3 tips for increasing millennial retention rates within your organisation

When it comes to human resources tasks, one of the key things HR executives need to focus on every year is increasing the retention rates of the workforce.

Keeping staff members happy, engaged, and motivated makes them more likely to stay within their job for longer and perform better, while ensuring that you don’t continually have valuable organisational knowledge walking out the door. Increasing retention rates significantly saves time and money, too, because you don’t have to keep searching for and training new workers.

However, when it comes to retention, it is important to keep in mind that there can be different motivations involved and thereby different strategies required, especially when you’re talking about millennial employees. If you need some ideas on how to ensure this group of staff members feels effectively engaged, acknowledged, appreciated, and rewarded, read on.

1. Enable employee mobility

One of the first things to note about most millennial employees is that they’re not purely focused on working their way up the corporate ladder or earning as much as possible. Instead, they are often interested in making lateral career moves if they think doing so will make them happier and more satisfied.

As a result, to keep millennials, be open to allowing them to change positions internally so they don’t need to quit to learn, grow, and find a new challenge. Keep in mind that giving your employees the support and opportunities they need to explore numerous paths within the business doesn’t need to be seen as a negative.

On top of keeping talent and reinforcing engagement levels, allowing mobility means workers have the chance to learn how an organisation works across many departments and numerous functions. This, in turn, provides a solid foundation for them to become future leaders, because they understand it well; and also makes it more likely that the cross-pollination will result in new opportunities being seen and more problems solved quickly and innovatively.

2. Provide plenty of learning and development opportunities

As you can imagine, millennials are always very keen to develop new skills and to get experience in different areas. As such, it is important for companies to provide these employees with plenty of learning and development opportunities.

There are various ways you can go about this. For example, you can provide workers with mentors who come from more senior positions within the company, or even externally; you can set up employee exchange programmes; you can organise internal or external training; and you can bring in speakers to talk about specific topics or simply to motivate and inspire team members.

In addition, it can be a good idea to invest (either fully or partially) in the educational programmes which millennials are interested in. For instance, you can support them to complete an MBA degree for more all-round business knowledge, or help them to attain qualifications in other, more specific, areas.

3. Customise strategies by asking what they want, rather than guessing

Lastly, keep in mind that millennials have grown up in an era when customised experiences and product choices are a given. As such, they typically like to feel that their personal, individual needs are being addressed, and that they are not being treated like “everyone else.”

As such, it is helpful if you ask them what they want when it comes to employee perks, rewards, appreciation efforts, and other types of HR strategies. Focus on their individualism, instead of treating them as a generalised group. This will not only ensure that your millennial workers are more engaged and likely to stay within the organisation, but also optimises your resources. By allocating funds to those things that employees are really after, you will ensure money is spent on the things that get results.

While in the past workers were typically focused on the financial aspects of their jobs, or on receiving a promotion, millennials often place value on other things too. For example, they tend to need to find meaning and purpose in their jobs, so being thanked for their efforts and getting a chance to see the impact of their hard work can be key. You might want to consider buying regular thank you gifts that are tailored to your individual workers.

Because millennials are very focused on achieving work/life balance, they also often respond well to being rewarded with extra time off work for a job well done, or getting the chance to choose their own hours or work locations more often. In addition, they can like time being made available for them to give to philanthropic projects during the work day; or receiving lifestyle perks in the workplace such as free massages, meals, childcare and health insurance, or access to free or discounted gyms, meditation spaces, and the like.

Tiffany Rowe is the Marketing Administrator at Seek Visibility.

How to achieve happiness for working mothers

I had initially thought of writing an article on Happiness at Work. However, after doing some research, I found that a large number of people who are unhappy in the workplace tend to be working mothers.

This is because of the stress they put on themselves to be a “Supermom” while juggling numerous amounts of other balls and giving it their all in the workplace. Despite the availability and number of various “self-help” books, articles and programmes whereby companies attempt to help their workforce manage their time and deal with stress better, research indicates that a large number of unhappy employees in the workplace are working mothers who often experience a sense of guilt and even end up falling into a state of depression.

The work-leisure dichotomy came about in the mid 1800’s, however, it was only in the late 1980’s that “work-life-balance” became a buzz-word that companies acted upon. The focus of the concept was based mostly on the balance between individuals’ work and personal life but not concentrated on a certain target population or, for example, areas specifically relating to the working mother.

With literally thousands of blogs and articles posted on social media platforms continuously, especially on “how to be a better mom”, it is no wonder that a lot of working moms suffer from low self-esteem. In reality, there is no such thing as a “Supermom” (in the superhero sense of the word; a mom capable of super natural powers), but there are a lot of super moms out there! Super can be replaced with synonyms like wonderful, fantastic, marvellous, fabulous … the list is endless. And if you’re reading this article then you’re most probably one or you know one.

