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Defending and Preserving Workers’ Agenda in the Midst of Repressive Laws

JUSTICE KEY DINGAKE

Permit me to express my sincere gratitude to the organizers of this event, for the opportunity to share some critical reflections with you consistent with your theme, namely,” Defending and preserving Workers Agenda in the Midst of Repressive Laws”.

It is not quite often that a judge of the Republic interacts with organized labour in the manner afforded by this opportunity as quite often we meet in adversarial circumstances in which the engagement is mediated by hierarchical power relations and other antagonistic relationships.

 

And since you are part of the executive, in a constitutional sense, I wondered whether my presence here does not violate the separation of powers that enjoins me to keep to my lane and and not to trespass into your lane. I am certain though that this intellectual moment we share does no violence to the principle of separation of powers.

 

I must begin the substantive engagement with your theme by problematizing labour relations in the public service so that you appreciate the space you occupy and operate in.  Labour relations in the public service is not the same as with the private sector.

 

Herein lies the distinction: First, the state is in the unique position of being both the employer and a chief determinant of national economic and social policies which policies may directly impact on employment matters.

 

This raises the issue of the government as an employer being in some way a judge in its own cause. Secondly, workers in government discharge services which have serious impact on members of the public generally, hence the very apt description as members of the public service and the Act that regulates your operations, styled, “Public Service Act”.

The consequence of the above is that unlike contracts of employment in the private sector, the failure of the state to deliver requisite and proper services to the public raises both political and economic questions.

Thirdly, salaries and wages payable to government employees, are a component of national budget, which in all democracies require the approval of the elected legislature. This raises grave constitutional questions, namely, to what extent should the legislature be bound by prior commitments by the executive arm of the government to award certain salary increases? And more fundamentally, how far should organized labour like BOPEU be permitted to exert pressure on a democratically legislature, or the executive  to extract certain concessions?

 

Your theme seems to suggest that you hold the view that labour laws in Botswana may be repressive making it difficult for you to defend worker’s rights. I make no findings of fact on the state of labour law; but wish to remind you that Botswana is a constitutional democracy in terms of which the constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law inconsistent with it may be declared by our courts to be constitutionally non compliant and therefore invalid.

 

In engaging on your theme, it seems to me to be imperative, to bring on board certain relevant contextual considerations that illuminate our conversation. To this extent it is important  to recall  and remind ourselves of the historic Declaration of Philadelphia that sets out the aims and purposes of the International Labour Organization. The Declaration proclaims, among other things that:

“ Labour is not a commodity; freedom of expression and association are essential to sustained progress; poverty anywhere constitutes a danger to prosperity anywhere; the war against want requires to be carried out with unrelenting vigor within each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representative of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to promotion of the common welfare”.

 

The lessons of history and indeed the lessons derived from the Declaration, that none amongst us gathered here, today,  can credibly contest, is that lasting peace, development and social justice can not be achieved in any society if labour is still regarded as a commodity and deserving to be chained and repressed.

 

All human beings, (and workers are no less human beings), have a right to pursue their rights to work under conditions of freedom and dignity, characterized by mutual respect and openness, economic security and equal opportunity.

 

This can only be so if organized labour is regarded as an equal partner in economic development agenda. We need, as a nation, to engage in transformational dialogue in which organized labour, employers and government can genuinely see each other as equals in the development project of our republic.

 

Trade Unions exist for one primary purpose: to articulate and defend the interests of the workers. Historically, the attitude of the law to trade unions was one of hostility. They were regarded not as equal partners but some kind of conspiratorial group whose interests are inimical to that of the nation state.

 

This thinking, to the extent that some remnants of it may still be found in our statute books need to be discarded in favour of the new thinking that regards organized labour as a genuine partner in development. Our labour law must mirror the values of human dignity and freedom reflected in the letter and spirit of our constitution and international legal instruments which Botswana as a member of civilized community of nations has ratified – thereby signalling its desire to live by those principles.

 

Labour law is a sensitive subject; it is located at an intersection between, economics, politics and law. It is a compromise  between organized labour – a very powerful socio-economic force and the employers of labour, on the other hand; an equally powerful socio-economic force.

 

The balance between the two is delicate; and if not handled with care it can destabilize and derail the development agenda of the country. The courts are custodians of this delicate balance – and they miss the delicacy at a great cost to the nation.

