Professor of Economics and Political Economy, University of Leeds
“We should work to live, not live to work”, declared John McDonnell in his speech to Britain’s Labour Party Conference. He followed this up with a commitment to the goal of a 32-hour, four-day work week. The goal, McDonnell said, was to be achieved within ten years and, importantly, was to be realised with no loss of pay.
The reduction of the working week to four days would be truly transformative. It would represent a radical break with the dominant work culture that exists in our contemporary capitalist society.
Yet its radicalism also presents challenges. Will business accept a cut in the working week? What kind of legislation will be required to achieve the cut? Ultimately, can capitalism be adapted to accommodate a four-day week or will it require us to imagine – and create – a future beyond capitalism?
The case for working less
The arguments for working less are compelling. Shorter work hours would free up time for us to do and be things outside of work. It would enable us to live better lives.
Evidence shows how longer work hours are associated with various forms of sickness – both physical and mental. The reduction of work hours, in this case, could help to raise the health and well-being of workers.
Beyond personal benefits, we could mitigate the effects of climate change by working less. The work-spend treadmill has an environmental cost that we could resolve by curbing the time we devote to work.
Less work could also pay for itself by giving rise to higher productivity. Rested bodies and minds make for more productive hours and offer the opportunity to produce what we need with more free time.
Finally, we might also work better. If we eliminate hours of drudgery, we could leave more time for us to enjoy more rewarding work. Reducing working hours is as much about enhancing the quality of work as about reducing its burden.
But the system in which we live keeps on pressing us to work more. It was once assumed that capitalism would develop in ways that would deliver shorter work hours. Back in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes famously dreamed of a 15-hour work week by 2030. He thought this would be achieved through no fundamental reform of capitalism.
In reality, however, hours of work in capitalist economies have remained stubbornly high and have even shown signs of increase (especially since the global financial crisis). Large differences in work hours exist between countries, to be sure. German workers enjoy shorter work hours than their US counterparts, for example.
But no country stands anywhere close to achieving a 15- or even 30-hour work week in the next ten years. On current trends, most capitalist economies look set to have average working weeks more than double Keynes’s prediction.
The reasons for this stagnation in work hours are varied. On the one hand, there is the issue of power. Workers cannot hope to secure shorter hours if they lack the bargaining power to realise them. The decline of unions and shift towards the “shareholder value model” of management, which measures a company’s success by the return it brings to shareholders, has resulted in many people working longer, or the same hours, for lower pay.
On the other hand, the continued force of consumerism has acted as a prop to the work ethic. Advertising and product innovation have created a culture where longer hours have been accepted as normal, even while they have inhibited the freedom of workers to live well.
Making it happen
The challenge for any political party that is committed to the goal of working less is to overcome the above obstacles. Notably, the Labour Party has rejected an economy-wide curb on work time. Instead, it favours a sector-by-sector approach, via a renewed system of collective bargaining.
McDonnell has suggested that working hours (along with wage rates and conditions) could be agreed at a sector level through negotiation between employers and trade unions. Any agreements brokered on reduced working hours could then become legally binding. This approach, in some ways, follows the lead of collective bargaining arrangements in Germany, where employers and trade unions have agreed on shorter working weeks.
The problem here will be reviving collective bargaining at a time of low union membership. Some service sectors, such as the retail and care sectors, have a very limited union presence and curbing work hours may be difficult to achieve under this policy.
McDonnell also proposed a “Working Time Commission” with the power to recommend the government increases statutory leave entitlements as quickly as possible without increasing unemployment. This is more promising in that it aims to create a new debate – and ideally a new consensus – around the case for shortening work time across the economy as a whole. One effect of this commission might be the recommendation and implementation of a four-day work week in all sectors.
A wider policy agenda for shorter work hours is outlined in a new report written by Lord Skidelsky, which was commissioned by McDonnell. While there are areas to disagree on, the report itself – and Labour’s commitment to this policy – mark a significant step forward in the discussion of reducing work time. Generally, there now seems greater pressure to secure a four-day or even three-day work week.
Still, the barriers to change remain formidable. As seen in the reception by industry groups to Labour’s announcement, business will take some convincing about the merits of a shorter working week.
But the scepticism of business only shows how far we need to rethink the economy and life more generally. If we continue to work as long as we do, we will not just keep on damaging ourselves, but also our planet. Working less, in short, is not some luxury, but a necessary part of our progress as human beings.
