South Africa’s general retailers index posted its biggest daily loss in nearly two weeks on Monday, capping gains on the bourse after ratings downgrades last week knocked the rand currency, raising the prospect of inflation curbing consumption.

The rand extended its recent losses as the credit downgrades to “junk” by two ratings firms last week following the sudden firing of the finance minister kept investors jittery.

The general retailers index shed 2.77% on Monday, bringing its decline to around 12% since March 27 when President Jacob Zuma recalled finance minister Pravin Gordhan from an overseas investors roadshow, before firing him in a cabinet reshuffle.

Massmart, majority-owned by Wal-Mart, lead the way, falling 4.85%.

“It looks like people are starting to realise that these downgrades will cause the economy to slow down, that’s generally a negative for retailers,” said Cratos Capital equities trader Greg Davies.

Overall, the market closed higher. Advancers included Anglo American, which closed 1.6% higher after announcing it would sell its Eskom-linked thermal coal operations in South Africa for $166 million, marking an important step in strategic overhaul to sharpen its focus.

The broader All-Share index increased 0.54% to 53,139.86 points, while the benchmark Top-40 index added 0.73% to 46,422.49 points.

On the foreign exchange market, at 23:50 the rand traded at 13.9501 per dollar, 1.20% weaker from its New York close on Friday.

In fixed income, the yield for the benchmark government bond due in 2026 climbed 7.5 basis points to 9.005%.

By Olwethu Boso for www.moneyweb.co.za

School stationery woes plague Limpopo

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in Limpopo says delays with the delivery of stationery have improved but the Sekhukhune district still remains a concern.

Sadtu members from various regions reported on the progress of stationery delivery in the province.

While deliveries had been made to most schools, Sadtu claims that some schools in Vhembe and Mopani are yet to receive stationery.

But the union has added that the situation is no longer a crisis there.

Sekhukhune, however, remained a worry.

“Vhembe and Mopani have picked up in terms of stationery delivery, there is no crisis now. The crisis remains at Sekhukhune,” Sadtu provincial secretary Matome Raphasha told News24 on Thursday.

The union hoped that the education department would move swiftly to address the problem as it argued that the lack of these materials at schools could have a ripple effect and affect final exams.

Court challenge

“It is possible that there could be omissions and shortfalls,” said Limpopo education department spokesperson Naledzani Rasila.

Rasila advised affected schools to contact their circuit offices.

Earlier this year a legal challenge was launched over the tender to deliver stationery in the province.

On Tuesday the education department was successful in a case involving two service providers who claimed that those awarded the stationery delivery tenders were irregularly appointed.

The two losing bidders took the department to court to try and get an interdict and to overturn its tender decision, and therefore halt delivery of stationery in the province.

The companies, Afropulse and Freedom Stationery, sought to overturn the awarding of the tender to African Paper Products and instead have it awarded to the two companies.

But the department had argued that it had almost completed the delivery of stationery to the 4 000 schools in the province.

By Chester Makana for News24

Massmart holds steady in turbulent times

A sales update from Massmart has revealed so-so results, but in these trying times that’s just a couple of notches down from a howling success.

Sales were up 7,7% to R91,3-billion in the 52 weeks to 25 December, ahead of product inflation of 6,7%, but down from market expectations, and from last year’s performance (growth of 8,4% against product inflation of 3%).

Masswarehouse – that’s Makro to the rest of us – grew fastest, at 11%, while Masscash (Cambridge, Jumbo and so on) grew at 7,5%, although this was beaten down by internal inflation of 9,3%.

Massdiscounters (Game, DionWired) came in at 5,3%, while Massbuild somewhat disappointingly trundled home at 5,6%.

While there was an uptick in sales at home, they declined elsewhere, vindicating the decision to take it easy in Africa.

Source: Trade Tatler

The workplace is changing and becoming more digital, fast-paced and dynamic than ever before. In this new, tech-driven atmosphere where there’s constant demand for increased speed and efficiency, are we losing sight of what the entire profession of human resources was founded on: people?