 

No area of Botswana labour law has developed as rapidly in the past decade or so as the one regulating the relationship between organized labour and employers. This rapid development was fuelled by Botswana’s domestication  of a number of the ILO core conventions in 2004 such as Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, Freedom of Association and the Protection of the Right to Organize Convention, and the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention.

 

The above Conventions seek to ensure that the rights of workers to form their own organizations, to defend their interests, to freely associate and bargain collectively are respected in practice; because labour is not a commodity. The right to strike which is recognised by international labour law is an important aspect of the right to collective bargaining.

 

The Committee on Freedom of Association has in the past observed that:

“The right to strike is one of the essential means through which workers and their organizations may promote and defend their economic and social interests”.

The right to strike is not expressly recognized in the constitution, but is statutorily available, subject to conditions stated therein. It is generally accepted that such a right may be restricted with respect to essential services.

 

The right to strike often goes together with the right to lock out by employers. There is a debate whether the two rights enjoy equal weighting. The South African Constitutional Court gives the right to strike more weight than the right to lock out, because in the view of the court, “ Collective bargaining is based on the recognition of the fact that employers enjoy greater social and economic power than individual workers”.

 

It was stated in the South African case of Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa v National Panasonic Union ,  1991(12) ILJ 533, per Conrandie J, that:

“ A strike is like a boxing match. The opponent tries within the rules to hurt the other as much as possible. There is a referee to see that the rules are observed. The Court is the referee. It does not intervene simply because one of the opponents is being hurt – that is the idea of the contest.

 

The referee may intervene when one of them is struck a blow below the belt – the parties to an an industrial contest take time and trouble to shape up their fight, there are all kinds of things which they are expected to do before they are permitted to enter the ring”.

 

On the matter of restriction of the right to strike with respect to essential services, Convention 87 confines, “ essential services for the purpose of limiting the right to strike to “ services the interruption of which would endanger life, personal safety or the health of part of or the whole of the population”. This view has been repeated on many occasions by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Convention 87.

 

The jurisprudence of the Committee of Experts and writtings of labour law scholars often stress that to be compatible with fundamental right to collective bargaining by employees, essential services are to be given a strict and narrow meaning.

 

Earlier, I indicated that we are a constitutional democracy governed by a supreme constitution that entrenches the values of freedom, anti-discrimination  and human dignity. Parliament is enjoined, in fact, instructed by the constitution, to pass laws for the good order and government of the republic.

 

They are not permitted to pass laws as they please; laws  that may offend the constitution. Where statutory law is vague or unclear it must be interpreted in a manner that will give effect to the Constitution and where appropriate international law.

 

The Industrial Court understands the sensitivity of labour law that I earlier spoke of. In interpreting and applying statute law it has sought to ensure that its decisions, are fair and informed by international labour law. The understanding being that the ultimate objective of law is the welfare of society.

 

In its decisions the industrial court has always insisted that any dismissal of an employee, post probation, must be procedurally and substantively fair. In terms of the jurisprudence of the industrial court no employee can be dismissed at the whims and caprices of the employer without a valid reason. This jurisprudence has contributed to job security. In consequence of this jurisprudence our industrial court is held high esteem by other labour courts across the world and the international labour organization.

 

Any jurisprudence to the contrary; and that pays lip service to job security runs counter to the celebrated jurisprudence of the Industrial court as I have sought to indicate. Perhaps in order to ensure consistent jurisprudence on matters impacting on job security at the work place, it has become important to revisit the idea of the Labour Appeals Court that is constituted by experts in the field; experts that fully understand and appreciate the precise location of labour law at the intersection I earlier spoke of and the delicacy of labour law; and more importantly its role as an enabler of economic development. Labour must assist in ensuring that labour is productive and is not demotivated unnecessarily.

 

It is important that trade unions appreciate the nature and essence of law so that that they don’t regard law as the magic wand to resolve their problems and then overburden the courts with matters that can be resolved by stakeholders; and use courts only as a last resort.

 

There is always a danger that the courts’ credibility as impartial arbiters may suffer when the courts are used as sites of struggle in high profile polycentric cases whose resolution is not entirely dependent on textual provisions of the law, but rather on value judgements of the justices of the court.

 

As unions your main asset is the strength of your organizations; your ability to organize, defend and protect your interests. You need to understand and appreciate that law is a technique for the regulation of power. This is true of labour law. Power – the capacity effectively to direct the behaviour of others – is unevenly distributed – in all societies.

 

The power to make and enforce laws is social power. This power rests on many foundations, it may be based on prestige, dominance, wealth and ability to organise. The latter is the source of your power.

