“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.
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:
- Senior leadership must articulate a clear vision to all employees.
- Employees should be encouraged to communicate openly and influence the company’s vision through their input.
- Direct managers should foster healthy relationships with their employees.
- Senior leadership should continuously demonstrate that employees have an impact on their work environment.
- 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”
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.
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.
A Look At Youth Mentorship During Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)
Entrepreneur: A person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off from 12 November – 16 November. Around the world, entrepreneurs are carving out their paths and are taking matters into their own hands.
Back home, Futureproof wants to instil a culture of curiosity, tenacity and risk taking in every South Africa – young or old, intrapreneur or entrepreneur.
In fact, we go as far as to teach young children from the age of 8-years-old about the art of entrepreneurship as part of our countrywide school program. Most recently, the company has seen success in the Orange Farm area and is teaching 110 Grade 3’s to master the art of entrepreneurship.
To celebrate this week, the team at Futureproof interviewed several well-known entrepreneurs and asked them the big question: ‘What do you wish someone had told you before you became an entrepreneur?’ Here’s what they had to say:
Clive Murray, the founder and CEO of World Water Exchange: “Making money is easier than keeping it. Don’t change the rules you make for yourself when times get tough.”
Marc Ashton, former MD of Moneyweb and CEO of Dynamic Body Technology:
- Don’t start a business…
- If you are feeling foolish and still wan to then do it with partners.
- If you are doing it with partners then lay out the terms of divorce upfront.
CEO and Co-Founder, Lisa Illingworth says that Futureproof has made it their life’s mission to aid children with the real-life, hands-on skills that they need to succeed as entrepreneurs.
“Text books just don’t teach the things that entrepreneurs really need to know. So much growth and economic activity can be realised out of entrepreneurial ventures, but we are all too scared to take the leap… why? Because we don’t feel supported and we would probably prefer to stay in our comfort zones”.
In fact, while entrepreneurship could literally catapult our country, an article in the Daily Maverick in 2017 described entrepreneurship in South Africa as ‘Sitting backwards on a donkey riding further away’.
Issues that entrepreneurs will come to face, even in their younger years is that of funding issues, lack of mentorship and opportunities, low skill levels, compliance and of course, poor standards of education and lack of access to education.
The current structure of the education system was initially designed in an entirely different age to achieve economic outcomes that are no longer viable due, in large, to the rapid innovation and adoption of technology.
“Gearing the country up for the forth industrial revolution is proving to be a challenge in both the public and private sectors. Are we really ready and how we use this particular week of the year to relook the problems and derive opportunities from them?” says Lisa.
Lisa provides context on the issues that entrepreneurs face. “Imagine this: you have a brilliant idea but no investment. You have no clue where to begin but you take it to the banks and a few potential investors. Without a solid plan and ‘street smarts’, the deals fall through, or you jump through hoops, give away more than half of your company and land up working tirelessly with no returns. This a reality for many who really don’t know how to launch an idea, understand its feasibility and raising the capital they need through mechanisms that won’t cannabalise the business at a later point.”
Lisa says that the country remains hopeful for President Ramaphosa to implement his vision for entrepreneurship as stated in the SONA 2018. “The President stated that ‘establishment through the CEOs Initiative of a small business fund – which currently stands at R1.5-billion – is an outstanding example of the role that the private sector can play. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups’,” she continues.
“We need to change how and what schools are teaching for this to be realised on a large scale and providing the foundations so that these kinds of funding initiatives will have the best possible chance of growth and success”.
Make Your Travel Even More Rewarding
From engineers to businessmen, hairdressers, creatives and stay-at-home-partners, the British Airways Executive Club benefits all who join.
The British Airways Executive Club is uncomplicated, free to join on ba.com and from the moment you join, you will benefit from exclusive privileges and rewards, such as upgrades, hotel stays and car rentals with British Airways and oneworld® airline partners.
Besides collecting Avios, which can be redeemed on flights, you will also collect Tier Points every time you travel, allowing you to progress through the different Tier levels within the Club, which are Blue, Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Your Tier status will open up a world of opportunities and added benefits, such as fast track check-in, free seat selection and saving your meal preference selection as part of your Executive Club profile for future flights.
When travelling within southern Africa or internationally on British Airways, Executive Club members from Silver Tier status and up will experience a valuable and enjoyable ‘moment in time’ between checking in and boarding with lounge access into all British Airways eligible lounges. Some of these features include on-site spas, wine tasting from a monthly selection of the finest South African and international wines, a Living Library, private meeting spaces and business facilities to mention but a few.
