In one of my recent articles I touched on the issue of productivity at the workplace. I mentioned that, now more than ever, businesses and their employees need to team up so as to ensure that the business and its people survive and prosper during and post Covid. 

The meagre assistance that government is able to provide to businesses and employees might help to a small extent in the short term, but it is by no means the long term solution. There is also no magical solution that is going to fall out of the sky.

Even if, in the unlikely event that our economy gets back to the pre-Covid annual growth figures (sub 1%), this will not help individual businesses and their employees. And it will not help the 12 million unemployed people in South Africa. 

ESKOM has become less and less able to provide power and, at the same time, has become more and more insistent on increasing its tariffs. Added to this, there is very little confidence that the government is able to manage our economy back to health. This is because it is seen to be financially and morally bankrupt, and unwilling to make the changes necessary for economic recovery.

If our government wanted to put the welfare of our economy before the unity of the ANC alliance it would, long a go have made the economic reforms required by the IMF. It would then have borrowed money from the IMF and invested that money in fixing ESKOM and in the so called “massive infrastructural projects” that it has been talking about for the last several years. 

In the light of the above, businesses and their employees cannot expect their future financial security to come from above. Neither can they afford to wait until the ANC is replaced by a new government.

As a result it is urgent and necessary that businesses and their people take their salvation into their own hands. Happily, this is very possible to achieve. Once we accept that the money we need is not going to fall from the sky we have also to accept that, if we want money, we need to make it.

This is not a radical concept. Businesses are normally set up for just this purpose, and employees get jobs mainly for the purpose of making money. However, most businesses and their staff are not making nearly enough money to satisfy their needs and the needs of our economy. And they never will, unless they first make drastic changes to the counterproductive work-pay system plaguing most businesses. That is, at most workplaces, there is, at best, a very reluctant and strained level of cooperation between employees and management. This arrangement is tenuously held together by management’s threat of punishment, and the threat made by employees of strikes and CCMA litigation. This system is as far away from a scenario of making good money as the earth is from the other end of the universe.

As a result, we, as business owners and as workers need to develop an entirely new basis for our cooperation in our quest for making money. We  need to replace our current counter productive ethos with one  that will make much more money for everyone. This is necessary for counteracting the financial devastation caused by State Capture, a grossly ineffective government and Covid19.

If we as business owners and workers are going to make the money we need, we will have to team up with each other in a true partnership for creating super-productivity. And then we need to share the fruits thereof fairly with each other.

Then, staff will be motivated by the opportunity to make real money instead of being cajoled into reluctant cooperation and getting a small wage at the end of the month. And business owners will also be motivated by the opportunity to make real money instead of accepting the business losses or meagre profits delivered by our current self defeating pay-reward system.

This new co-productivity system will remove the conception that so many workers have that the word ‘productivity’ means exploitation, neo-apartheid abuse and capitalist greed. And businesses will be able to make big profits because of the fair and constructive relationships they have with their staff, and because of the business’s willingness to share those profits with their employee partners. 

One of the greatest thinkers of all time, Albert Einstein said that we cannot solve any problem with the same mindset that caused it. Businesses and their people have the same problem, namely that they are not making enough money. But application of Einstein’s principle means that both business owners and workers can only solve this money problem if they change the mindset that caused it. That is, the money shortage problem has been caused by our uncooperative workplace mindset. We can solve the money shortage problem by developing a new, cooperative mindset.

If we cling to our old and failed ‘we-they’ mindset we will doom ourselves to a future of low pay, job insecurity and business failure. But, if we are willing to free ourselves from our uncooperative mindsets we will make ourselves economically free.

BY   Ivan Israelstam, Chief Executive of Labour Law Management Consulting. He may be contacted on (011) 888-7944 or 0828522973 or on e-mail address: [email protected]. Go to:

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