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Engaged Employees Drive Profits and Productivity… Why not in RSA?

Why do SA businesses not understand the value of an Engaged workforce?

Cornel van Lingen

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Success in business requires an understanding of all sorts of intangibles, especially the most enjoyable parts of work, like cooperating as a team and keeping morale high. The goal of making businesses more profitable by helping employees to achieve their full potential is a great one, and could be very rewarding.” 

Sir Richard Branson

Mention the phrase “Employee Engagement” to most senior managers and business owners and you will be greeted with blank stare and a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders . . . fact.

Fact, also, is that companies in more developed markets such as the UK and USA are investing great resources in the development and improvement of their employee engagement practices.

Related: Digital Innovations that Influence and Enhance the Shopper Path to Purchase

They are doing so because, time and again, the proof has been in the pudding – with companies reporting high levels of employee engagement also reporting sharp increases in profits and productivity, and sharp declines in staff attrition rate (thereby reducing costs associated with brining new employees on board and up to speed with desired performance levels).

What is Employee Engagement?

In short: An engaged employee is one that positively and proactively influences business operations. They are innovative, they are problem solvers and, as research from around the world shows, they contribute massively to the productivity and profitability of their companies.

An engaged employee is not one that is happy to sit at work all day and who is socially well integrated into the organisation – it is a person who understands their role, with the desire, drive and tools at their disposal to get the job done to the best of their ability.

No Fluff . . . Real Numbers

Ignoring the concept and writing it off as “fluffy stuff” is to the detriment of companies and the economies in which they operate, with research by Gallup estimating that unengaged (unproductive) employees cost the UK economy $64.8 billion a year.

That’s over 770 billion rand, every 365 days.

For a glimpse of the cost on a local scale, take into consideration that last year’s Numsa strike cost in excess of R300m a day, with total cost to economy estimates in the R10b range . . . caused by one union, in just a few months.

This does not even touch on the economic costs of hundreds of thousands, or millions of South Africans, just going through the motions and being at work solely to collect a paycheck.

Considering that 85% of respondents (in 2014s State of Employee Engagement in RSA Survey Report …view CNBC video) revealed that their companies could do significantly more to engage more openly, actively and frequently with staff . . . this number could be staggering.

The 2014 report also revealed that 67% of South Africans were unsatisfied with the clarity and overall quality of leadership at their organisations – pointing to consistent communication failures between management and staff.

Examples of Strategies to Boost Employee Engagement?

It largely boils down to leadership (not management) and how your company’s leaders communicate with staff in general. Building an engaged workforce is a long-term and ongoing initiative that encompasses 5 key aspects:

  1. Senior leadership must articulate a clear vision to all employees.
  2. Employees should be encouraged to communicate openly and influence the company’s vision through their input.
  3. Direct managers should foster healthy relationships with their employees.
  4. Senior leadership should continuously demonstrate that employees have an impact on their work environment.
  5. Managers should show employees that they are valued as true contributors, giving them a sense of empowerment.

From Good to Great – What’s Stopping Us?

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace”

                     Doug Conant

Currently the biggest obstacle to enhancing engagement in local companies is management buy-in.

South African executives do not recognise employee engagement as a real factor that impacts their business. As long as those attitudes remain in place it will be nearly impossible to affect the positive change required.

Related: How SA’s Management and Communication is Failing

This year’s survey on the State of Employee Engagement in RSA will be made available soon, with the report due toward the end of July.

It will be certainly be interesting to see if South African businesses, like their global counterparts, are heeding the call, showing initiative, being innovative and motivated to make employee engagement count . . . in all spheres of business.

Cornel van Lingen is the Managing Director of PDT, a leading South African Technology Company focusing on digital and communication solutions. He focuses on the corporate and retail section of PDT. In 10 years he has helped grow PDT into a leader in its field, counting BHP Billiton, PEP Store Group and Continental Outdoor among its valued clients. Cornel is a devoted Sharks supporter and can’t live without his wife, children and golf clubs.

