Loadshedding: “Boer maak ‘n plan”
Tiaan Dwyer | HR Consultant
February 27 2023
You can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you can’t ignore it, you must go through it.
Every business owner knows the meaning of loadshedding. That horrifying word brings about a feeling of panic to most, especially to businesses that are housed in buildings that do not have alternate power sources like a generator or solar. It’s estimated that loadshedding can cost South Africa over R4 Billion a day. It is generally thought that South Africa is home to 5.6 million small businesses – of which 3.3 million are survivalist businesses, 1.7 million micro-enterprises and 554 000 small enterprises. These businesses account for 28% of employment in South Africa. The impact is massive!
Loadshedding is here to stay, and one simply must make a choice, adapt, or die but don’t give up just yet. There might be some options to consider which can pull you and your business through these tough times.
Keeping your people moving forward
Businesses have come up with some clever ways to make better use of their time. Some of my clients have decided to move all their internal meetings to timeslots when there are planned outages. This has helped the business to be productive again when the power returns. This is such a useful way to minimise the impact of loadshedding, don’t you think?
This got me thinking that another option can be to use the time to do training and development. There may be some form of training and development that can be done without electricity. In that way, you upskill while the power is out which can lead to better productivity when the power is back on.
If you work from home or in a small office environment, then purchasing a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) or an inverter is a fairly inexpensive and simple solution for during loadshedding hours. These small and handy devices provide backup power while the electricity is off, and can generally last between 5-10 hours if fully charged, allowing you to continue using the internet so that you can keep up to date with work.
If you have a business like a hair salon or beauty salon it might be worth it to buy chargeable tools which will keep your business operational even during loadshedding.
Forewarned is forearmed
We know how often the schedule can change, so make sure you set up news alerts or push notifications to stay in the know and to plan the day effectively.
Knowing when your area will be without power means you can ask your employees to work from home or reschedule jobs for when the power comes back on.
Why not bring in some flexibility?
One advantage that small businesses have over large corporations is that they can be a lot more flexible in how they operate. Ever thought of aligning lunchtime with planned loadshedding? This could also be a wonderful way to ensure that when the power is back on you have your workforce back at their posts performing their duties.
For some positions within the business, it may also be beneficial to change working hours. Employees can come in later and work later or come in earlier and leave earlier. It must be said that if changes to working hours are being considered it must be discussed with staff and can’t just be implemented unilaterally.
If Loadshedding is really having a strong negative impact and you are considering retrenching staff, why not first start with considering implementing short time by reducing the working days/hours that the employee is required to work? In this way, you will be able to stem the tide and still keep your staff for when things turn around.
Why not work from home? By allowing staff to work from home, most businesses can be reasonably assured of having someone online and capable of handling client calls and enquiries at any given time. Employees will save time by not sitting in traffic caused by all the traffic lights being out, only to arrive at work to sit in the dark. Allowing staff to do the work when and where they want could do wonders for productivity. Here are some quick tips for managing a remote workforce.
Look for long-term solutions
Loadshedding has been an ongoing issue for many years, so considering an alternative energy solution could be worth your while. The cost of converting to solar power or purchasing a generator may seem high at first, but the advantages of these systems far outweigh the cost in the long term.
Obtaining solar is expensive but suppliers have thought of creative ways to make it possible for small businesses who do not have the cash to buy and install solar panels for their businesses.
Some suppliers offer solar solutions that can be rented and paid for month to month while other suppliers give you the option to pay off your purchases over the course of a few months or years.
These options might just be the perfect solution for you.
If the above options are still not feasible one can always partner up and share the load by having your next-door business and you purchase a bigger generator or solar solution and then splitting the costs.
Ready to fight Loadshedding head on?
Sometimes you just can’t control what happens to you (or your business), but what you do have control over is how you deal with challenging circumstances. Loadshedding is indeed one of the major threats to small businesses, but if you’re proactive and determined to succeed, not even loadshedding can stand in your way.
If there is something I want you to know about me right away, it’s that I have a passion for supporting business owners. I believe in the future of South Africa and that there are so many opportunities out there to be successful and to make a change to our economy.
I want to be part of that change by providing businesses with core HR and Labour Solutions that will not only result in legislative compliance but actually positively impact their bottom line.
Over the years I have gained practical HR experience working in various sectors such as mining, construction, financial services, and corporate legal. As a business owner myself, I can relate well to businesses and what their needs are.