Blog

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by Mackie Makitla, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Phelekeza

There’s a lot of demand for solutions and interventions to narrow the talent gap in order to advance human capital. Since inception, Phelekeza has positioned itself to offer Competency and Psychometric services; and seeks to continue assisting clients to narrow these gaps.

The SETA’s have made it possible and easier for all organisations, including smaller ones to access high quality development programmes that get offered through accredited training companies.

Phelekeza seeks to offer a holistic approach to Talent development, instead of the ‘one-size-fits-all” approach that HR Practitioners are sometimes conditioned to apply. In as much as the technical competencies are vital to the running of the corporates, awareness needs to be raised for these organisations to include the development of soft skills at all levels of employment. Unfortunately, the focus is sometimes placed solely on EE targets, disregarding the candidates’ holistic competence. Both the employer and the employee need to know that any of them is free to raise a red flag should a need to develop their capacity present itself. Part of Phelekeza’s function is to raise this awareness but also to educate organisations on the importance of Talent Development.

Using our various assessments, surveys, analyses and organisational tools, my team and I are equipped to enable HR Professionals to improve their understanding of human capital. In refining our talent development solutions, we will soon be implementing new ways of closing the Talent Development gaps at our current clients. In partnership with her company Quintessential Growth Consultant, Jennifer Quinn and I are excited to share these new plans as we step into 2022.

Let us continue in unison in capacitating our HUMAN Capital.

I humbly invite you to follow the Phelekeza story here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34fqXK3hLOk&t=5s  and subscribe or follow our social media pages on Linkedin, Instagram and Facebook

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by Wanda Roos, Research Psychologist and Associate Consultant Member of the Phelekeza Team

Defining the concept of employee empowerment

At its core, employee empowerment is defined in the academic and business world as the process of giving employees in the organisation the power, authority, responsibility, resources and freedom to take decisions and solve work-related problems. In order to take such initiatives and decisions, they absolutely need adequate authority and resources. On a conversational level it means that employees are valued by their employers to the extent that they invest time and money in their growth and development, with the aim of enhancing the potential of the company to achieve its strategic and operational goals via the best contributions of a consistently competent and motivated workforce.

Most human beings desire recognition, power, status, authority, and responsibility, and drive towards utilising their full energy, abilities, and competencies to excel at what they do. Such people prepare their mindset to achieve, to perform, to win, and to succeed. Empowerment strategies and initiatives provide a facilitative mechanism that helps people to achieve individual goals, team goals and organisational goals.

Once appointed, there are empowerment expectations…

For the most part, once an appointment has been made, two sets of expectations become immediately relevant: those of the employer, and those of the employee. The employer expects to have personnel that are aligned to the strategic and operational direction of the enterprise, and who are capable of executing their duties and obligations in a consistently efficient and motivated way. The staff member expects to be given the required resources and support to do so, so that they are able to develop and apply their full potential in their role. It sounds so easy and obvious. Yet so often things go wrong in this space, because there are myriad impacting factors here, available funding being a key restraint in many instances. Also, there may not always be the necessary enthusiasm and commitment on either or both sides… Another major limiting factor to meaningful employee development is a lack of integrated human resource management and organisational development strategies on the part of the organisation, with the result that employee development initiatives often take the form of ad hoc tick-box exercises that are not conducive to focused, long-term growth of the personnel corps in tandem with the direction that the company is taking. The ultimate aim is meaningful employee empowerment.

Long-term benefits of meaningful employee empowerment

Since empowering the workforce in a meaningful fashion is a costly exercise that also requires time and attention from often a dedicated unit in the business, there has to be absolute clarity and commitment within management ranks around the intended benefits that are to be gained. Research shows repeatedly that companies that invest in meaningful employee empowerment reap the benefits in terms of long-term sustainability and profitability. There are some very clear and significant benefits in this regard:

Increased Productivity

Much time is saved when employees can take their own decisions and do not have to wait for approval from senior levels. Workflow is not disturbed due to unnecessary hassles, and delays are avoided. The increased sense of responsibility motivates employees to try out innovative methods of getting the work done. Furthermore, employees derive more satisfaction from their work as their contribution towards the organisational goals is increased. Higher job satisfaction coupled with saving of precious time results in higher productivity.