Business Landscape

4 Vital Differences Between King III And King IV™ On Corporate Governance

April 2018 marks a year since the effective date of the IoDSA’s (Institute of Directors in Southern Africa) latest report, the King IV Report on Corporate Governance ™ (King IV™), on effective and ethical corporate governance.

Ilana Steyn

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What is the King Report?

If you’re not familiar with the King Reports: it’s a series of reports that translate international standards and big-time happenings on corporate governance into set of local principles. Each new Report replaces the former.

The aim of the King Report is to set up actionable principles for South African company leadership to act as modern, good corporate citizens.

It also ensures those in leadership positions act in the best interest of the company and all parties influenced by the company. The first Report, King I, published in 1994, and was the first officiated document of its kind in South Africa.

Why is it useful to my business?

The Report also promotes transparency within your company’s leadership to ensure transgressions aren’t hidden that will eventually damage the company.

Related: South African Millennials Key To Enforcing King IV

The Report also ensure blunders can be evaluated, found and corrected ASAP. Today, its mandatory for all JSE listed companies to implement the Report into their company policy. If you’re a smaller business or a non-profit, you can comply with the Report voluntarily; by applying the principles you’re essentially ensuring the long-term sustainability and survival of the business.

It also helps that create a healthy corporate culture and when your business’s foundation is healthy, growth is unthreatened. If you haven’t applied any of the former Reports in your business, you’re in luck; King IV™ is the simplest, and seemingly the most practical, Report in the family of four reports.

Why was King IV™ needed?

Companies, especially smaller businesses, often struggled to apply the King III due to its long-winded structure.

Also, King IV™ was needed because King III, published in 2009, was out-dated in terms of present-day concerns like technological advances, the increased need for online transparency, long-term resource sustainability and information security.

Here’s the rundown of the most significant differences between King IV™ and King III.

1. King IV’s™ structure is much simpler to apply

While King III did a good job of summarising the extensive scope of effective and ethical governance into 75 principles, the Report still lacked clear guidance on real-world application.

Ensuring the effective incorporation of all 75 vague, ethical principles was too exhaustive for most companies to implement, monitor and account for. That’s why King IV™ took a different structural approach.

King IV™ boiled good corporate governance down to 17 simplified principles, each supplemented with various recommended practices to make it easier for smaller companies to implement the principles within their day-to-day running.

2. King IV™ spotlights practical implementation

King III lists multiple ethical principles and then commands companies to explain how their management and actions honour those principles.

Unfortunately this meant companies approached it like a mindless compliance checklist.

King IV™ also states principles, but more importantly, requires organisations to actively report on the implementation of the recommended practices thereof.

Mervyn King, the chair of the King Committee, dubs this the shift from a “apply OR explain” mentality to a “apply AND explain” mentality. The Report also allows organisations to report on alterative-implemented practices – provided they support and advance the principle.

To make the application simpler to grasp, King IV™ clearly differentiates between the long-term Outcomes, the ethical Principles and the recommended Practices.

Essentially the new structure and its requirements mean companies have to engage in thoughtful implementation and reporting of those practices.

Related: 5 Thoughts To Give You The Courage To Make Change

3. King IV™ is inclusive to more than just large companies

After King III, there was a significant demand for the inclusivity of smaller businesses, and governmental or non-profit organisations in the King Report.

Consequently, King IV™ dedicates an entire supplement chapter to guiding municipalities; non-profit organisations; retirement funds; small and medium enterprises and state-owned entities in the implementation of the Report.

Also, where King III used terms like “companies” and “boards”, King IV™ very purposefully uses more inclusive terms like “governing bodies” and “organisations” throughout the report.

It’s clear that King IV™ aims to move the principles on good corporate governance into real-world action – for all organisations.

4. Difference 3: King IV™ pushes for more accountability, transparency and reporting

What King IV™ does quite differently from King III, is recommending the application of its principles within set timelines, reports and committees within it’s recommended practices.

