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Business must prepare for employee of future

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Young South Africans can turn out to be one of the country’s biggest assets, but only if companies are willing to change their organisational structures to accommodate them. ANTON VAN HEERDEN, MD at Sage HR & Payroll shares some of the ways that the workplace is changing.

South Africa, like many developing nations, is a young country. People younger than 35 years old make up about 66% of the total population and around half of our people are aged under 25. As businesses, one of the largest challenges we face is catering for this population’s expectations of the workplace.

If we harness our young people’s energy and innovative spirit, they could turn into one of our country’s biggest assets. However, many organisations are still stuck with organisational structures and old management paradigms that are not optimal for our idealistic and diverse youth population.

Here are some ways the workplace is changing as Millennials (those born after 1980) make their mark and the first generation of “Born Frees” (those born after 1994) come of age.

1.    Technology takes over

Trend: Youth are heavily exposed to technology today. Their mobile phones are an extension of themselves and they spend a lot of time online messaging friends, using social media, and watching videos online.

Tip: Take advantage of young workers’ love for, and familiarity, with technology. Give them access to mobile apps that allow them to be productive wherever they are, roll out collaborative tools that have interfaces similar to social media, and use electronic media to communicate with them.

2.    Managing diversity

Trend: The average South African workplace today needs to accommodate youth coming from a range of backgrounds in terms of class, ethnicity, culture and race. Youth will enter the workplace with a healthy respect for diversity and a strong belief in inclusion across the lines of race and gender.

Tip: Managers need to be aware of the different backgrounds and experiences of the young people that report to them. They should make a point of listening to, and learning from, their diverse employees – this will help them create a working environment and products that meet the needs of a complex country.

3.     Offering guidance

Trend: One way that South African Millennials are much the same as Millennials in other parts of the world is that they value feedback and guidance. They want to know if they’re doing a good job or not, and they want to know how they can improve.

Tip: Make a point of giving younger workers honest feedback in real time, and not just when it’s time for a performance review. Take care to highlight where they are doing well and to offer concrete ideas for where they can improve.

4.    From work skills to life skills

Trend: Youth from disadvantaged backgrounds often emerge from schools that lacked the resources to prepare them for life after school. For example, many of them lack basic financial planning skills or insight into workplace etiquette. In addition, they don’t have access to the sort of public health services and welfare safety nets that their peers in wealthier countries take for granted.

Tip: Business in South Africa needs to step in and perform many of the roles that governments perform in richer countries. For example, companies should try to provide younger employees with medical cover, even if it’s simply a hospital plan, and help them with retirement planning or buying insurance.

Depending on the workplace, it might be appropriate to offer optional life skills training in areas such as health and personal finance for employees who need it. It’s not only right to do so, but it’s also good business sense. Financial worry or poor access to health services can damage an employee’s productivity and morale.

5.    Getting the balance right

Trend: Youth, especially those privileged enough to have had a good tertiary education, are willing to work hard, but in return expect more workplace flexibility than older workers. They want more freedom to choose their hours, and they also value having some leeway to work from home from time to time. That said, most of them also like collaboration and structure, so a pleasant workplace is important to them.

Tip: Given the soaring costs of real estate as well as growing traffic congestion, workplace flexibility can benefit employees and employers alike. An employee who misses the rush hour by working at home until 10am will probably have a more productive day than one who has spent two hours getting to the office.

But before you decide to support remote working and flexible hours, ensure that you have the right processes, technology and management skills to make a success of it. The policies need to be clear, fair and consistent – and it’s important to remember that not every role is suitable for flexible working arrangements.

6.    Dialogue, not dictatorship

Trend: The command-and-control management style of the past isn’t a good fit with today’s workplace. This is especially true in knowledge and services businesses where the workforce is made up largely of bright, ambitious university graduates. Younger employees want to have a platform to voice their ideas, discuss company values, and express their creativity.

Tip: Create formal and informal structures where employees can give feedback. We have found that our employees of all ages love the sense of involvement they get from our annual workplace satisfaction survey.

Regular brainstorming sessions, town hall meetings, and an ideas and suggestions box or email address are also great ways to get younger employees involved in the business. And it goes without saying that managers should have a sincere open-door policy for young employees with concerns or suggestions.

7.    Be prepared for change and churn

Trend: The days of a job-for-life are behind us. Today, employees will move around in the early stages of their careers in search of more money or better job satisfaction. Likewise, they understand that today’s economic climate means that there isn’t much job security, even if one has a good job with a blue chip company.

Tip: Identify your top young talent and have regular, frank discussions with them about their future. Help them to advance their careers and learn new skills so that they don’t necessarily need to move to another company for a new challenge. Focus on a holistic employee value proposition that focuses as much on working conditions and work/life balance as on career advancement and rewards.

And even doing all that, accept the fact that you won’t be able to retain every star performer. Make sure that you have access to a pipeline of promising young talent, and keeping building your skills base.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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