Career

The employee turnover rate in the automotive industry is alarmingly high. In fact, according to research by the US National Automobile Dealers Association, some dealerships report turnover rates as high as 70–80%. This trend should concern everyone in the industry, as employee churn is often the symptom of a more serious and troubling array of issues. Happy people do not leave good jobs. Something is clearly wrong. So, what is going on, and what can be done to fix it? Focus on the employee experience   To start, companies must place employees at the heart of the organisation. Though this may seem easy to do in theory, the reality is much different. Most companies, judging by their decisions and actions, focus more on their finances than on their people. Businesses are designed to make profits, so this regular focus on examining and analysing sales figures makes sense. But how many times a year do automotive businesses hold performance discussions? Maybe once or twice a year? Most organisations prioritize sales figures over performance evaluations because it is in the DNA of their operations—a practice that often comes at the expense of their most important asset: their people. A commitment to change   To reduce turnover, the automotive industry must first acknowledge the need for change and then commit to a strategy that will produce change. There needs to be a paradigm shift from where the industry currently is, where it wants to go in the future. To start, the automotive industry must ask the following questions:         1. How should work be organised?         2. How can value be created?         3. How do we ensure employees thrive in an evolving environment? Mercer's 2018 Global Talent Trends Study identifies the five top trends that can turn around the turnover problem in the automotive industry:           1. Change@speed          2. Working with purpose          3. Permanent flexibility          4. Platform for talent          5. Digital from the inside out Change at speed   Companies must have the ability to change, and change at speed. The world is constantly evolving and progressing forward. If an automotive business is not proactively embracing change—at the speed that change is occurring—it will be left behind. Change, however, creates uncertainty in employees. Change impacts critical matters in life such as job security, financial health and the human need for an inspiring workplace and rewarding career. This is where leadership becomes imperative—by bringing certainty to times of uncertainty. Businesses that are able to provide employees with consistent, decisive and certain leadership are poised to thrive in times of change. In fact, the ability to change at speed becomes a differentiating organizational competency. Working with purpose   Employees remain loyal to companies they connect with in terms of values and culture. Typically, culture is driven by the leaders within an organisation, and it is the responsibility of those leaders to clearly establish the values and purpose of the company. Mercer’s study found that thriving employees are twice as likely to work for a company with a strong sense of purpose. Embedding a higher sense of purpose into the Employee Value Proposition unlocks individual potential and spurs employees to be change agents. Automotive companies can differentiate their brands from the competition by cultivating a workforce of engaged and inspired employees. Permanent flexibility   Two percent of HR leaders in the automotive sector say that flexible work schedules are visibly present in their organisations—even though 50% of employees want their company to offer more flexible work options. However, more than 40% of employees are concerned that flexible work schedules will impact their opportunities for a promotion.1 Leaders in the automotive industry must seek innovative ways to increase flexibility for employees. Flexibility isn’t simply about working wherever or whenever, but about rethinking what work is done, how it is done, and by whom. Getting the most out of employees means working with them to build desirable schedules that prioritize productivity and availability.  Platform for talent   Automotive organisations must evolve into platforms that encourage in-house talent to develop their skills and thrive as professionals. By linking the creativity and ambition of employees to the evolving needs of an industry where skills sets and work demands are constantly advancing, automotive companies can become places not only of employment, but professional development. Thirty-six percent of HR leaders provide analytics on the effectiveness of buy, build and borrow strategies.1 Industry professionals and employees want job security, workplace safety and the confidence that the future of the industry will never outgrow their skills and knowledge base. If companies serve as a platform for employees to nurture meaningful careers, that investment in human capital will help the company to thrive and increase its bottom line.  Digital from the inside out   For the automotive industry, and the world, the digital economy is already here. Companies that talk of “going digital” lag far behind the digital transformation learning curve. AI and automation will continue to unlock human potential by revolutionizing businesses on every level—from how they operate and source materials to how they develop workforces and provide solutions to evolving customer needs.  Fifty-six percent of employees say having state-of-the-art digital tools is key to achieving their professional objectives.1 Leaders in the automotive industry must leverage technology in ways that place employees at the heart of what they do. Put your people first, and profits will follow.   1People First: Mercer's 2018 Global Talent Trends Study https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/career/voice-on-talent/people-first-mercers-2018-global-talent-trends-study.html

