Back-to-work ultimatums ‘getting momentum’ in South Africa

Breakfast host Refilwe Moloto chats with Jack Hammer COO Advaita Naidoo.

  • Growing number of South African companies issue ultimatum to workers
  • Jack Hammer COO Advaita Naidoo says employees urged to return to work with very little consultation or transition time

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More and more South African companies are forcing workers back to the office.

Advaita Naidoo, chief operating officer of executive search and recruiting firm Jack Hammer, says back-to-work ultimatums are gaining traction at large corporations and small and medium-sized businesses.

It’s becoming a bit more prevalent than expected, given that in South Africa we’ve managed to work from home for two years. So I think people are a bit surprised that it’s happening and it’s definitely gaining momentum.

Advaita Naidoo, Chief Operating Officer – Jack Hammer

Naidoo says companies should beware of the unintended consequences of demanding a return to work without any employee consultation or time to prepare.

The headhunter says organizations that can’t be flexible won’t attract the top talent they seek.

“It’s just about physically getting back to work, it’s more about the company culture and the employee value proposition,” she told CapeTalk.

Naidoo acknowledges that there is nothing wrong with being back in the office, however, she says there must be reasonable justification and room for consultation.

While back-to-work ultimatum may not lead to mass resignations, she warns workers may reluctantly keep their jobs

We’ve seen it often with some of the biggest local businesses in South Africa, just because they’re the ones that grab the headlines and affect the most people. But, anecdotally, I can say that we’re hearing people in small and medium-sized businesses, business leaders approaching us, asking what options they have at this point.

Advaita Naidoo, Chief Operating Officer – Jack Hammer

You’ve managed to work productively and consistently for two years and now, on very short notice, employees are being called back into the office.

Advaita Naidoo, Chief Operating Officer – Jack Hammer

For me, it’s not really a question of law. It’s more of a suggestion that we’ve been able to do this successfully from home and have adapted our lives accordingly, why can’t we continue as it has been?

Advaita Naidoo, Chief Operating Officer – Jack Hammer


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Maria D. Ervin