The fact is that we are only at the beginning of the digital economy’s exponential growth – automation and artificial intelligence will affect every aspect of human life, and therefore, the workplace as well.

As technology takes over increasingly complex tasks, new forms of human-technology interaction will emerge, and industry and society will have to evolve to accommodate that relationship. We have to work to blend the best of technology with the best of human abilities. There are certain things that technology will not be able to replace and those are the things we should start focusing on putting back into HR.

All humans have basic needs. We need to feel appreciated, valued and a sense of belonging. Face-to-face interaction provides the emotive qualities that we need in order to feel heard, respected and valued. E-mails, texts, virtual environments and automated responses can result in a misconnection. Customer satisfaction is not based solely on response time; relationships and experiences are crucial.

Here are a few suggestions on how to find the right balance between technology and human abilities:

• Leverage technology to connect – connecting does not always have to be done in person – virtual meetings are our most common form of interaction. I challenge you to turn on your video camera the next time you are connecting with a colleague. We want to feel noticed, and using video functions can help to make a meeting feel more personal.

• Make automated services personal – when accessing an automated service, the interface should utilise technology to have interactive videos to guide employees through a request. Lengthy descriptions on how to utilise a tool are time consuming to read and leave the requester feeling incapable of completing a request. Having a friendly face pop-up to walk you through a process would provide real-time guidance and would bring the system to life – the perfect blend of human and technology.

• Constant personal connections – personal connections allow you to have a pulse of the people and organisation. When analysing key data, trends emerge enabling you to build proactive solutions. It is up to us to bring the analysis to personal contacts to continue the investment in people and ensure we implement the proposed solutions.

• Engage with technology – create an environment that inspires employees to make your business their career, by engaging the right talent across your workforce – and make sure they succeed. With technology you can streamline and standardise your HR processes, get new hires up to speed quickly, and reward your employees in an instant. This enables you to attract and care for your most important resource, the human one.

The technology evolution is only beginning. It is our job to stay on top of the trends and find the right balance to combine the best of technology with the best of human abilities.

Just as instant music streaming and the likes of Spotify are encouraging increasing numbers of us to invest in a Crosley and dust down our vinyl, a similar story is materialising in the world of messaging. WeChat, Snapchat, WhatsApp…whatever – it seems digital communication has served to reignite our romance with pen and ink.

If you recall the thrill of Saturday mornings spent shopping for brightly patterned paper, coloured inks and scented erasers, prepare to go back to the future. A host of new stationery brands have launched online tapping into what it was like to be a stationery-loving child of the Eighties but in a far more sophisticated way.

The ability to create customised greetings cards, invitations and letterheads that reflect a personal style was pioneered by Paperless Post, a US website established in 2009 by New York siblings James and Alexa Hirschfield. It now has more than 100-million users in the States – so the pair have decided to expand internationally, starting with the UK. “It was a natural step because we already have hundreds of thousands of British customers who have used the service through the American website,” says Hirschfield.

They’ve got stiff competition, though, in the form of a London-based rival Papier, which launched last autumn. Branding itself as “design-led”, the overarching aesthetic of Papier is playful illustration with a roster of international artists supplying designs, such as young British illustrator Luke Edward Hall. His bright, optimistic style blends Greco-Roman influences with a touch of the Bloomsbury Group “and a dash of Palm Springs” and has been applied to cards, invitations and stationery.

Papier appears to be getting it right: since its launch, it has grown at a rate of 20% per month. “We’re seeing lots of customers buying stationery sets with patterns and motifs, including emojis and monograms that are clearly personal to the recipient,” says founder Taymoor Atighetchi. “People are asking for bespoke motifs, too – recently a woman wanted very specific stationery featuring a brown trout for her husband who loves fishing, which we created for her.”