What makes a super mom super?

Two important elements that all children need in order to become well-established adults is love and security. This is according to reliable sources (scientific research and psychological theories), as well as, many non-scientific informers. The latter will add that love is spelt as “TIME”. It is also said that it is not the quantity of time spent, that is important but rather the quality of time spent, that counts.

According to research the number one work-life-balance mind-set that all working mothers need to adopt is to let go of guilt. It is easier said than done, but focus on the benefits of being a working mom, like being a role-model for the children.

In the light of being happy and especially happy at work (since happy people are proven to be more productive), here are a few tips to all working mothers out there:

1. Stop comparing yourself to non-working mothers

You’ve chosen to have a career set out for whatever reason/s. Embrace your circumstances and don’t be envious. More important: Be yourself. You can still be a super mom even if you’re a working mom.

2. Choose happiness

True happiness does not come from external sources such as money or other people. Find happiness within yourself. Find pleasure in the simple things and change your self-talk from negative to positive. For one week, listen to what you say about yourself. Is it perhaps “I am tired”, “I am a bad mother”, “I am not winning”, “I am so clumsy”? Try changing it to “I am blessed”, “I am talented”, “I am in control”, “I am strong” and from there experience the difference in your life.

3. Stop worrying

Never borrow from the future. If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t, you have worried in vain. Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice. Famous businessman and author, Steven Covey, says that nine out of the 10 things we worry about, never happen to us anyway. Worry about things when it is there. Take action when it is there.

4. Realise that you can’t please everyone

When you’re at work, focus on work. When you’re at home, focus on your family. There are only 24 hours in a day. Be the best that you can be at each current moment in time. If you dropped a ball, pick it up and move on.

5. Get organised

Remember the 5 P’s of Stephen Keague: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Plan ahead. There are numerous things a working mother can do to lighten the load. For example: Put a family calendar in a central place of your home if you must, so that everyone in the family can be aware of what’s going on at all times; Pack lunch-boxes the night before; Make sure there is enough resources/supplies in a drawer at home for those mid-week projects that the kids need to work on for school, to save time having to go-out and buy stuff at night.

6. Practice ARK

Be kind to all, especially to your loved-ones. ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) is a concept that was coined from the movie “Bruise Almighty”. The more you make a difference in someone else’s life, the happier you will be.

7. Be grateful

Gratitude forms the foundation of happiness. Start counting your blessings especially the small things that we so often take for granted. Start by finding one thing to be grateful for each and every day.

8. Don’t forget “Me”-time

This might sound like an impossible task especially when, as a working mother, you already feel overwhelmed with the number of things to do in the limited space of time available. Yet, it is so important to make time for yourself not only to recharge your batteries, but to reflect and appreciate life. Only 30 minutes a day is required.

Try it.

Marelize Nell is the Practice Leader: Research & Development at Maccauvlei Learning Academy.

What is the threat of hiring the devil you don’t know?

The South African labour market is heavily legislated, regulating the relationship between the employer and the employee – often in favour of the employee. In any business, selecting the right candidate for a position is essential to business success. In this highly protected labour environment, hiring the wrong candidate can be devastating and could prove to be a decision that is very difficult to reverse without legal repercussions.

Regardless of the sector they’re operating in, the right employees are a business’ greatest asset. Conversely, the wrong employees are its single biggest threat. While employee vetting or background screening is often either not conducted, or managed in-house, it is questionable whether this should be a Human Resources function.

It is in our nature to trust, but we do so at our peril. The most effective way to take the risk out of hiring is to conduct reliable, unbiased and professional employment background screening on all shortlisted candidates.

Recruitment can be a gruelling process, but there’s nothing quite as draining as realising the business is saddled with the wrong person, who is unreliable, untrustworthy and likely to put the business’ reputation at risk. With a thorough vetting, a hiring decision can be made knowing with certainty that the candidate is, in fact, the correct investment.

To be professional, background screening must be absolutely exhaustive, and every answer provided should be considered with suspicion. Nothing can be taken at face value, no matter how charismatic or demure the candidate appears to be. The four key elements to consider when hiring a vetting service provider are; experience, international sources, accuracy and sources.

Investigation experience provides a mindset of questioning, analytical thinking and critical exploration skills. These are the diagnostic tools required to get real answers and uncover untruths. In an increasingly globalised society, many prospective employees have lived, trained or worked abroad; therefore, access to international sources is vital. Obviously, the accuracy of the data directly affects the validity of the vetting results. As such, the provider should ensure that all information is quality controlled and personally verified. Lastly, the provider’s sources should be their own. Relying on a business that draws information from a third party opens the door for misinterpretation and fundamental information becoming lost in translation. A reputable and professional screening agency will have direct contact with relevant sources of its own.

