09 November 2020

Morality and Reality: Restructuring in the time of COVID

Submitted by Moloko Ramashapa
Morality and Reality: Restructuring in the time of COVID

21st Century Analytics webinar COVID restructuring in three parts

09 November 2020: 21st Century, one of Africa’s largest human resource and reward consultancies in Africa recently addressed the topic of restructuring businesses in the COVID-19 era. This was done in a three-part webinar series driven by 21st Century Analytics – a newly established business unit that provides data-driven benchmarking for organisations in a variety of industries.

The three parts of the webinar addressed the current economic state – past, present and future – in an effort to provide South African business with actionable insight into how to succeed in a world so suddenly and unexpectedly transformed by the effects of a pandemic. The webinars were jointly hosted by 21st Century’s Executive leadership team, Craig Raath, Shaun Barnes, Bongani Nhlapo and Bryden Morton.

Chapter 1: The past

In this chapter, data revealed that the unemployment crisis following lockdown has escalated rapidly with an estimated 2,2 million people losing their jobs.. GDP Quarter on Quarter has declined by 16.4% (not annualised) and forecasts for 2020 predict an annual decline of 7,8%.
Based on evidence from the last global economic recession in 2009, South Africa’s recession is likely to be among the deepest, with unemployment rising rapidly. History has shown that the full impact of an economic crisis is not felt immediately but rather over time. It took the South African economy 2 years for the loss of jobs to “bottom out” as a result of the 2009, Global Financial Crisis and it took a further 2 years to recover those lost jobs. Using this data and applying it to the current situation predicts that it will take more than 5 years for employment to return to pre-Covid levels.

Chapter 2: The present

This chapter addressed the questions of merging structure, costs and the South African employment reality; and the trade-off between business reality and morality.. We have all seen the consequences of examples of poor governance and a lack of transparency that were common themes in entities like Enron, BP, Volkswagen and KPMG.

This resulted in decreased investor confidence, lost revenue, fallen stock prices, lower employee retention and widespread loss of trust in corporations. The global health crisis, however, appears to have forced business and HR to “wake up” to a new reality, one that requires a far more agile operating model.

This model will help businesses pivot from disruption more naturally in times of economic crisis, getting them through tough times. An agile operating model will allow speed to market and speed of execution, while it enables the business to adapt more quickly to market influences.

Chapter 3: The future

In the final chapter, the topic of data analytics and how data driven solutions should inform decisions around the business operating model was discussed. Leveraging technology and data mining in the workplace, while complex, can guide us in how businesses operate, recruit staff, upskill staff and deploy resources effectively. The most important take-away is that in isolation, analysis of your internal data can only inform an organisation of their existing practice. Market data is required to benchmark an organisation’s own practices against market best practice.

The 21st Century Analytics solution proposes using companies in the same industry and in a similar size bracket as operational benchmarks to drive growth and best practice; concluding that, when like is compared with like and areas in need of attention are pre-defined, the appropriate data can help set new precedents.

The conclusion:

There are new rules to follow when using workforce data. In the wake of a pandemic, transparency and change are the new tools that will arm business for success. Data-driven benchmarking will be the driving force – present and future – that will see organisations survive and thrive.

To find out more about 21st Century Analytics and 21st Century’s comprehensive consultancy process, visit www.21century.co.za.

About 21st Century:
21st Century is one of the largest Remuneration and HR consultancies in Africa, with a team of more than 60 skilled specialists, servicing over 1700 clients – including non-profit organisations, unlisted companies, government, parastatals and over two thirds of the companies listed on the JSE. 21st Century offers effective business planning with KPA and strategic planning reviews, creative reward practise modelling, operating modelling, change, stakeholder and culture management, training courses and comprehensive organisational development plans. 21st Century continues to offer solutions via virtual channels during the lockdown period.

In this volatile and uncertain environment, the way of working is changing dramatically. There are new – and often unprecedented – challenges that require businesses to plan rapidly and take decisive and immediate action. 21st Century offers a Resilience Audit assessing businesses during COVID-19 for their sustainability, offering these businesses tailor made solutions and developing new remuneration structures and performance measurement systems, as well as helping with managing organisational changes within the business.