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Digital solutions could improve return-to-work, staff permit processes

8th May 2020

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

     

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With the national lockdown having transitioned from level 5 to 4 at the beginning of May, many employees are returning to work, posing challenges for employers to ensure their staff can safely and easily return to work.

One of the requirements is a permit and digital employee engagement company Wyzetalk CEO Gys Kappers suggests that digital paperless systems will be able to assist in getting permits to every worker in a timely and coordinated manner.

He notes that staff communication, arranging work permits and ensuring that employees are able to travel to work, can be very complex to coordinate.

In terms of the permit process being implemented by government, Kappers says this can be a tedious process, requiring each worker to receive a personalised work permit, which can be daunting for companies that have a large workforce.

“This is an especially relevant question for industries such as mining, which have many employees living in rural communities.”

In addition to this, many employees are still uncertain about what they will need to be able to travel to and from their workplace.

“Employees are required to have their individual permits, their Home Affairs-issued identification document and some additional form of proof that they are employed by the company, such as their employee ID or access card, in their possession,” he states.

Further, it is also important to ensure employees receive the correct information about when and where they are required to report to work.

These complex elements raise the question of how to ensure these requirements are practically met. “We have already seen from the businesses that were allowed to operate during lockdown, that there are challenges to making this work,” says Kappers.

With new business environments come teething problems and he says it is likely that many businesses will, at least initially, experience problems with staff not having the necessary permissions to travel, and getting the right information disseminated to the relevant teams.

“In this instance, we believe businesses with existing employee communication platforms are going to be the best equipped to seamlessly coordinate their return-to-work plans.”

To start, Kappers recommends having an SMS system in place that connects the business with each and every employee. This is possible, as Wyzetalk has already implemented such a system for one of its mining clients.

The system sends personalised messages to employees, with all of the alerts and information that is relevant to them specifically.

He states that, as businesses can only operate with certain portions of their workforce during this ramp-up period, this will help to eliminate any confusion among employees about what is required from them.

“It is also a good method to distribute the news and safety information that they will need to know when they get back to work.”

In addition, Kappers says employee platforms can iron out the challenges related to getting permits to employees. “It is estimated that over 50% of South Africans already own at least one smart device and that percentage is projected to increase in the years to come.”

In this regard, he says businesses can take advantage of this by making use of technology to deliver each employee’s work and travel documentation directly to their smartphone, meaning that they will not need to have a printed copy on hand.”

However, in order for either of these solutions to be effective, he notes that human resources departments have to be efficient and effective. “The company needs to be sure that it has up-to-date contact information for every employee, this includes cellular phone numbers.”

Updated residential addresses are also important, since employers will need to include this information in the employee’s travel permit to make it valid.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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