There are various avenues to pursue when vetting an applicant, giving the potential employer true insight into the applicant’s character. These include: criminal record checks; driver’s licence and forklift licence checks; ITC and credit checks; identification and passport verifications; the verification of educational qualifications; reference checks and screening of previous employment; outstanding warrants or judgements; and pre-employment polygraph testing.

Recruitment doesn’t have to become a costly error in judgement. Don’t let dishonest employees settle in at your expense.

Kyle Condon is the Managing Director at D & K Management Consultants.

Issued by Perfect Word Consulting.

How flexible is flexible working in Europe?

After years of many predicting remote working as the future for everybody, why is it not the norm? Initial promises of the age of nine to five working hours to be coming to an end, now feel short lived.

In an era where employees have access to technology that makes it easier to communicate than ever before, surrounded by smartphones, laptops and tablets, why do we still see the same rush hour traffic, almost predictably across cities in Europe, day in, day out?

After all, work should be considered as an activity – not a location. And while there are some exceptions to the rule, it’s indicative that the answer lies somewhere between addressing the stigma of remote working, for some still a perceived “dirty word” for both employees and employers alike, and understanding the cultural barriers and initiatives being introduced by local governments and organisations.

Many companies are taking tentative steps for its employees to work more flexibly, both in terms of location and time. In some instances, flexible working has become a requirement for certain job roles with companies having to re-think it’s often outdated approach to the office being central to getting work done, and instead understand how to offer its employees the tools to work most effectively.

When you consider that the first purpose-built office block was the Brunswick Building, built in Liverpool, England in 1841 it’s surprising to think that it’s taken the best part of a century and a half before flexible working has become mainstream. Indeed, the implications and understanding of how to balance work and life responsibilities has been around for decades. Its societal impact is inherently linked to gender equality and life decisions. From an economic angle, flexible working can have a positive impact with a study from Citrix showing that the South African economy could grow with R17bn annually. However, if the environment in which employee’s work is better suited to their needs, it seems logical to positively correlate this with productive work, in a shorter space of time, with better results.

Although many organisations and its employees will benefit from flexible working, is this utopia causing friction between the two?

Flexible working was intended as a way to complete much of the same work from a different location or different times through better comfort, rather than an increased number of hours worked. But is there a risk that employees are simply seen as being more contactable and ‘mobile’ and eventually find it hard to switch off?

Across Europe, different policies and approaches to adopting a flexible working environment is taken. At the beginning of this year in France, it was introduced that organisations with over 50 workers are required to negotiate ‘right to disconnect’ times with their employees – when they are not needed to be on email. This comes at a time when the country seeks to tackle the modern-day scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email checking. The aim of this new law is to lower stress levels and ensure employees are fairly paid for their work.

Overuse of digital devices has been blamed for everything from burnouts and sleepless nights to relationship problems, with many employees uncertain of when they can switch off. Whilst this is not necessarily proven to be true, some companies have looked to curb this culture of working overtime.

Across the border in Germany, 38% of employees often work flexibly with a further 32% working flexibly from time to time. Volkswagen in Germany is often used as an example of successful implementing flexible working policies by capping after-work emails for employees with company-issued phones. It means that for workers under wage agreements, the firm’s email server is programmed to stop delivering messages between 6:15pm and 7am the following morning, while weekends are also off-limits.

At the other end of the scale, in the UK, every employer has to consider requests from all employees after 26 weeks of service – although these requests can be rejected. Perhaps then, it comes as no surprise that UK organisations lag behind many of their European counterparts, retaining a culture of fixed working hours and an emphasis on ‘face time’ within an office setting.

Despite this, the UK is changing with the Smarter Working Initiative (SMI) aiming to get over 200,000 people from 200 companies to be offered the option to work flexibly. In July 2017, The SMI was encouraging business leaders to sign up to this initiative – motivating people to work in a situation that suits them best, rather than being restricted to an office desk. The Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) has also recently called on employers to take flexible working more seriously and promote it as a benefit to prospective applicants to gain more traction.

Across the Atlantic, some companies have even reversed their beliefs in remote working. Yahoo and IBM have famously decided to move back to office work in a bid to increase collaboration, productivity, and in IBM’s case to create “greater moments of serendipity”. They believed this was best for business but critics have suggested that it could create a culture of mistrust, and even suggest to workers that they’re working for a ‘Big Brother’- Style Employer.

If flexible working is not at the top of your agenda, it’s worth bearing in mind the consequences to your talent pool if you do not offer these policies. According to a report by Deloite, one in 10 graduates view flexible working as the most important factor in picking a place of work. It can be a great too to help attract and retain talent, with employees, particularly the younger generation, wanting to know that they have an option to work in a way that suits them. There is also an element of trust involved. Employees want to know that their employer trusts them to produce the work they’ve been asked to do no matter when they do it, where they do it or how they do it.