In short, as my revered brother and friend Justice Dikgang Moseneke, formerly the Deputy chief Justice of South Africa, and recently retired, would say: “You are your own liberators”. Lawyers and other experts may assist, but ultimately, you are your own liberators.

 

In pursuing your demands on what you consider due to you; you must be reasonable, rational and fair. You must refrain from making demands that are irrational and are not justifiable. Your demands must always be evidence driven. Nothing should be given that cannot be justified. Similarly, your employers must justify all its positions on the basis of evidence, and nothing less.

 

The culture of justification is part and parcel of a constitutional state ruled in accordance with the constitution, not the whims and caprices of anyone.

You must do nothing that contravenes the law; especially, the spirit and text of the constitution. Similarly government as the employer must do so; the latter, arguably having a heavier duty to lead by example; because disobedience of the law on its part amounts to saying to the populace that it is fine to disobey the law.

 

In the recent past BOPEU has been hailed as the union of choice by its members; it has been at the forefront of advancing and securing diverse range of benefits, maintaining and improving the living and working conditions of workers’ in Botswana and regulating the relations between workers and employers. Indeed it is true that a successful union is one that is internally strong that it may be effective in protecting the interests of workers.

 

However, history has shown us that the success of unions also lie with their relationship, rapport and liaison with employers as equal partners at the table. Sadly, it has become more evident that there are opposing forces between the workers’ and employers on the subject of Unions and various labour laws.

 

Often at times, employers the world over, have tended to adopt adversarial attitude towards Trade Unions, resisting Unions for the same reasons that workers desire them. As we celebrate fifty years of self-rule this attitude can and should no longer stand if we are to build a Botswana for all in which its economic success will be based on workers as the drivers of the economy.  

 

Our economy will not advance if we don’t take care of the welfare of those who create the country’s wealth, the workers. To this extent, workers need a living wage and not so much minimum wage. A minimum wage is about setting a wage floor under which no worker can earn.

 

A living wage on the other hand is the minimum income that necessary for a worker to meet his needs and that of his or her family. The scales of justice needs to be delicately balanced so that the wage regime does not in anyway imperil the development of the country. Slave wages are known undermine economic growth.

 

Mr President, I urge you to pay attention, to the matter of decent of decent work as defined by the ILO. The decent work agenda focusses on job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue, with gender equality. The term decent work is promoted through the Decent Agenda and was coined by the Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Mr. Juan Somavia in 1999, who defined decent work as

 

 “productive work in which rights are protected, which generates an adequate income with adequate social protection. It marks the high road to economic and social development, a road in which employment, income and social protection can be achieved without compromising workers’ rights and sound standards” The ILO is also committed to promoting policies on wages and incomes that ensure a just share for all.

 

I must conclude my reflections by urging all stakeholders in the labour relations to work together as equal partners in the interest of our country. A motivated and hard working workforce is in the interest of the country. The workforce must engage with the employer with respect and their demands must be evidence based. Similarly, the government response or position must be evidence based.

 

Trade Unions are critical in maintaining workplace stability. A motivated public service tends to render high quality service to the public. In a properly functioning democracy no law should offend the values of freedom, human dignity and non discrimination. In our constitutional state, the above values define who we are as a people.

 

Speech by Professor Justice Oagile Bethuel Key Dingake Judge of the High Court (Botswana); Judge of Residual Special Court (Sierra Leone) at the BOPEU NEC congress in Francistown

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Opinions

Can we cure ourselves from the cancer of corruption?

28th October 2020
DCEC DIRECTOR: Tymon Katholo

Bokani Lisa Motsu

“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.” Carl Sagan

Corruption is a heavy price to pay. The clean ones pay and suffer at the mercy of people who cannot have enough. They always want to eat and eat so selfishly like a bunch of ugly masked shrews. I hope God forgives me for ridiculing his creatures, but that mammal is so greedy. But corruption is not the new kid on the block, because it has always been everywhere.

This of course begs the question, why that is so? The common answer was and still is – abuse and misuse of power by those in power and weak institutions, disempowered to control the leaders. In 1996, the then President of The World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn named the ‘C-Word’ for the first time during an annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions. A global fight against corruption started. Transparency International began its work. Internal and external audits mushroomed; commissions of inquiry followed and ever convoluted public tender procedures have become a bureaucratic nightmare to the private sector, trying to fight red tape.

