Why be informed before embarking on retrenchments

A tough economic climate continues to see numerous organisations restructuring and implementing retrenchments in an attempt to streamline operations and increase profitability. Retrenchments are often unexpected, and employers should take time to review the retrenchment process, ensuring the correct procedures have been followed.

Organisations that do not comply with the Labour Relations Act could find themselves guilty of unlawful retrenchment should an employee seek legal counsel from the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Organisations that follow retrenchment procedures are obliged to issue a written notice to all affected employees and following that, a reasonable period of time must be granted to allow the employee to review the notice and provide input and feedback. A consultation process must afford employees the opportunity to apply for alternative roles within the company.

Making employees sign documentation without allowing them to review it is illegal.

Whilst large organisations are likely to have the means to consult a department of HR specialists or a labour attorney, it is often smaller organisations that are ill informed when it comes to lawful procedure surrounding retrenchments, and as a result end up in lengthy and costly legal battles with ex-employees.

In addition to the required retrenchment notice and consultation process, the Labour Relations Act clearly stipulates what information needs to be included in the in the retrenchment notice.

Here employers need to ensure they clearly outline the following:
• Reasons for an intended retrenchment.
• Why a specific retrenchment method was used.
• How many workers are employed?
• How many workers are to be retrenched?
• How many workers were retrenched in the previous 12 months?
• When retrenchments will take place.
• What assistance the employer intends to give retrenched workers.
• Any possibility of re-employment?

When it comes to a settlement package, by law employees are entitled to a minimum of one week’s severance pay for every completed year of service as a minimum requirement.

It is important that during the consultation process that both parties agree on a fair and final settlement. The Labour Relations Act governs how organisations need to manage retrenchments and it would be advisable for all organisations to be fully informed before initiating retrenchment proceedings.

Kay Vittee is the CEO of Kelly.

Why salaries are not a matter of “throwing money at the problem”

Picture this: one of your valued employees resigns at a time when it will be difficult and expensive to replace her. You offer her a raise to stay with the company, which she accepts. Crisis averted! Until her colleagues allege unfair discrimination …

The employment tribunal recently had an opportunity to consider this situation in the matter of Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union obo Mphela v Aganang Local Municipality.

The Aganang Municipality had commenced a disestablishment process when certain traffic officers resigned to join another municipality. After the municipality offered the traffic officers increases and car allowances, they chose to remain. However, the other traffic officers employed by the municipality complained that the municipality unfairly discriminated against them on an arbitrary ground.

Unfair discrimination

Section 6(4) of the Employment Equity Act provides that a difference in terms and conditions of employment between employees who perform the same or substantially the same work or work of equal value, which is based on a listed or arbitrary ground, is unfair discrimination.
In terms of section 11(2) of the EEA, where a complainant alleges unfair discrimination on an arbitrary ground (as in this case), he is required to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that:
• The conduct complained of is not rational;
• The conduct complained of amounts to discrimination; and
• The discrimination is unfair.

In the above dispute, the Commissioner was satisfied that the traffic officers and comparators were doing the same job and there was a differentiation. The key question was therefore whether the differentiation was irrational and unfair.
The municipality denied that it had acted irrationally and unfairly for the following reasons:
• It complied with its retention policy by offering higher salaries to employees with so-called “valued skills” as per the terms of the policy; and
• Operational reasons underpinned the conduct, namely:
– It would be difficult to recruit new traffic officers due to the disestablishment process; and
– Failure to retain the traffic officers would negatively affect law enforcement, revenue within the municipality, and the community.

The Commissioner was of the opinion that the municipality may have painted itself into a corner – employees resigning under similar circumstances as in this case may expect the same counter offers. However, the tribunal found that there was no unfair discrimination as the municipality’s conduct was not arbitrary but justified. The commissioner stated that the municipality’s decision was informed by operational reasons. The loss of the employees would have adversely affected the operation of the municipality.

Throwing money at the problem

Employment tribunal awards do not set legal precedent but can be persuasive in subsequent cases. This award suggests that it is permissible to offer an employee a raise if he/she resigns if there are genuine operational reasons to justify differentiation. Employers who do so could implement a retention policy to guide decisions to offer salary raises in these circumstances, and ensure that any such decisions are taken rationally and fairly.
Nikita Shaw is a Senior Associate of Employment & Compensation at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg.