It’s great to see opportunities that support employees and trends around flexible working. In reality, organisations need to ensure they have the foundation that supports efforts from across the enterprise. At a practical level, a technology platform is needed that has the ability to scale as the organisation grows. Moreover, there needs to be embedded protection, allowing security to become part of the framework and support various access requirements based on different personas within the organisation.

Deploying the correct platforms for flexible working is not difficult and will offer you the level of accessibility suitable for your company, whilst still allowing security measures and control to be in place for the employer. Technology has enabled flexible working, but it’s up to businesses to ensure they make the most of it to reap the rewards.

Duncan Greenwood is the Vice President of End User Computing at VMware EMEA.

Is carpooling the future of urban mobility?

There would be something gratifying about guessing the future, particularly when it is patently counterintuitive. Isn’t carpooling all about that quaint 70’s notion that we could all reduce our petrol costs and save the planet if only we could remember a lesson taught to all school children on their first day at school?

School children wouldn’t need to share if there were two swings available and only two school children. But who is going to design a playground with 40 swings in it, so that no child is kept waiting? Instead, they are taught, that to be fair, we must share so that every child gets a turn ….

Moving this simple metaphor along … at the turn of the last century (not too long ago), road authorities across the world, realised they could not keep building roads until the headquarters of urban central – our cities ended up with 40 lanes in each direction on highways, not yet floating in the sky but tethered to the available land mass. So, they capped it at three.  

Consequently, the road network now grinds to a halt, frequently, and it would seem that once again, we all need to be taught how to ‘share’, to make best use of the roads that we have at our disposal.

Urban mobility in Cape Town is a crisis on the brink of disaster that will compromise economic development and is now threatening personal wellbeing. I cannot put that strongly enough. Time is a luxury we can no longer afford. The question is, how could this have happened and been allowed to get to this stage?

One shock to any system rarely causes a disaster and the first shock wasn’t a shock at all. Nearly every urban planner knows that populations urbanise and that people tend to gravitate to where there is work. However, being charitable, the extent of population growth in certain cities may have come as a surprise.

In Cape Town, the second shock was more nuanced. A number of buildings in the CBD were overdue for modernisation. This process allowed for more parking capacity to be accommodated by building upward. Why not rebuild your 32-storey head office with 10 storeys of parking? After all, the building will have the same footprint at ground level. At the same time, old areas of the city such as the Harbour, the Foreshore or the Silo District were repurposed as new retail or office space and again, furnished with ample parking for all the new staff and customers. Even more nuanced, developers want to develop where rents are accelerating, which leads to a switch from out of town development to excessive densification in CBDs.

We can add one last shock to this system by the name of the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (PRASA). If only our passenger train network had responded positively to the economic development our city enjoys, this story could have had a very different ending. Instead we have a 400% increase in train cancellations. Fifteen per cent of all trains never show up on the entire network and only 65% of trains arrive on time. Overcrowding is so dire, the space on the outside of the carriages is now full. In terms of safety, the situation is even worse and wholly untenable.

Overcoming nearly two decades of mismanagement, excessive bureaucracy and institutionalised corruption, PRASA has a 20-year plan to replace its 50-year-old infrastructure and rolling stock – costing a whopping R170 billion – but the likelihood is that the situation will get worse for a good few years, before it gets any better.

Any one of these shocks might have accelerated the City of Cape Town from crisis to disaster. The combined effects of the three will undoubtedly lead to a fourth, namely the collapse of the road network into chronic congestion and daily gridlock (nothing like you are currently experiencing, much, much worse, no matter how many video-camera-wearing traffic officers there are enforcing basic road manners, although this is something …).

Despite this real and dire situation, the solution to traffic congestion is actually very simple.
Put more people into less cars!  

Once again, we will have to be taught how to share, because there aren’t too many other plans available. The faster we admit this, the sooner we might begin to avert the disaster.

Meanwhile, autonomous (driverless) vehicles are already with us … well they are currently in Singapore, but will be making an appearance here sooner than we think. The advances in driverless technology are unstoppable and will likely replace existing private vehicles in all cities across the world in the next 15 – 20 years. These cars (or pods) will have electric motors, rather than combustion engines, reducing their complexity from more than 200 parts to less than 15. They will be very cheap to manufacture and significantly cheaper to maintain. They will also run on battery technology charged by wind, solar or other renewable sources, far cheaper than fossil fuels and much better for the environment.

Ironically, these pods do not need to be parked in over densified areas, so cities could repurpose all that parking space as housing, closer to places of work, reducing the burden on over congested transportation still further, and contributing to solving the housing crisis.

This type of vehicle could operate for less than R1/km and carry four or five passengers from their doorstep, to their place of work, reliably and safely, every day for less than the price of a bus ticket.

