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21 Lessons in Management and HR from June

All in one place: Everything we’ve learned from trends and news in management and HR in June to inform your future planning

New Covid-9 workplace safety tech. Alternatives to retrenchment. And the one skill every manager needs right now. June 2020 was another landmark month for business in South Africa and the world. It was the month we went back to work and restarted our economies. And here are 21 things we learned in management and HR in June 2020.

21 NEW LESSONS FOR MANAGEMENT AND HR FROM JUNE

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FROM 1 JUNE 2020

1. RETUNR2WORK: FREE TOOLS FOR REOPENING

The Solidarity Fund, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, Genesis Analytics, Business for SA, and the Public-Private Growth Initiative have collaborated on a new website with curated tools and info with step-by-step guidance on what to do when reopening – and how to stay open. 

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There are industry-specific guidelines as well as general COVID-19 safety and health resources, articles and resources on a range of topics and loads of downloadable guides. And it’s all free. Visit Return2Work.co.za.

2. FREE COVID-19 WORKPLACE SAFETY KIT

Health and safety consultants Makrosafe and OHSA safety membership programme SafetyWallet have created a very comprehensive, free back-to-work kit for businesses.

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It contains 14 in-depth guidelines on everything from COVID-19 policies to guides on control measures, how to screen employees, daily mandatory checklists and loads more. And the website says that, when you download the toolkit, you get a FREE health and safety consultation via Zoom. Download it here.

3. TIME TO REDESIGN THE FUTURE OF WORK

People-centric decisions. Humanity in our technology. And unlocking your potential through purpose in work. A lot of experts have noted that some of the most important points in Deloitte’s annual Human Capital Trends report (created long before the pandemic) are actually very appropriate during the COVID-19 crisis. So much so that Deloitte itself explains how the general trends for 2020 can be applied in every business in the world now during COVID-19 – see the recent post here.

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Among other things, Deloitte’s original report talks about how a more human-focused approach in your business can increase productivity, how designing work for well-being is a more sustainable investment, how to more effectively use technology to enable people, and how HR must expand to play a much larger role in every business. All things that the current COVID-19 crisis has kind of forces every business to do.

Looking further ahead, beyond the pandemic and towards a more sustainable future, it could be that we’ll need more continuous investment in understanding our people and creating newer, better ways to work. And that’s something we at LifeXchange Solutions specialise in – if you haven’t done so yet, discover our neuromanagement workshops and all-new conscious contracts.

4. CAN EMPLOYEES REFUSE TO GO TO WORKPLACE?

Law firm Webber Wentzel’s Kenneth Coster warns that businesses should do everything in their power to ensure safety when employees return to work. He points out that various pieces of legislation, including the OHSA and Disaster Management Act, gives employees the right to “withdraw from a dangerous workplace”. This means that people can down tools or refuse to go to work, if, for example, they believe there’s a high risk they can contract COVID-19 at work.

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And it’s important because the law says that, should this happen, the company will still have to remunerate employees during the time. 

5. HOW THE ETI CAN HELP GIVE SOME TAX RELIEF DURING COVID-19

With all the problems with UIF TERS payments and applications, it’s important to know that there are other relief options available to businesses, too. Like the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI). Boutique tax consultancy AJM Tax’s Bobby Wessels provides some more insight on ETI here.

6. NEW WAYS TO APPLY FOR TERS RELIEF?

As we’ve mentioned before, South Africa’s UIF-based disaster relief measures for businesses has had mixed success. We found that a huge number of businesses who applied on behalf of their employees say they never received the funds. We write about that, amid government’s allegations that companies are withholding the money, and loads of technical difficulties with the application system, in our post on UIF TERS payments.

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And now, the UIF has announced that employees can apply for the May TERS benefits personally. Even legal entities, such as trade unions can apply on behalf of their members. Will this have a positive effect on TERS payments? We don’t know, but it’s worth noting that May TERS applications only opened on 28 May, with a minimum 15-day waiting period. Which means that, if all goes well, SA workers will likely only see payments by mid-June.