Why you need to understand mental distress and how to respond to it

Perceptions of physical or mental distress can be challenging. Although we generally try to avoid or prevent it, if something can become challenging and distressful, in all likelihood it will. Just the idea of distress can be distressful.

Our minds act in sync with our bodies in responding to our environments. When our bodies are perceived to be under attack from a virus for example, the hypothalamus – the area in the brain that acts as the body’s thermostat – shifts the normal body temperature upward, producing a fever. A fever is the body’s way of letting us know two things: that a micro-organism and toxin is present and that the natural immune response is active.
Similarly, our brain has a response against any perceived attack. A similar part of the brain fights against a so-called physical invasion or infection also lets the body know it’s under a perceived mental challenge, attack, or distress.
When we experience physical, mental or emotional distress, our body’s response is similar, the hypothalamus releases a flood of adrenaline and cortisol – known as ‘distress hormones’ into the system. This prepares the body for the perceived threat – known as the ‘fight-or-flight response’. Our strength and stamina temporarily increase as our reaction time is shortened and our senses become heightened. This reaction can temporarily enhance the body’s focus and coping capabilities.
Neither our minds nor our bodies can maintain proper functionality for extended periods of distress. When we experience the resultant painful emotions, rather than maintain the status quo, it is wise to alter the situation, either by changing our actions or by changing our perceptions of the situation.

What are some of the reasons we experience mental distress?

We often experience prolonged mental and ultimately physical distress because our highest priorities and values are not clearly defined and lived by and we unknowingly focus our attention on low priority, immediate or instant gratifiers instead of more meaningful and productive long-term objectives.
Another initiator of mental distress is not identifying and expressing gratitude for the so-called challenging events, actions and people who have ultimately helped us in our lives. When we are grateful for what we have, we receive more to be grateful for.
Frequently, our distress is self-perpetuated. When we allow our minds to be filled with doubts and speculation, we can work ourselves into a state of inaction – the ‘flight’ aspect of fight-or-flight’ and the feedback loop if left unchecked, increases.

What can we do to prevent mental distress?

We are wise to stop and evaluate our highest priorities and honestly assess if we are tending to our goals or not. It would be wise to evaluate what is truly working and what isn’t, and then to refine our actions and skills to maximize our meaning and productivity. When we are doing high priority, meaningful actions we transform illness creating distress into wellness creating eustress (beneficial stress).
It is also wise to make a daily practice of entering into a state of mindfulness where we feel present and centered in our daily activities.
By constantly reminding ourselves of our highest priorities or values as well as our mission and vision through self-affirmation and priority checklists, our achievements can be even more sustainable. We can heighten the impact of our body’s feedback mechanisms and override and master the ‘fight’ aspect as our body’s distress response.
Much like the relief our bodies feel when a high fever breaks, so too will our minds be filled with a similar sense of relief when we overcome or transform the mental distress we once imagined attacked us.
By listening to the subtle responses of our perceived distress, we can attend to the personal signals they offer us to make wise and meaningful changes.

Dr. John Demartini is an educator, business consultant, author and founder of The Demartini Institute.

How poor air quality in the office is a productivity killer

People who work in poorly-ventilated offices with higher levels of indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) have significantly lower cognitive functioning which severely damages their productivity.

Good ventilation is often the last thing people think about in an office. But it should be far greater consideration when you realise most people who work spend 90% of their time indoors.

When designing offices, people typically think about layout and the look and feel of the space. But interestingly, as buildings have become more energy efficient, they have also become more airtight, increasing the potential for poor indoor environmental quality.

While design and energy efficiency are of course important, little regard is given to air quality. If it isn’t good, none of the other stuff matters because it diminishes worker productivity so much. It should no longer be an afterthought when you consider the high cost to businesses of having staff performing below par.

An October 2015 study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Syracuse University assessed indoor environment. The researchers looked at people’s experiences in which both the participants and the analysts were blinded to test conditions to avoid biased results. The findings suggest that in office spaces in which many people work daily could be adversely affecting cognitive function and conversely, improved air quality could greatly increase the cognitive function performance of workers.

These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.

