and mentoring, which in turn can lead to workplace satisfaction, retention, motivation and greater productivity. It is imperative that multigenerational teams have informed management strategies to ensure the diverse team performs optimally.

In an effort to bridge the generational divide, organisations can reduce the divide between the two generations by taking the following approaches to ensure employee engagement from Millennial and non – Millennials.

• Establishing an environment characterised by effective employer-employee communication
• Building a system of incentives, employee perks, awards, and recognition
• Ensuring value in employee compensation and benefits packages
• Developing challenges and an interesting slate of diverse tasks for team members
• Building an environment in which there are friendly interactions among team members
• Providing training and development

Millennial employees need more guidance than those who have been with an organisation for many years.

While they are optimistic and excited to advance within the company, they are unsure of their roles and responsibilities. To succeed, they need feedback to understand what they are doing right and encouragement to help them improve. Managers can turn that initial level of enthusiasm into full engagement from a multigenerational team to ensure effective workplace environments typified by effective communication, value recognition and motivation.

Neville De Lucia is the Director at Dale Carnegie Training.

Protecting our jobs

Whether we like to admit it or not, our job is one of THE most important things in our lives.
It puts food on the table, pays for our homes, clothes and educates our children, provides medical care – the list is endless.

Earning a living is a lifelong necessity.

So if this is the one thing in our lives that facilitates virtually everything else, why don’t we do more to protect it?

There are two aspects we need to consider – personal responsibility and corporate social responsibility.

From a personal perspective we need to remind ourselves that jobs are not guaranteed, that they are a reciprocal exchange of cash-for-services. And when we want to participate in that exchange, we don’t do it in isolation – we enter a competitive space.

So how do we remain competitive in a challenging job market? We do so by adapting to change and enhancing our skills to benefit current and future employment trends.

Dion Chang of Flux Trends recently presented a review on the employment market titled “Now Hiring – But Differently”. It was a fascinating synopsis of where the world of work is heading and what changes we can expect. The one area which resonated was the increasing demand in the business world for soft-skills, or as he put it “An increase in teachable, adaptable attitudes trumping paper qualifications”.

In other words, there is more to success than simply being clever. Strong interpersonal skills are critical to business and the number 1 differentiator at interview stage.

This is an area where individuals have the ability to stand out – if they make the effort and seek training.

From an employer perspective, companies are under increasing pressure to cut costs and tighten productivity, which inevitably results in restructuring and staff cuts.

As the South African economy continues to shrink, corporates need to reflect on their role in contributing to the alarming unemployment numbers. Cutting jobs to stay afloat is an understandable strategy; after all, a company that reduces its workforce is better than no company at all.

However, as the game of ‘lean and mean’ continues to unfold, corporates have a responsibility to make their strategic cuts more palatable.

So how can this be achieved? There are professional services available, which offer counselling and tactical career advice to the impacted employees, to support them in finding new employment. This service is called Outplacement. It acts as a bridge between the shock of dismissal and the daunting prospect of finding a new role, and is significantly beneficial to distressed staff.

Outplacement has been around for over 30 years overseas, yet surprisingly few South African companies have fully embraced it as a method to soften the impact of retrenchment.

From a commercial perspective the model has broader ramifications than simply supporting the exiting staff – it also protects the integrity of the remaining business.

How? Restructuring leads to internal panic, and when people are worried about the security of their jobs they are more inclined to jump ship. This puts additional pressure on company resources. However, when a company demonstrates corporate responsibility, through commitment and compassion, the remaining talent is less likely to leave, as they know they too will be cared for should another round of retrenchments occur.

And, companies who protect their professional reputations with ethical redundancy practices will be the preferred choice for returning talent when the upswing returns.

As Maya Angelou said “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel”.

Lip service can be a bitter balm.

Madge Gibson is the founder of The CHANGE Initiative (Pty) Ltd.

The role of data management when migrating to the Cloud

There can be no doubt that Cloud technologies are highly beneficial and have become an essential business enabler.
Today, the question is not whether to make use of Cloud services, but which services to push into the cloud and how much of the IT infrastructure to migrate. The challenge for Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) and other IT leaders is to achieve maximum value from the Cloud while maintaining optimal levels of data security, which requires effective data management and control. Understanding the level of Cloud adoption that is appropriate for your business and adapting to the changes in process that the Cloud brings is essential in tackling this challenge.