7. SA WOMEN STILL EARN UP TO 35% LESS

This is according to a new University of Stellenbosch Business School study. It found that, while the gender pay gap was improving in low-income jobs thanks to collective bargaining and the new national minimum wage, the gap is actually widening in mid- and upper-income job levels.

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The study also looked at possible solutions to reverse the trend. And the researchers say there’s reason to believe that one way to improve the pay gap is to bring in legislation that would make it compulsory for businesses to share the figures of differences in pay between genders publicly, with government, trade unions and employees. See the study here.

FROM 8 JUNE 2020

8. THE TROUBLE WITH NO-POACH AGREEMENTS

Heard of no-poach agreements? They’re contracts signed between two companies, promising they won’t poach each other’s employees. It’s a common practice now in the US. And it’s made its way to South Africa, according to Barker MacKenzie’s Lerisha Naidu and Thato Mkhize.

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But it’s being red-flagged by regulators. The problem is that these agreements are often hidden from employees, so they don’t even know – they apply for jobs, get turned down and can’t understand why. And competition commissions say this is a form of anti-competition and wage-fixing. Which the COVID-19 pandemic is making worse because labour markets are under pressure. US authorities are scrambling to pass legislation on no-poach agreements. And the guys at Barker MacKenzie say watch out, South Africa could be next.

Besides, there are far more sustainable ways to hold onto your talent. And we at LifeXChange Solutions specialise in real science-based retention strategies – see our business solutions and chat to us right now.

9. WARNING: FAKE CVS THAT STEAL YOUR MONEY

In the past few weeks, there’s been a lot of reports of malware attacks on companies, where scammers send emails disguised as job applications with fake CVs attached. When you click to open the CV, it downloads a trojan programme that infiltrates your computer and tries to snatch your bank and credit details. 

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The trend is rising in the US and Europe, but experts believe it’s going to become even more common everywhere in the world. One thing businesses can do is to help instruct hiring manager or people who accept applications to look out for any CV with the “CV.iso” extension on it. This is not a normal .doc or .pdf, it’s malicious and can fo real harm.

10. VIRTUAL MEETINGS: BEYOND THE TECH

Now that most of us have had to make the leap to virtual work, what was the biggest challenge for you? Consultants Bizmod said that looking back, most companies mainly focused on the technical aspects of virtual work. With too little thought about interaction and employee behaviour.

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Bizmod founder Seugnet Van Den Berg says it’s so vital to build time into virtual meetings for check-ins and social interaction, else you lose the people you’re trying to connect. She gives some helpful pointers here.

FROM 15 JUNE 2020

11. FREE ACCESS TO EDUCATIONAL AND HEALTH WEBSITES

The acting Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Jackson Mthembu, has confirmed in government gazette that South Africans can get zero-rate access to certain websites. This as the pandemic has cut off many learners from in-person educational services, and the public from important health-care advice.

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This means that, if your staff has ongoing training from a third-party, you can go to the service provider and check that they’ve applied. So that your employees don’t have to pay data charges to get the information they need.

12. COVID-19 SAFETY AND RELIGION AT WORK

Law firm Norton Rose Fulbright’s Laura Macfarlane and Frances Barker warn us that there have been a few instances globally were prescribed COVID-19 safety measures – which employers must insist on their employees using – and individual religious beliefs. An example is the N95 masks, which can’t be worn with a beard. And this can cause problems with someone who prefers to have facial hair, due to their religion, for example.

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The team says earlier rulings state that the employer has to accommodate the employee here as far as possible. And at the same time, there’s an established link between safety and wearing the proper masks. You can read the report here.

13. NURSES FILE THE MOST COVID-19 COMPENSATION CLAIMS

According to the Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund, nearly 90% of COVID-19 related compensation claims are from women. They are mostly nurses in the private sector. This is mainly for people who contact COVID-19 at work.

14. COVID-19 POSITIVE EMPLOYEES AT WORK

NOTE: It’s not true that government allows COVID-19 positive employees to summarily return to work. There were some reports last week that employees diagnosed with COVID-19 could return to work even if they haven’t tested negative. This is not entirely true, clarifies Tibor Szana, Chief Inspector of Health and Safety with the Department of Labour. He says that the department will allow employers to let an employee return to work after they’ve completed a mandatory 14-day self-isolation.

