HR Company Solutions' Giselle Rentsch says employees know best how to help their companies survive.
Imagine having pursued a new job opportunity and received a job offer to start during or after lockdown, and now facing a highly unnerving state of anxiety about whether you will be able to start your new role or not, wondering whether the offer will be withdrawn or if you should even hand in your resignation letter at your current organisation.
It is not a good space to be in, and there are many people facing this dilemma. There is good news though, because in times like these, companies can adjust their approaches and still take on new hires smoothly and effectively, enhancing their workforce and allowing them to be ready with new strategies and operating plans for when things return to normal.
I’ve also noticed a lot of fear around existing new job offers being withdrawn by employers and new employees being left without a job after having handed in their resignation. It’s is a scary thought being stranded without a job in an already challenging economy while Covid-19 is already disrupting ever other part of our lives.
However, people in such a situation should not worry too much because the withdrawal of an offer that has been signed and accepted by a new employee constitutes an unfair dismissal, according to the Labor Relations Act, which states that “once an employer has made a legally binding offer of employment to an employee and the employee has accepted the offer, the employer is obliged to honour the contract and can no longer unilaterally revoke the offer.”
Another concern for employees is that, should they contract the virus, they could be dismissed but this also something they shouldn't worry about because companies should not be able to dismiss you on those grounds. In order for a company to dismiss you after falling ill, it would have to be a dismissal due to incapacity and the company would have to prove that you are incapable of doing your job on a long-term basis. Not only the during the time you have the virus.
It is important that the employee still provides the company with a sick note which is legally required if you will not be working for more than two consecutive days due to illness. Should you have enough sick leave available to you then the employer will have to grant you the sick leave during this time.
Even during challenging times like the ones we are faced with now, people need to know that their new jobs are safe, and their offers cannot be withdrawn. Companies now need to make the necessary arrangements and changes to their infrastructures and resources that will allow you to start your new job on the dates stipulated.
Most people now have access to technology at home, laptops and Wifi, and still have the ability to communicate and network with people during this time. People now have a lot more ‘free time’ to get onto social media platforms and portals like LinkedIn and other networks, allowing them to connect with key decision-makers, new clients and prospects, do market research and start building new pipelines and opportunities that can be adequately pursued when the lockdown is lifted.
Changing your mindset
A lot of people have been worried about what it will mean if lockdown is extended. It’s a question that has been on everyone’s minds, from managers and CEO’s to sales teams IT professionals. And not that it has happened, we can assume that infection rates in SA are not declining but rather going up and the existing lockdown has proven unsuccessful with new infections arising.
Countries like the UK, Italy, Spain and others are on indefinite lockdown, staff being put on to furlough (getting paid a percentage of their salaries for 3 months, including self-employed people) by the governments, some being retrenched, and it’s creating utter turmoil.
So how do South African employees maintain their optimism, motivation and stay in touch with the job market while all of this is happening and the uncertainty in a turbulent economy rises?
One of the first things that South African employees need to do is to start making a mind shift. We often find that employees see their positions in a company as a ‘job’ and that they are there each day to bring their salary home at the end of the month. This mentality is not incorrect, however, Employees need to realise that they play a vital role in their company and they should use this time to see what they could be doing [or doing better] to help keep the company they are working for going.
Many employees do not know the power they have to advise and suggest improvements to those above them. Employees are the ‘feet on the ground’ and are often client-facing, therefore, they have firsthand access to what is missing in terms of service offerings as well as what is missing in the economy and how the company might be able to generate new income by offering a specific product or service the economy needs.
If employers take advantage of this time and use their employee’s knowledge this could be very beneficial. However not all employees feel that they could approach their superiors with these ideas, or some are just too shy to do so. The time is now for Employers to be open to advise and individual and their team sense of accomplishment as well as a sense of purpose that will keep them motivated during through these uncertain times.
The Covid-19 pandemic does not allow that the Basic Condition of the Employment Act to be overwritten or suspended. So, instead of worrying and being anxious about your job security, focus on solutions to help your organisation survive this.