Data security remains a pressing issue with regard to adoption of Cloud technologies. With virtualised machines and business-critical applications becoming Cloud enabled, data is streamed in from a multitude of new Internet-enabled devices. This is causing data growth to escalate both in terms of volume and complexity. As a result of the need to protect sensitive data, the hybrid Cloud model has become the favoured approach. It offers the best of both worlds in terms of agility and value, while still enabling organisations to maintain control of their sensitive data on the premises.

Tackling the hybrid challenge

Whether organisations make use of public or private Cloud in addition to their on-premise solutions, getting the combination correct can be a daunting task. Effectively leveraging the benefits of enhanced agility and reduced capital expenditure requires that the hybrid solution be implemented effectively. The decision as to what to maintain on the premises and what to migrate into the Cloud must be handled systematically and driven by insights based on the right data. If this is not accomplished, the cost and complexity of the implementation will be increased. Data-driven insight is essential to help organisations better understand which workloads and applications will be most appropriate for public or private Cloud, or for on-premise hosting. This is the crux of a successful hybrid Cloud deployment.

The benefits of the hybrid model

Privately hosted infrastructure on the premises reduces the use of public Internet, which results in decreased latency compare to public cloud services. However, public Cloud offerings allow organisations to access greater computational power and storage infrastructure for processing data, which is ideal for larger workloads that require higher availability or more speed. The hybrid model enables organisations to leverage the best of both worlds.

The hybrid model also enables organisations to offer employees greater collaboration ability, by allowing teams to easily and securely share files. Remote workers can be integrated into core business processes through the Cloud, including functions such as internal messaging, scheduling and edge protection, as well as business intelligence and analytics.

The key to successful hybrid deployment

The benefits of the hybrid approach are clear, however it is often difficult for CIOs and CTOs to know where to begin with the deployment. Hybrid deployments must deliver deep integration to ensure compatibility between Cloud and on-premise infrastructure. This requires an understanding of which workloads and applications are most appropriate for the Cloud, and which need to be maintained on-premise.

In addition, a single, integrated platform that offers an enterprise-wide view of data across the various infrastructures, is an essential tool. This platform ensures that data processing can be more effectively controlled and that cost savings can be maximised by understanding spend in relation to the value that data offers the business.

Handling the shift from Capex to Opex

While the Cloud promises cost savings, many organisations have found that the expected returns fail to be realised. This is often due to a lack of controls to track and manage the utilisation of Cloud services, which results in unexpectedly large bills. Organisations need to make the shift from a Capex model, where the cost is heaviest up front, to a subscription model that is based on usage in what should be a predictable Opex model. However, workloads are often left running even when they are complete, resulting in additional virtual machines that must be paid for unnecessarily. Tackling this concern requires an effective data and information management strategy to allow for workloads to be more effectively managed and controlled. The workload must also be tracked between on-premise and cloud infrastructures to ensure it does not get lost along the way.

The value of data

While organisations are generating and storing more data than ever before, this data is only of use if some sort of value can be derived from it, whether it is hosted on the premises or in the Cloud. Hybrid cloud solutions enable organisations to develop greater intelligence and insight around both structured and unstructured data. Furthermore, benefits such as improved storage utilisation and budget optimisation will enable organisations to develop greater flexibility and agility. This in turn will enable the pursuit of new opportunities for business growth.

Allen Mitchell is a Cloud Consultant at Commvault Cloud Solutions Group EMEA.

Mastering the challenges of building your own business

Starting a business is about passion, hard work and sacrifice. Entrepreneurs are the drivers of prosperity, but this can sometimes be a daunting task.
The challenges are immeasurable and small business owners can often feel isolated, overwhelmed and despondent.

By using these six essential skills, this no longer needs to be the case:

1. Focus on the future and be prepared

There will always be competition, especially if it’s an industry with low barriers of entry. Instead of looking in your rear view mirror, drive for daylight. Keep your eyes on the road and your focus on the horizon.