The same study also ran cognitive tests on people working in enhanced ventilation conditions and compared them to those working in elevated levels of carbon dioxide which replicated the typical workspace.

They found that cognitive performance scores for the participants who worked in the enhanced ventilation environments were, on average, double those of participants who worked in conventional environments.

Researchers found that the largest improvements occurred in the areas of:

• crisis response (131% higher in enhanced ventilation work places over conventional environmental with elected carbon monoxide)
• strategy (288% higher as above)
• information usage (299% higher as above)

Our understanding and refinement of the best working environment is still developing however it is clear that poor ventilation has a marked effect on worker performance. Improved air quality is a simple yet very effective way to get more out of people and help them feel better and more energetic at the same time.

Linda Trim is the Director at Giant Leap.

How to embrace digital change

Digital has moved beyond the buzzword stage and has transformed into being the vocal point of the organisation. The [digital] evolution is now a practical reality and organisations need to embrace the efficiencies it provides. One only needs to look at how cellular and mobile technologies have become integrated in all aspects of our lives to realise this. These solutions transcend industries with companies and employees requiring some form of mobile device or connectivity to do business.

But even though mobile integration discussions are taking place across a diverse range of businesses, the human element must not be forgotten. While it is good to digitalise the product or solution offering, the end-user must remain the focus. Over the past several years, technology was the driving force around this new approach. But today, more companies are adopting a people-centric methodology of getting the most out of the digital journey.

This digitalisation of products and services will see more people in South Africa benefitting from a connected experience. And even though mobile application development is getting most of the attention, elements like security, governance, and risk management remain fundamental.

In the rush to embrace new digital technology, organisations still need to keep full accountability of applications and ensure that a true business case exists prior to investing in it. This is resulting in more applications being developed based on solid business practice and allowing companies to plug it into their existing processes and systems.

This is resulting in the growing popularity of software development kits that take the mobile application to the next customisable level. An additional advantage of these kits is that it makes the technology accessible to smaller businesses with limited budgets. It becomes a case of not reinventing the wheel but finding the best ways to enhance an application to meet the business requirements of a company.

Clearly, digital transformation is bringing technology to the masses. But companies need to do things differently if they are to shake up the market. Irrespective of what is done, it bears remembering that change is not something that takes place overnight. Many of the mobile success achieved by businesses today are the result of years of experience and continually innovation to meet changing market requirements.

But despite the promise of digitalisation, many companies are still stuck in a traditional mindset. Fortunately, the real-time nature of the digital business requires change to happen sooner rather than later. Those who can best adapt to this landscape will be the businesses that attract the most customer interest in the foreseeable future.

Chris Daffy is the Chief Commercial Officer of MobileData.

How technology is driving business collaboration

Digital technology has driven changes in all aspects of business. Most notably, technology advancements have vastly improved the ability for employees to access information and to collaborate more effectively within the enterprise. ICT enables us to drive and improve communication within the business. It plays a significant part in ensuring that employees have better access to information which is personalised to cater to their needs and improves their overall effectiveness. Mobile enterprise solutions then enable employees to access and interact with business-critical data and functions, free from the restrictions of traditional IT environments and connectivity.  

Technology has evolved to the point where it is no longer limiting enterprises in what they are trying to accomplish from a strategic perspective. Instead, he feels, it is the operating approach and internal structure that is now proving to be a hurdle that needs to be overcome.

Decision-makers can no longer say that it is not practical to collaborate or that it is too difficult to do so, as technology has addressed this. They now need to closely examine the culture of collaboration within the organisation and review how it needs to change in order to embrace a more digitally enhanced way of engaging with one another.

From a solutions perspective, the rate of innovation has been significant. Just consider how video conferencing has improved with businesses using this as a viable alternative to face-to-face meetings. The resultant savings in cost and time enable employees to use their time more effectively, replacing travel with other value added activities.

We have an ever-increasing number of mobile apps designed to enhance collaboration for individuals and enterprises. What is going to be fascinating to watch is how instant messaging will become pervasive in the business sector. Already, the convergence of collaboration tools and social media is becoming the norm.

It is anticipated that employees will adopt those solutions that add value to their working lives by providing as much real-time collaboration opportunities as possible. Collaboration is maturing, as evidenced in advanced messaging which now allows employees to chat, share files and switch seamlessly into video conferencing when required – working together has never been easier.

