Is business culture in South Africa humane?

Is Business Culture in South Africa Humane?

In a world of numbers and high-powered deals, it’s easy to neglect the human side of business. To thrive, we need to do more than talk. At Investec, they do more than interact — they make it their business to understand yours… That’s business made human.

The Working Lunch with Arabile Gumede is a series of intimate conversations that bring experts around a table to engage and interrogate the importance of the humans on the other side of business transactions.

The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a significant shift in the way that we work.

Now that remote working has become our “new normal” — trading in boardroom meetings and face-to-face watercooler catch-ups with colleagues for Zoom meetings and messages via Teams has tested the strategically cultivated business culture that business leaders worked hard to enforce in the workplace.

For the most part, employees have succeeded at remote work but at what cost? Those that have managed to retain their jobs after mass retrenchments have not emerged unscathed, with the negative effects of working in isolation perpetuating South Africa’s mental health crisis.

Research shows that employees working remotely have exerted themselves as their workloads increase and rewards are reduced, thus tipping the scale of work-life balance.

Toxic Leadership and Narcissism in the Workplace

Claire Denham-Dyson, head anthropologist at Demographica, a full-service marketing agency posed an important question that business leaders need to ask themselves during these uncertain times:

Do the values of an organisation put a person or human being at the centre?

As we’ve seen over the years, toxic leadership and narcissism have become a reality in the world and are often rewarded in the business world. While optimistic about the future of the post-pandemic world of work, Denham-Dyson said that business culture is not human enough just yet.

The Days of Unspoken Boundries are Long Gone

While Luvuno acknowledges that organisations are looking at new ways of working — she also points out that individuals are speaking up for themselves in terms of what they will and will not do.

“We’ve proven that when we’re not in the office, that we can get more done… people are overworked at the moment versus when they were in the office.”

“When you’re in the office, I get to work at a particular hour and I leave. When I leave, I am putting an unspoken boundary that I am no longer available… When there is no boundary in place because you know that I am sitting down at home in front of my computer the whole day, the boundary is not there, so people are working longer,” she explained.

Written by Zaakirah Rossier