But Mr Szana did say any employer who has questions in this regard can phone him on 082 883 5737.

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Also, Werkmans Attorneys’ Bradley Workman-Davies advised on what to do if an employee contracts COVID-19. Read it here.

15. A NOTE ON EQUALITY AND MOVING FORWARD

Transformation executive, economist and strategic management expert, Kalnisha Singh, says that the recent global focus on social ills has led many South Africans to wonder why our media doesn’t shed light on the injustices in our own country. She calls for South Africans to unite in the belief of us all as one human race. Read the article here.

FROM 22 JUNE 2020

16. RESTRAINT-OF-TRADE PROBABLY WON’T FLY DURING COVID-19

Restraint-of-trade clauses protect the company from employees stealing or replicating their business. And they normally hold up. But the law that governs restraint-of-trade makes room for manoeuvrability when you have something as far-reaching as the Covid-19 pandemic.

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For example, if companies are retrenching people en masse due to the economic impact of Covid-19, they might not be able to enforce restraint-of-trade, because the issue of mass unemployment enters the realm of public policy, which overrides restraint-of-trade clauses. Schoeman Law’s Fadia Arnold has some interesting thoughts on the subject – see them here.

17. EVERYONE NEEDS: SELF-MANAGEMENT SKILLS

We’ve all experienced the ups and downs or remote work recently. That’s why LifeXchange Solutions are going to make a big Self-Management announcement soon. Intrigued? We’ll tell you more about it soon. But, in the meantime, we hosting a FREE webinar on advanced self-management on 12 July 2020. See all the details in our post: What is self-management?

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You can also register for the webinar here.

Need help with this? LifeXchange Solutions specialises in organisational change management, and we’ll gladly teach you the skills you’ll need – prompt us here to call you back.

18. ALTERNATIVES TO RETRENCHMENT

Consult with your staff. Really look for alternative options. And don’t go into retrenchment talks with your mind already made up. These are some of the pointers you’ll need if retrenchment becomes necessary. (And it is for many businesses as the effects of Covid-19 start weighing on company operations.) 

Be warned: Covid-19 is a humanitarian disaster, so courts are going to scrutinise every little detail if employees complain and it goes to arbitration. Law firm Barker McKenzie’s Johan Botes gives some helpful guidance and alternatives – see his advice here.

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19. THE IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN CAPITAL INVESTMENT

Creating connections. Offering a purpose. And investing in people’s resilience. These are the kinds of things that managers should be spending their time on right now, says Oracle Human Capital Management leader Ronnie Toerien. 

He says you’re going to need tech and new skills because HRs now face the delicate balancing act of helping people come back to the office while also accommodating people who will continue to work from home – and make both groups feel integrated as part of the team.

Need help with this? LifeXchange Solutions specialises in organisational change management, and we’ll gladly teach you the skills you’ll need – prompt us here to call you back.

FROM 29 JUNE 2020

20. CONCERNS OVER SA EMPLOYEES’ MENTAL HEALTH

Medical scheme Profmed’s CEO has urged management and employees to encourage peers to seek professional help if they feel anxious during lockdown. This after the fund noticed a dramatic decline in psychiatric claims in South Africa since lockdown started. Which seems odd, because this is one of the most stressful times imaginable. Professionals are worried that people are not seeking help, which can have dire consequences.

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21. COVID-19 CONTACT TRACING

Your name, ID, address, phone numbers and who you’ve been in contact with. That’s the information the SA Government is legally allowed to track during lockdown. And now that we’re returning to work, law firm Webber Wentzel reminds employers to be careful to only supply the contact-tracing information about their employees that’s allowed by the law. See the Dos and Don’ts infographic:


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Every 7 days, we filter and collect the most vital news and insights in our posts on what’s new in HR This Week. And then, to promote real long-term thinking and growth, we collect those weekly insights into a monthly collective like this one. We welcome your ideas on topics to include here – email solutions@lifexchange.co.za.

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