While some cynics might bemoan the fact that communication is becoming increasingly non-verbal because of new technologies and solutions, the opportunities it offers businesses are significant. As adoption accelerates, the user experience will continue to improve and organisations can look forward to a more collaborative working environment.

Desmond Struwig is the General Manager for Digital at Decision Inc.

Why SA education needs to move on employability skills

Educational institutions in South Africa and across the globe are lagging behind in equipping learners with the skills they will require to be employable in coming years.

As a matter of priority, local institutions must immediately devise a plan of action to incorporate these essential skills – also known as global competencies – in schools and higher education institutions.

Many international businesses and thought leaders are increasingly raising the discussion around competencies students now need, so that they will be able to face the complex challenges and changes taking place in the global workspace. Developing these competencies will be of benefit to all students and are as important as the foundational skills of literacy and mathematics. They should be core in the way we learn, as well as in the way we need to interact in the world that is.

Globally, there is increasing acknowledgement of the fact that less than three years from now, in 2020, the skills necessary in previous years will have been replaced by a demand for different skills that are not being given the required attention. Addressing this discrepancy is now crucial.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently revealed the results of a study into the Future of Jobs, which considered the employment, skills and workforce strategies of the future. They canvassed chief HR and strategy officials from the world’s top companies, across industries and geographies, to determine what they will require of future recruits.

They compiled a summary list of the top 10 skills identified for both 2015 and 2020 and shared their findings of what needed to be taught. While some countries have made significant strides in implementing programmes to empower their young people in this regard, others, including South Africa, are falling dangerously behind.

The results were an eye-opener, and that South Africa can no longer afford to ignore these fundamental findings (see below) identified by the WEF.

All educational groups need to be referencing this list and asking how they are ensuring these skills are being developed and embedded within the teaching and learning taking place at their schools, colleges and universities.

All schools, higher education institutions and universities, whether public or private, must take note of the WEF guidelines or risk having our country’s students left behind in what is generally now being called the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These core skills are not an addition to existing curricula, but a change in approach to teaching and learning.

Core Skills are transdisciplinary skills that must be incorporated as part of all learning experiences. No matter the content or concepts being explored, there are opportunities in all of these, for different types of thinking, various forms of research, opportunities for collaborative tasks, numerous ways to communicate understandings as well as occasions for students to develop their self-management skills.

Teacher education and professional training are crucial to the successful implementation of global competence education.

South African educational institutions should be providing specific training programmes to support teachers in acquiring a critical awareness of the essential role education can play in the unpacking and development of these fundamental global skills.

Facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities, this generation of educators is now compelled to address these required capacities, and it is now no longer a negotiable discussion. These skills are, simply put, prerequisite global competencies, which means that no matter where in the world we are, we will all need to be competent and confident in applying them in a myriad of settings.

Traci Salter is the Strategic Academic Development Advisor at ADvTECH.

Why employers always have to beware of sexual harassment in the workplace

In what circumstances an employer may be held liable for sexual harassment committed by one of its employees in terms of the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 (“EEA”)?

Court’s decision

In the case of Liberty Group limited v Margaret Masango (07 March 2017) the Labour Appeal Court had to determine whether the employer, Liberty Group Limited should have been held liable for sexual harassment committed by one of its employees. This required a determination of, among others, the legal provisions of section 60 of the EEA.

The facts of the matter are briefly as follows. Ms Margaret Masango was employed as an insurance clerk by Liberty. She lodged a complaint that she had been subjected to sexual harassment by her manager, Mr Andrew Mosesi. She alleged that she had been harassed on no less than four separate occasions. Her allegations in this regard were reported to Mr. Haines. Ultimately and despite Haines making the allegations known to Liberty’s human resource consultant no action was taken against Mosesi.

As a result Masango tendered her resignation on 28 September 2009. Upon learning of her resignation Ms Nyathi, Masango’s team leader, contacted her. She was sympathetic to Masango’s plight and asked her not to resign so that the matter could be dealt with. Msanago agreed to do so. However, in the following two weeks no steps were taken by Liberty to investigate Masango’s complaint of sexual harassment. She then tendered a second resignation on 13 October 2016 and, one week later, referred a dispute to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration. It was only after the second resignation letter, and on 26 October 2016, that Mosesi was suspended. Upon the matter being unsuccessfully resolved at the CCMA Masango approached the Labour Court.