At the other end of the spectrum is Eleanor Tattersfield, whose design brand Marby & Elm began as a cottage-industry using a Flatbed Adana letterpress in her garden shed. Her witty, brightly coloured typographic designs were stocked in Liberty within a year of starting the company in 2011. Five months ago, she set up shop in Clerkenwell, east London, where she offers a unique while-you-wait bespoke stationery service: a set of 12 personalised notepapers and envelopes is £35 (R780).

“If I try to analyse the appeal of letterpress,” says Tattersfield, “I think it’s the juxtaposition of contemporary vivid colour with Victorian type – it’s modern design but executed in a traditional way.” Her brand is proof that we no longer yearn for overtly formal stationery, but are prepared for irreverence in our correspondence. One of her first commissions was a set of thank-you cards for a pre-eminent psychiatrist, who wanted “F**k Yeah!” emblazoned upon them. It is now one of her bestselling lines.

With the UK greetings card market worth an estimated £1,75-billion (R35,9-billion), fashion brands are hoping to steal a slice. Matthew Williamson has just launched his first stationery range, adorned by 17 prints from his archive, including flamboyant peacock feathers. Williamson is keen to inspire pensmiths with his designs: “It’s such a lovely surprise these days to open a stamped envelope. I have a wall at home above my desk filled with special thank-you messages which I love to look at. With the digital age, letter-writing is seen as unnecessary, but I would love to do my bit to revive it.”

Menswear brand Oliver Spencer and Harvey Nichols are also broadening their offering with stationery. Both have called on the services of modern stationery company Mark + Fold, whose designs are less about decorative pattern and more about celebrating the raw materials. Founder Amy Cooper-Wright studied philosophy and French, but a book-binding evening class at St Martins had her hooked. She started out making notebooks for family and friends and set up Mark+ Fold after gaining a design MA.

“Choosing to use stationery in the digital age is very much a conscious choice, and so paper has to have a materiality that you want to choose to write on,” says Cooper-Wright. “I use a small niche of mills in Scotland and Greater Manchester, and one in Holland because it offers Cold-glue Ota-binding, which no one else can do, but produces notebooks that open completely flat.” Such attention to detail has made the Mark One Notebook, with 35 per cent cotton paper, her bestseller.

Artisanal and bespoke, Mark + Fold is definitely targeted at the aesthete, but it has a considered philosophy behind it. “I take inspiration from Kenya Hara, the force behind Muji. He wrote a book called White, about the power of a white surface and our compulsion to make our mark on it. Starting the first page of a notebook can be quite emotional. It’s just not the same on screen. It’s been proven that you think differently on paper so using stationery is much more than just a style statement.”

By Bethan Ryder April for www.telegraph.co.uk

New Yorker starts pencil enterprise

One morning last month a man sat down at his computer and ordered $4 000 worth of pencils designed to look like John Steinbeck’s favorite, the Blackwing 24.

“It’s probably the most iconic pencil ever made in America,” says Caroline Weaver, whose shop on New York’s Lower East Side, C.W. Pencil Enterprise, took the order of 1 920 pencils.

C.W. carries more than 200 types of pencils, including the Blackwing (also favored by Walt Disney), as well as a dozen erasers and sharpeners, and zero mechanicals.

“Mechanical pencils, they don’t smell like anything. The lead is so small you can get no line variation out of it,” says Weaver, 25. “Though it is a little bit of work to use a wood-cased pencil, most people appreciate that. There’s a physical connection you can draw between how often you have to sharpen your pencil and how much work you’ve done.”

The shop was bustling on a recent Thursday afternoon as Weaver made rapid-fire sales to a hodgepodge of tourists, designers, and high school students. Three Spaniards approached the cash register, unsure which of their coins amounted to the 87 cents they needed to buy a miniature pencil. Weaver solved the problem and carefully packaged their purchase in a custom envelope, tying her signature bow around it.