Potential employees form part of the latest category of organisational consumers, and companies are embracing the challenge to influence their buying (applying to jobs, accepting employment) with innovative candidate experience product offerings. The candidate experience (CX) directly affects the competitiveness of the employer brand in the war on talent.
A stellar CX with automated chatbot application functionalities, mobile testing and gamification assessments and top-notch video interviewing ingenuities may fall flat at the onset and conclusion of background screening procedures. The significance of adequate vetting and checking is undeniable. However, the manner in which these actions are conducted most often leaves a lot to be desired. Efficiency and courtesy left by the wayside, leave potential superstar candidates feeling vulnerable, exposed, even annoyed, with a bad taste in the mouth.
Verification and vetting represent a time of uncertainty for candidates already exposed to ‘’putting themselves out there” during recruitment, interviewing and assessment activities.
· Logistics: They may wonder about the logistics involved, such as location of the screening facility or duration of the checking process. Do they need to take leave, organise transport or get documentation certified at the SAPS?
· Details: Candidates may also have questions about the nature of the screening process. How will the checks be conducted; will their fingerprints be taken? What kind of checks will be performed (credit history, criminal status, qualification validity, employment verification)? Is their application confidential, for example, during confirmation of employment, would their current manager be contacted compromising them at work? Will there be any social media screening taking place?
· Application Success: There could be concerns about the employer’s perception about them subsequent from the screening outcomes. Will a less than desirable result for instance, a credit default or a DUY offence impact on whether they get the job or not.
· Access to Information: Authentication, consent and authorisation measures followed are of utmost importance to candidates and also whether the service provider holds the appropriate licensing credentials to perform background screening. Would they be afforded access to review their own verification report, and receive alerts when entities request checks on their profiles?
· Privacy of Personal Data: Data privacy and adherence to the POPI Act would be under candidate scrutiny too. Who would gain access to their sensitive information? Where is the data stored? How is their candidate data handled and managed? Is their documentation such as ID, physical address details and qualification certificates protected against cybercrimes and how long is the information stored for?
As recruiters and hiring managers, we need to appreciate the fact that background screening remains a big deal for candidates regardless of age, qualifications or seniority.
Meeting Candidate Expectations
The job seeker in the 4th Industrial Revolution has explicit expectations regarding their application journey. To ensure a background verification process that hits the mark, consider the following aspects:
· Clarity: The lack of clear instructions and transparency into process methodology and results are sure to cause hiccups. A crystal-clear process explanation, providing ‘’how to’’ instructions, rules regarding consent, and indications of turnaround times are crucial information. Background screening is not error-free. The recourse methods to log a dispute resolution should be readily available with relevant contact information listed. Easy-to-understand explanations to address data storage, security and privacy concerns described in ordinary English (not cybersecurity tech talk) will assist in assuring candidates that their data is safe and secure.
· Convenience: PDF forms require printing, scanning and a time-consuming paper process. A hassle-free application which is paperless, web-enabled and accessible from any smart devices is a priority nowadays. Add to this self-service access and permission granting by mobile app or text authentication, and you have a winning approach in the making.
· Responsiveness: Unknown timeframes and radio silence in terms of status updates are causes for anxiety and frustration. After submitting information and taking their fingerprints, the nerves are bound to set in. Sufficient feedback regarding progress, anticipated turnaround times, the status of each check performed and speedy communication when results are obtained, is imperative.
Background screening strategies should align with these expectations to enhance, not hinder the overall candidate experience.
Choices: All about them
When choosing a provider, careful consideration should be brought into strategies that positions candidates in the proverbial driver’s seat of their own applications, assigning them with a level of “ownership during the job seeking journey.
The candidate consumer will undoubtedly be the most sticky company customer to impress going forward. The candidate-company scale is shifting irrefutably from candidates jumping through hoops to be selected by companies in the past, to companies pulling out all the stops in attracting and engaging potential candidates, to ensure they remain ahead of their market competitors.
These new consumers expect Employer Value Proposition (EVP) “product offerings” that represent transparency and authenticity with a clear focus towards candidates as valued human asset commodities.
by Kirsten Halcrow
What is the meaning of Leadership? According to John Maxwell: “Leadership is an influence, nothing more, nothing less”. Bill Gates describes leadership as “having the power to empower others”. Peter Drucker (pioneer of modern-day management consulting) once wrote: "The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers”.