This technology will not only challenge the concept of private car ownership, but will revolutionise all other forms of public transport and urban planning. Transport oriented development if ever there was.

Interesting therefore, that the quaint 70’s notion of carpooling and sharing scarce resources, will not only provide a solution to congestion for the next five to ten years, but will also emerge as the transport option of choice in the future of urban mobility.

Government has asked for radical economic transformation, but the point is, we can have as many ideas and set-up as many businesses as we like, if the people who need to run it and work it, cannot get there, we will not move forward. So, what is impeding Government (local and national) from rubber stamping a framework around carpooling to get South Africa moving?

Chris Megan is the CEO and co-Founder of mobility app, uGoMyWay.

How to take data analysis to the next level with AI

The Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are just some of the technology phrases that are becoming part of business discussions at insurance companies across South Africa.

Even though insurance companies are incredibly data rich, very few of them harness the potential of data for more customised solutions tailored for an increasingly knowledgeable customer base. It is no longer good enough to provide generic products and services. The connected citizen expects more nuanced offerings that consider their specific wants and needs.

Connected everywhere

With the growth of IoT (the telemetry systems of old), insurance companies have an incredibly powerful ally to create such bespoke solutions. Already, some are using these devices to track driver behaviour for reduced (or loaded) premiums. Up until recently, much of this analysis was driven by employees with specialist data skill sets. And while it helped to differentiate these insurers from their competitors, there is still opportunity for even more growth.

Thanks to AI, analysis can go to the next level.

Using advanced machine-learning algorithms, companies can start implementing AI as a real-time analysis tool that provides product developers with insights previously hidden away. Even the best (human) data scientist is no match for a computer when it comes to data analysis.

AI is not just about chat bots. It is about taking data sets, interpreting them against specific requirements, and providing the insights needed for solutions catering for a specific customer segment. Pairing this AI analysis with data provided by IoT devices, an insurance company can more accurately understand customer behaviour and potentially identify how additional solutions can be bundled into existing offerings.

Unlocking value

Because how much of what IoT does is hidden to the end-user, there is a seamless integration with other insurance value propositions. Once a connected device is installed on a vehicle, the end-user can carry on as normal.

Beyond driving, there are already examples of how IoT can help medical professionals identify heart attack symptoms in people who wear pacemakers and act (and respond) accordingly. Granted, people are concerned about potential privacy and security issues. However, legislation and compliancy drive much of the developments in insurance. Companies therefore need to make sure that how they gather information and analyse it adheres to the law. The financial penalties (and impact on brand reputation) are significant if they fail to do so.

With AI and IoT combining to offer competitive value, insurance companies need to embrace the next-level data analytics it provides for. The alternative will have a negative impact on growth potential and attracting an expanding, more connected, customer pool.

Kelly Preston is the data analytics manager at SilverBridge.

What you need to know about the rise of biometrics in business

Biometrics may at the outset seem like a space-age, technology driven discipline, but using unique physical characteristics as identifying features is nothing new. Artefacts discovered in ancient Babylon and China have been uncovered bearing handprints and fingerprints that scholars believe were used for everything from business to criminal prosecution. Technology, and a greater understanding of what makes humans unique on a biological and behavioural level, have accelerated and expanded the biometric field to practically limitless applications in the modern business landscape.

From the fingerprint scanners that we use to get into the office every day, to the nifty facial recognition features being used to unlock smartphones, biometrics has been sneaking stealthily into our lives for years. But in an age where so much of our daily lives is carried out remotely and online, threats of cybercrime and fraud are driving a new wave of biometric controls that are being layered over our personal and professional online functions, with surprising urgency and a vast array of innovative techniques.

It’s safe to say that digital banking has surpassed real-world banking in much of the developed world. Thanks to the need for ever-improving customer service, ever higher levels of speed and efficiency, as well as the limitless financial and reputational risks that go along with online financial services, banks, insurers and other financial service providers are embracing biometrics like never before to gain the competitive edge over their peers.

In the financial services sector in particular, we are bound to see more and more biometrics being made use of in unobtrusive and creative ways over the next few years. We live in a mobile age, and people are understandably less and less eager to go into their bank branch unnecessarily. And since customer service and digital security are two of the biggest opportunities for both consumer and commercial banks to differentiate themselves from the competition, the race is on to incorporate biometrics in meaningful and original ways.

From established, old-world techniques such as fingerprint recognition, to more advanced applications like voice recognition and iris scanning, the reliability of these technologies is growing in leaps and bounds – but it’s not quite foolproof. Not yet, anyway.

A burn or scar could make fingerprint identification difficult, while a cold could affect our ability to use voice identification. Even the unique patterns of our irises have been known to change over time. The real power of biometrics is not in its ability to completely replace the identifiers we rely on today, but to add an extra layer of security and convenience to transactions without affecting speed, efficiency, or the customer experience.

