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SONA sets the tone for a Learning Year ahead

Devan Moonsamy

The State of the Nation address for the year 2020 most certainly has been a memorable one. Despite the 90-minute delay South Africans were enlightened by the hope of a positive year ahead with many opportunities. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his 4th State of the Nation address. This set the tone for the growth and development that the year ahead promises.

Some of the notable points that definitely stood out included news on hope for South Africans. President Cyril Ramaphosa did indicate that load shedding will continue however he did announce that private companies will be able to produce their own power.

There was some gold star news for the evening with announcement that 9 TVET colleges will be built and a new science university in Ekurhuleni.

This is spectacular news for the training and learning front as this provides much more opportunities to those who are in need of further education and training.

There was also splendid news on the technology front with coding and robotics being introduced at grades R to 3 in 200 schools in the country, with a plan to make this possible across the board by the year 2022.

However, the best news that we can take from the address is that the President said that the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of small businesses and development will be providing grant funding and business support to 1000 young entrepreneurs in the next 100 days.

The President added that this is part of a more ambitious plan and programme to help 100 000 young entrepreneurs over the next 3 years to access business skills, training, funding and market facilitation.

A personal favourite had to be news on free data for South Africans. The President said that the competition authorities were working on a possible solution to force mobile operators to enact “deep cuts” to data prices across pre-paid monthly bundles.

The President added that additional discounts will be targeted to low-income households, a possible free daily allocation of data and free access to educational and other public internet websites were also on the table.

And finally, we will now have 12 official languages as Ramaphosa said after the department of basic education recognised South African Sign Language as a home language in 2018, and the recommendation by the Parliamentary Constitutional Review Committee, sign language is set to become the country’s twelfth official language. 

So overall there were some golden eggs that we could take back from the speech. Now we cross our fingers as we wait for the financial budget.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: devan@ichaftraining.co.za | Website: ichaftraining.co.za | devan-moonsamy.com

Month of love – Time to work on self-love

Devan Moonsamy

February is not just the month with the least amount of days but it has also been branded the month of love. By now, all our major retailers have decked their stores in strews of red and hearts. Infact the infectious love bug has not just hit our stores it has also trickled in to our social media.

Browsing Facebook and Instagram these past few days does not just show us the latest memes but also now has a range of valentine ideas and hacks you could be using to make this day special. As much as the concept of showing your partner how much they mean to you is exaggerated in this month, what we don’t see being encouraged in this month is self-love.

Sure, there are the odd meme’s that showcase how valentine’s day can be spent alone (this often showing the idea of staying home eating comfort food and watching your favourite movies). But what if there was a better way to feel the love? What if instead of moping about not having a valentine you use this time to develop yourself?

Selflove does not only have to be giving into temptation and buying those shoes you have been after. Selflove is when you choose YOU each time. And why not use this time to choose yourself.

If you have always wanted to get fit and start eating healthy, why not use this time to focus on that?

If you have wanted to further your studies but have been putting it off due to whatever reason, why not take this time as a chance to work on yourself?

If you have wanted to leave your toxic work place why not use this time to update your cv, take on a few short skills and explore other career ideas?

Here are some of the things you need to do to ensure you are on your self love journey.

  • Start researching the courses you are interested in. by doing this you will identify what the requirements are and it will motivate you to get start as soon as possible.
  • Consult with your managers at work to see if your company would be able to pay for your studies. Most companies are open to the idea and often have policies in place to assist with employee’s study needs.
  • Diarise the start dates of courses. Even if you have missed the start date for this semester, why not book a space for the next one?
  • Enquire about night classes. Sometimes we feel discouraged from studying because it infringes on our work day. However, there are many colleges night learning to assist people who have day jobs. Consider this as it would be a chance to get closer to your dream.
  • Family support is extremely important on this journey. Inform your loved ones on your ambition to head back to school. And ask them for assistance whenever you need it. Perhaps you have a 3-year-old and you often need a sitter, maybe a family member that you trust is around and able to take care of the baby while you focus on your studies.
  • If you find the work space you are in to be toxic, take the time to enhance your CV and apply for opportunities that might be better suited for your skills set. Your future self will thank you for taking the leap.

Valentines day can be an overwhelming period with people rubbing it in your face about the chocolates and roses they have received. Infact even a slight bit of envy might overcome you when you see flowers and cuddly gifts being delivered for your colleague. But something that will help you to get rid of the feeling of FOMO is the fact that you are working on yourself. And there is honestly no better love than self-love.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: devan@ichaftraining.co.za | Website: ichaftraining.co.za | devan-moonsamy.com

My company just announced a restructure- What does this mean for me?

PART 2- An Employees guide 

Devan Moonsamy

When a company announces a restructure the first to experience the pressure are the employees. The uneasiness of not knowing what will happen next, results in miscommunication around the office and a lot of speculation.

In our previous article we spoke about how businesses should go about administering the decisions to restructure. In this feature we focus on how employees should plan following the news.

If your company has sat down and had the conversation with you on what will happen as a result of the restructure then by now you should have a plan of action. But before we get into options available to you let’s look at the correct way to gather more information.

