STRIKES taking place across the country have dominated our
news headlines in recent months.
Kay Vittee, CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions, suggests that
all business managers can learn a lesson from the industrial action: to look at
what causes employees to retaliate and put preventive measures in place, before
the workforce becomes a ticking time bomb.
Says Vittee: “The lesson to be learnt by all business
managers, not only those in union-related industries, is less about what
strikers are demanding and is more about why employees feel the need to rise up
against their employers in the first place.”
Between the celebrations of miners on their record 22% wage
increase and the inquiry to determine how the violence broke out, the question
that must not be forgotten is: why did the Lonmin miners feel the need to go to
“A workforce is the lifeblood of any company and disgruntled
employees can negatively impact business,” continues Vittee.
“This is not only done through strike action, but also by
being less productive, resorting to theft or via a high staff turnover. Staff will find ways to retaliate if they
feel they are being treated unfairly.
“Therefore, it becomes imperative for business managers to
take a step back and critically look at factors and processes that cause
dissatisfaction among their staff.
Although money is often a contributing factor, it is seldom the root
"Henry Ford said: ‘There is no happiness except in the
realisation that we have accomplished something,' and most people enjoy
receiving a sense of accomplishment from the work that they do.
"However, if these achievements are overlooked via
factors such as discrimination, overwork without compensation, lack of interest
in career goals, unclear communication about company direction, monotonous
tasks, inefficient skills development and poor management, employees will
become unhappy and be provoked to take action in some way,” she explains.
Vittee advises: “When reviewing issues experienced by a
workforce, it is important to gain insight from the employees because what may
make sense to a manager, does not necessarily makes sense to their staff. This will prevent companies from being
blindsided by problems that push their staff to boiling point and ultimately
risk the growth of the business.
"However, the issues as well as the solutions are
specific to each company and the identification thereof will be unique to the
various factors influencing the company culture.
“Lonmin is an example to all businesses that it is essential
to understand employees and find solutions to the difficulties that they
*Kay Vittee is the CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions.
*Share your experience
of setting up your own business, or simply ask a question. Our
business panel can put you on the right path.