Balancing this trade-off between security and user-experience will divide the winners from the losers in the coming years, and biometric measures are helping organisations around the world to add new levels of excellence to both. As we continue to see ever-more creative developments in this field, it’s becoming clear that biometric technologies are no longer a gimmick, but are part and parcel of the merge we are seeing between the real world and the digital, contributing to a more seamless transition for both organisations and individual consumers.

Davina Myburgh is the Director of Core Credit for TransUnion Africa.

How low inflation boosts take-home salaries and pensions

Latest data suggests upward movement will contribute to consumer recovery in coming months. South African salaries increased for the fifth consecutive month in July with average salaries and pensions rising – leading to the strong possibility of a consumer recovery. This is according to the latest monthly data from BankservAfrica’s Disposable Salary Index (BDSI) and Private Pension Index (BPPI).
The BDSI, a unique time series which tracks and measures salary growth in South Africa according to monthly salaries paid into the BankservAfrica payments system, reflected an increase in real salaries of 2.5% in July, representing the fastest increase since August 2015. This while average disposable salaries increased at a faster pace than inflation.
This upward movement is also evident at nominal levels, where salaries increased at 7.6% – the same experienced as March 2017 and the highest since December 2014.
The salary growth is reflected in increased consumer spending with the retail sector reaping the benefits. Additionally, car sales are no longer reflecting declines.
While the average salary growth can be difficult to measure – as the extent of salary increases differ between individuals – median salaries, which reflect a person’s typical salary, proves the average salary growth.
The real median salary is at an all-time high at R10 680 per month while the average salary is still below October 2015. The median disposable salary increased by 4.2%, indicating the majority of increases were in the middle and lower end of the salary distribution. This increase is the highest since July 2013.

As such, the median salary is 75.9% of the average salary in disposable terms. This is up from 72.7% in July 2012. Average salaries have lagged the median salary increases helping the median catch-up.

These show that the typical employee in the formal sector is getting higher salary increases compared to a few years ago.

However, as the average disposable salary is still below the average take home pay levels at the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, individuals feel that they are taking home less. Average salaries have not yet caught up to the highs experienced 18 months ago.
Pensions increased at a slower rate than salaries for first time in over 18 months  

July’s BPPI shows that pensions increased – though at a lower rate than the average disposable salaries. This is the first time since December 2015 that this has occurred.  
However, pensions paid into bank accounts in South Africa have again increased above the rate of inflation over the last year by 2.4% on average. The median pension also beat inflation but remains lower at 1.4% – suggesting those with smaller pensions are not seeing much of an increase in their pension payments. The average real pension paid into a bank account was R6 584 while the typical (median) pension was R4 547. The median pension was only 69.1% of the average pension.
The increases in the BPPI and BDSI will help consumer recovery in South Africa and build a stronger consumer in the coming quarters. These should add growth to the economy – and pick up GDP albeit not at a pace one would hope for.
Mike Schüssler is the Chief Economist at Economists dotcoza.

How CV misrepresentation constitutes gross dishonesty

The case of LTE Consulting (Pty) Ltd v Commission for Conciliation, Meditation and Arbitration and Others (JR1289/14) [2017] ZALCJHB 291 (8 August 2017) dealt with misrepresentation in a CV. The employee in this case employed in the position of financial manager in 2009 was charged in 2013 by his employer, LTE Consulting (Pty) Ltd for having misrepresented his qualification in his CV at the time of his appointment. The employee was dismissed for gross dishonesty following a disciplinary inquiry. Unhappy with the dismissal, he referred an unfair dismissal dispute to the CCMA.

At the time of his appointment, the employee was 82 years’ old which was way past the company’s retirement age of 65. Prior to being offered the position of finance manager, the employee was offered a five month fixed term contract as assistant company secretary,an offer he refused. The employee was then re-offered the position of company secretary on a permanent basis, which he again refused. It was in the process of considering these offers that the company came across the employee’s CV. Certain qualifications that were listed in his CV were missing from his file, these were a B.Com Charted Accountant (SA) qualification and an MBA from Wits. It transpired that the company’s HR department had requested the outstanding qualifications from the employee but they were never provided by him.

At the CCMA arbitration, the company testified that during the interview, the position was heavily contested as there were two other candidates but the employee was the preferred candidate based on his tertiary qualifications, as reflected in his CV; as well as his job knowledge. He scored high for formal qualification on his interview score cards with written annotations such as “the employee was financially qualified and experienced; and that he was a Charted Accountant”.

The employee admitted that he did not have the qualifications in question, however, he had similar qualifications that were the equivalent to the outstanding qualifications. The employee testified that he wrote an examination for B.Com first year accountancy, which is equivalent to a Chartered Accountant degree He argued that equivalent certificates and diplomas were often better than degrees and that his impression was that a very few people knew this. He further alleged that the company had been trying to put him in a position to force him to retire since he was beyond the company’s normal retirement age, and that is why they come up with “all these stupid things”.