Section 6(3) of the EEA provides that “harassment of an employee is a form of unfair discrimination and is prohibited on any one, or a combination of grounds of unfair discrimination listed in” section 6(1). Item 4 of the Code of Amended Good Practice on the Handling of Sexual Harassment Cases establishes the following test for the determination of sexual harassment:

“…unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that violated the rights of an employee and constitutes a barrier to equity in the workplace, taking into account all of the following factors:

4.1 whether the harassment is on the prohibited grounds of sex and/or gender and/or sexual orientation;
4.2 whether the sexual conduct was unwelcome;
4.3 the nature and extent of the sexual conduct; and
4.4 the impact of the sexual conduct on the employee.”

The Labour Court found in Masango’s favour holding that she had indeed been sexually harassed. The Labour Court also found that Liberty was made aware of the sexual harassment before she had resigned and failed to take the necessary steps at such time. As a result Liberty was held to be liable in terms of section 60 of the EEA. Section 60 of the EEA provides for an employer to be held liable for the misconduct of an employee in certain circumstances. The section provides as follows;

(1) If it is alleged that an employee, while at work, contravened a provision of this Act, or engaged in any conduct that, if engaged in by that employee’s employer, would constitute a contravention of a provision of this Act, the alleged conduct must immediately be brought to the attention of the employer.

(2) The employer must consult all relevant parties and must take the necessary steps to eliminate the alleged conduct and comply with the provisions of this Act.

(3) If the employer fails to take the necessary steps referred to in subsection (2), and it is proved that the employee has contravened the relevant provision, the employer must be deemed also to have contravened that provision.

(4) Despite subsection (3), an employer is not liable for the conduct of an employee if that employer is able to prove that it did all that was reasonably practicable to ensure that the employee would not act in contravention of this Act.

The Labour Court found that Liberty had failed to take reasonable steps in terms of section 60 of the EEA to protect Masango upon becoming aware of her complaint. Rather, Liberty only took the necessary steps after Masango has tendered her second resignation. As a result, the Court found that Liberty had failed to protect Msanago as required by section 60.

Liberty appealed against the Labour Court’s judgement. Liberty alleged, among a number of other grounds of appeal, that the Labour Court misdirected itself by finding that it, Liberty, had failed to take the necessary steps set out in section 60(2) of the EEA. Liberty argued further that the Labour Court had misdirected itself by failing to find that the Liberty did all that was reasonably practicable to ensure that Mosesi, as its employee, would not act in contravention of the EEA.

In setting out the legal principles applicable, the Labour Appeal Court referred to the decision of Potgieter v National Commissioner of the SA Police Service and Another (2009) 30 ILJ 1322 (LC) where the Labour Court set out the requirement for employer liability. They are as follows:

(a) The sexual harassment conduct complained of was committed by another employee;
(b) It was sexual harassment constituting unfair discrimination;
(c) The sexual harassment took place at the workplace;
(d) The alleged sexual harassment was immediately brought to the attention of the employer;
(e) The employer was aware of the incident of sexual harassment;
(f) The employer failed to consult all relevant parties, or take the necessary steps to eliminate the conduct; and
(g) The employer failed to take all reasonable and practicable measures to ensure that employees did not act in contravention of the EEA.

The Labour Appeal Court applied this test and upheld the decision of the Labour Court and found that Liberty had failed to take the necessary steps to eliminate the conduct as required by section 60(2). In addition, Liberty had failed to do all that was reasonably practicable, as required by section 60(4), to ensure no act in contravention of the EEA occurred.

Importance of this case

This case highlights the need for an employer to respond appropriately when allegations of sexual harassment have been reported to it by its employees. This requires that an employer must consult all relevant parties and must take the necessary steps to eliminate the alleged conduct and comply with the provisions of the EEA and the Code. Should the employer fail to do so it may be held liable for the acts of the employee(s) who committed the acts of sexual harassment.

Andre Van Heerden is the Senior Associate & Jacques van Wyk is the Director at Werksmans Attorneys.