Her devotion is reflected in a tattoo on her forearm of a black Ticonderoga from the early 2000s that her mother, an interior designer trained in technical drawing, created. “I had her sharpen it three times,” Weaver says, “because a pencil sharpened and used three times is the perfect length.”

The hipster movement and Steampunk aesthetic have brought back a number of other traditional products. Restoration Hardware fashions 20th-century trunks into $2 495 bookshelves. Tin ceilings popular in the late 1800s are being reproduced in plastic. And vinyl, done in long ago by the cassette tape, has been resurrected. Pencils, unlike trunks, still serve a day-to-day function for students, designers, and contractors, as well as note takers predisposed to changing their minds.

Hipsters don’t pay the bills at C.W., though. While most of Weaver’s customers are millennials, she says, the big spenders are the roughly 15 percent who are over 50. The shop’s top five customers, who spend between $3 000 and $4 000 a year, are all over 40.

The average sale at C.W. is about $50 online, $25 in the store. Weaver typically charges twice her wholesale cost. She declines to disclose total costs or revenue but says the business turns a profit.

The pencil industry boasts a lively collector’s market, and Weaver says that, as far as she knows, C.W. is the only brick-and-mortar store catering to this demographic. Despite some nice buzz (here, here, and here, for example), she faces competition from Amazon.com, Pencils.com, and resellers on EBay, and tries to distinguish C.W. with the in-store experience. She’s familiar with every pencil she sells, as well as with those she can’t get her hands on; many are no longer in production. Bantering, that Thursday, with a collector from out of town, she sold him and his wife about $100 of merchandise and recommended a pencil podcast.

Weaver grew up in a small town in Ohio, went on to study art at London’s Goldsmiths, and traveled the world picking up new pencils along the way (such as a mint green set of three she acquired in Japan, her favorite at the moment). She risked personal funds of $80 000 to build up inventory, create the online store, and pay advance rent. Weaver launched the website in November 2014, found a retail space of roughly 200 square feet renting for $1 900 a month, and opened the doors in March of last year.

“I didn’t want it to be in a shopping neighborhood,” she says of the store, on Forsyth Street, above a restaurant, Birds & Bubbles, that specialises in champagne and fried chicken. “I didn’t want anything too polished. I like the idea that this shop kind of has to be discovered, that people seeking it out would be brought to a neighborhood that they might not usually come to.”

Since C.W. opened, the block has filled up with other quirky businesses. A 14-year-old neighbor stops by regularly to purchase pencils for her exams at the exacting Bronx High School of Science. She gets a neighborhood discount, reflecting her frequency as a client and Weaver’s management style.

Demand is sometimes more than Weaver and her staff of four (all millennials) can manage, she says.

“I have had a couple people offer to invest in the business, and I’ve declined. I’m not good at finance things. It really terrifies me, so even if it’s unwise, as long as I can keep it as simple as possible, I feel safer,” she says.

She and Caitlin Elgin, deputy pencil lady1, closed the shop for a week in February to travel to Germany, where they found a manufacturer for their cases and, as a bonus, a pencil with plain graphite on one end and neon yellow for highlighting on the other.

Those unable to travel to the store get a taste of Weaver’s personality from her online shop, her Instagram page, which has more than 94,000 followers, and her pencil-of-the-month club. Weaver, who had long dreamed of being such a club member herself, launched the program without any marketing beyond an offer on her website. It promises one pencil a month for a year for $80. Within about five months, she had 700 subscribers.

“We always try to pick pencils people don’t really know about, which is quite a task. It’s one of my favourite things, but all that packing and all that prep work takes us the entire month to do,” says Weaver, who says she had to stop accepting subscribers. She could probably afford to hire an employee dedicated to expanding the club but has a hard time justifying it and, in general, doesn’t see herself building an empire.

“I never want it to be where I can’t be here, or have too many locations to worry about,” she says. “I didn’t start this because I want to be a business lady. I started it because I really wanted to sell people pencils.”

