Loadshedding Needn't Disrupt Workforce Planning Too

ManpowerGroup South Africa Managing Director, Lyndy van den Barselaar

In its interim results for the six months ending March 2023, the Pep group said that the number of trading hours lost to load shedding increased 500% during the period, rising to 211 000 hours (nearly 9 000 trading days across its almost 250 stores) – and costing them almost R72 million in diesel for generators. Add to that the increased financial pressure on consumers brought about by reduced work hours and even job losses due to the knock-on effects of loadshedding and retailers, corporates and businesses of all sizes are facing a perfect storm that will shrink revenues and present staffing challenges.

Loadshedding has been with us since 2007 and isn't going anywhere soon, which means it's also a threat to workplace productivity without alternative power sources. "Beyond adopting solutions centred around alternative sources of power for laptops, PCs and phone lines, South African businesses need to implement tailored planning around the load shedding challenge," says Lyndy van den Barselaar, Managing Director, ManpowerGroup South Africa. "With the correct plans in place, employers can mitigate the risk of lower productivity in their organisations."


Flexibility is key

One way to mitigate the challenge of load shedding is to adopt flexible working hours modelled around the schedule – ever-changing as it may be - and allow employees to work remotely, where possible. If loadshedding stages ramp up and the worst challenges occur during working hours at the office premises, allowing them to remain productive by working in an area where they are able to access electricity and an internet connection can save hours that otherwise would have been lost. 

Although flexibility is necessary to mitigate loadshedding, it aligns with current workforce trends. "ManpowerGroup research has found that millennials and Gen Z's prioritise flexibility when choosing an employer – which means that employers offering flexible working options will have motivated and productive staff and will do well to attract and retain the talent within their organisation," says van den Barselaar. 


Team Building 

When businesses are experiencing load shedding, this may be a good time to tackle certain tasks that have been pushed down the priority list. Using the lower levels of distraction associated with email, internet, and telephone systems allows workforces to focus on other areas – and in an environment where the challenge of loadshedding may dent morale, team building is a great exercise to implement.

"Holding team building activities during downtime will not only ensure that the workforce remains motivated, but it has positives for the company's employee engagement strategy as it prioritises relationship building within the organisation," she says. "Organisations could even use this time to conduct activities like team brainstorming sessions or planning meetings to ensure all employees work together toward similar goals".


Career Conversations

Further to ensuring the employee engagement strategy is prioritised, loadshedding might present the perfect opportunity to hold career conversations with all staff. A survey by ManpowerGroup division Right Management saw 82% of respondents say they would be more engaged in their work if their managers had regular career conversations with them, and 75% said they would be more likely to stay with their current employer. 

"Talent has become the most important competitive differentiator for organisations, and creating a culture that encourages career conversations will help an organisation to attract and engage the best talent while also encouraging all employees to take charge of their careers," says van den Barselaar.  


Soft skills training

As technology transforms organisations, skills needs are changing rapidly, and companies are struggling to find the talent they need. ManpowerGroup's report — Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions in the Skills Revolution — surveyed 20 000 employers across 42 countries on the impact of automation and found that soft skills are of the most significant value and are hardest to find. 

"Developing soft skill abilities can have an immediate and long-term impact for both the employees and the employer, and skills development in this regard should be prioritised for all businesses. Downtime during load shedding can present a good opportunity for training to take place," explains van den Barselaar. 

While meaningful work connects employees to an organisation and its success, it is not enough. To foster deeper engagement and productivity, that work has to be embedded in a culture that invests in employees' careers, enables informed career decisions and demands individual accountability for career growth. "This requires organisations to actively facilitate a learning journey designed to help employees develop new capabilities and knowledge while providing longer-term career growth opportunities, and while loadshedding may present challenges for local business, it's important that organisations work to find opportunity in the darkness, too," concludes van den Barselaar. 


About ManpowerGroup

ManpowerGroup® (NYSE: MAN), the leading global workforce solutions company, helps organisations transform in a fast-changing world of work by sourcing, assessing, developing and managing the talent that enables them to win. We develop innovative solutions for hundreds of thousands of organisations every year, providing them with skilled talent while finding meaningful, sustainable employment for millions of people across a wide range of industries and skills. Our expert family of brands – Manpower, Experis and Talent Solutions – creates substantial value for candidates and clients across more than 75 countries and territories and has done so for over 70 years. We are recognised consistently for our diversity - as a best place to work for Women, Inclusion, Equality and Disability and in 2023 ManpowerGroup was named one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for the fourteenth year - all confirming our position as the brand of choice for in-demand talent. 

Website: https://www.manpower.co.za/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/manpower-sa/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ManpowerSAJobs/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ManpowerSAJobs



About Lyndy van den Barselaar

Lyndy van den Barselaar is the MD of Manpower Group South Africa.



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