The more Tier points you earn the sooner you will reach your next Tier status in the Club, which will result in additional benefits, such as bonus Avios, priority check-in, extra luggage allowance, access to over 170 lounges worldwide and enhanced opportunities to afford the luxury of travelling in the British Airways Club (Business Class) cabin.
When travelling in Club, priority boarding is on offer giving passengers a minute or two to reflect as they settle into the comfort of the business class seats, meaning significantly more space, which can be utilised to work on your next business pitch, read a book on your digital device or stretch out and relax before touching down.
Be welcomed with pre-drinks and a hot towel as you get seated and wait for the rest of boarding to complete as the flight embarks to your chosen destination. On-board hospitality will include a variety of delicious meals, which gets your day off to the best start or ends your trip on a tasteful note. Being an Executive Club Member, your meal preferences can be stored and offered where possible.
As part of the Executive Club you will collect Avios every time you fly and you can even top up your Avios with ease and make use of a collective balance by pooling Avios together within a household account, to reach your dream destination sooner. By calculating earnable Avios and Tier points with the simple calculator available on ba.com, an estimation can be done before booking your next flight.
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For more information and to become an Executive Club Member visit ba.com
How Schindlers Attorneys Became Involved In The Landmark Cannabis Case
Everything you accomplish accumulates and eventually comes back to assist you further along in your career. This is how a final year LLB assignment became the basis for a Constitutional Court case.
Schindlers Attorneys are the law firm that were involved in the landmark Constitutional Court judgement on cannabis use within a private space. Paul-Michael Keichel, Partner at Schindlers Attorneys shares how they came to be the foremost legal experts on cannabis and how they became involved in the Constitutional Court case:
How the journey began
“In 2005, my first year at Rhodes University, whilst studying for Intro to Law, it occurred to me that there were strong constitutional points that could be raised to objectively justify the decriminalisation of cannabis in South Africa,” explains Paul-Michael Keichel.
“In my final year LLB, 2009, I took Constitutional Litigation as an elective (largely motivated by the creation of a timetable clash, which meant that I’d not have to sit another semester of lectures for a module that I had failed the previous year). This provided me with the opportunity to write an assignment titled “A Critical Analysis of Prince and an Objective Justification for the Decriminalisation of Marijuana in South Africa”, in which I composed my argument (based on the right to equality in our Constitution).”
The start of the partnership
“Fast forward to 2013 and the Dagga Couple find themselves at Schindlers (where I am a first-year associate) to register their NPC, “Fields of Green for All”. The attorney handling the registration (who I’d also bored with my argument) suggests to the Dagga Couple that they speak to me. It turns out that they already knew of me, because my assignment had (unbeknownst to me) done the rounds on the underground cannabis networks. We get chatting and I rope-in my brother, Maurice Crespi, the managing partner of Schindlers,” explains Keichel.
“We are the only firm out of many approached by the Couple who are willing to take on their trial action against 7 state departments and Doctors for Life to push for a declaration of constitutional invalidity of the laws prohibiting cannabis use/possession/dealing in South Africa. We decide to run the challenge for them pro bono.”
The Cape ruling that started it all
“Prince and Acton et al have their matter heard in the Cape, which resulted in the 2017 Judgment. We run a portion of our trial (including expert evidence from international scientists and doctors – the best in field), but it is rendered part-heard. We then heard that Prince and Acton et al’s matter will be heard by the Constitutional Court in November 2017 and we decide, with the Dagga Couple, to intervene in that matter, upon which it is confirmed that my 2009 assignment forms the on-record basis of a major chunk of Prince and Acton et al’s arguments in support of legalisation.”
“Our involvement in the Constitutional Court was such that we provided clear legal argument and authority to support and expand upon what Prince and Acton et al were trying to say to the Court. Ultimately, much of what we submitted has found its way into the judgment of the Constitutional Court.”
How a final assignment became the foundation for a Constitutional Court case
“So, an idea (bolstered by wanting to create a timetable clash) resulted in an assignment, which provided certain credibility and impetus to cannabis activists. Two of these activists ended up being our clients, which, despite being handled pro bono, has brought Schindlers immeasurable positive publicity, and which, ultimately, contributed to the decriminalisation (and potential future legalisation and commercialisation) of cannabis in our country.”
“Schindlers now has a dedicated “Medicinal and Recreational Cannabis Law” department, through which we will continue to make submissions to parliament, apply for licenses on behalf of our clients, support those who have been arrested and charged.”
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