Survey to measure impact of violent acts on business
DURBAN - THE WHITAKER Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI), in partnership with BNP Paribas & RCS, yesterday launched the "Impact of violence within the South African business landscape survey" .
Most respondents were in the Western Cape in Cape Town, Mitchells Plain, Kraaifontein and Athlone as well as in Gauteng in Eldorado Park.
The purpose of the research was to better understand the longer-term impacts on businesses and the economy.
According to RCS human resources executive Sandi Richardson, on the effects of violence on workers, 81 percent said that they or a family member or colleague had been late for work as a result of violence or crime.
About 72 percent said they, or a family member, or colleague had missed work as a result of violence or crime.
About 53 percent said they, a family member or a colleague was mentally impacted at work as a result of violence or crime.
The violence was said to impact not only on an employee's physical ability to get to work, but the psychological stressors might mean employees were at work, but disengaged.
A 2008 government study found that 75 percent of respondents felt that they or their employees were at risk of crime travelling to and from work.
Around 25 percent of respondents said their experience of crime had resulted in depression and/or a lack of motivation at work.
Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding Trainer WPDI Siwe Dhlamini said 61 percent of people felt unsafe at some point in their neighbourhoods and 20 percent of these were constantly worried and did not feel safe at all.
Short-term challenges for business included additional employee support for employees who were victims of violence, compounding impacts of this "shadow pandemic", absenteeism and presenteeism impact on productivity, additional resource pressure to make up for absenteeism, employee exclusion as career trajectory impacted.
Longer-term impacts on businesses – including violence and gang prevalence – was found to have increased the youth drop-out rates from school, which limited the talent pool available for hiring individuals in future. This had a negative impact on the ability to recruit diverse talent as the violence in South Africa was skewed towards specific demographics, the research found.
The study suggested that short-term solutions included providing safe transport for night workers, supporting staff by providing counselling services as well as the awareness on where to find support.
Long-term effects included partnering with organisations like WPDI, which could influence peace building within the communities. It could offer alternative life paths, good role models and partner with organisations that specialised in skill development and work readiness for prospective employees within these impacted communities.
BNP Paribas chief executive Vikas Khandelwal said South Africa was a landscape in need of change. Using the 2020 first quarter Statistics South Africa data, it showed that more than half the country's population had an average age of 34 years, of whom 63.3 percent were unemployed.