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April 2019

Marius Greyling, Pula Imvula
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Many business owner’s/managers will emphasise with enthusiasm that their workforce is their most important resource. This immediately raises the question – why are human beings classified as a resource, such as land, water, buildings, machinery, etc?

Surely, the workforce is much more than just a resource. Employees are required to utilise all the physical resources under the guidance of a manager in such a way that the business is profitable and sustainable. Happy, motivated employees are usually efficient employees who contribute to a business’s profitability and sustainability.

In view of this, it is a major responsibility of a manager to guide his/her workforce in such a way that they are satisfied and motivated employees. Such employees will normally be productive and strive to do their work to the best of their abilities. In view of ever-increasing costs productivity will be an extremely important aspect to attend to. Higher cost could affect the profitability of a business negatively. 

We as human beings are complicated creatures and there are no hard and fast rules to manage employees. We differ and what motivates one person will not necessarily motivate the other. There are several factors that act as motivators of employees. A proper wage is naturally a reasonable motivator, but other factors also play a role. Security in the workplace, to be treated fairly, responsibility, recognition and praise are some of the other factors that influence the attitude of an employee towards his/her work. 

Managers should therefore attend to these other aspects also to establish a satisfied workforce which is motivated and disciplined. Therefore, certain guidelines are to be followed.

A general area to commence with to ensure a positive attitude amongst employees is to create a content and productive workplace. A content workplace will be a workplace where an employee is happy or satisfied and at ease and feels safe and secure.

How do I go about to this? Create a secure workplace by implementing clear rules and guidelines about the workplace and work to ensure that friction and misunderstandings are kept to a minimum. And, apply these rules and guidelines fairly to everybody. Rules will for instance be regarding working hours, leave, wages, smoking, sexual abuse at the workplace, being under the influence of some substance, occupational health and safety, etc. The employer should then also follow the correct procedures regarding all labour matters, particularly dismissal, retrenchment, discipline, grievances, and general discipline. 

Compliance with labour legislation is a major business risk for employers because of the influence on the attitude of employees. In South Africa the labour environment is closely regulated by a wide spectrum of legislation with which employers must comply. The positive of complying with all legislation and your own workplace rules and regulations, is that it assists in creating a secure workplace where everybody knows exactly what is expected from him/her. A safe workplace is established when the Occupational Health and Safety Act is adhered to in detail. Be lacklustre in complying with all legislation and applying all rules and regulations and be ensured of a dissatisfied workforce.

Next, pay attention to communicating. Communicate clearly and often with your staff in order to create a working environment that promotes productivity. Consult regularly with employees and keep record of all consultations. Effective workplace communication ensures that all the organisational objectives are achieved. Workplace communication is tremendously important to organisations because it increases productivity and efficiency. 

Tips for effective communication
Be clear and precise, understand your employees, use different channels, match actions with words, communicate regularly, ask for feedback and re-act on feedback, do not over-communicate, avoid disturbances that could breakdown communication such as noise and very important listen, really listen to what the other person is saying.

When you communicate properly with your employees you build good relationships with them, and when you do that, you improve employee morale, employee productivity, employee loyalty, and reduce mistakes.

The management style you apply will also affect the workplace environment either negatively or positively. To affect the workplace environment positively you must lead your employees from the front and not force with threats. Then you are just a boss and not a leader. A true leader is enthusiastic, has a capacity for hard work, portrays a high sense of integrity, has a feel for human relations, portrays responsibility, has confidence and can communicate and listen properly.

It is also important to consider the tools, equipment, machinery, facilities, and so forth needed to do a job. It is important that a job is done using the correct and suitable resources to ensure productivity. Furthermore, all resources must be in a good state of repair and maintained as such to get the job done properly in good time. Nothing is more frustrating than attempting to do a specific job without the correct tools.

Do you want a satisfied, happy, productive workforce – create a secure, safe and productive workplace.

Publication: April 2019

Section: Pula/Imvula