Type the search string “definition of leadership” into Google, and you will be presented with 1.23 billion results, roughly 0.7 seconds after hitting the Enter button. The fact remains: no single definition for leadership exists. Hang on a minute. If there is no generally accepted definition for leadership, how are we supposed to assess potential leaders before handing them the helms of our corporate ships (small, medium, large) expecting perfect navigation towards organisational profit and prosperity?
Personality Domains for Leadership Assessment Gains
Acclaimed author and Psychologist Ron Warren offers a refreshing take on Leadership Assessment in his book: “Personality at Work: The Drivers and Derailers of Leadership.”
He explains the probability of successful versus toxic leadership tendencies to be influenced by a combination of four personality domains: Grit, EQ (emotional intelligence), Dominance and Deference. Regardless of our World of Work, receiving a technology make-over every 18 months (Moore’s Law), these four personality domains have been embedded in human psyche since the Stone Age.
If we stroll along memory lane for a moment: Gandhi, Lincoln, King, Mandela and of course, Mother Theresa subjected profound influence over society and shaped modern history with their resilience and tenacity to change the world we live in. On the other hand, so did Hitler, Stalin, Amin and more recently, Kim Jong-Un with their evil antics.
One or two Domains are always more prominent in an individual’s personality composition and hereto lies the answer in assessing whether a person will be a leader inspiring greatness or curating disaster.
Recognising Driver Competencies
The personality traits impacting on the Grit Domain include achievement drive, conscientiousness and innovation. These are grouped together as task mastery traits. Gritty leaders are results orientated and foster intellectual engagement with everyone around them to achieve goals.
The EQ Domain consists of behavioural tendencies such as sociability, helpfulness and openness to feedback, also referred to as Teamwork Traits. Leaders scoring high on the EQ barometer use empathy, collaboration and team engagement to collectively attain success for the group as an entity.
Sounds like a match made in heaven, right? Find people with Grit and EQ in copious amounts, and your company is sorted. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Grit and EQ are not inborn features but develop over time, and for most people are only accessible from the mid to late twenties. However, accessing these traits are not even a guarantee and many individuals (leaders and managers included!), will never develop these competencies.
Detecting Derailer Competencies
Ever noticed toddlers in a playgroup engaging with each other in seemingly perfect harmony? Then, in an instant, one will grab a toy from the next and chaos erupt either in aggressive shouting, hitting and biting, or with passive sulking, isolation or surrendering behaviour.
And there it is, the other two domains: Dominance and Deference. Regrettably, these derailers of leadership form part of our personality feature since the day we are born.
Dominance is fuelled by hostility, rigidity, competitiveness and a need to control. In Domineering leaders, the key issues derailing their leadership success are arrogance, blaming, disrespect, condescension and lack of communication.
Deference is charged by tension, approval-seeking and dependence aptitudes. For Deferent leaders, their lack of confidence, inability to speak up, conflict avoidance, need for popularity and maintain the status quo at all costs are responsible for digressing leadership performance.
Yin and Yang
There is no stock standard model of what the perfect leader personality should portray. Driver tendencies (grit and emotional intelligence) in excess may be just as detrimental to organisational leadership as uncontrolled derailer traits would negatively impact performance.
A high performer with grit, but also depicting dominance is a perfect combination for dictatorship. On the flip side take a deferent leader, add-in sufficient emotional intelligence development to balance out their lack of confidence and you have a fantastic mentor in the making.
Assessment and Development
If leaders are open to accepting themselves as “works in progress”, and embrace assessment initiatives and self-development activities as part of their top priorities, true corporate transformation for the greater good becomes not a mere possibility, but a concrete reality.
by Denis Pennel
The fundamentals of employment are being increasingly challenged. While salaried work and all it entails – subordination, fixed hours and working environment, monthly salary and linear careers – might have suited our parents and grandparents, today’s workers want more freedom and are starting to reinvent work.
A 2016 survey undertaken in France probed 200.000 salaried workers on their attitudes to their jobs and found 50% said they had no autonomy in organising their work and 34% felt like a machine. Meanwhile, a Gallup global survey on employee engagement found just 13% of employees were engaged at work, with 87% claiming they were not engaged.
A sort of war of independence at work has begun as workers seek greater autonomy, passion and creativity in their work. One in every three millennials wants to work for himself according to a recent YouGov survey for Monster and indeed the vertical and integrated organisation which reached its zenith in the latter half of the 20th century is in decline. We are witnessing a growth in alternative economic activity as Venkatesh Rao elaborates in his ‘Brief History of the Corporation: 1600 to 2100’, while French philosopher Bernard Stiegler in his book ‘Jobs are dead, long live work’, argues that the employment developed over the past two centuries gradually destroyed work and people are now waking up to the notion of work as the means to develop and accomplish something for themselves.
