Covid19 has weakened the world economy and increased the insecurity of workers and businesses everywhere. In South Africa, the fate of businesses and their employees is all the more uncertain, due to our historically low productivity levels, state capture, government paralysis and incessant power outages. This creates an urgent need for businesses to take full and effective control of their destinies. 

While the Covid vaccination of South Africans is expected to be completed during 2022, there is as yet no effective antidote being administered against the decline in business health both in South Africa and internationally, due to Covid lockdowns. 

The devastating effect of the Corona-enforced lockdown on the economic health of South African businesses and their employees is likely to be felt for several decades, unless the businesspeople and workers of South Africa take positive action. Thousands of businesses are suffering, and many tens of thousands of others are struggling to survive due to the Corona lockdown, power outages and state capture. This is destroying the jobs and income of millions of employees, which, in turn, will continue to shrink South Africa’s business consumer base and thus threaten the viability of every business.  

Neither our government, nor greatly deterred international businesses, nor Santa Clause is going to save our businesses. 

The real solution lies firmly in the hands of every owner, manager and employee of each business that is still surviving. They must be empowered to team up to generate the co-productivity that will grow their incomes and ensure the security of businesses and their employees. 

In an under-productive country such as South Africa, there is a great deal of scope for productivity improvement, because we would be starting from such a low base. 

In South Africa, low productivity levels are largely due to the lack of economic unity and of a productive relationship between employees and employers in many workplaces. Put differently, South Africa suffers from a low productivity epidemic. This non-productive ethos is the key underlying reason for South Africa’s economic failure, and Covid has merely exacerbated this decline. 

Albert Einstein said that you cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that caused it. 

This creates an enormous need for an intervention that reverses our deeply ingrained and unproductive we-them culture, and that stimulates a partnership based on a co-productivity culture. 

A co-productivity culture arises out of constructive employee and management behaviours (such as, common understaning, diligence, teamwork, efficiency, trustworthiness, waste avoidance, reliability and honesty, amongst others) which are rewarded and thus reinforced by the advancement, profit shares, job security and employee development resulting from these productive behaviours.  

Inculcating the co-productivity culture is not a quick and easy exercise, especially in view of the deeply ingrained workplace cultures of indifference and often hostility that need to be overcome. This means that businesses need to use change agents to: 

  • Train decision makers and employees in the need for and advantages of co-productivity 
  • Enable all stakeholders in the business to understand, embrace and implement organisational change 
  • Inculcate into all employees a deep understanding of how business works, how profits are made, what profits are used for, and of the crucial and direct connection between productive behaviours and culture on the one hand, and employee betterment on the other hand. 
  • Work with the stakeholders to identify the behaviours of stakeholders that will achieve business productivity in each unique business (e.g. cooperation, waste avoidance, reliability, creative thinking, honesty, sharing). 
  • Enable the employees to identify the benefits that they want from the business (e,g. advancement, job satisfaction, profit shares, job security). 
  • Provide ongoing coaching in the implementation for the new co-produtivity ethos. 

Due to the difficulties associated with making such a big adjustment change, agents need to use mechanisms that are highly visible, easy to understand and attractive to the stakeholders. This makes it much easier for them to change their old, negative mindsets.  

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