South African companies not effectively leveraging the benefits of alternative workforce options

Eric van Gils

South African companies are not new to alternative workforce arrangements.


We have been using contractors, temps and part-time workers with some success for many years now. According to Stats SA and local estimates, freelance, temporary and part-time workers make up between 16% and 20% of the 16.5m working population in South Africa.

It is estimated that globally there are more than 77 Million people who are working as freelancers and a recent Gallup poll found that 36% of U.S. workers were gig workers and had either alternative work arrangements, were part time workers or had multiple jobs.

But are we leveraging alternative workforce options in South Africa as effectively as we could be?

Not according to the recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey. Apart from in IT and Operations, South African businesses do not use alternative workforce options extensively across the rest of the functions. This leaves Sales, Customer Service, HR, Finance and Marketing (amongst others) as areas we could be improving our strategic use of alternative workforce models to better support the business needs.

Screenshot from 2019-04-20 09-44-09.png

According to the 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey, the challenge with being more strategic in our management of alternative workers is that we need to “rewire” our organisation to move from merely managing contractors and freelancers, to “optimizing” and “leveraging” the alternative workforce deliberately and well. It means creating the right processes and culture for connecting the appropriate talent with the appropriate roles, no matter how the talent is sourced or how the relationship is structured.

HR are well placed to drive this rewiring and start considering the multitude of alternative workforce management tools available to support their alternative workforce management strategy.

Being able to proactively leverage an alternative workforce means being able to engage with talent wherever it is, for as long as you need it, at a price which suits the business.

Other reading :

South African corporates continue find it a challenge to source experienced hires - Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey


Eric van Gils

The latest Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey, which polled nearly 10 000 respondents in 119 countries, had 73 respondents from South Africa.

A consistent theme from the overall survey was that finding qualified experienced hires globally continues to be a challenge, and amongst the South African respondents 47% of the corporates indicated that finding qualified experienced hires was their biggest recruitment challenge.

Other talent acquisition challenges identified by South African firms included :

  • Identifying full-time talent with right skills

  • Taking too long to onboard employees

  • Finding qualified entry level hires

Even with South Africa’s significantly high unemployment rate, our clients’ tell us their experience is in line with the results of the survey, and they continue to find it challenging to identify the right qualified experience hires.

Screenshot from 2019-04-13 12-12-00.png

If we want our economy to grow at an acceptable rate over the next few years we need to close the gap between the skills businesses need and the skills our unemployed fellow citizens have.

Read more :

CEOs are less confident in the year ahead and lack of available skills will not make it easier


Eric van Gils

One of the less popular messages from the 2019 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos last week was that the IMF had revised it’s forecast for global growth downwards.

This loss of confidence seems to be echoed by global CEOs in the recent PWC 2019 Global CEO Survey, where 29% of global business leaders felt global economic growth will decline, compared to only 5% in the 2018 survey. The common message is that globally, leaders are less optimistic.

The uncertainty around growth in the global economy is not the only problem weighing on business leaders’ minds. The PWC Global CEO survey also highlighted the lack of available skills as having a detrimental effect on companies’ abilities to operate effectively and grow.

Source : PWC 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey (Click to enlarge)

59% of global CEOs confirmed that challenges with the availability of skills means they are not able to innovate effectively and 52% of global CEOs indicated the lack of skills is causing their people costs to grow.

CEOs face an uphill challenge where global trade tensions combined with lower growth projections will make it difficult to convince their boards and leadership teams to invest in longer term reskilling initiatives.

Unfortunately, the reality is that if reskilling is not a fundamental focus of business going forward then organisations may make it through the coming short term headwinds only to find themselves without the necessary skills and talent to survive the 2020s decade.

Other reading :

How to get back into the swing of things when returning from vacation

Derryn Short


For many it’s the first week back at work.  You may be experiencing random bouts of anxiety mixed with a bit of excitement.  The holidays season is but a distant memory and by the end of the week you may very well feel that you have been back at the office for months and not days.  

I have trolled the internet and have identified a few tips that could help you conquer the post holiday blues and launch yourself straight back into the swing of things

  1. Tidy up your workspace first

  2. Set new goals

  3. Get your “To-Dos” in order and prioritise what needs to be done

  4. Briefly review your calendar and postpone non-urgent meetings

  5. Triage your inbox don’t read your emails in chronological order

  6. Do one thing at a time

  7. Catch up with your colleagues

  8. Remove all distractions such as social media sites and cell phone applications

  9. Take breaks during the day, decompress and relax

  10. Don’t procrastinate get straight back into it

It is important to stay calm, focused and relaxed.  Be kind to yourself it’ll take a few days to readjust. In conclusion plan to enjoy your week.   

South African firms planning to use permanent hiring to address shifting skills needs


Eric van Gils

In  the latest World Economic Forum Future of Jobs 2018 report, companies across the globe were surveyed on their planned responses to, and views of, the changing world of work.

The common theme coming out of the report is the shifting skills needed over the next 5 years to be able to operate in the new world of work. A large portion of current tasks which are completed by humans will be automated and no less than 54% of employees will require significant re- and upskilling to use new technologies and work in the new ways required.

There were some interesting responses from South African companies, including their planned responses to the new skills required.

