The C-suite executives and HR leaders that will succeed in the era of digital change and global economic and political uncertainty will be those that are the most curious and adaptable rather than those that are rigid and hierarchical. That is one of the key insights to emerge in the first episode of Invisible Admin: Conversations about the future of work – a series of podcasts from Sage and Inquisition.
A good leader in the past was regarded as a person who was certain about what needed to be done. But with technology, economic and political change unfolding at such a rapid pace, today’s leaders operate in a world that is less certain, says Graeme Codrington, an expert on the future world of work and founder of TomorrowToday. Strategies developed today may need to change tomorrow in response to new competition, new technology or different economic circumstances.
Anja Van Beek, Vice President of People (HR) at Sage International (Africa, Middle East, Asia & Australia), says that as globalisation and new technology challenge managers’ traditional mindsets, they also need to relook the profile of the people they employ. They need to build teams that are comfortable with change and ambiguity – and that in turn demands that they think about training, recruitment and management in new ways.
The on-the-go workforce
The pace of change in today’s working environment and Millenials joining the workforce both demand a new approach to training and development. While it is important to deliver lifelong learning, organisations should make content available in a way that suits today’s on-the-go workforce—for example, digestible chunks of online video or audio content that can be listened to in the car on the way to work or at the gym.
“Rather than forcing employees to learn in classroom type training sessions, we should accommodate them by giving them access to materials on their mobile devices,” says Van Beek. “They should be able to learn at work or in their own time, at their own pace and in formats that meet their needs.”
It is also important to encourage innovation and experimentation on-the-job to create a responsive and innovative workforce. Leaders and employees should read widely and share what they learn with their teams. Van Beek suggests that this should be integrated into the company in the form or ‘book review’ sessions – or even a company ‘book club’.
Experimentation key to responsiveness
Many leaders know that they are facing uncertainty but aren’t quite sure how to start adapting to it. Codrington says that the easiest, simplest way to start this journey is to encourage teams to experiment. Experiments can be small or large, but the key is to start questioning long held assumptions about the way we work and why we things in a specific way.
For example, one could test out allowing people to work from home for two days a week and monitor productivity levels or do away with email updates and meetings for a week and see what happens. Over time, this approach will help companies become more responsive to changes in the environment.
The end of one-size-fits-all workplaces
Codrington says that another shift leaders must prepare for is the move to a more personalised work experience rather than the one-size-fits-all HR practices of the past. For example, people expect to learn on their own terms. Where training and development once needed to be standardised for the sake of efficiency and control, digital tools give organisations the flexibility to customise training programmes and track them efficiently.
In practice, says Van Beek, that may mean gathering data about employees and using analytics to see what they expect from the workplace and how they feel about the employer brand. Anonymous employee surveys can be a useful tool in this regard; it’s also important to communicate with employees using different mediums, whether that’s video or Twitter.
Ultimately, says Codrington, the behaviours that the millennial generation is bringing into the workforce will become pervasive. They are the customers and employees of the future and they expect to find a collaborative, connected and personalised work experience. Leaders that tap into their ability to multi-task, cope with uncertainty and leverage technology will be positioned for success.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”