JSE HR director Donald Khumalo on the introduction of 'No-Meeting Wednesdays'

JSE employees have the first and third Wednesday of every month blocked out in their calendars.

Following its pioneering gender-neutral parental leave policy, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange has now introduced another human capital policy that proves the organisation has kept its people top of mind during the Covid-19 pandemic.  'No-Meeting Wednesdays' (NMW) was launched on 5 August as a relief measure that will afford employees the opportunity to advance their projects and produce quality work with minimal distractions. 

To ensure that everybody complies with the policy, JSE employees are literally unable to book meetings on the first and third Wednesday of every month as those days have been blocked out in their calendars by the HR department. 

“Remote working has led to an increase in meetings, which have inadvertently taken away the benefit of working from home because employees are being inundated with meetings and, at the JSE, many us were starting to feel all 'zoomed out’ or ‘MS Teamed out’ depending on the applicable platform,” says JSE HR director Donald Khumalo.   

The JSE released two surveys since the employees began working from home to find out how they were dealing with the transition and much of the feedback they received was around meeting fatigue.

“When we were all in the office, it was easier to have a query resolved by colleagues walking to one another’s offices and having a quick chat but now that we are all working from home, almost everything seems to require an entire meeting. We felt that, as an employee committee to improving employee wellness, we had to do something about it,” says Donald. 

NMW was launched to ensure that those days are dedicated to optimising staff productivity and easing the pressure that comes with attending multiple meetings while delivering on core business objectives. That said, the applicable Wednesdays remain normal working days during which business operations continue to run smoothly. 

“The added benefit for employees is that they can now schedule ‘me time’  on those days when they would like to take an hour to visit a doctor, get a massage, or simply unplug and recharge for a bit.”

The five Ps

In addition to NMW, Donald says the JSE has introduced change management principles that will help “our colleagues to have productive meetings. This is a set of guidelines based on the five ‘Ps’ for having effective meetings, namely purpose, preparation, process participation and payoff.”

The five Ps are explained to employees as follows:

  1. Purpose: Every productive meeting must have a clear purpose.
  2. Preparation: Preparation is key to productive meetings which is why each attendee must arrive at the meeting prepared to add value.
  3. Process: Productive meetings have a clear process, which is defined by an agenda.
  4. Participation: People should only be invited to meetings if they have something valuable to contribute.
  5. Payoff: In a productive meeting, everyone should make progress that feeds into the success of the JSE.

“In order for the 5 P’s to work effectively, the organiser of a meeting must include these in the meeting invite. If an organiser does not include the 5 P’s attendees should request this to ensure that it is applied. Applying the 5 P’s will empower us to engage in shorter, focused, value-adding meetings and thus resulting in a reduction of our overall meetings,” says Donald.

Donald says NMW and the concerted effort put towards having more effective meetings demonstrates how Connecting for Co-creation is one of the JSE’s core values and promotes constructive engagement and productivity.

“It is vital for us to avoid creating unnecessary pressure during the rest of the week so that we can reap the benefits of NMW and not deter from the productivity achieved on this day,” he concludes.