Workday shift: nine to five hours are becoming obsolete

However, traditional organisational structures are slow to embrace a new way of thinking.

The days of employees working conventional nine to five fours and being based at the office daily are slowing starting to become a thing of the past. In fact, 21st-century employees want to align their values and belief system to organisations they work for, prefer flexible working hours and spending quality of time with their families.

This was the consensus by a panel in a discussion titled “employee engagement in 2018 and beyond” at the start of the HR Indaba on October 3, 2018. South Africa’s human resources strategies — which are critical for employee engagement in organisations — still have a long way to go in transforming and accommodating 21st-century employees, said Tshidi Khunou, the head of talent acquisition for FNB's wealth and investments division.

“The way of work is changing. The rules of engagements have changed, and companies need to accommodate those changes. People want to be with their families, working flexible hours and working from home," said Tshidi to a room that was chock-a-block. Reflecting on the initiatives that FNB has embarked on, Tshidi said the bank is trying to instill a mindset of "your desk should not bind you to the workplace."

"It's about the output and what you can achieve. We, at FNB, have seen the best output from people who say they want to work from home. Not seeing someone at the office doesn't mean they are not being productive,” he added. Jeanett Modise, the chief human resources officer at Sanlam Investments, supported Tshidi’s views, saying that happy people who make decisions about their own working schedules tend to be productive.

HR practitioners also need to train leaders about embracing changes in organisations and moving away from traditional working structures, said Jeanett. 

“We need leaders to start thinking differently and making decisions differently. If there is no shift in the mindset of leaders then it will be difficult transforming organisations."

Technology and the proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing a big role in reinventing the HR function in organisations. The administration of employee working hours, their benefits and experience is increasingly impacted by technology, said Tumelo Molope, the Africa Division HR leader at SMEC. “The cookie-cutter approach to HR is no longer relevant. The digitisation of employing people are changing by technology and AI. HR strategies need to take into account technology,” said Tumelo.