The result is sobering corruption today is worse than it was 25 years ago. There is no denying that strong institutions help, but how does it come that in the annual Transparency International Ranking the same group of countries tend to be on the top while another group of countries, many African among them, tend to be on the bottom? Before one jumps to simple and seductive conclusions let us step back a moment.

Wolfensohn called corruption a cancer that destroys economies like a cancer destroys a body. A cancer is, simplified, good cells in a body gone bad, taking control of more and more good cells until the entire body is contaminated and eventually dies. So, let us look at the good cells of society first: they are family ties, clan and tribe affiliation, group cohesion, loyalty, empathy, reciprocity.

Most ordinary people like the reader of these lines or myself would claim to share such values. Once we ordinary people must make decisions, these good cells kick in: why should I hire a Mrs. Unknown, if I can hire my niece whose strengths and weaknesses I know? If I hire the niece, she will owe me and support my objectives.

Why should I purchase office furniture from that unknown company if I know that my friend’s business has good quality stuff? If I buy from him, he will make an extra effort to deliver his best and provide quality after sales service? So, why go through a convoluted tender process with uncertain outcome? In the unlikely case my friend does not perform as expected, I have many informal means to make him deliver, rather than going through a lengthy legal proceeding?

This sounds like common sense and natural and our private lives do work mostly that way and mostly quite well.

The problem is scale. Scale of power, scale of potential gains, scale of temptations, scale of risk. And who among us could throw the first stone were we in positions of power and claim not to succumb to the temptations of scale? Like in a body, cancer cells start growing out of proportion.

So, before we call out for new leaders – experience shows they are rarely better than the old ones – we need to look at ourselves first. But how easy is that? If I were the niece who gets the job through nepotism, why should I be overly critical? If I got a big furniture contract from a friend, why should I spill the beans? What right do I have to assume that, if I were a president or a minister or a corporate chief procurement officer I would not be tempted?

This is where we need to learn. What is useful, quick, efficient, and effective within a family or within a clan or a small community can become counterproductive and costly and destructive at larger corporate or national scale. Our empathy with small scale reciprocity easily permeates into complacency and complicity with large scale corruption and into an acquiescence with weak institutions to control it.

Our institutions can only be as strong as we wish them to be.

I was probably around ten years old and have always been that keen enthusiastic child that also liked to sing the favourite line of, ‘the world will become a better place.’  I would literally stand in front of a mirror and use my mom’s torch as a mic and sing along Michael Jackson’s hit song, ‘We are the world.’

Despite my horrible voice, I still believed in the message.  Few years later, my annoyance towards the world’s corrupt system wonders whether I was just too naïve. Few years later and I am still in doubt so as to whether I should go on blabbing that same old boring line. ‘The world is going to be a better place.’ The question is, when?

The answer is – as always: now.

This is pessimistic if not fatalistic – I challenge Sagan’s outlook with a paraphrased adage of unknown origin: Some people can be bamboozled all of the time, all people can be bamboozled some of the time, but never will all people be bamboozled all of the time.

We, the people are the only ones who can heal society from the cancer of corruption. We need to understand the temptation of scale and address it. We need to stop seeing ourselves just a victim of a disease that sleeps in all of us. We need to give power to the institutions that we have put in place to control corruption: parliaments, separation of power, the press, the ballot box. And sometimes we need to say as a niece – no, I do not want that job as a favour, I want it because I have proven to be better than other contenders.

It is going to be a struggle, because it will mean sacrifices, but sacrifices that we have chosen, not those imposed on us.

Let us start today.

*Bokani Lisa Motsu is a student at University of Botswana

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Opinions

Accounting Officers are out of touch with reality

19th October 2020

Parliament, the second arm of State through its parliamentary committees are one of Botswana’s most powerful mechanisms to ensure that government is held accountable at all times. The Accounting Officers are mostly Permanent Secretaries across government Ministries and Chief Executive Officers, Director Generals, Managing Directors of parastatals, state owned enterprises and Civil Society.

So parliament plays its oversight authority via the legislators sitting on a parliamentary committee and Accounting Officers sitting in the hot chair.  When left with no proper checks and balances, the Executive is prone to abuse the arrangement and so systematic oversight of the executive is usually carried out by parliamentary committees.  They track the work of various government departments and ministries, and conduct scrutiny into important aspects of their policy, direction and administration.

It is not rocket science that effective oversight requires that committees be totally independent and able to set their own agendas and have the power to summon ministers and top civil servants to appear and answer questions. Naturally, Accounting Officers are the highest ranking officials in the government hierarchy apart from cabinet Ministers and as such wield much power and influence in the performance of government.  To illustrate further, government performance is largely owed to the strategic and policy direction of top technocrats in various Ministries.