The top 3 planned responses by South African companies to the shifting skills needs included :

  1. Hire new permanent staff with skills relevant to new technologies (88% of surveyed companies)

  2. Look to automate the work (83% of surveyed companies)

  3. Hire new temporary staff with skills relevant to new technologies (75% of surveyed companies)

This creates amazing opportunities for skilled individuals in the market to secure new roles at increased salaries, but this response also raises a very important question..

Why we are not looking at re-skilling our current employees as our primary response to the changing skills need?

The first two responses above align with the global standard responses. The global 3rd response is to Retrain current employees.

South Africa’s unemployment problems are not going away and as the skills needed by companies shift we risk an increase in the gap between the skills required and the skills our people have.

We need to look at a large scale upskilling for our current employees, and then also the unemployed in our communities. Another clear message the WEF survey gives is the fact that companies place massive value on the skills in a location when they are deciding on a new location for their business. If our people have the right skills then South Africa’s appeal as an investment destination increases.

The focus we as a country give to this upskilling going forward could dramatically improve South Africa’s profile as an investment destination and also go a long way in supporting our nation's current goal of reducing unemployment.

Further reading :

Globally, fewer people are interested in working abroad

Eric van Gils

US, Germany, and Canada now the most attractive countries to work in

download (2).jpeg

In the latest Decoding Global Talent 2018 report, by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and The Network, shows some interesting changes in the attractiveness as a work location of certain countries around the world, as well as global interest in working abroad.

The June 2018 report combines the feedback from 366 000 people in 197 countries, and is the biggest survey of its kind ever.

In 2014 64% of respondents expressed an interest in working abroad, and this has now dropped to 57%. The report theorises that this could be due to a number of reasons including :

  • the world is becoming more global making it unnecessary for people to move to find satisfying well paying jobs,
  • tightening trade and immigration policies could be making relocation less attractive, and
  • improved economic conditions in many countries leading to more people remaining in the country of their birth.

There have also been changes in the countries people would like to work in.

Some interesting moves (compared to data from 2014) include :

Working Abroad.jpg
  • The US no longer the most popular destination for Europeans, people from the Middle East and North Africa, and it now only ranks 3rd for people from South Asia.

  • UK no longer the top European destination, with Germany now the favourite (and the 2nd most popular country overall)

  • Australia was previously 7th most popular, is now in the top 5 at number 4.

Although the UK has dropped in popularity, London is still the most popular city in the world, followed by New York and Berlin.

South Africans predictably chose the US, Australia and the UK as their preferred destinations, but as a whole, Sub-Sahara Africans prefer Canada as their second choice, with the US and the UK as number 1 and 3.

For more information :

Applying Founder's Mentality when attracting and recruiting the right talent for your organisation

In their book The Founder’s Mentality: How to Overcome the Predictable Crises of Growth, Bain & Company strategists Chris Zook and James Allen look at the paradox of growth. This is where growth in an organisation leads to complexity, and complexity is the silent killer of profitable growth.

In their research, the authors found that only 1 in 9 organisations could maintain sustainable growth for more than 10 years, and the majority if those maintaining growth had leadership who applied a Founder’s Mentality.

The elements of Founder's Mentality®

The Founder’s Mentality has three elements, namely an insurgent’s mission, an owner’s mindset and an obsession with the front line.

The book looks at how management needs to focus on, and drive, these three elements to avoid or address the challenges that come with growth restricted by complexity.

There is value in applying their definition of Founder’s Mentality to how you assess and recruit talent into your business. In a complex business new hires need to not only support a Founder’s Mentality approach to management but also need to be able to navigate in a complex environment where the growth could be at risk.

If we consider each of the above elements they are very applicable to your talent acquisition decisions and can be applied throughout the process.



Insurgent’s mission

This is the business’s sense of insurgency and is the special unique higher mission and elevated purpose of that specific business.

When hiring, it is important that a business’s unique mission is accurately communicated throughout the process and candidates are screened against their buy-in to this mission. Not everyone wants to or is able to, work in an environment where the mission takes overall priority and the entire team is willing to go the extra mile to make it happen.

Recruiters and leaders need to question whether candidates who have not worked within an insurgent environment previously, how are they going to fit into an organisation with a higher mission or purpose.

Owner’s mindset

An owners mindset can be defined as an obsession with speed and aversion for bureaucracy. Organisations with an owners mindset have a willingness to take action and then also to take responsibility.

Called the “Owner’s mindset” because it means employees would need to view their role in the business similarly to how an owner would view the business. Talented individuals who are looking for more than just a job, and are looking for an opportunity to own their role and take responsibility for the success, or failure, of the initiatives they drive.

Leaders can go a long way in assessing for these traits in the recruitment process but it is also important these traits are stimulated through the correct compensation structure negotiated in the recruitment process. 

Obsession with the front line

This is the obsession with customers and with elevating the processes and teams responsible for customer service. It requires an obsession with the detail of what customers want and what customers need.

This is not as common a trait as we would expect, especially in candidates who have spent many years in back-office or support roles. However, this trait is critical in ALL roles across the organisations facing the growth paradox.  The challenge for your business in the talent acquisition process is assessing whether, even if they have not previously worked in a front line obsessed business, the candidate would be able to develop this obsession within your business.


The Founder’s Mentality gives good insight into not only how growth organisations stall, but also into what can be done to reverse the damage caused by growth inflicted complexity. Considering the capability in new hires to drive some of these remedial actions is critical in implementing a successful Founder’s Mentality programme. 

Further references :