By Polly Mosendz for www.bloomberg.com

If you want to bring your sketches and notes into the 21st century with a smart pen or a digital pen, or already have one and want an update, this list will help you find the best pen for you.

We’ve already brought you the best styluses for Android and the best styluses for iPhone. Now, you can get the best of the buzz of instantly transferring everything you write or draw on paper to your phone too.

No matter how quick your thumbs or good your enunciation for Siri is, we often revert to handwriting when it comes to quick note-taking or sketching. Many of us do our best creative thinking with a pen in their hand and evidence says that handwriting helps you remember content.

Far from banishing handwriting to the past, the digital world has reinvigorated the ancient practice. Styluses are an increasingly good match for real pens and, in some areas, overtake them – for example, in the ease with which you can switch from a ‘pencil’ to, say, ‘charcoal’.

And smart pens take the technology one step further: you can now write or sketch as you normally would on paper, and it will be instantly digitised. No longer will you have to type up or photograph analogue sketches or notes. You can combine the flexibility and control of a pen with the communication and shareablity that comes with digital information.

Most smart pens (apart from Wacom’s Bamboo Spark, but we’ll come to that later) work via an almost invisible grid of tiny dots on the paper – which is why you often need special paper as well as a special pen. A camera within the pen tracks where the ink is in relation to those dots – and transfers that information to an app with Bluetooth.

As it is so early for the technology, smart pens differ widely in quality. Here, we’ve scoured all that’s on offer to find the best smart pens for designers and artists.

Neo smartpen N2

neo_smartpen_n2_silver_white_grande
Neo smartpen have prioritised getting as close to a normal pen as possible – and not a cheap, sponsored biro, but a comfortable-to-use, luxury experience. It is light (less than 0.8 ounces), thin (less than 12mm) and the length of a normal pen (at just over 15cm). Plus, made of aluminium and stainless steel, it is probably one of the most durable pens you will ever own.

Cool features include writing and drawing in 8 different colours with 3 different thickness options, recognising pen pressure in 256 steps, storing up to 1 000 pages of handwritten notes on the pen itself, being able to transcribe hand-written notes and its compatibility with standard ink refills. In the Neo Notes app, you can organise your pages, sync with services such as Google drive and Evernote, and customise your notes and drawings.

So, the gorgeous design out the way – it did win a 2015 iF Design Award – and easy use, how well does the Neo smartpen actually work? Mainly well. Use continuous pressure and you should be okay, but light strokes don’t always register. Simple doodles and notes will usually transfer brilliantly, but intricate drawings and designs are less likely to be transferred accurately. It could be perfect for your early doodles and ideas though.

This pen retails at around R2 500.

Moleskine Smart Writing set

moleskine-head
Moleskine’s new writing set offers the shape and feel of their mind-blowingly popular classic notebooks – and now the brand is firmly in the twenty-first century. Just like its competitors, you can edit notes, transcribe handwritten notes into digital text and share your notes and sketches.

Its standout features, though, are writing colour options, page detection (write on any page and the pen will know which one) and that the pen also takes standard refills. Just like the notebook, the pen is beautifully built – with an aluminium body. Moleskine’s pen’s features (such as storage up to a 1,000 pages) overlap with the Neo smartpen – unsurprisingly, as they Moleskine’s was made using Neo smartpen tech

Buy the whole set for around R4 100.

Wacom Bamboo Spark

wacom-bamboo
Wacom’s Bamboo Spark’s coolest feature is that it can be used with any paper due to a transmitter inside its pen and a receiver within the folio that comes with it.

Within the app (to which you can transfer pages in only a few seconds via Bluetooth), you can ‘rewind’ your drawing line-by-line and export at any point. Though the case only holds 100 pages (unlike Moleskine’s and Neo smartpen’s 1,000), you can easily store pages to the cloud, and share through the typical platforms. Unlike competitors such as the Moleskine Smart Writing Set and the Neo smartpen, you can’t refill with standard cartridges.