How dictatorship ruins business, personal and political relationships

When business and family relationships are in crisis, drastic measures are called for.

Stress hormones debilitate success. What, pray, say you, could be the solution. Conversational Intelligence is called for. This skill, the golden thread to communication, resulting in success in the workplace and in our private lives, is the global first-aid kit for success and the glue that will keep our relationships together.

When we feel emotionally rejected and trampled on, our reaction is to withdraw. This is caused by cortisol, our stress hormone. What we require is to develop the trusting, communicative and empathetic hormone, oxytocin, to listen and communicate wisely.

We’ve all known, or might be, or have worked for, a boss who never listens to their team but TELLS them what to do. That manager is thriving on dopamine, the reward hormone, without understanding the reasons for sales slipping and staff not performing as they should. This boss, or spouse, needs to learn to LISTEN and develop the art of Intelligent Conversation – in other words, their oxytocin needs a boost and maintenance to encourage empathy and wisdom in others.

We too often lament how our family, partners and colleagues interrupt, criticise and ignore our attempts at communicating.

This leads to constant bickering and frustrations, typical behaviour when we feel unappreciated and disrespected. In simple terms, our cortisol levels are high, resulting in low trust, commonly known as Level in Conversational Intelligence terms.

Conversational Intelligence is based on upping our oxytocin levels, the hormone that helps us gain insight, understanding, and most importantly, trust of sharing success. By developing the simple skill of listening before dictating, we can train ourselves to ditch the cortisol hormone of talking and dictating with no regard for our colleagues or fellow man, to improve our oxytocin levels, resulting in shared success, truth telling, being co-creative and trusting.

Do YOU relate to the following:

– Do you feel that your family doesn’t listen to you and that they always speak over you, interrupt and criticise you?

– Are you frustrated that your offspring don’t listen to you and that you are unable to connect with them, leaving you frustrated, angry and unhappy?

– When you argue with your spouse or partner, do you feel that he/she is not really listening or trying to understand your point of view and that you are each having a monologue talking past each other and not with each other? This causes you to feel hurt and unappreciated.

– Would you like to learn how to restore your relationship leading to peace in the home and a harmonious, happier, healthier family?

– Do you sometimes wish you knew how to deal with an irate, overbearing friend who speaks in a derogatory, condescending manner and how to turn such negative behaviour into a positive situation?

– Have you had a disagreement with a colleague and immediately feel angry and betrayed? Your body freezes up? You can’t find the words to respond?

– Do you often have a bitter argument with your spouse or child and wonder how it started and how to fix it?

– Often when starting a conversation with your spouse, children, boss, colleagues or clients things don’t go as planned? and

– In the blink of an eye you get ‘triggered’ causing you to go into ‘self-protect’ mode.

The result is you stop listening to each other, you become entrenched in your thinking and you can’t see the other’s point of view.

The reason for this is based on the chemistry in the brain where cortisol (the stress hormone), and adrenaline flood your brain creating fear and distrust and shutting down the part of the brain, your executive brain, used for getting along with each other, seeing things from each other’s point of view and where connection and engagement take place.

This executive part of the brain is responsible for your conversational skills, trust, empathy, foresight, insight and wisdom as well as your new ideas and strategy – all of which are shut down when you feel the interaction is threatening you emotionally, or even physically.

The result is that a simple conversation ends with people withdrawing or in a conflict situation with arguing, raised voices and talking past each other, instead of with each other. Consequently, nothing is achieved and nobody wins.

In a team, collaboration and teamwork declines, performance and productivity plummets; in personal relationships it results in tears, fear, frustration, heartbreak, resentment and anger.

Acquiring successful conversational skills is easier than we think:

– what ‘triggers’ me or others;

– how to prevent the ‘trigger;’

– learning how to move back into trust after being ‘triggered;’ and

– creating a relationship based on trust, inclusivity, collaboration and engagement.

This results in closer and more trusting relationships, where each party feels safe to share their thoughts without fear of repercussion. Relationships improve, families rebuild and colleagues transform into a  successful team, whereby they become co-creators.

Fraser Carey, Conversational intelligence (C-IQ) Masterclass, Life by Choice and is the co-founder of the School of Etiquette in South Africa.

