by Robyn Evans

Over the past few years, government has created several structures that allow business to benefit from workplace entrants. As a result, many businesses have taken on people who are entering the working world, some for the first time.

My question is: how satisfied are you with the work of those entering your organisation? And how much effort is your organisation putting in to increasing that return on investment?

The reality is that we are missing one another. Workplace entrants are either graduates, those who are unemployed (and entering their first job) or re-employed (those who have been employed and lost their job).

Now each of these groups comes with their own unique challenges and benefits. Unless organisations have support structures available they run the risk of not only a low return on investment but, in all likelihood, paying a large cost (not only monetary) for having these employees or placements.

What about those workplace entrants with no work experience and no tertiary education? These employees might come to you in entry-level positions. Alternatively, they might move through a learnership. Either way, we have to take into consideration the fact that the world of work is totally new to them. More than that: their idea of how to engage in a workplace environment will be for the most part ill-informed, or totally uninformed.

Taking into consideration the South Africa population, as well as the history of our country, we can safely presume that the majority of people entering the workspace from this particular demographic were raised in homes where their parents (formal and informal) were either unemployed or employed in roles such as domestic worker, cleaner, handyman, gardener, or other entry-level positions that did not require robust education. Even if they are the children of nurses, teachers, etc., their parents will still be those who were the recipients of Bantu Education.

Think for a moment about what you consider to be essential workplace readiness skills. Perhaps things such as attitude, communication, work ethic, self-representation (networking/job advancement, etc), diversity awareness, conflict resolution, customer engagement/service. Now think about the level of exposure that this demographic would have had to skills like this growing up.

And what of those who have worked before but have lost work and are now re-entering the workplace. I often think of these employees as somewhat battle-scarred. They might have lost work owing to a retrenchment and – for most people – that is a demoralising and painful experience. They now enter a new role, afraid to lose their job again or afraid to mess up and blow their chance.

Others might have been dismissed from their previous job and that brings with it some of the same feelings, or perhaps a feeling of being victimised and treated unfairly. Many businesses will believe that people who have experienced a retrenchment or a dismissal should ‘just be grateful’ and while that is understandable, the person on the other side of that expectation might take a while longer to adjust to the workplace, the team and those in a leadership role.

So, after neatly laying out these pieces of information, what am I saying?

In order for organisations to make the most of their human capital, to get the greatest return on investment, and in order to drive meaningful change and transformation in our beautiful country, business needs to take responsibility for setting up meaningful support systems to ensure that these employees are not only well taken care of, but grown and developed.

What does that look like?

  • Effective performance management systems,
  • Meaningful disciplinary processes,
  • Workplace coaching,
  • Soft-skills training and development.

As a business, Global Business Solutions aims to equip all employees across all levels within an organisation, and in doing so, we partner with organisations to develop their human capital and drive meaningful transformation and growth. That is future thinking, now.

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