In the scourge of on going job losses in South Africa, SMEs look to be the hardest hit by the tough economic downturn. Over 69,000 jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2018, a staggering figure that adds to the burden of the already high unemployment in the country. According to figures from Statistics South Africa, the manufacturing sector alone lost 13,000 jobs. The whole country saw a R5 billion decrease in gross earnings, compared to the previous quarter..
On the shop floor, these statistics translate to retrenchments and collapsed businesses, particularly in small to medium enterprises. According to a study by the Small Enterprise Development Agency, 40% of these businesses fail due to HR/labour related issues specifically related to a lack of compliance and/or implementation of robust HR processes. “Large corporates can survive a retrenchment process and still keep doors open during peak/holiday season; a relatively comparable labour issue in an SME can likely kill it,” says Cap-H Co-Founder and CEO Jasmine Adam.
“This can get particularly tricky over peak holiday seasons when the business & staff are on downtime but ongoing expenses and customer service must still be attended to. The role of Cap-H is to support SMEs by easing the administrative burden of managing human resources through an affordable solution. It exists to give the SME more “breathing room” by digitising key human resource processes,” says Adam.
Finding a balance between maintaining a business’ momentum and ensuring staff well being can be difficult over the holiday season. If the business closes over December, staff may be required to take the bulk of their leave over that time. “This is where leave planning is important, business owners & managers must consult with their employees to plan their leave in advance so that the business owner or manager is in a position to check if she or he has adequate coverage throughout the year. Cap H creates a central point for all employees to keep track of their leave days and what is still owed to them.” says Adam.
For skeleton staff that have to work over the holiday season, Adams advises a few tips and tricks that can be done to keep staff motivated and focused. From having flexible working hours or letting employees have a bit of down time at the office (serving ice-lollies or frozen drinks will certainly keep employees spirits up and temperatures down). “The best approach is to ask them,” says Adam. “Give them room to suggest ideas as a team about what they think will be the best way to keep spirits up over the holiday season.”
December is rarely thought of as a productive time in South Africa, but startups and small businesses can still make the most of this period, with these few simple adjustments.