  • Once information surfaces about a restructure, be it via the intranet or from one of the colleagues hanging at the water cooler, the first step would be to speak to your manager. This will allow you to gather more information around the reason for the restructure and whether it will affect you or not.
  • Communication is key and companies who communicate the news to staff members with honesty and transparency almost eliminate the hostility from employees. When you find your other colleagues gathering to bad mouth the company for announcing its restructuring you should avoid jumping onto the band wagon.
  • If you have been provided with options sit with your Human Resources manager and understand which is the best possible option for you. You could even engage with your manager to understand which option would be better for you.
  • At the same time remember to practise utmost confidentiality. This means that your experience might be different from your colleague. Perhaps you won’t be losing your job but your colleague could be facing the chopping block as a result of the last in first out policy the company may be applying. If you have been given a few options based on your performance and value to the organisation as opposed to your colleague then do not discuss it with them, as this may cause friction in the work place.

Now once the announcement has been made and you have all the necessary information it is now time to make arrangements on the best possible option for you. Here’s what you should do:

  • Start by rebuilding your confidence. Your company executing a restructure does not mean you are not good at what you do. If you are told that the decision regarding you is termination then you need to work on accepting the decision. By doing this you also have to remember to be optimistic. There are still opportunities out there for you to work with.
  • Find opportunities. Do not sit back and use the time as a vacation. You should look at different opportunities that best suit your skill set. If you need to volunteer your skills for a while until you find something that suits your skill set.
  • You should also look at upskilling. Use this chance to do short courses to better your skill sets. Studying never ends. Work on growing your skill set by doing training and skill development. Even consider online or part time learning options.
  • Being let go as a result of a restructure could even be a gateway for you to venture into something of your own. Start a business. A lot of times we are afraid to take the risk because we feel this is something that won’t work out. However, before you invest in a business opportunity ensure you have done research and have knowledge on the department.
  • Create a contact list. It is very important to create a contact list at the work place. Not because you want to share the information with a company competitor but in the event that you need to head out on your own or look for work else where then this list can be used to touch base with other corporates.
  • The change might be hard but work on accepting it. Do not allow the experience to negatively impact you and bad mouth the company that let you go. Rather a closed door here might open another door some place else.
  • Polish your CV and update your skills. Ensure you call those references and double check that they are still there. Get in contact with recruiting companies as well. This will help you to see what is available on the market.

News of a company restructure is not always easy to handle. But with preparation and determination you can come out on top of this life decision.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: devan@ichaftraining.co.za | Website: ichaftraining.co.za | devan-moonsamy.com

 

My company needs restructuring- What does this mean?

PART 1- An Employers guide 

Devan Moonsamy

The year is 2020. Companies are battling to make the decision on whether they should stick to age old methods of having people do the job or to accept that machines and applications have taken over.

Today, scores of people are facing the chopping block because companies are being forced to implement the latest technology to keep up with their competitors and of course to ensure they are meeting their client’s needs. As much as this is the way forward it is also a ‘dig deeper’ situation into company’s finances often resulting in the businesses needing to take on a decision of restructuring.

What is restructuring?

Restructuring is a choice taken by a company to modify the financial and operational aspects of the company and it usually occurs when the company experiences financial pressure. Many companies in South Africa had to opt for restructuring due to the financial pressure.  

Just last year a report in the Business Insider showed how many jobs were lost when companies closed doors or embarked on restructuring in SA.

Dunkin Donuts & Baskin Robbins left 120 people without jobs when the company closed its doors in South Africa last year. The company said it had unsuccessfully tried to sell the businesses since September 2018.

Standard Bank – South Africa’s largest bank in terms of total assets – announced last year that it will close dozens of its branches as the bank focused on digital banking.  Standard Bank said the closures will affect an anticipated 1,200 jobs. In the banking front Absa also said it was restructuring its South African retail and business banking unit, which will affect 827 employees last year. 

Tongaat Hulett – Our largest sugar producer last year said it issued Section 189 letters to 5,000 permanent and temporary workers as the company battles with lower sugar prices and the impact from the new sugar tax.

Multichoice, said last year  it would retrench 2,000 employees at its call centres and walk-in services. 

Now as much as we think maybe 2019 was the year of bad news, companies in 2020 have already announced thousands of job cuts. Almost 6,000 jobs are at risk as companies including Telkom SA SOC Ltd, the country’s largest fixed-line operator, and Walmart Inc’s local unit Massmart Holdings Ltd plan to reduce their employees after slumps in earnings, according to Business tech.

But as a small business how do you know when it’s time to administer restructuring?

The first step is to reflect on the financial year. Has my business made a significant profit? Another red flag is cash flow shortage. If you see cash flow shortages are a regular occurrence then it is time to consider a restructuring. And another reason why restructuring should be administered is if you try to expand your business and you start finding it impossible to achieve growth.

Now while restructuring seems like a scary concept it will also give your business the best chance to stay afloat and trade while working on your steps to get back to a healthy balance sheet.

But how do we have this conversation with staff?