Reduced Costs

By taking their own decisions, employees save the time and efforts of top management. Since there is a high level of decentralisation in an organisation where employees are empowered, the need for middle-level managers is considerably lower. Properly trained employees are also less likely to waste resources or have an accident. All these benefits collectively reduce unnecessary expenditure of the company.

Improved Quality

Employee empowerment requires that the employees are properly trained in order to take effective managerial decisions. They are provided with adequate resources to enable them to tackle day-to- day affairs in an efficient manner. At the same time, the senior managers can delegate much of their work to other employees so that they can concentrate on more important tasks. Better efficiency in operations is achieved as a result of employee empowerment which leads to improved quality.


 

Competitive Edge

Maintaining a competitive edge over its competitors is crucial for an organisation’s sustainability and increasing market share in its industry. Competitive, motivated and loyal employees play a huge role here. Employee empowerment facilitates the utilisation of manpower in the best possible way. Employees get a chance to exercise their managerial and decision-making abilities while performing their job duties. In so doing, a dedicated, loyal and empowered workforce helps to place the company ahead of its competitors.

Better Job Satisfaction and Retention of Employees

Employee turnover is a big problem faced by many organisations in the modern world. By engaging in meaningful employee empowerment initiatives, an organisation is able to improve their job satisfaction and retain high performers and value-adding personnel. Employees get to perform a variety of jobs at different levels that require different skills and abilities. This creates a challenging and dynamic work environment where sought-after employees actually enjoy their jobs and remain in them.

Getting bang for your buck

Given the considerable resource and financial input required to run a meaningful employee empowerment strategy in the organisation, it makes sense to ensure equitable output for input. In this regard, ongoing diligent monitoring of employee and company needs, as well as of the performance of all members of the workforce – particularly after the implementation of training and development initiatives – is essential. Keep an open mind for special development desires from employees that may not fit a hundred percent into their current roles. They may be ready to be groomed for future value-add in the organisation….

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by Wanda Roos, Research Psychologist and Associate Consultant Member of the Phelekeza Team

September is the month during which South Africans celebrate our fascinating and colourful heritage by means of activities that build cohesion such as music, poetry, dance, food and special presentations that reflect myriad perspectives on our history and on our present, extremely diverse society. It is therefore perhaps appropriate to reflect on the experience and impact of this diversity in our working environments.

Defining the concept of cultural diversity

For an actual definition of this concept it is useful to turn to The Oxford Dictionary, where cultural diversity is described as ‘the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society’. In other words, it may be thought of as a population where all differences are represented. From an organisational business perspective, we may therefore think of an environment where business objectives are achieved through the contributions of a huge array of different people – for instance, people from different races and socio-economic backgrounds, and people with different genders, religions, sexual orientations, appearances and languages. Pretty much like a large extended family…. Or a team of oxen pulling a wagon….

Making it work

Given that the ‘family members’ may have very different ideas about doing things, some severe challenges in terms of actually achieving those business goals and objectives may emerge. Indeed, for the first time in history the modern workplace features five very different thinking and doing generations. There are the ‘Traditionals’ who value workplaces that are conservative and hierarchical, with a clear chain of command and top-down management structure. The ‘Baby Boomers’ look for flat hierarchies, democratic cultures, humane values, equal opportunities, and warm and friendly work surroundings. ‘Generation X’ employees thrive in environments that offer a sense of fun, efficiency, flexibility and an informal approach to leadership and information dissemination. Being the offspring of Generation X, ‘Millennials’ also enjoy a positive and fun oriented working environment, yet bring their best contribution when they are exposed to a collaborative, creative and achievement oriented culture that produces frequent performance feedback. ‘Generation Z’, born after 1996, seems to be more focused on security, independence, and competitive and entrepreneurial pursuits in a highly digital and multi-tasking type of workplace.