It is disheartening to point out that the recent parliament committees — as has been the case all over the years — has laid bare the incompetency, inadequacy and ineptitude of people bestowed with great responsibilities in public offices. To say that they are ineffective and inefficient sounds as an understatement. Some appear useless and hopeless when it comes to running the government despite the huge responsibility they possess.

If we were uncertain about the degree at which the Accounting Officers are incompetent, the ongoing parliament committees provide a glaring answer.  It is not an exaggeration to say that ordinary people on the streets have been held ransom by these technocrats who enjoy their air conditioned offices and relish being chauffeured around in luxurious BX SUV’s while the rest of the citizenry continue to suffer. Because of such high life the Accounting Officers seem to have, with time, they have gotten out of touch with the people they are supposed to serve.

An example; when appearing before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Office of the President Permanent Secretary, Thuso Ramodimoosi, looked reluctant to admit misuse of public funds. Although it is clear funds were misused, he looked unbothered when committee members grilled him over the P80 million Orapa House building that has since morphed into a white elephant for close to 10 successive years. To him, it seems it did not matter much and PAC members were worried for nothing.

On a separate day, another Accounting officer, Director of Public Service Management (DPSM), Naledi Mosalakatane, was not shy to reveal to PAC upon cross-examination that there exist more than 6 000 vacancies in government. Whatever reasons she gave as an excuse, they were not convincing and the committee looked sceptical too. She was faltering and seemed not to have a sense of urgency over the matter no matter how critical it is to the populace.

Botswana’s unemployment rate hoovers around 18 percent in a country where majority of the population is the youth, and the most affected by unemployment. It is still unclear why DPSM could underplay such a critical matter that may threaten the peace and stability of the country.
Accounting Officers clearly appear out of touch with the reality out there – if the PAC examinations are anything to go by.

Ideally the DPSM Director could be dropping the vacancy post digits while sourcing funds and setting timelines for the spaces to be filled as a matter of urgency so that the citizens get employed to feed their families and get out of unemployment and poverty ravaging the country.
The country should thank parliamentary committees such as PAC to expose these abnormalities and the behaviour of our leaders when in public office. How can a full Accounting Officer downplay the magnitude of the landless problem in Botswana and fail to come with direct solutions tailor made to provide Batswana with the land they desperately need?

Land is a life and death matter for some citizens, as we would know.

When Bonolo Khumotaka, the Accounting Officer in the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, whom as a top official probably with a lucrative pay too appears to be lacking sense of urgency as she is failing on her key mandate of working around the clock to award the citizens with land especially those who need it most like the marginalised.  If government purports they need P94 billion to service land to address the land crisis what is plan B for government? Are we going to accept it the way it is?

Government should wake up from its slumber and intervene to avoid the 30 years unnecessary waiting period in State land and 13 years in Tribal land.  Accounting Officers are custodians of government policy, they should ensure it is effective and serve its purpose. What we have been doing over the years, has proved that it is not effective, and clearly there is a need for change of direction.

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Is it possible to make people part of your business resilience planning after the State of Public Emergency?

12th October 2020

THABO MAJOLA

His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi EK Masisi, the President of the Republic of Botswana found it appropriate to invoke Section 17 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Botswana, using the powers vested in him to declare a State of Public Emergency starting from the 2nd April 2020 at midnight.

The constitutional provision under Section 17 (2b) only provided that such a declaration could be up to a maximum of 21 days. His Excellency further invoked Section 93 (1) to convene an extra- ordinary meeting of Parliament to have the opportunity to consult members of parliament on measures that have been put in place to address the spread and transmission of the virus. At this meeting Members of Parliament passed a resolution on the legal instruments and regulations governing the period of the state of emergency, and extended its duration by six (6) months.

The passing of the State of Emergency is considered as a very crucial step in fighting the near apocalyptic potential of the Novel COVID-19 virus. One of the interesting initiatives that was developed and extended to the business community was a 3-month wage subsidy that came with a condition that no businesses would retrench for the duration of the State of Public Emergency. This has potentially saved many people’s jobs as most companies would have been extremely quick to reduce expenses by downsizing. Self-preservation as some would call it.

Most organisations would have tried to reduce costs by letting go of people, retreated and tried their best to live long enough to fight another day. In my view there is silver lining that we need to look at and consider. The fact that organisations are not allowed to retrench has forced certain companies to look at the people with a long-term view.