Nicol Mullins | 07 Mar 2019
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Innovation

Businesses around the world are entering an age of disruption. Starbucks, for example, is changing its business model to accommodate payments made via mobile devices, which now account for 30% of transactions in U.S. stores. Disruptions driven by digital transformation are re-shaping business models and human resource structures in just about every industry. Mercer’s 2018 Global Talent Trends Study – Unlocking Growth in the Human Age revealed that businesses that self-identify as a digital organisation are twice as likely to report high scores on change agility as a differentiating organisational competency.1 A continent of different nations   While the world embraces a shared and on-demand economy, many countries in Africa continue to grapple with an old and entrenched world order. In fact, many African countries prefer familiarity over change. This mindset prolongs the influence of legacy issues that impede the advancement of labour policies in Africa, and impacts the continent on every level, from political and economic to cultural and legislative.  Interestingly, the legislative policies and culture of individual countries and nationalities shape important factors such as employee compensation and reward structures. Throughout Africa there are two distinct payment structures: Francophone (which involves multiple cash allowances) and Anglophone (which is a consolidated approach including a salary, bonus and benefits). If you compare Nigeria to Kenya, for example, the payment structures differ vastly. Nigeria’s Francophone-style market demands various allowances and remunerations based on existing practices and employee expectations, even though the nation attempted to implement legislation that would consolidate compensation through a structure based on tax benefits. Kenya, in contrast, offers few cash allowances and can be characterized as Anglophone in nature, where the salary and other benefits are consolidated. Africa’s labour market   How will disruption affect Africa’s labour market? Ultimately, it is vital for employers to take cultural nuances into account in order to hire with purpose. According to our 2018 Talent Trends study, embedding a higher sense of purpose into the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) unlocks individual potential and spurs people to be change agents. To find purpose, employees crave professional development, learning opportunities and experimentation. If employees do not experience these motivating forces, they will look for inspiration elsewhere. In fact, 39% of South African employees satisfied in their current jobs still plan to leave due to a perceived lack of career growth and opportunity.1 Embracing the pace of change   Some countries in Africa are embracing disruption better than others. For example, Ethiopia—the second most populous country in Africa—has seen massive growth since it opened up its borders twenty-five years ago. By creating more investment opportunities, Ethiopia has attracted foreign investors who now recognise the tremendous potential that lies within the consumer market, as well as the benefits of lower labour costs throughout the country. Rwanda is another notable example of an African nation embracing digital transformation, as it continues to make significant investments in technology and transitions towards smarter cities. According to the report, the African countries at the forefront of disruptive technologies are all being transformed by the speed at which businesses are adopting change. In fact, 96% of these businesses are planning an organisational redesign in the next two years, and 46% of HR executives are planning to reskill current employees for new roles. Aligning skills with opportunities   The intention and ability to embrace change is vital to business ecosystems. Fifty-three percent of executives believe at least one in five roles in their organisation will cease to exist in the next five years. However, only 40% of those executives are increasing employee access to online learning courses, and only 26% are actively rotating workers within their business.1 To take advantage of opportunities that arise from disruption and transformation in Africa, nations should invest in the potential of other revenue-driving industries. For instance, previously war-torn Liberia could develop more tourism-related businesses and enterprises—following Dubai’s example, which transitioned from a primarily oil-based economy into a tourism-based economy. Innovation and workforce skills development are critical to the future of Africa. The human capital resource strategy of “managing a pipeline of talent” is becoming obsolete as employees seek new, aspirational approaches to developing skills that are aligned with the future of business in a digital age. Though Africa faces a number of legacy challenges, it understands the need for change. By focusing on digital transformation, the continent—and the nations that comprise it—could usher in a new era of prosperity for their economies, businesses and people.   1 Global Talent Trends Study 2018: https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/career/global-talent-hr-trends.html

Nicol Mullins | 13 Dec 2018
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Innovation