Certainly we are facing a new industrial revolution based around the needs of the on-demand economy. So what is driving and enabling this? Firstly, comes changing societal behaviour. People today are more individualistic. They expect personal services in real time, and are looking for choice and alternative economic models. Secondly, the technological revolution, where digitalization, mobile platforms, online payment and social networks enable everyone to have equal access to markets; Lastly, the emergence of a new economic model with an abundance of goods, services and options – many of them sold before they are even produced. The on-demand model is based on buying at the lowest price and selling at the highest and is constantly on the hunt for new markets.
With this new revolution we are seeing an alliance between shareholders and consumers. Gone is the 19th and 20th system where management held the reins, today this is being replaced by a society driven by the people – as owners and/or consumers. Value creation is no longer based on large, pyramidal organisations, mass producing for a largely silent population. Today, organisations are more flat and based on a connected network. Consumers are active and vocal about what they want and products and services are individual, customised on a grand scale and the model is constantly innovating and being reinvented.
Thomas Malone captures this well in his book ‘The Age of Hyperspecialisation’ where he suggests that the management of communities of workers will become one of the key characteristics of organisations in the 21st century. The employment industry defines this as Total Talent Management, and is helping organisations source and contract talent and workers in a range of different ways – from full-time, permanent jobs, to fixed term contracts, outside contractors and collaborative work. I like to describe these different ways of acquiring talent as buying, borrowing, renting and sharing.
A host of new forms of work are bursting onto the employment scene and I believe this is only the beginning. Today’s workers have never been so well qualified and they recognise their value. They constantly update and renew their skills and are in control of when, where and how they work – often virtually, thanks to new technologies. They expect a convivial working environment too and organisations with a reputation for nurturing talent will have the pick of the crop. Speed is also an important feature of the on-demand economy with a job for life being replaced by contracts for just a week or even for a matter of hours or minutes.
In many ways this reflects the past where artisanal workers were responsible for their own workload, owned their production tools and were paid by results. They mostly worked from home, took pride in what they did and built a reputation and a network of contacts that assured them continued work. Instead of the contracts, titles and functions of employment they enjoyed the benefits of work – a role, profession and activities. Where employees are subordinated, salaried and tied to a hierarchy and career, workers are paid a fee for the work they do and their working relationship is based on respect and confidence. They work in a collaborative way while remaining independent and free to determine their own working lives and parameters.
My prognosis is that while jobs might indeed be dead, work remains in excellent health.
Managing Director, World Employment Confederation
Recruiters spend an average of six seconds scanning a CV to determine if they want to consider an applicant or not, but even the best #recruiters will miss great candidates. Is #AI the key to #modernising the #recruiting process and lessening unconscious bias? #artificialintelligence #futureofwork
Encapsulate Consulting, assessment solutions specialists, in partnership with technology partner Pivotal Talent are successfully implementing their Intelligent Response Handling Assessment (IRHA) Solution in various high-volume recruitment environments like retail, call-centre, learnership, graduate, supply chain and security to name a few.
HR teams are replacing manual application screening and sifting with the IRHA Solution. AI evaluates all candidates across experience, academic, and achievement levels while assessing for desired role competencies. Recruiters are doing away with spending weeks manually reviewing hundreds or thousands of applications. Or bluntly sifting applications using single measure psychometric assessments.
IRHA allows employers to screen, rank and shortlist high volume applications in minutes, according to key predictors of performance and potential. IRHA enables employers to assess candidates efficiently, effectively and fairly removing subjective hiring biases. It takes applicants 15-20 minutes to apply and complete the assessment.
The Intelligent Response Handling Assessment is bespoke built per role. It integrates fields of human study as diverse as cognitive reasoning, neuroscience, ethnology and organisational behavior. Utilising the world’s most comprehensive integrated task database, comprising of tasks and competencies required for various roles from multiple industries. It then integrates proprietary algorithms with six decades of research from top global institutions, while it calibrates for factors like grit and EQ, eliminating the propensity to hire by bias. The performance has been thoroughly tested and validated, while ongoing global research continues to update and refine the algorithms. The technology statistically outperforms traditional approaches across all key indicators
With IRHA analytics, employers can now streamline their recruitment and assessment process reducing costs, improving hiring outcomes and giving back time to hiring managers and recruiters.
