“Change is inevitable and learning to embrace it rather than resist it, is critical to survival and success. We strive to maintain an open mindset and introspect to keep learning and re-evaluating what we do, to make it better, and remain agile and flexible in our decision-making to respond and adjust to an ever-changing world.”
This quote is taken from my first CEO’s report in the 2021 Adapt IT Integrated Report, which was released at the end of September 2021. I thought it was also appropriate to use as the context for my first LinkedIn post (and if you read the rest of this, it may become clear why).
We can all agree that the past two years have been pretty tough … rather than subsiding, the pandemic gained momentum and has become far more prolonged than anyone anticipated. Thankfully, vaccines are now available and are being rolled out around the world. However, it’s becoming apparent that we will have to find a “Covid normal” way forward where we learn to live with the virus as we do with other communicable diseases.
The impact on the way we work and live has also been enormous, as everyone knows. But despite it all, necessity and technology-enabled new ways of working, demonstrating the art of the possible. I am very proud to say that Adapt IT virtualised almost immediately, and continues to provide uninterrupted service to our customers.
The extreme civil unrest in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng in July this year took a serious emotional toll on our people, especially our teams in KZN. Fortunately, security and supply chains were restored quickly, and the involvement of ordinary citizens to help restore law and order and clean up demonstrated the resilience of the nation.
But this message isn’t about our customers or about Covid-19, or about how tough the local environment is – it’s about our people, who have had to face all of these challenges, in addition perhaps to some uncertainty regarding the future of the company in view of a Canadian software company, Volaris Group’s bid to acquire Adapt IT. Earlier this year, our Human Capital Management (HCM) team conducted an employee engagement survey, and what’s amazed and delighted me is that despite the difficulties our people have had to deal with, the scores show just how resilient they are.
This year’s score showed an improvement in the participation rate of 8% (up from 75% last year to 83%) – which means more people took part (722 of 872) in the survey in 2021 than in 2020. The results also indicated an increase in the number of “fully engaged” employees we have compared to last year, with 48% (345) of employees indicating that they are fully engaged at work. More good news is that a further 35% (251) of our people said that they are “engaged”, meaning they are “reliable employees who generally do what is expected, but who are at times inclined to be complacent and risk-averse”. That means that overall, 83% of our people are engaged.
A total of 17% of employees indicated that they are either “not engaged” (14%) or are “disengaged” (3%), which is disappointing but perhaps understandable given what we have all been through, and continue to go through, during the Covid-19 pandemic. I must point out though that all of these scores are higher than or equal to the benchmark average set by other companies, with the exception of disengagement, which is lower at Adapt IT than the average.
Also encouraging is the 2% increase in the “willingness” score – that means our people are “willing to do more than what is required to help the organisation to achieve its goals”. It is fantastic that Adapt IT outscored on all of these benchmarks too – the benchmark for willingness is 79 and we achieved 81, while the benchmark for retention is 79, with our score being 82. This is an important benchmark because it means that our employees “will recommend the organisation as a good place to work and have no plans to leave”. Our score for commitment was also better than the average of 81 by one point. These are very high scores in general, a good indicator that in general, our HCM strategies are working. This is not to say we will rest on our laurels – we will be giving attention to what we need to do in order to improve engagement.
It’s impressive that of the 13 drivers of engagement, 11 showed an improvement from last year – “strategic alignment”(“the understanding of – and contribution towards – the organisation’s vision, strategy and goals”) increased by one point to 85; “manager intent”(“the perception of a direct manager’s fairness, trustworthiness and credibility as a role model”) went up from 83 to 85, as did the “feedback” (the frequency and effectiveness of feedback regarding individual and group performance”) driver. Of the top three issues that prevent engagement, “recognition and praise” when up 5 points (from 66 to 71) and “collaboration” improved by 3 points (from 68 to 71). “Reward” unfortunately was lower, down from 62 to 60, which was not surprising given that we did not award any increments or incentives in the year leading up to the survey. We have subsequently done so.
I started this post talking about change, and perhaps to some of you reading this, there’s still no obvious link between employee engagement scores and the ability to embrace change. But for me, it’s pretty clear – to adapt to change requires a willingness to do so. And given these results, it’s quite obvious that our people have what it takes to do this and to do it well. This past year has demonstrated just that, and I am filled with gratitude that we have a resilient business and wonderful people. Collectively, we have all the ingredients we need to build a very bright future for Adapt IT.
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