Kenya’s vaunted Silicon Savannah continues to advance the prominence of e-commerce and online shopping throughout the continent of Africa. Online retailer Jumia, headquartered in Nairobi, grossed $597 million in 2017, expanding its reach from four countries to 14.[1] Now, as Africa’s startup epicenter seeks to attract more international investors, tech-savvy entrepreneurs and local suppliers, it is catalyzing a profound shift in consumer behavior across Africa. Leapfrogging the Retail Divide   Megacompanies like Amazon and Alibaba have changed the core of retail shopping in western and eastern markets, but the continent of Africa has yet to witness the ascendance of tech gurus like Jeff Bezos or Jack Ma. For Africa, that’s just fine. A new generation of young tech pioneers is driving digital transformation throughout the continent, and changing the way consumers not only purchase products, but organize their lives. For decades, markets in Africa have been incredibly challenging places to shop. Online shopping and digital banking, however, are enabling African retailers and consumers to leapfrog from shopping experiences defined by antiquated infrastructure, unreliable banking mechanisms and poor distribution processes, to streamlined e-commerce experiences. The impact of improved online connectivity (Kenya ranks among the world’s fastest internet speeds[2]) and M-Pesa, the mobile banking platform that streamlines financial transactions and microfinancing, are leading a revolution in consumer expectations throughout Africa. This elevation of consumerism, will not be spread evenly throughout the continent. The Incomparable Future of Africa   Investors are learning that digital transformation in Africa will not evolve in the same ways as in western and eastern cultures. Human intuition posits that economic priorities and trends in one area of the world can serve as precedence for other areas of the world. But this ilk of thinking is misguided with respect to the circumstances in Africa. The explosion of the middle class in places like China will not be reflective of increasing wages across Africa. Multinational corporations must be mindful that different cultures espouse different values, and those values guide how populations perceive, save and spend money. The African continent, and its 1.2. billion people, live in very different nations and cultures. Investors and financial prognosticators cannot approach Africa with the same strategies and expectations as they do other large populations, such as India’s 1.32 billion people or China’s 1.38 billion people. Africa’s spectrum of governments, cultures and economic scenarios span a vast array of unique obstacles and opportunities. Africa’s rising middle class isn’t as intent on purchasing products that symbolize societal status or seeking individual attention. Instead, Africa’s consumers are proving to be more conservative, and are reallocating extra income to savings or family networks in areas with less economic viability.[3] Africa, Technology & Time   One of the top-selling items on Jumia is disposable diapers, which provides a glimpse into how consumers in Africa are prioritizing their financial resources.[1] The obsolescence of traditional cloth diapers for more expensive disposable diapers indicates that convenience and time management are leading drivers of purchases in an evolving continent. Though luxury items such as cosmetics have failed to gain traction, e-commerce is changing consumer behavior when it comes to providing the most valuable resource in anyone’s life: time. It all begins with access to the internet. Eighty-five percent of Kenya’s population is online.[4] As the country’s hubs in Nairobi and Mombasa continue to attract innovative companies and ambitious entrepreneurs, the businesses arising from the Silicon Savannah such as Twiga—which connects local farmers to stores in more urban settings—are changing everything from supply chains and distribution to the transparency of operations. In fact, technologies such as blockchain could significantly reduce corruption throughout Africa, saving tech startup entrepreneurs time (not months, but years) navigating costly bureaucracies and political quagmires when establishing their businesses. Though the continent of Africa is full of rich and disparate cultures and countries, Kenya and the Silicon Savannah have proven to the international investment community that positive changes transcend borders and barriers. Kenya’s tech hubs are incubators for ideas and businesses that will transform not only Africa, but the world. After all, there was a moment when Amazon and Alibaba were small startups with big dreams. All they needed was a place to call home and time to grow. For African entrepreneurs that home is the Silicon Savannah… and the time is now.   1 Meet the Startup Building a Market From Scratch To Become Africa's Alibaba Matina Stevis-Gridneff https://www.wsj.com/articles/with-c-o-d-and-goat-promotions-jumia-aims-to-be-africas-alibaba-1527073200?mod=e2tw 2 Kenya's Mobile Internet Beats the United States For Speed Lily Kuo https://qz.com/1001477/kenya-has-faster-mobile-internet-speeds-than-the-united-states/ 3 3 Things Multinationals Don't Understand About Africa's Middle Class William Attwell https://hbr.org/2017/08/3-things-multinationals-dont-understand-about-africas-middle-class 4 Africa Internet Users, 2018 Population and Facebook Statistics https://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.html