Most leaders have probably had to wonder how they are going to ensure that their people are resilient. Do they have team members who innovate and add value to the organisation during these testing times? Do they even have resilient people or are they just waiting for the inevitable end? Can they really train people and make them resilient? How can your team members be part of your recovery plan? What can they do to avoid losing the capabilities they need to operate meaningfully for the duration of the State of Public Emergency and beyond?

The above questions have forced companies to reimagine the future of work. The truth is that no organisation can operate to its full potential without resilient people. In the normal business cycle, new teams come on board; new business streams open, operations or production sites launch or close; new markets develop, and technology is introduced. All of this provides fresh opportunities – and risks.

The best analogy I have seen of people-focused resilience planning reframes employees as your organisation’s immune system, ready and prepared to anticipate risks and ensure they can tackle challenges, fend off illness and bounce back more quickly.  So, how do you supercharge your organizational immune system to become resilient?

COVID-19 has helped many organisations realize they were not as prepared as they believed themselves to be. Now is the time to take stock and reset for the future. All the strategies and plans prior to COVID-19 arriving in Botswana need to be thrown out of the window and you need to develop a new plan today. There is no room for tweaking or reframing. Botswana has been disrupted and we need to accept and embrace the change. What we initially anticipated as a disease that would take a short term is turning out to be something we are going to have to live with for a much longer time. It is going to be a marathon and therefore businesses need to have a plan to complete this marathon.

Start planning. Planning for change can help reduce employee stress, anxiety, and overall fear, boosting the confidence of staff and stakeholders. Think about conducting and then regularly refreshing a strategic business impact analysis, look at your employee engagement scores, dig into your customer metrics and explore the way people work alongside your behaviours and culture. This research will help to identify what you really want to protect, the risks that you need to plan for and what you need to survive during disruption. Don’t forget to ask your team members for their input. In many cases they are closest to critical business areas and already have ideas to make processes and systems more robust.

Revisit your organisational purpose. Purpose, values and principles are powerful tools. By putting your organisation’s purpose and values front and center, you provide clear decision-making guidelines for yourself and your organisation. There are very tough and interesting decisions to make which have to be made fast; so having guiding principles on which the business believes in will help and assist all decision makers with sanity checking the choices that are in front of them. One noticeable characteristic of companies that adapt well during change is that they have a strong sense of identity. Leaders and employees have a shared sense of purpose and a common performance culture; they know what the company stands for beyond shareholder value and how to get things done right.

Revisit your purpose and values. Understand if they have been internalised and are proving useful. If so, find ways to increase their use. If not, adapt them as necessities, to help inspire and guide people while immunizing yourself against future disruption. Design your employee experience. The most resilient, adaptive and high performing companies are made up of people who know each other, like each other, and support each other.

Adaptability requires us to teach other, speak up and discuss problems, and have a collective sense of belonging. Listening to your team members is a powerful and disruptive thing to do. It has the potential to transform the way you manage your organisation. Enlisting employees to help shape employee experience, motivates better performance, increases employee retention and helps you spot issues and risks sooner. More importantly, it gives employees a voice so you can get active and constructive suggestions to make your business more robust by adopting an inclusive approach.

Leaders need to show they care. If you want to build resilience, you must build on a basis of trust. And this means leaders should listen, care, and respond. It’s time to build the entire business model around trust and empathy. Many of the employees will be working under extreme pressure due to the looming question around what will happen when companies have to retrench. As a leader of a company transparency and open communication are the most critical aspects that need to be illustrated.

Take your team member into confidence because if you do have to go through the dreaded excise of retrenchment you have to remember that those people the company retains will judge you based on the process you follow. If you illustrate that the business or organization has no regard for loyalty and commitment, they will never commit to the long-term plans of the organisation which will leave you worse off in the end. Its an absolutely delicate balance but it must all be done in good faith. Hopefully, your organization will avoid this!

This is the best time to revisit your identify and train your people to encourage qualities that build strong, empathetic leadership; self-awareness and control, communication, kindness and psychological safety.  Resilience is the glue that binds functional silos and integrates partners, improves communications, helps you prepare, listen and understand. Most importantly, people-focused resilience helps individuals and teams to think collectively and with empathy – helping you respond and recover faster.

Article written by Thabo Majola, a brand communications expert with a wealth of experience in the field and is Managing Director of Incepta Communications.

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