For the recruiter IRHA is easy-to-use and provides a fast and balanced assessment of applicants. No longer sift out highly sought after candidates while substantially improving the hiring process execution and experience for the candidate.
The current backlash against globalization, most notably from working-class citizens in advanced economies who are worried about stagnant wages and insecure jobs, highlights how the benefits of global economic integration were oversold, and its costs undercounted. But the effects of globalization on Africa and its citizens have received far less attention, even though the continent is projected to account for over 40 percent of the world’s population by the end of this century.
Making globalization more inclusive will require policies that tackle inequality within advanced economies and boost convergence in living standards between Africa and high-income countries. African policymakers, with support from external partners, can play their part by accelerating regional integration, bridging gaps in labor skills and digital infrastructure, and creating a mechanism to own and regulate Africa’s digital data.
Ever since the first industrial revolution led to a surge in international trade, Africa has remained largely on the sidelines of the global economy. The main beneficiaries of early globalization were today’s advanced economies, where industrial technologies emerged. This, in turn, led to the “great divergence” in income levels between the Global North and South.
More recently, the advent of new information and communications technology in the 1990s dramatically lowered the costs of distance and ushered in another wave of globalization, characterized by the emergence of complex global value chains (GVCs). These GVCs contributed to the great convergence of recent decades by boosting industrial output in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore, enabling them to narrow the gap with advanced economies.
Yet African countries have remained excluded from this process. The continent’s share of global merchandise trade has stagnated at around 3 percent, similar to its share of world manufacturing output.
To be sure, globalization has brought benefits to Africa. Rising incomes elsewhere in the world have increased demand for African commodities and natural resources, boosting national economies. Globalization has also supported knowledge transfer, enabling African countries to improve living standards by “leapfrogging” to new technologies.
But myriad challenges have far outweighed such benefits. For one thing, globalization has contributed to premature deindustrialization. Because advanced economies can now produce goods more cheaply, African countries have found it difficult to develop local industries that create jobs. Moreover, some multinational corporations operating in the region are dodging taxes through sophisticated—and legal—accounting mechanisms such as profit shifting, depriving governments of much-needed resources for economic development.
Globalization is also contributing to climate change, which has a disproportionate effect on Africa despite the continent’s limited contribution to the problem. Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which recently devastated Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, are a tragic example of what is to come.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, the economic disparity between Africa and richer countries has widened in recent decades, with the ratio of African incomes to those in advanced economies falling from 12 percent in the early 1980s to 8 percent today. In order to reverse this trend and enable Africa to benefit more from globalization, the region’s policymakers should accelerate their efforts in three areas.
First, governments should promote further regional integration to make Africa economically stronger and more effective at advancing its agenda internationally. Progress so far is very encouraging. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement recently obtained the minimum 22 ratifications needed to enter into force, thus creating a single African market for goods and services. The AfCFTA, along with the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, will help to unlock the region’s tremendous economic potential.
Second, Africa must improve its digital infrastructure and technology-related skills to avoid being further marginalized. At present, the cost of Internet access in Africa is the highest in the world, and internet penetration is only 37 percent, significantly below the world average of 57 percent.
Moreover, the low-cost, low-skill labor on which Africa has traditionally relied is becoming less of a competitive advantage, given the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the higher production standards and infrastructure requirements of GVCs. Education and training programs should therefore focus more on developing digital know-how, as well as on soft skills such as critical thinking and cognitive and socio-behavioral capabilities.
Third, Africa must create a system for owning and regulating its digital data. In the modern era, capital has displaced land as the most important asset and determinant of wealth. But in the digital economy, data will be key—as demonstrated by the scramble among global technology firms such as Facebook, Google, and Tencent to control it. And, as Kai-Fu Lee argues in his book “AI Superpowers,” the abundance of data generated by China’s large population is giving the country an advantage over the United States in the field of artificial intelligence.
Africa’s population boom means the continent will also generate large amounts of data, particularly as digitization makes inroads, e-commerce platforms spread, the middle class expands, and consumer spending increases. This new data-driven wealth will accrue to those who actively harvest, own, and regulate such information, leaving latecomers to play catch up.
Africa’s potential may be huge, but it faces formidable challenges. By 2030, the continent will be home to almost 90 percent of the world’s poorest people. Unless globalization works better for Africa than it has in the past, its promise of shared prosperity will remain unfulfilled.
By Jacques van Wyk, Director; Andre van Heerden, Senior Associate and Chelsea Roux, Candidate Attorney
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