You might have come on here expecting the Inkling –but the Bamboo Spark is Wacom’s second, better attempt at a smart pen, and makes the Inkling pretty irrevelant. You can check our hands-on review to find out why the Bamboo Spark is better.

Buy the device for around R2 300

Livescribe 3

livescribe
The Livescribe 3 might take some getting used to, as it’s thicker than normal pens – but it’s definitely worth getting to know it, as it works with precision and ease. Just like its competitors, the Livescribe 3 offers transcribing, sharing and organising notes – but the app also lets you record sound while scribbling.

Not only does it have great write-ups when it comes down to actually using the pen, but the Livescribe 3 might save you some money as it doesn’t necessarily require special paper: you can print Livescribe’s variety of paper if you have a 600dpi (or higher) inkjet printer. However, you can’t use standard ink cartridges with it – only Livescribe ones.

Buy the Livescribe 3 from around R2 700.

BLCK INK

blck-ink-512
BLCK INK is newer to the game – and, as a result, is less tested and known. If its marketing videos – which are unique in that they concentrate on art, rather than note-taking – are anything to go by, this is the best pen for drawing and can produce truly beautiful results with greater precision and accuracy. It offers much the same features as other pens on the list, such as sharing and instant transfer, but we’re hoping it lives up to its promise of transferring drawings to such quality that they look just as good on your phone as they do on paper.

By Mimi Launder by www.digitalartsonline.co.uk

Man invents edible spoons

Observing the water depletion problem caused by growing rice cultivation in his country, India, Narayana Peesapaty decided to do something about it.

He hit on the idea of edible cutlery after noticing that staple bread roti – made from millet, a crop that requires about 60 times less water to cultivate than rice – was edible yet, when hardened, could serve as a ladle or spoon.

What started as an idea over time turned into a business, Peesapaty in 2011 establishing a company called Bakeys, the world’s first purveyor of edible spoons.

He told Tech in Asia that the company used three type of flour, namely rice, wheat and sorghum, but mostly used a millet base for its spoons, which are available in savory, sweet and plain versions.

With plastic spoons sold for as little as 1 US cent in India, Peesapaty’s edible spoons, which cost 3 cents, also help to reduce the use of plastic.

“The cutlery is meant to be eaten after use. If you don’t want to eat it, just throw it away and it will decompose entirely,” he says, adding that besides spoons, the company’s products were planned to later include chopsticks, dessert spoons and forks. It also plans to produce cups, plates and other disposable tableware.

By Dian Arthen for www.thejakartapost.com

From writing to adult colouring, a number of exciting trends emerged and re-emerged in 2015 which helped grow dollar sales for key players in the office supplies industry.

The US office and school supplies industry grew 3% in 2015 to $12-billion, with $1,2-billion stemming from online sales, according to retail sales data from global information company The NPD Group.

The bulk of the industry’s revenue came from the Writing Instruments category, which represented 20% of total industry sales, and was the thrust behind its growth in 2015; the category experienced dollar and unit growth of 8%, and 7%, respectively.

“From writing to adult colouring, a number of exciting trends emerged and re-emerged in 2015 which helped grow dollar sales for key players in the office supplies industry. These trends continue to have a positive impact on sales,” says Leen Nsouli, office supplies industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Amidst the digital migration being seen across industries, the traditional writing category has managed to grow and, at the same time, evolve with the times, as new products on the market show. Traditional pen sales grew 5% during the year, and specialty pens by 11%. In line with the adult colouring book trend, dollar sales of porous, gel, and multi-coloured pens were up by 28%, 9% and 8%, respectively.

Coloured pencils were also popular items, with sales up 40% for the full year. Consumers are also spending on fine writing instruments, and increased their spending by nearly $2,5-million on fountain, gel, and ballpoint pens compared to what they spent on these products in 2014.

