INSIGHT: Employment engagement in SA is lacking

September 2, 2015 9:49 am Published by

The concept of employee engagement in South Africa has largely been ignored and is often just dismissed as a function of HR. However, a 2015 survey on the State of Employee Engagement in South Africa, suggests a widening disconnect between senior management and lower staff structures.

A more engaged workforce has a far-reaching impact for any business, most importantly vast improvements in productivity and even profit. In fact, British multi-national, Aon, produced statistics that link just a 5% increase in employee engagement with a 3 % subsequent growth in revenue.

Engaged employees also result in fewer quality defects, fewer safety incidents, less staff turnover, and lower absentee rates.

However, the 2015 survey reflects a very different mindset in South African companies. A shocking 0% of senior management believe that they need to improve their communication with lower staff structures, while at least 73% of non-managerial staff highlighted the need for better communication from their managers – this is up from 67% in 2014

Respondents from the survey came from a variety of business sectors, including mining, banking and retail; a large majority were from companies with 200 or more staff.

At least 80% of those surveyed were aged between 26 and 55; representing the bulk of our productive labour force for the next decade and beyond.

Levels of engagement can be directly linked to motivation or even the ability for employees to adapt and embrace necessary changes. However, four out of 10 South African employees are largely disinterested in their jobs.

South African companies have a serious problem with change management with year on year comparisons showing a steady decline across the board, while the economic impact of a disengaged workforce is estimated to cost economies billions in lost revenue.

The 2015 survey statistics show that company executives and staff are not singing from the same hymn sheet. While this report places a lens on the extent of the problem on local soil, companies all around the world all face key challenges in dealing with employee engagement.

Leadership quality is one of the biggest obstacles to progress, and a 21st century workforce is different; requiring new methods of engagement and retention.

Further, HR is falling behind in structure, skills, analytics and technology, while employees are overwhelmed by increasing amounts of data.

The continuing decline in comparison with the 2014 results suggests that decisive action is required to improve communication and engagement. Organisational management need to make this a key discipline and a paradigm shift in thinking and empowerment is needed in South Africa if we want to move our companies forward.

– Chris Clark: Business Development Director- PDTSA

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