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Covid-19 Workplace Climate – collaboration or contestation?

Covid-19 Workplace Climate – collaboration or contestation?

Several dire socio-economic impacts can be expected as a result of market contraction due to the Covid-19 pandemic, invoking of South Africa’s Disaster Management Act and the national lockdown, including the anticipated worsening of the unemployment rate from 29 - 35%. South African youth could be the hardest hit, with 10-million youth currently falling into the NEET (not employed, in education or in training) category and youth unemployment currently at 40%.

But is it all doom and gloom – or can collaboration prevail over contestation and result in better socio-economic outcomes, particularly for our young people?

“The workplace climate can determine the direction in which the country is heading,” says Mike Beaumont, founder and author of Beaumont’s Service, a group of interrelated labour law content solutions. “Economic recovery post Covid-19 could bring youth, defined in the South African context as those between the ages of 15 - 34 years, into the mainstream economy,” he adds.

“While we acknowledge that many businesses are distressed and that retrenchments may be unavoidable, all is certainly not lost and organisations would be wise to focus on providing community support where it is most needed, recognising that employees are also consumers,” Beaumont says.

In a live webinar on 23 June, sponsored by LexisNexis South Africa, Beaumont will look at the socio-economic impacts of Covid-19 and talk to how seeking collaboration can change the outcomes for businesses, the economy and society, including NEET youth.

Collaborative ideas to avoid retrenchments will be explored including:

  • Holding fixed costs – such as implementing wage freezes and reducing salaries and allowances
  • Cutting variable expenses – such as expensive overtime and weekend rates
  • Short /staggered working weeks – including job sharing
  • Managing leave - compulsory leave during short weeks, leave to reduce inventories, and encouraging the use of high leave credits
  • Maintenance - insourcing /accelerating planned maintenance
  • Increased learnerships - tax breaks, especially youth
  • Skills development - training lay-off schemes, increased learnerships, using all tax breaks, directing retrenchees to skills upliftment

The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown will continue to have a significant impact on businesses and professionals. Frequent legislative and regulatory changes make navigating operations during this time complex and having answers to pertinent questions is key to business continuity.

“Collaboration is a rare commodity built over time but lost over an incident. In order to survive the next 18 months or so, businesses will be required to do the extraordinary. Business leadership will need to give before asking and make difficult choices around whether to invest in people or cut costs and relationships,” says Beaumont.

For free access to the live Webinar, register at