The employee’s representative further argued that in so far as the employee misrepresented his qualification, the misrepresentation was not material as it was not a requirement for appointment to the finance manager position. In any event, it was argued that the employee was not guilty because the company had failed to prove that the employee was not qualified for the position.    

In considering the evidence led, the commissioner concluded that the employee’s dismissal was unfair and that the company, after realising that the employee was passed retirement age, had come up with a plan to force the employee out of employment. The commissioner held that the CV was not an entry gate into the position for the employee, therefore it could not be an issue, in any event, the employee had an equivalent qualification. An assessment of factors in mitigation and aggravation demonstrated that dismissal was an inappropriate sanction.

On review, the Labour Court found the arbitration award was not one which a reasonable commissioner would have made. It held that there was no merit in the employee’s arguments because the employee could not contend to be qualified as he has not passed the board examination, nor was he a registered Charted Accountant as he had confirmed during the interview by handing in his CV. It held that it is evident that his formal qualifications were a material consideration for his appointment to the position as he had received a significantly high score card on formal qualification, resulting in him being the preferred candidate.

The Acting Judge concluded that, the fact that the qualifications were not a requirement for the position does not detract from the employee’s dishonesty in misrepresenting that he was a qualified Chartered Accountant. The employee’s dishonesty was gross and he had shown no remorse for his misconduct, to the extent that he referred to the company’s concerns as being “stupid little things”. It held that the award is not that which a reasonable commissioner would have made as dismissal was patently warranted in this case. In referring to numerous LAC decisions, the court concluded that to place an employee who was guilty of gross dishonesty back in a position where honesty and integrity are paramount to the execution of duties is grossly unreasonable. Accordingly, the dismissal was found to be substantively fair and the arbitration award was set aside.   

This Labour Court decision on gross dishonesty regarding CV misrepresentations follows a plethora of other Labour Court and LAC decisions that have dealt with this issue and have consistently held that this constitutes gross dishonesty which warrants dismissal and renders continued employment intolerable.   

Gavin Stansfield is the Director, and Zola Mcaciso is the Associate from the Employment Practice at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr.

Why the eight-hour workday is outdated and ineffective

The traditional eight-hour workday is an outdated, ineffective approach to work that actually diminishes productivity.

It is noted the eight-hour workday was a relic of the industrial revolution created in an effort to cut down on the number of hours of tough manual labor that workers were forced to endure on the factory floor.

But like our ancestors, we’re expected to put in eight-hour days, working in long, continuous blocks of time, with few or no breaks. Most people even work right through their lunch hour.

If people want to be as productive as possible, they need to let go of this Dickensian approach.

Here’s a better way:

Structure your day

A study recently conducted by the Draugiem Group, a social networking website, tracked employees’ work habits by measuring how much time people spent on various tasks and compared this to their productivity levels.

They stumbled upon a fascinating finding: the length of the workday didn’t matter much. What mattered was how people structured their day. In particular, people who were strict about taking short breaks were far more productive than those who worked longer hours.

The ideal work-to-break ratio was 52 minutes of work, followed by 17 minutes of rest. They didn’t check Facebook or get distracted by emails. When they felt fatigue after about an hour, they took short breaks, during which they completely separated themselves from their work.

The brain wants an hour on, 15 minutes off

People who have discovered this ‘magic’ productivity ratio tapped into a fundamental need of the human mind: the brain naturally functions in spurts of high energy (roughly an hour) followed by spurts of low energy (15–20 minutes).

For most of us, this natural ebb and flow of energy leaves us wavering between focused periods of high energy followed by far less productive periods, when we tire and succumb to distractions.

Instead of working for an hour or more and then trying to battle through distractions and fatigue, when your productivity begins to dip, take this as a sign that it’s time for a break.

Boss your workday

The eight-hour workday can only work well for you if you break your time into strategic intervals that aligns with your natural energy.

Here are the best ways to do it:

Break your day into hourly intervals

We naturally plan what we need to accomplish by the end of the day, the week, or the month, but we’re far more effective when we focus on what we can accomplish right now. Planning your day around hour-long intervals simplifies daunting tasks by breaking them into manageable chunks.

Respect your hour

The interval strategy only works because we use our peak energy levels to reach an extremely high level of focus for a relatively short amount of time. When you disrespect your hour by texting or checking e-mails you defeat the entire purpose of the approach.

Take real rest

Getting away from your computer, your phone, and your to-do list is essential to boosting your productivity. Breaks such as walking, reading, and chatting are the most effective forms of recharging because they take you away from your work. On a busy day, it might be tempting to think of dealing with emails or making phone calls as breaks, but they aren’t, so don’t give in to this line of thought.

