“As we move into Spring, let us look to the new shoots of growth and hope! This is also a time where organisations with good leadership and a strong culture of care, support and transparency can reinforce these values and help employees deal with the uncertainty of all the changes around us.
“The toll on South Africans has been huge, there is no doubt about that. We are struggling through the third wave of the dreadful COVID-19 pandemic and read with horror of each day’s infection and death rates. Each of us with a sad memory of losing a loved one, a friend, or a colleague.
“There is a glimmer of hope here as the vaccine rollout moves along. Many of us have stood in lines, reminiscent of the 1994 democratic elections in our beautiful country and received our “shots”. This brings hope, that if we do contract the virus, it should not be life-threatening. And as we reach a level of herd immunity, it will in some way allow us to return to a version of “normality”.
“And then the devastating riots and looting ripped our country apart. Rumours, fake news, blame, in-fighting, jostling for political points and stories of horror and sadness filled our news feeds. Protests this violent, destructive and widespread leave many communities vulnerable and without access to basic essentials – food, medicine, fuel.
“There are those who look to hop on the first available flight when international borders open.
“But the true grit and UBUNTU of South Africans comes to the fore. Communities band together forming human chains to keep the thugs and looters out. Exhausted, they are determined to do whatever it takes! The destruction and loss is unimaginable – there can be no winners! Volunteer groups, diverse in every sense of the word, jump in to action TOGETHER – these are the winners!
“Clean up operations begin. Sounds of Shosholoza reverberate amid the piles of debris and waste. Everybody lends a hand. The transformation of roads, malls and warehouses resembling a war zone, begins. Despite enormous odds, supplies are moved, shelves are stocked wherever this is possible, and daily life goes on.
“But the huge task of rebuilding will take time. And there are many casualties.
“In the work space, the “building” must also continue. Employers must ensure that the workplace is a “safe” space to come back to, both from a Covid-19 compliance perspective and the inevitable change to the way we work and the stress and grief we have been through. In this sense, employee wellness truly comes to the fore as a primary intervention and focus area, so that employees feel strong enough to build the strong organisations we need in the future.
“Each one of us lives with different stresses under normal circumstances. These are not normal times. Wherever you can, be kind to yourself and to those around you. Let kindness and caring be the seeds we plant this Spring so that we can all reap the benefits.”
Behind the scenes: Theresa Blake, Manager of Niche Projects at 21st Century, 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.