When you focus on the future you can find the gaps in your business strategy and use this to create new opportunities.

This is also an opportunity to plan and prepare. Simple tasks like industry research, creating or reviewing a business plan that focuses on cost and revenue streams, tied to realistic goals and milestones will prevent a business owner from feeling overwhelmed and stuck.

2. Fail wisely

Failure is inevitable, but it’s the scope of it that counts. Fail incrementally and not catastrophically and most importantly, as author John Maxwell says, “Fail forward”. This gives you the opportunity to use the experience as a stepping-stone to create success.

3. Be tech-savvy

Technology, especially with the advent of Cloud computing, software as a service and e-commerce, provides affordable and efficient solutions to enable entrepreneurs to capture market share and scale operations.

4. Keep your finances in order

Sound financial practice is the cornerstone of any business’ success. There are several Cloud-based accounting solutions available. These are affordable and can give you a clear view of your business’s financial health at any time.

Good accounting software is also accurate and can automate many functions such as invoicing and payroll. Preferably choose a software vendor that has also started small and grown, so that it can both understand and assist when your business does. This will enable you to focus on your business and leapfrog into the future.

5. Network with friends and foe

Join small business forums; engage with suppliers, competitors and industry representatives. There are many people with invaluable insight, contacts and experience that could assist the sustainable growth of your venture.

6. Be a leader and delegate

Time management is a crucial key to small business success. Spending time on tasks that can be managed by members of your team, or by external consultants will allow you to focus on business critical matters.

Change your leadership style from control to management. Delegate tasks and allow your staff to complete them. A follow-up or check-in is a good idea. Also use consultants that can assist with specialist tasks such as tax and labour matters.

Entrepreneurs are natural risk takers, forging into the unknown armed with passion and determination.

Those extraordinary entrepreneurs who have succeeded keep these six steps in mind when the going gets tough.

Daryl Blundell is the Managing Director for Sage SSB (Start-up and small business).

The science of happiness at work

Richard Branson once said; “There is no magic formula for a great company culture. The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated”.
Something so simple, yet so complex when it comes to staff interaction in this day and age.

Happiness in the workplace … what does this mean for South African businesses?

A few years ago, I was sitting in a spacious reception, at a large corporations’ head office in Sandton, when four employees huddled around the reception desk and began bickering about something that had happened that morning at work. I turned to my colleague and said; ‘People are so unhappy at work. I wish HR would start focusing on these issues’. This was the catalyst that drove McGowan to begin researching mental wellbeing focused strategies in corporate South Africa. I quickly discovered how essential this focus is, and how far behind the rest of the world we are.

Various research groups, including positive psychology, are employing the scientific method to research questions about what “happiness” is, and how it might be attained.

Happiness is a fuzzy concept and can mean many different things to many people. Part of the challenge of the science of happiness is to identify different concepts of happiness, and apply them practically to a corporate environment – incentivising staff over and above remuneration.

Current Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are failing, and many companies are striving to change the culture of corporate South Africa, challenging the status quo. The EAP is no longer enough and should not be considered the way forward when it comes to implementing effective, proactive, emotional-based wellness campaigns.

In a complex, stressful and operationally involved business environment, staff must be mentally equipped to deal with various demanding situations while managing subordinates, suppliers and clients. This is crucial to success. As an employer, ensuring your employees are motivated and able to work productively, as well as eliminating staff turnover, are necessities.

Unfortunately, reactive, tired and poorly attended campaigns will not achieve these objectives. Employees are humans. The development of their skills, their commitment and their pursuit of happiness is vital – not only for a successful workforce, but also for a successful business.

This focus on happiness is based on proven science. As people we love what we do if it; makes us happy, highlights our self-worth, gives us a sense of purpose, allows us to be creative, and provides social interaction. Do you know whether your employees’ emotional needs are being met? Do you know them well enough to answer that question?

When companies start focusing on these aspects of their employee’s wellness, research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome; increased sales by 37 per cent, productivity by 31 per cent, accuracy on tasks by 19 per cent, as well as a myriad of other life and health improvements. A physically healthy employee does not equal a happy employee, and happy employees are the ones that cultivate good work and drive businesses.