King IV™ strongly propagates transparency, the delegation of responsibility and the implementation of accountability by putting pen to paper in term of officiated aims, bodies responsible for those aims and the provisions of consistent reports.

Take leadership as an example, where King III would just stipulate what being a good leader means, King IV™ advises you to set goals, delegate responsibility and evaluate progress through reports and accountability.

An example would be to set up a committee, consisting of lower management levels, with clearly identifiable responsibilities and then to measure their progress via reports.

It comes down to the ignorance no longer being a valid excuse. Directors should be aware of all issues within your company.

Directors should take responsibility for everything that happens within their organisation – you can’t plead innocence on the grounds of not knowing. There should rather be reports in place to identify and uncover any discrepancies early on.

Essentially, where King III lacks in the aim of ensuring the actualisation of good corporate citizenship, King IV™ steps up the game.

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Business Landscape

How Economic Crime Is Impacting Business In South Africa

77% of SA organisations have experienced economic crime and CEO’s and boards are increasingly being held accountable for economic crime.

PwC

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South African organisations continue to report the highest instances of economic crime in the world with economic crime reaching its highest level over the past decade, according to PwC’s biennial Global Economic Crime Survey.

South African organisations that have experienced economic crime is now at a staggering 77%, followed in second place by Kenya (75%), and thirdly France (71%). With half of the top ten countries who reported economic crime coming from Africa, the situation at home is more than dire.

The Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey examines over 7200 respondents from 123 countries, of which 282 were from South Africa.

The rise of economic crime

Trevor White PwC Partner, Forensic Services and South Africa Survey Leader, says: “ Economic crime continues to disrupt business, with this year’s results showing a steep incline in reported instances of economic crime. At 77% South Africa’s rate of reported economic crime remains significantly higher than the global average rate of 49%. However, this year saw an unprecedented growth in the global trend, with a 36% period-on-period increase since 2016.”

Related: PwC Focus On Sugar Tax

Economic crime in South Africa is now at the highest level over the past decade. It is also alarming to note that 6% of executives in South Africa (Africa 5% and Global 7%) simply did not know whether their respective organisations were being affected by economic crime or not.

While the overall rate of economic crime reported was indeed the highest for South Africa, the period-on-period rate of increase for South Africa and Africa as a whole was below that of our American, Asian and European counterparts.

Global indicators of a rise in economic crime

From a regional perspective, the biggest increase in experiences of economic crime occurred in Latin America, where there was a 25% increase since 2016 to 53% in respondents who indicated they had experienced economic crime. The US was a close second with a 17% increase over 2016 to 54% of respondents, while Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe experienced increases of 16% and 14%, respectively.

Asset misappropriation continues to remain the most prevalent form of economic crime reported by 45% of respondents globally and 49% of South African respondents. While the instances of reported cybercrime showed a small decrease in the South African context (29% in 2018 versus 32% in 2016), it retained its second place in the global rankings (31%) albeit at a lower rate of occurrence than 2016.

One of the new categories of economic crimes was that of “fraud committed by the consumer”.

It is the second most reported crime in South Africa at 42% and takes third place globally at 29%. This was followed closely by procurement fraud (39% in South Africa versus 22% globally). This indicates that the entire supply chain in SouthAfrica is fraught with criminality.

Related: PwC: Pria Chetty

When combined with the high instances of bribery and corruption reported (affecting more than a third of organisations at 34%), the resultant erosion in value from the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is startling. Accounting fraud, which is usually perpetrated by senior management and results in the largest losses, increased from 20% to 22%.

Accountability of the board

Accountability for fraud and economic crime has moved into the executive suite, with the C-Suite increasingly taking responsibility, and the fall, when economic crime and fraud occur.”

The survey shows that almost every serious incident of fraud has been brought to the attention of senior management (95%).

85% of South African respondents indicated their organization had a formal business ethics and compliance programme in place.

In addition, 20% of local respondents indicated that the CEO (who is part of the first line of defence) has primary responsibility for the organisation’s ethics and compliance programmes, and is therefore more instrumental to the detection of fraud and the response to it.

