SA business and government leaders are at a unique point. We have sky-high unemployment, a rapidly evolving fourth industrial revolution and generational differences in our human capital that we ignore at our peril. We should future-proof our growth by building retention, succession and advancement into human capital plans across the public and private sectors.
If today’s advances in digital and artificial intelligence (AI) tools have shown us anything, it is that humans are not machines. Our human capital cannot be always and permanently “on”; we want to make a lasting impact, but can’t burn out while doing it.
In a pilot study IQbusiness conducted in late 2021, nearly 70% of office-based staff in SA reported functioning under extreme stress. One of the immediate steps leaders can take to ease the risk of burnout is to live the example of switching off: the AI tools at our disposal mean we can schedule e-mails to only send during working hours; we can encourage responsible time management, with regular outdoor and exercise breaks in a working day; and we can take care to remember that a kind phone call or cup of coffee remains the best way to connect.
As we shape and reshape our evolving realities, each of us can use AI tools to make smarter choices in how and when we work. But it remains up to the people in our system to ensure this work fosters a sense of connection and purpose, rather than dysfunction and exhaustion.
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