The assumption that the focus on happiness is all about “esoteric nonsense” and “too many feelings getting in the way of business”. In fact, the measurement of happiness is a scientific process and has been categorically proven to work.

In the 1980s, when the notion of happiness at work was beginning to appear in corporate spaces, two researchers, Deci and Ryan, provided breakthrough findings in terms of why people work. The researchers identified six reasons why people work. Three of these increase performance, while the other three hurt it. “The three positive motivators are play, purpose and potential. The indirect motives that hurt performance are emotional pressure, economic pressure and inertia (when staff lose sight of why they are doing the work, they merely ‘do it’ to get through it).

More recent research has discovered that high performance corporate cultures are those which tend to focus on the enablers of play, purpose and potential and minimise the others. The benefits? Happier, productive workforces and increased business.

The science of happiness is changing the way we work, think and live. We need people to own it, accept it and manage it. An essential piece of advice, one that we tend to forget in this wild, crazy, busy world of ours; happiness is not found out there, it lies within you.

Liane McGowan is the Founder of Happy Monday CC.

PoPI’s effects on IT asset disposal

Most executives have very little or no idea when it comes to IT asset disposal (ITAD) or the dire consequences the Protection of Personal Information Act 2013 (PoPI) could have on said executives.
The PoPI Act is awaiting an implementation date, but when in effect it will hold organisations liable for the safety of their information. Companies could face massive fines up to 10 million Rand, civil claims and reputational damage claims if they fail to upgrade information technology security systems ahead of the implementation of the Act.

The successful adoption of this Act will depend on a comprehensive understanding of the digital aspect of the new laws. Companies will be forced to change their processes to ensure that the personal information and data they collect is protected.

Not only is the introduction of mandatory protection of personal data a huge challenge for companies, but now organisations are being prompted to rethink how they approach the reuse, recycling or recovery of their e-waste.

Therefore, the new PoPI Act will have serious consequences in the near future.

In addition, the National Environmental Waste Management Act 2008 (NEMWA 2008) and the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) also have a bearing on sound IT asset disposal.

Auditability is paramount to maintaining this control and also provides the necessary feedback that will reduce costs, shortages and negate the whole compliance process. For example, if a hard drive is lost during transportation, it may contain the personal information of thousands of clients or employees. The loss of personal information could be detrimental to any business, this is why it is so important to be fully compliant.

The liability for protecting one’s data may be transferable, but protection of one’s reputation is not. We have around 50 operators in the industry offering ITAD services; they range from one-man bands to managers supplying after-hour services to their companies, printer repair and service companies, scrap metal dealers, e-waste consultants, removals contractors and leasing companies offering ITAD services.

Customers are advised to offset the cost of a secure IT asset disposition programme by realising its potential savings. How? By retiring your technology assets wisely. Find yourself a third-party specialist with deep experience in secure IT asset disposition.

However, it is cautioned that there are few companies that offer ITAD as a core function.

This trusted partner can help you find the metrics to convey a secure asset disposition plan’s ROI to budget-minded superiors. Moreover, once the job is under way, your partner will provide complete documentation of the disposal process. You’ll rest assured that security regulations are being met.

Reputable asset disposal service providers should develop effective solutions to address everyday challenges, beginning with the risks associated with data loss. Handover of retired equipment should be immediate to avoid the inevitable loss that occurs in IT storerooms. Furthermore, secure reverse logistics with a chain of custody should be provided for each item containing a hard drive and daily trend reporting must be included so that undesirable trends can be identified before they become critical.

Ideally, there should be a project management system that offers the following:

• Develop a secure chain of custody for the assets
• Minimise storage to prevent shortages
• Call centre to schedule hardware collection
• Packaging
• Secure transportation
• On-site data elimination
• Mobile hard drive destruction
• Data destruction compliance certificates
• E-waste disposal compliance certificates
• Asset buy-back
• Trending reporting
• Audit trail

If your service provider can deliver all this with clear and transparent charges, you are on the right track. However, if you don’t have a service provider that understands that data loss may lead to reputational loss, you may want to establish whether your service provider is an accredited professional.

Wale Arewa is the CEO at Xperien.

Nadine Kater

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