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Business Landscape

PwC Focus On Sugar Tax

The proposed sugar levy is unlikely to make sizeable dent in fiscal deficit, but the Sugar Beverage Industry is offering a helping hand to reduce obesity.

PwC

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PWC

In 2016, the National Treasury announced a Sugar Beverage Levy (SBL) on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) scheduled to take effect April 2018. The aim of the levy was to prevent and control obesity in South Africa, but key industry players also viewed it as a potentially significant new source of revenue that could help plug the growing fiscal deficit.

The fiscal deficit has been widening as National Treasury faces slow economic growth and a shrinking tax base. Initially estimated at 3.1% of GDP, fiscal deficit projections increased to 4.3% of GDP in October last year.[i]

However, official data suggests the deficit already reached R195 billion in the first 8 months of the 2018/19 fiscal year, so it could amount to approximately R250 billion, thereby exceeding Finance Minister Gigaba’s October projections by 25%.

The levy has undergone various changes since it was first announced.

When the levy takes effect in April this year, it will amount to 2.1 cents per gram of sugar per 100ml, above 4 grams per 100ml.

This is down from an initial 2.29 cents per gram of sugar with no exempted amount.[ii]

Related: Silver Linings For Smaller Businesses In Budget 2018

Our estimations suggest the tax burden is approximately 10% given current levels of sugar content, down from approximately 20% previously. In addition, industry has recently reacted to the news of the SBL, reducing the sugar content of popular beverages by including non-nutritive sweeteners.

In addition to efforts to reformulate, the industry introduced smaller bottle sizes to curb excessive sugar consumption and limit the excise tax burden.

SBL excise revenue estimations

We estimated that in a scenario in which the beverages industry makes no change to the sugar content of SSBs, the levy would result in an estimated R1.5 billion loss in sales revenue and a R 1.4 billion excise revenue gain for government.

However, a reformulation by industry would result in a lower loss in sales revenues of only R1.07bn and lower than expected excise revenue gain for government of R990mn.

Given the estimated fiscal budget deficit of up to R250bn, additional revenues of between R990mn and R1.4bn are unlikely to make a significant dent in plugging the deficit and could support the assertion that the levy will focus on curbing sugar consumption rather than providing significant additional revenue inflows.

In our quantitative analysis of the proposed tax on SSBs, we use the PwC Economic Impact Assessment Model to derive the potential impacts, based on a 10% sales reduction calculation due to potential excise driven price changes.

Although excise revenues are expected to increase, other tax revenue streams are likely to experience a decline. Not considering excise impacts, the prospective tax revenue loss stemming from reduced sales revenues and showing in lower VAT, corporate income tax (CIT) and personal income tax (PIT) could range between R363 million and R518 million in the reformulation and non-reformulation scenarios, respectively.

Related: 4 Budget Speech 2018 Outcomes To Know For Your Business

Therefore, the net impact on estimated tax revenue combining the implications for excise tax, VAT, CIT and PIT revenue would only range between R631 million and R856 million, subject to which scenario is implemented.

It is unclear whether the SBL levy will assist in reducing consumers’ sugar consumption. However, industry facilitates lower sugar consumption by reducing bottle sizes and through reformulation.

Smaller sizes nudge consumers to lower sugar consumption

In addition to reformulating popular SSBs, the beverages industry has altered the size of the 500ml buddy bottle to 440ml, potentially nudging consumers to reducing their sugar consumption.

The move to the 440ml bottle represents a 12%[iii] reduction in size and means that sugar content fell from 53 grams in the 500ml bottle to 46.6 grams in the 440ml bottle.

The implementation of the new levy could still result in an approximately 61 cent increase in the price of the 440ml bottle.

It remains to be seen how South Africans will react to the current and impending price change of SSBs and if the SBL can indeed assist in reducing obesity. It is clear that monitoring and evaluation are key tools to help government and industry understand the effectiveness of this initiative to prevent and control obesity in South Africa.


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