While the pen category saw sales increase, 2015 marked a shift in the purchasing of pens versus pencils during the back-to-school season, with traditional pen sales losing unit share to encased and mechanical pencils. Looking at back-to-school shopping purchases, consumers traded 27,6-million individual units of pens for pencils in 2015.

“There is a lot of creativity and innovation in both pens and complementary products. Whether it’s taking notes in an office meeting, journal keeping, colouring, or finding that special lifestyle or luxury pen, many consumers are still handwriting,” says Nsouli.

“The comeback of the pencil could be due to a number of factors, including the increased mention of encased pencils on K-6 school lists, growth of large pack sizes in pencils, or the increased purchase rate of specialty pens like the stylus pen, which are an attractive option for consumers looking to blend traditional writing and technology.”

Looking at channel performance, the writing category experienced growth across all retail channels – brick-and-mortar, online, and food/drug stores – and outperformed the overall supplies industry in each.

“The keys to growth in supplies – whether for the office, school, or crafting – are all about innovation and price,” says Nsouli. “I’ve seen this done through new styles and design, new licensing agreements, a blending between glass and paper, and the creation of a new activity like adult colouring, which lead the way to increased sales across supplies categories.”

Change within a business is not only an inevitable step in the process of growth, but can also serve as a catalyst for further growth, if managed effectively. In today’s dynamic and fast-paced environment, businesses must adapt or risk becoming obsolete. However, managing change effectively must be viewed as an opportunity to improve rather than a chore.

This is according to Claire Simon, consulting psychologist at Work Dynamics – a leading HR consultancy in the country, who says that any change experienced by businesses, whether big or small, is often viewed as turbulent. “Therefore, it is important to shift focus from change management to change leadership – with a strong emphasis on change readiness. While implementing changes in business can come at a risk, it can come with great rewards too.”

These ‘risk changes’ can include mergers, acquisitions, Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE), technological developments and changes in leadership, she says. “As unsettling as these events may sound, they are crucial for growth and becoming more accessible as an organisation.”

With regards to the nature of change within an organisation, Simon points to the recent fall of the highly respected and reputable mobile company, Nokia, as a prime example of how change effects business development. “Nokia did not necessarily make any grand mistakes, but did not make any grand leaps to adapt to the ever evolving mobile technologies either. As a result, their competitors indisputably became too powerful for them to compete with. This is a prime example of the importance of change for organisations to remain current and competitive.”

She adds that organisations going through a significant change should partner with a qualified HR consultancy that is able to provide guidance on the psychology of change, especially in terms of the impact on employees. “Change is inevitable and affects the employees the most, as they have to adapt their daily processes to accommodate the change. Many organisations tend to focus primarily on keeping up with their competitors and other commercial elements of business, meaning that the human factor may be neglected. This is problematic, because a dedicated and motivated team of workers forms the backbone of most organisations.”

When it comes to ensuring that change progresses efficiently and smoothly, communication is imperative, explains Simon. “Preparing for and transitioning through change can be overwhelming and organisations have to provide an open platform for employees to express their concerns prior to the changes.”

She suggests the following change communication model to ensure that staff members remain in the loop. “Firstly, employees must be informed timeously of change to ensure everyone is aware of the process. Secondly, a transparent approach to involve employees is required to stimulate engagement across all levels of the business. Finally, the change must be integrated into the organisation without hindering the commitment and attitudes of the employees.”

This can be accomplished if leaders within the organisation act as the change agents and assist with transparency and honesty during the progression of change, says Simon. “Sound leadership will demonstrate an inordinate level of care on the part of senior management, in turn resulting in high levels of trust and compliance from the employees.”

She explains that while there is no general rating system available to measure change readiness within an organisation, the level thereof can be assessed through a change readiness survey that is tailor-made to suit the unique attributes of the organisation.

“A continuous change readiness assessment plan must be implemented within organisations to measure and adapt existing processes, thereby ensuring the organisation is resilient and prepared enough to continue its growth during periods of change,” concludes Simon.

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