Clearly, achieving the organisation’s goals and objectives through the efforts of so many profoundly different perspectives, offerings and expectations is no easy task. And it is certainly not achieved without considerable and sustained effort on the part of not only management, but also each and every employee associated with it.

Creating a space for everyone to thrive and perform

It seems logical that in order to create a well-functioning cohesive body aligned to the same end outputs requires something that everyone in that body values and nurtures. A culture of shared values, beliefs, desires and expectations needs to be established and maintained in order for everyone to whole-heartedly support the strategic direction of the enterprise, and the way in which it is pursued. This means that a core that binds and motivates the workforce, but that still allows them to represent and live their broad diversity within the organisation, needs to be formed and continually adapted and enhanced. Whilst this is indeed an immense task and responsibility, there are several principles that can guide management in this regard.

A key principle of maintaining a truly culturally diverse working environment is sincerity. With sincerity comes accountability, which means that a specific person or unit needs to be tasked with driving and consistently monitoring meaningful cultural diversity across the enterprise. There must be a serious belief on the part of management in the value of a diverse work population with respect to achieving the objectives of the organisation. Superficial lip service and window dressing may work for a short while, but is guaranteed to become very transparent and fall flat within a very short period of time. With that may come serious and long-lasting brand damage. On the basis of a serious commitment towards building a culturally diverse work environment a number of well-considered and practically achievable policies, procedures and protocols should be concretised. These prescripts should be visibly and consistently lived by the organisation via frequent training of its personnel, and focused driving of initiatives to understand and effectively manage differences amongst staff. The ultimate objective should be for everyone in the organisation to thrive and capitalise on the gift of its array of talents, perspectives and abilities.  Such environments acknowledge and respect, but do not dwell on difference – instead, they look for the advantages that are the be derived from diversity.


 

Challenges abound

There are many, many challenges that organisations often contend with in their efforts to establish and maintain effective work environments made up of considerably different personnel corps. For instance, political prescripts from governmental corners can introduce significant artificiality and pressure on workplace operations. Die-hard traditional managerial attitudes may block a sufficiently open and courageous approach towards cultural diversity. Inadequate understanding of the depth of the concept will prohibit successful roll-out of a culturally diverse workforce that consistently achieves bottom-line expectations of the enterprise. A lack of well-considered and appropriate organisational structures and protocols that reflect appreciation of the internal and external environments impacting the organisation’s performance and operations would guarantee the same cul de sac.

The rewards

Despite the considerable challenges associated with establishing and maintaining a fully functional culturally diverse working environment, enlightened organisations recognise the huge rewards to be reaped from diverting the time, energy and money in this direction. Indeed, research shows that the most diverse corporate organisations are consistently more profitable and successful than less diverse enterprises. Their superior performance may be derived from several ways in which culturally diverse organisations benefit.

It stands to reason that culturally diverse organisations have the opportunity to develop and maximise the skill sets of their personnel corps. People exhibit different skills and behaviours, and learn from each other. Furthermore, they tend to enjoy a far higher level of employee engagement and collaboration, simply because people are motivated by feeling appreciated and celebrated for their contribution towards the ultimate business objectives. Given the diversity of their talent, knowledge, experiential and perspective mix, enhanced levels of creativity and innovation are applied towards addressing the problems and challenges of the organisation.

Companies that celebrate cultural diversity in a sincere and authentic way quickly become known locally and globally for that aspect of their business, and it brings considerable rewards in terms of brand reputation. And with a positive brand reputation comes reduced staff turnover, and the ability to attract and retain talent of the required calibre. From a broader business perspective, an appealing brand also makes it much easier to attract investment and community support.

The competitive edge

Considering the huge business advantage to be gained from investing in meaningful, sincere and authentic workplace cultural diversity, the dedicated and long-term effort that it demands may seem like a small price to pay. Patience, persistence and allowing the process to grow organically seems like a good way to go!

At our core Phelekeza offers innovative and customisable human capital solutions, designed to get the most out of the people in your organisation.

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