Why you should keep your resume accurate

With a steady year-on-year increase in organisations choosing to screen existing and potential employees, job-seekers who are planning to lie about or omit information regarding their qualifications or criminal history in an upcoming job interview will most likely find themselves exposed, unemployed and stuck with a bad reputation. Demand for background screening services in South Africa and the African continent as a whole continues to rise meaning dishonest job-seekers will soon have nowhere to hide.

We have experienced an overall 15% increase in background screening in the last five years and over January and February 2017. MIE statistics for 2017 to-date which indicate that 16% of qualifications checked were found to be either misrepresented, cancelled or altogether fraudulent. This means that out of about 90 000 screened candidates, over 14 000 candidates’ qualifications contained inconsistencies.

This level of dishonesty is also apparent in our criminal history vetting with a present risk of 9%. This includes those found to definitely have a record, those which show up as inconclusive as well as pending cases.

In some cases, you may find that the details of the criminal record may not have impacted the potential employers hiring decision. However, having not disclosed such past behaviour when asked to do so can give an employer a very bad first impression that the candidate in question may not be open, honest and transparent.

With this in mind, it is important for employers not to simply disqualify a candidate on the basis of having a criminal record. Weighing up the nature of the past crime against the job at hand may reveal that there is no risk to the applicant fulfilling the role successfully.

MIE’s 2016 Annual Background Screening Report noted that the Manufacturing and Mining industries are at greatest risk of candidates not disclosing their criminal records. These sectors recorded the highest number of job applicants with criminal histories – ranging between 18% and 20%. The report further noted that, as a whole, cross-border qualifications from African and international institutions, hold the highest risk with candidates often believing that foreign qualifications cannot, or will not, be verified.

While job-seekers may feel as though embellishing their resume will make them stand out from the crowd in an increasingly competitive job market, being exposed for CV fraud will not only see them lose out on a job in that moment but will also taint their reputation in the market and make it even more difficult for them to find employment moving forward.

Business leaders have really embraced the solutions which are available to them in order to make informed hiring decisions.

While some may find it useful to verify only part of a candidate’s application, such as their criminal history or verifying a single reference, the most favourable approach to vetting is to be comprehensive and ensure that every credential of a job-seekers CV is accurate and transparent just as any employer would hope for their workforce to be.

Ina van der Merwe is the CEO and founder of Managed Integrity Evaluation (MIE).

Why technology is the force behind effective labour management

The answer to whether or not technology can actually keep track of a workforce is a resounding yes! Experts in the workforce management products, services and solutions market know that solutions are entering the market that are designed expressly to be managed by smartphones and GPS tracking with data linked and used centrally to meet core business requirements.

Workforce management technology has become more sophisticated and the functionality today is among others mobile based as well.

The industry has kept up with market trends and today business managers have the technical means to track employees and business processes and manage productivity automatically and in realtime.

Technology is key – and with that comes the choice for fully integrated and certified solutions. A larger company’s main goal is to handle all the workforce management needs in one central platform – their ERP solution. This assures the highest degree of productivity of their workforce with lowest cost impact possible.

But where does a company start and at what point can a business claim it has complete control over technology-driven workforce management?

Time & attendance is a start and maybe considered by some to be merely a beginning, but he believes it is a critical piece of the overall puzzle.

Without an automated WFM solution companies are losing out daily and in many cases so does the employee. Automated time and attendance is of the outmost important as a starting point leading to further solution parts like Shop Floor Data Collection and Access Control.

So, if mobility centralised management and automation are considered the hallmarks of reliable workforce management, then integration is the glue that cements the strategy.

There are a variety of solutions available, as is the nature of this expanding marketplace, but its advised that it is important to find a solution that fulfils a key aspect, it should be ERP provider certified.

Ultimately, the size of a business is not a factor when it comes to the need to integrate the latest workforce management technology, nor how best to leverage solutions.

However, while the principles are the same, smaller businesses may not require an immediate and extensive full integration into their systems like payroll or production.

As with all technology-based strategies, success depends on buy-in and whether the people-factor has been fully considered.

Never forget technology is one side of the project, but proper change management is key as well. Taking both into account at the same level and importance you will create a win-win situation for the company and its employees.

Guenter Nerlich is the Executive Manager at ERP Solutions.

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