Prior to 2020 there were a myriad reports and studies trying to predict what the workplace of the future would look like. Now that we’re in 2020 it’s time to see what the actual working environment is like, and how companies are aiming to attract and retain talent in this new decade.

Looking at this too is search firm Jack Hammer, which recently released its annual HR Survey which polled the HR directors from 28 major companies in a variety of different industries including fintech, financial services, health, education, retail, media, manufacturing, and the NGO sector.

Not all about the money

“Globally, the trend is for companies’ talent retention strategies to look beyond mere financial incentive, and to implement measures that ensure employee buy-in and engagement as a result of the focus on their wellbeing,” says Advaita Naidoo, COO at Jack Hammer.

“We were therefore interested to see how South African companies fare in this regard, and to find out what measures have been introduced in local workplaces,” she adds.

She also notes that the survey allowed for open-ended response answers to the strategies companies have employed which had a notably positive result on employee engagement, wellness and productivity.

The “new ways of working” according to those SA companies polled are:

  • Remote working solutions is sitting at 54 percent of companies.
  • Companies paying for in-house catering is at 25 percent.
  • Flexible hours are at 54 percent.
  • Purposefully designed and engaging workplaces are 36 percent.
  • Providing physical and mental wellbeing initiatives is 29 percent.

The survey also found the following emerging requirements:

  • Relaxed dress codes.
  • Extended/non-traditional leave policies.
  • International secondments.
  • Study options for employees and families.
  • Sabbaticals for long tenure.
  • On-site childcare.

“Companies are really starting to take on board the importance of being outcome rather than output and process-driven, and the fact that treating employees like adults actually empowers them, leading to an increase in engagement and productivity,” adds Naidoo.

The COO also points to how other industries are not starting to catch-up to fintech and financial services in terms of adopting new ways of working, with those sectors previously leading the way in past surveys.

Culture too, and addressing or implementing any changes to it in particular, is something that more companies and industries are becoming cognisant of.

“From all the respondents we are seeing an understanding that a culture of trust is paramount, and that policing should be giving way to a focus on deliverables and engagement,” she adds.

Keeping talent in-house

It is these sorts of elements which are becoming the determining factor as far as employee and skills retention goes.

“In the SA market, competition for talent is less robust, but in the tech space, the same principles apply, with a high demand for skills which are in short supply. What makes the difference then, is workplace culture and benefits. Of course, because of our economy, employers are also searching for ways to incentivise and retain talent, and this is where these non-financial incentives can make a difference,” the COO points out.

Making such changes, although an imperative, is proving difficult for some companies to design and implement.

“It is of course easy to establish these practices as the norm when you’re starting from scratch with a new start-up, but it is much more difficult to implement in a behemoth or an older company,” Naidoo stresses.

“What is clear however is that companies, regardless of established policy and practices which are often decades-old, should at the very least start thinking in that direction if they are to keep up with the changing world of work and the work-life approach of new generations of workers,” she concludes.

[Image – Photo by Shridhar Gupta on Unsplash]