  • When having the conversation with employees start by being honest and realistic. This will prevent them from being spooked when talks start spreading through the office.
  • In order to prevent the office gossip, have meetings and engage with staff on the way forward. Put up an article on your intranet showcasing information on the restructure. This will eliminate any rumours about what they can expect.
  • As much as it is important to have the information on the intranet it is just as important to speak individually to employees. By doing this it will show the employees will be able to see their position in the restructure and also work on what they need to do going forward.
  • Managers also need to be trained on how they handle the conversation. We should not be telling people not to worry. Restructuring is a cause for concern especially if as an employee you are not sure what your position will be after the restructure. Sit down with your team and give them updates as and when they are available. But also explain to them why this needs to be done.

Now while restructuring will have its causalities there will also be those employees that will survive and still remain on board. Steps must be taken to reassure them of their value to your business and how important it is for the team to work together in order to achieve the organisations goals.

Changes are inevitable and as much all work places undergo change they all react to this differently. However, with planning and necessary communication we can still use this as an advantage to make our business successful.

In Part 2, out next week we focus on how employees need to prepare for a company restructure.  

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: devan@ichaftraining.co.za | Website: ichaftraining.co.za | devan-moonsamy.com

 

Load shedding should not cripple your business – How to be successful despite load shedding

Devan Moonsamy

Load shedding has been a literal on and off game for South Africans. Whether you use
the time to catch up with the family playing board games or visiting the mall to beat the hours of no power, load shedding has definitely forced us out of
the ordinary.

But load shedding has not just hit us as consumers hard. Businesses have also been crippled as a result of the power struggle.

According to Times Live, The Johannesburg’s City Power has incurred a direct financial loss
of more than R58m as a result of load-shedding over the past 3 months.

At the same time Fin24 wrote that, big power users, including
mining houses who say load shedding will be the death of the industry, say they want government to move faster with new self-generation regulations because they no longer want to be at the mercy of Eskom.

Last month, mines across the country were forced to shut down after flash flooding triggered the most severe power blackouts. The mining industry contributed 351
billion rand to the economy in 2018, the Minerals Council has said, equating to about 7% of gross domestic product (GDP).

Exxaro Resources CEO, Mxolisi Mgojo, said instability of our power supply in SA, as well as the cost of electricity, has meant that mining companies cannot process their minerals in the country.

Reporting to Ramaphosa at the Business Unity South Africa’s (BUSA) Economic Indaba,
companies who were in an energy crisis breakaway discussion said they want SA’s energy plan to be within direct control of the Presidency, and asked Ramaphosa to fast-rack deregulation of private sector generation.

Now while big companies are beating a drum and trying to make a noise to what seems to be falling on deaf ears, we have to ask what are smaller businesses expected to do
when Eskom cripples them with load shedding?

How can my business still be successful during load shedding?

  • The first and most important point is to plan around the time of load shedding. If you know that the power will be out for 4 hours then necessary plans can be put into action. Customers can be informed in advance of this and employees should be TRAINED on how to handle customers during load shedding. Employees need to be TRAINED. Yes, the key word is training. Training needs to be provided on how to handle customer queries and work even when we are plagued with load shedding.
  • Businesses should have a standard policy on how customer needs should be met despite the power being off. For example: If a customer calls wanting to make a reservation and you are offline, the necessary step would be to manually take down their details and if possible, make the booking manually. You should also inform them that you will call them once the power is back to follow up on the electronic confirmation that you will send through.

  • Now load shedding also brings with it angry customers. Perhaps your business is a dry cleaner or a hair salon. Not having power can be detrimental on these smaller businesses. The advantage of being a service provider of this sort is that you are able to keep the customers details. By this you can call and inform them in advance if the power is out. This of course preventing the angry outburst in the store and also the customer would most certainly appreciate the effort by your team for informing them. We know a lot of smaller businesses thrive by word of mouth. If customers are being given such service, they are bound to inform their friends and families and thus growing your client base.
  • Research has shown that 90% of angry customers will return to your organization if their query has been resolved with follow up’s and exemplary customer care. Companies invest a lot in product training but this is useless if soft skills like conflict management and customer care are not addressed. You can have a wonderful product but if you don’t know how to engage with the people who are interested in it then it’s pointless. 

  • The idea of staff training should also translate to management. This should be mandatory to all individuals who are part of the business. From the person who makes photocopies to the person in the role of security they should all know that despite the power outage there is a contingency plan to do business. This is essential because each individual is a brand ambassador. They should know that the company will still keep the wheels turning even though there is a small bump. By doing this we also create a working space were people feel part of a solution instead of blaming the problem.

  • During load shedding ensure that staff prioritises care for equipment. Be sure to check that you have turned off any equipment that may be at risk of a possible power surge if the power comes back. Its important to do this because working equipment
    ensures we are able to meet our customers needs.  

In closing, being a successful business during load shedding is still possible. We need to remember that given the tough economic times, turning away customers due to challenges by the state-owned enterprise that we are depending on is a no no. Start the conversation today and implement training to prevent the decline of your business.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: devan@ichaftraining.co.za |

Website: www.ichaftraining.co.za |  www.devan-moonsamy.com

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