Nicol Mullins | 30 Oct 2018
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Innovation

Cybercrime is not only rampant in South Africa, but could soon pose a significant threat to every economy, business, and person in the world. For example, the data breach at South African insurer, Liberty, in June this year, demonstrates how vulnerable companies are to cybercrimes. Liberty admitted[1] hackers infiltrated its IT system and stole customer data. The hackers threatened to reveal the data if a ransom was not paid[2]. In another breach targeting the government, 934,000 personal records were made public online[3]. Cybercriminals focus their efforts on a common vulnerability found in security systems: people. In a report on cybercrime and cybersecurity trends in Africa, cybersecurity provider Symantec reported that one in every 214 emails sent in South Africa was a spear phishing attack, which is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from a known or trusted sender[4]. In South Africa, one in three cybercrime attacks sought access to businesses by deceiving people.  The rise of flexible workforces is directly linked to the proliferation of cybercrimes. A new era of employees who use their own computers and devices for both their personal and professional lives has provided cybercriminals unprecedented opportunities to breach systems. A new era of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) places businesses at risk as flexible workforces are not subject to the same security protocols as other employees, which means in some cases, those workers—and their technologies—can bypass firewalls, password protections, and other security measures. Simply opening up a nefarious email can provide hackers access to a company’s infrastructure.  Many businesses have inadequate IT security policies in place, especially ones that account for human fallibility, and employees who view security measures as a barrier instead of an enabler for business. With employees at the heart of these vulnerabilities, HR professionals must play a greater role in combating cybercrimes by following these steps:  Keep abreast of security policies   HR professionals, in South Africa, should fully understand the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA). This act legally requires local businesses to ensure that all client, supplier and employee information is stored, processed and destroyed in a manner that upholds the privacy and protection of personal data. This includes protecting sensitive employee data from falling into the wrong hands.  Most markets have similar security policies and protocols. Regardless of where in the world you are based, it’s important to familiarize yourself with them. Address the potential risks posed by employees   The 2017 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index revealed that 60% of cyber-attacks are the result of internal activities[5]. HR professionals must educate employees about the risks of cybercrimes and implement policies and procedures for employees who do not adhere to the rules. Define the rules when working from home   The continued rise of the BYOD era is inevitable. The 2018 Mercer Global Talent Trends report noted that 82% of executives say that flexible workforces are essential to their core business operations[6]. HR professionals need to ensure that the right policies are in place to enable this trend to evolve within a South African context. Employees should understand the need to keep their security software up to date at all times—including when working from home.  Over the next five years, cybercrimes are projected to cost businesses US$8 trillion. Businesses that fail to address the severity and inevitability of cyber attacks are not fulfilling their professional—and now legal—obligations to their employees and customers. By embedding policies and rules to manage the era of BYOD and educating employees about the sophisticated tactics criminals use in the digital age, HR professionals can play an integral role in limiting exposure to risk and costly security breaches.    1 https://www.libertyholdings.co.za/investor/Documents/20180802-media-release.pdf 2 https://www.fin24.com/Companies/Financial-Services/liberty-falls-victim-to-hackers-20180617 3 https://www.troyhunt.com/questions-about-the-massive-south-african-master-deeds-data-breach-answered/ 4 https://www.symantec.com/content/dam/symantec/docs/reports/cyber-security-trends-report-africa-interactive-en.pdf 5 https://www.leadersinsecurity.org/component/phocadownload/category/11-2017-cybersecurity-publications.html?download=185:2017-cybersecurity-publications 6 https://www.mercer.com/our-thinking/career/global-talent-hr-trends.html

Nicol Mullins | 16 Oct 2018
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