SA employers urged to “pause, reflect and strategise”, rather than giving return to office ultimatums

While many companies in South Africa are preparing to have their employees return to the office on a full-time basis after the Covid-19 lockdown, some experts are cautioning employers against backing their employees into a corner to return immediately as it might affect them more negatively than positively in the long run.

Earlier in April it was reported that companies are giving their employees an ultimatum: come back to office immediately or lose your job. However, after all that South Africans have faced since the start of the pandemic – financial loss, lack of job security, traumatic loss of loved ones and the overall level of uncertainty in the country – some are saying that employers should reconsider their stance. Advaita Naidoo, MD at Africa at Jack Hammer Global is urging companies to “pause, reflect and strategise”, rather than making immediate decisions.

“…just because companies can make this demand, it doesn’t mean they should,”

Advaita Naidoo, MD at Africa at Jack Hammer Global

According to Naidoo, there are essentially three scenarios awaiting companies following a top-down approach at this stage: losing people, developing a toxic workplace, and failing to attract good people down the line.

“The reality is that after two years of pandemic fight-or-flight survival, employees are tired, demotivated, stressed, worn out, fearful of the future, straining because of the rising cost of living, and still dealing with the fallout from Covid’s impact on their lives and families, to name but a few of the issues facing most people at the moment,” says Naidoo.

“One only has to look at the real-life impact of the return-to-work ultimatums on social media forums on the part of desperate employees who simply can’t adapt and change their lives with short notice to understand that just because companies can make this demand, it doesn’t mean they should,” she continued.

Naidoo says it is essential for companies at this juncture to:

  1. Communicate how the office is going to be a place of purpose going forward (as opposed to employees needing to be there… just because),
  2. Allow sufficient time for employees to make new arrangements (because circumstances and logistics have changed for many people),
  3. Consider hybrid options and continue to allow flexibility where possible and appropriate,
  4. Consult sufficiently and substantially, and
  5. Continue to provide support services and check-in sessions as was done during the pandemic.

Adding resentment on top of existing stressors is a sure-fire way to turn the workplace toxic, leading to reduced productivity, absenteeism, loss of motivation and a negative work environment; says Naidoo.

Source: Bizcommunity

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.