The wrap

Breaking your day down into chunks of work and rest that match your natural energy levels feels good, makes your workday go faster, and boosts your productivity.

Linda Trim is the Director at workplace specialists Giant Leap.

How close are we to employers monitoring employees through biochip hand implants?

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and all that goes with it, draws ever closer, frequent reference is made to RFID Chips. What are they?

Radio-Frequency Identification (“RFID”) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader’s interrogating radio waves.

In her excellent article, US attorney Linn F. Freedman, in writing about employers monitoring employees through biochip hand implants, writes that on August 1, 2017, 32M, located in Wisconsin, is offering its employees the ability to have RFID chips implanted into their hands to make purchases at the company break rooms, open doors, use the copy machine and log on to their company computer. On top of that, the employer issued chip can store medical and health information. Participation is voluntary.

According to the company, “Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, and all purchasing opportunities.”

Questions employees may wish to ask include:

– What information is the employer collecting and storing?
– What is the company doing with the information collected by the chip?
– What is the rate of infection for the implant?
– Are there any long-term health effects of an implantable chip?
– What happens to the chip when I leave the company?
– What happens to the data collected by the chip when I leave the company?
– Can I have access to the data collected by the company?
– Is the chip connected to the Internet and therefore, potentially hackable?

Collecting identifiable data through an implantable chip is no different than surfing a company website or downloading an app. In all of these instances, your data is being gathered, accessed, used and potentially disclosed. Consider these questions (and others) so you understand what is being done with your data in exchange for the convenience of not having to punch a code into the copy machine to make a copy. Whatever you decide, understanding what is being collected and used is important information to consider before you make the decision to participate or not.

Biochip hand implants are not entering the magical world of Harry Potter but will soon be on the agenda of HR Departments in South Africa.

Prepared by Lizl Combrinck, Litigation, Labour and Matrimonial Attorney at Judin Combrinck Inc.

September 2017 digimag

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Why are disruptive thinkers so desirable now?

Over the past 100 years or more, disruptive people have generally had a bad reputation. In a world that preferred compliance to complexity, disruptive people were seen to be a problem.

But today, having the right kind of disruptive people on your team may be the best thing that could happen to you.

Remember the bad name that disruptive children got in school? They were branded as trouble makers by teachers trying very hard to teach the majority of pupils in their classes while trying to deal with that one disruptive child who was preventing them from doing their job.

Few teachers understood one of the reasons that some disruptive children behaved as they did. Naturally, some of those disruptive children were trouble makers who did not want to learn, but a fair proportion of disruptive children were highly intelligent children who quickly understood the concept the teacher was trying to explain to the class and, because they caught it first time round, they quickly grew bored while they had to sit through another and another explanation of something they already understood.

So what did they do? They looked around and tried to amuse themselves by catching the attention of someone else in the class and engaging in some form of activity to relieve their boredom. Of course, the well-meaning teacher saw them as trying to disrupt the class and branded them as naughty or troublesome.

What a pity that the teacher didn’t see them for what they were – bright children who needed to be challenged by something more than what they were currently being offered.

The tragedy is that many of those bright kids end up somewhere in companies which also don’t recognise their intelligence and see them as disruptive.

Well, I’ve got news for you … If you have disruptive people in your workplace, they might be just the people who could save your company from being overwhelmed by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Disruption is occurring in just about every sector of industry. It’s not a question of if but of when it’s going to happen. And the worst way to deal with disruption in your sector is to ignore or attempt to avoid in the hope that it won’t affect you. That’s a luxury you can’t afford.

One of the ways that people try to avoid disruption is to do nothing in the hope that it won’t really happen. The fact is, the best way to deal with disruption is to disrupt yourself before someone else disrupts you.

Who should be initiating your disruption? The people who are compliant and obedient? Not on your life. If you need disruption, you need your disruptive thinkers to lead the way. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your company’s leaders have got disruption in your sector all sown up. Chances are they’re trying to preserve the status quo so are really not focused on developing strategies to create voluntary disruption.

You therefore have to look elsewhere in your organisation for the right people to lead your disruptive strategy. Choose them wisely and choose them bravely too.

Naturally, you’re not going to let them go off like loose cannons. You’re going to identify them and start conversations with them to determine just how they can be uiltised. Once you’ve found their particular strengths, use them for what they’re good at.

By giving your disruptive thinkers the opportunity to set the company on a new trajectory, you will be giving them an opportunity to play a role that comes to them naturally. In addition, there’s a spin off – you inevitably get them to engage with the company and so increase their productivity as well as increase your chances of retaining them.

Of course, the biggest benefit is that they put the company on a new trajectory that enables it to move into a sustainable and successful future.

So, take a look around your company to identify people who have typically been regarded as disruptive and then put them to work in a way that will benefit the company!

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.

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