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Dealing with mental health in a post-lockdown, hybrid workplace


The Big Reset, Big Resignation and hybrid working are descriptors for the way workers and the workplace has changed as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Terms like this have simplified work issues that are giving rise to a number of mental health challenges – or exacerbating those that existed pre COVID.

According to Michelle Moss, Director: Assessments at Signium Africa, and an industrial psychologist, while much of the world appears ready to release the subject of mental health from its “taboo” closet, the value of shedding light on issues means the C-Suite must be prepared to take actions that can boost their company’s productivity.

“Issues of mental health can be extremely intimidating for managers, especially as they have to deal with them alongside their normal daily responsibilities. The topic is broad, and to make it manageable, industrial psychology breaks it down into three sectors: Individual, Teams and Organisation.

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Outplacement & Career Transition – Navigating the “Bend in the Road”

fantastic sunset over asphalt road

Economic turmoil exacerbated by two years of pandemic and its attendant lockdowns has seen the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, note that after a strong recovery in 2021, global growth momentum is losing steam, writes Ross Mengel, Outplacement & Career Transition Consultant in alliance with Signium Africa.

The World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2022 warns that global economic recovery hinges on a delicate balance amid new waves of COVID-19 infections, persistent labour market challenges, lingering supply-chain constraints, rising inflationary pressures and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

From a South African economic perspective, the last few years have been grueling: VAT has increased, GDP hovers around the 1% mark, interest rates are up and retrenchments have picked up across several industries including mining, construction, engineering, manufacturing, banking and finance, as well as state-owned enterprises such as Eskom, SAA and SABC.

The pace of job creation has been wholly inadequate to offset employment losses, and many companies have had to reduce employee numbers to shrink costs, leading to extremely challenging and stressful undertaking of section 189 processes and retrenchment.

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The ethics evolution: will you be on the right side of history?

Ethics 2

As the Covid-19 tsunami gushed through countries and communities unprepared for its devastation, it also uncovered practises that are less than ethical, writes Annelize van Rensburg, Director: Executive Search at Signium Africa. How do business leaders rebuild trust?

News about the global pandemic brought stories of heroism and relief for some, but it is in times of crisis that an individual or company’s real moral and ethical value system comes to the fore. Global issues from overcharging for personal protective equipment (PPE) to leaders withholding government funding from their citizens brought shame on top of sadness.

The old adage “a fish rots from the head down” has been bandied about freely, but it isn’t entirely true: it takes more than one leader, board member or organisation’s employee to cross the line between good corporate governance and an unethical focus purely on profit.

The overarching effect of questionable ethics is the creation of a toxic culture that seeps into all areas of an organisation. Examples that made global headlines are plentiful, from oil spills that decimated once-pristine waters, to dangerous design faults that exacerbated fires in buildings; and vehicle manufacturers claiming to be within mandated emission rates when testing showed untold potential damage to the environment.

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Team building mid-pandemic: About purpose, resilience and diversity

Close up view of young business people putting their hands together. Stack of hands. Unity and teamwork concept.

As workers across the globe navigate their way around another phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, Michelle Moss: Director: Assessments at Signium Africa notes just how necessary team building interventions are at a time of “pre” the post-pandemic stage.

“Over the past year people have been talking about mental health issues among staff members unused to working from home and not having personal engagement with colleagues.

“In our quest to give employees the time and space they needed to speak up about issues, it’s become apparent that company leaders were largely focused on the well-being of their staff and did not take the time to fully consider or take care of their own needs. Teambuilding workshops now give them the opportunity to explore these necessities and receive the empathy and support they made sure their staff got.”

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Agribusiness during Covid: How leadership creates winning strategies

Vegetables and agriculture entrepreneurThe year 2020 will forever be defined by the massive disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic had across the board and around the world, says Dr John Purchase, CEO of the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz). The immediate response in South Africa was a hard lockdown that restricted movement and any form of a gathering of people.

“Food products and services were deemed essential goods and services, and much of the sector could continue with operations, albeit in an extremely difficult and disrupted environment,” says Dr Purchase, noting too that certain agricultural and agro-processing sectors were deemed non-essential, including alcohol-based industries (especially wine), floriculture, the fibre and tobacco industries and more.

Interestingly, even within the constraints of Covid-19, South Africa maintained an excellent rate of food security. Due largely to pro-active measures taken by industry and government including the Ministerial Task Team, economic damage and loss of jobs was limited as far as possible for most subsectors. Dr Purchase highlights that a cut in interest rates by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) meant a saving of roughly R5,6 billion for farmers over a 12-month period, relieving some pressure on farmers and agribusinesses.

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Valentine’s Day: It’s about making hearts happy

Valentines day LOVE

As Valentine’s Day approaches, the delight is palpable. What used to be the feast day of St Valentine, patron lovers and beekeepers, evolved to being a day on which you send a card or gift to someone you love, often anonymously.

Now Valentine’s Day has become a day on which we show love, for that special person, friends and family and even teachers and colleagues. We asked three of Signium Africa’s directors what Valentine’s Day means to them and we’re loving the responses.

Director of Assessments and Industrial Psychologist: Michelle Moss, says the day is about love, and in this time of a global pandemic, suggests “self-love” would be a valuable way to spend it.

“Very often we share kindness and compassion with others and neglect to include ourselves. We speak to ourselves far more harshly than we’d speak to friends and forget that we can’t keep giving love without ever replenishing it.”

Michelle’s tips for a self-loving Valentine’s Day include being aware of how we feel; not taking on too much work because we don’t set boundaries for ourselves; and getting stressed or annoyed with ourselves for making mistakes.

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