The Great Breakup: SA women ditching inflexible workplaces

Clement Manyathela spoke to Advaita Naidoo, Africa Managing Director at Jack Hammer Global on the employment trends of South Africa’s population of working women.

A recent study shows, only 1 in 10 women want to work full time in the office. The McKinsey & Company research shows that it has become increasingly important for women leaders to prioritise flexibility and employee well-being.

An American study titled ‘Women in the Workplace 2022’ from McKinsey & Company says women leaders are seeking a different culture of work – especially in a post-pandemic world. This is because the workplace has traditionally not favoured women and this contrast has become more stark post the COVID-19 pandemic, said Advaita Naidoo, Africa Managing Director at Jack Hammer Global.

“In general, in South Africa the labour market has traditionally favoured men more… in the workplace as a whole women are generally underrepresented.” said Advaita Naidoo. A local study by management consulting company Deloitte shows that 40% of South African women expect to leave their current roles in the next two years, compared with 52% globally. Burnout and decreased work life balance, unequal distribution of domestic labour and a lack of representation or advancement opportunities are some key motivations for the shift.

The world of work has changed, people are demanding flexibility, said Naidoo. 57% of South African women feel less optimistic about their prospects in the workplace compared to before the pandemic, she said. Naidoo said other reasons for this change is a lack of agency given to workers – who were exposed to remote work – and are now being mandated to return to the office.

This leaves employees despondent and disengaged from their jobs. Despite the country’s precarious employment market, some South African professionals are spoilt for choice in the global market and are using that to their advantage. Although the unemployment rate may be high – field professionals have a luxury of choice. [Companies] need to disabuse themselves of this notion they are holding all the cards… Advaita Naidoo.

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