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Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - 02:16
Workload pressure mounts

Skilled South Africans are being overworked while companies struggle to fill a widening skills gap and retain staff, Deloitte’s 2015 Human Capital Trends Report finds. The retention of skilled staff looms as a threat to businesses around the world as a premium is placed on people with the proper specialist skills required in a more sophisticated, fast moving workplace.

Leadership was highlighted as the top theme for South African and global businesses in the 2014 survey – but for the first time “culture and engagement” tops the list in the 2015 survey.
When South Africa is excluded, African businesses still highlight a lack of leadership as their biggest hurdle, saying they are struggling to develop leaders at all levels. More investment in new and accelerated leadership models is being planned to fill this void.
Deloitte’s 2015 Human Capital Trends Report for South Africa, which forms part of the 2015 Global Human Capital Trends Survey, finds that there is a “looming crisis in engagement and retention of staff”.
The South Africa report generated 151 responses across all industry groups, while the global survey canvassed 3 333 respondents. Human capital leader for Deloitte in South Africa, Werner Nieuwoudt, says that when respondents in the survey were asked the question on Culture and Engagement, 32 % responded saying that they “perform poorly due to tremendous challenges” in information and work overload and “could be doing much more.”
“It is interesting that companies admit they can do a lot more. The realisation seems to be that it is no use just blaming the education system as change is happening so quickly that companies themselves need to get involved more,” he says.
According to the survey, 13% of South African respondents have no focus on helping the employees manage the information and workload, while only 2 % rate themselves as excellent with defined programs for this. And 21% of local respondents rate employee engagement and retention as a challenge, saying they need to reinvest and refocus their efforts to improve this area. As many as 40% rate themselves as “weak” when it comes to helping employees balance their personal and professional work/life demands.
A lack of leadership and training for leaders remains a problem in South Africa. “The report shows that 61% of respondents rate that they are weak at including global skills and experience into leadership programmes, while only 6% feel that they are adequate. Clearly, there is still a long way to go when it comes to developing the leaders of tomorrow in South Africa,” says Nieuwoudt.
The survey finds that 61% of respondents rate that they are weak in providing focused leadership programmes for millennials. “It is often felt South Africa needs to develop a far better apprenticeship programme than it has had and this is backed up by the report. It finds that only 26% of South African respondents rate that they do an excellent job of developing a culture of apprenticeship and on the job training, while 48% rate themselves as adequate,” says Nieuwoudt.
Mobile and social learning is becoming a popular mechanism to keep pace with the rapid rate of change, but it does not seem to have gained significant traction in South Africa. The survey finds 69% of respondents rate themselves weak when it comes to providing mobile and social learning, while 2% rate themselves as excellent.
Employers that fail to engage with workers and provide solutions to the increased demands being placed on workforces will struggle to stay abreast of the competition. Lack of employee engagement is the top issue globally, currently rated as very important or important by 87% HR and business leaders (up from 79% last year), according to global survey.
The number of HR and business leaders who cited engagement as being “very important” doubled from 26% last year to 50% this year. Nieuwoudt says this response was as high as 62% for South African employers. This is one of the findings in the 2015 Human Capital Trends Report for South Africa.
“A good place to start would be asking employees about time-wasting and complex processes and then to develop a business case to justify redesign, ensuring HR is involved in these discussions. E-mail and unproductive meetings must be brought under control, while technology solutions can be found that make it easier, not more complicated, to do things,” says Nieuwoudt. “The balance of power in business is rapidly shifting to the employee as they become more mobile and autonomous. Organizations need to rethink the way they manage people in the workplace of the future, or face the reality they will not be able to hold on to them, and then really struggle to fill the gap that has been left behind.”

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:28.6 1st June, 2015
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