For most, a series of closely grouped public holidays present a highly anticipated opportunity for a mini-holiday.
However, the number of public holidays celebrated in South Africa during the course of April and early May this year, could pose a series of challenges for businesses, in terms of productivity. Therefore, it is important that business leaders, managers and HR manage staff effectively in terms of both business and employee expectations, to ensure that the business continues to run effectively while the staff are able to enjoy their time off.
Manpower SA MD, Lyndy van den Barselaar, explains that this time of year can be a nightmare for businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, as various aspects of the company are affected by the high frequency holiday periods.
According to Productivity SA, public holidays will always be a thorny for businesses, mainly due to two factors: cost and productivity. The organisation also states that many businesses mention productivity cost figures of between R1.5bn and R3bn per holiday, however many organisations are willing or able to predict and pro-actively manage these outcomes.
South Africa’s usual number of thirteen public holidays is considered to be in line with many developed countries around the world.
“The South African economy is already vulnerable, with the unpredictable Rand and uncertainty presented by the political environment impacting on business confidence levels. Apart from business output being impacted by staff taking lengthy periods of leave, businesses may also be affected in that their key customers may also be choosing to go on holiday.
“This calls for proper and careful planning on the part of the business, to ensure the best possible outcome for all involved and ensure that the business continues to run smoothly,” explains van den Barselaar.
“Together with all employees or teams within the organisation, set up a plan for the months or weeks leading up to the holidays and identify goals that need to be reached. Carefully prioritise each task, and the deadline by which is needs to be completed. This kind of inclusive, careful planning will ensure that each employee or team member is aware of their tasks and deadlines, and can strive towards completing these ahead of the holidays.
“Keeping track of progress and encouraging one another to reach objectives can keep employees and teams determined and motivated, which is positive for business productivity.”
In terms of businesses that stay open during public holidays, such as those in the retail, hospitality or client service sectors, planning is again imperative. “These kinds of businesses should work on a plan or schedule to ensure that the leave is evenly distributed between the staff and that all those involved are satisfied. This can be more difficult to work around, which makes commitment to planning from both the team and management side that much more important, to ensure that all member of the team are clear on what needs to be done,” explains van den Barselaar.
She points out that public holidays can also assist with employee happiness and job satisfaction. “People appreciate having time off to spend with their families and loved ones, and when a business creates plans and schedules, it reduces the stress around this for the employees and management alike.
“Employees who are able to enjoy leisure time will often feel less stressed, which in turn increases job satisfaction and productivity, and inspires commitment to their jobs within the organisation.”