Over the last year of unprecedented changes, and the frenetic pace at which companies have had no alternative but to adapt, many of us have learned all about the benefits and pitfalls of remote working. For many, this moment in time has been a revelation – our ability to harness the power of technology to remain home while still being productive. However, this wasn’t possible for those in the trade industry, performing technical and production work. They faced other challenges particularly with social distancing and dealing with the proximity of machines and processes.
Lockdown has however presented unexpected scenarios for company employees. For many people, not being able to print personal documents in the office was a drawback while others lamented the loss of those wonderful ‘sick days’ we had the luxury of taking in the past. There are of course also those who experienced an inability to escape the office with emails and work WhatsApp groups operating on a seemingly 24/7 cycle. This all raises the question: in your company are you mainly a contributor or a parasite?
“Society has occupants who function in two fundamental states, contributors and parasites. We contribute with our time, labour and taxes and we parasite when we live off the products created by contributors. Societies are successful when the sum total of contributor's production is greater than the consumption of its parasites and the same is true for a business, “says Ivan Radmore, CEO of BuzzApex.
The day we sign an employment contract we agree to the terms and salary, and in return we undertake to give to the company our time and competencies. This is done with the good faith that efficiency and dedication will, in due course, be rewarded with appropriate increases, bonuses and recognition. We agree to contribute to the success of the company which in turn serves our interests. However, the culture of a company and the quality of its leadership may leave us disillusioned. For many in this scenario and surprisingly even those who aren’t, it’s very possible to inadvertently become a parasite instead of a contributor.
A parasite can be defined as: "an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense". That definition can easily be extended to the business world. Does it extend to you at times?
Surprising signs you may be a parasite
Parasitic Trait: You love meetings
Time is money. Research shows 47% of employees feel meetings waste their time most at work. In a recent interview, Elon Musk said that a typical meeting at Tesla should involve no more than four to six people. He also believes in keeping meetings short and sweet and encourages people to leave the meeting if they are not adding value*. While we all bemoan that many meetings could in fact have been emails, so many of us are guilty of arranging unnecessary ones.
Contributor Trait: The appropriate use of time and competencies is the goal. Sending an email instead of scheduling a meeting shows the mindset of success and efficiency over the desire to be perceived as a valuable member of staff. Sending a well-written, logical, and thought-out email allows for the recipient/s to digest the information and they too will provide quality feedback. This process, therefore, improves the efficiency and time management of a business.
Parasitic Trait: Back to school is made easier
Almost everyone has at least one item of company stationery at home. Some arrived in lockdown realising that they had practically an entire workstation at home – funded by the company over the year. Costs such as these along with the abuse of the businesses printers and phones is money that must be recouped with sales. It all adds up.
Contributor Trait: Every person may take a pen from the office without realising it. This could happen when you are dashing out to a meeting. The contributor knows that by returning something as small as the pen to the office, overhead costs are being contained, and that improves the profitability of the business. Itmayseemlikeasmall action, but as the saying goes: Look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves. To put that into perspective, consider what the company needs to turnover before it’s at break even.
Parasitic Trait: Wednesdays makes you sick
Sick days are vital for each and every person, we never know if our physical or mental health will fail us. This is all good and well, yet parasites will abuse this system by taking time off when they don’t really need to. Wednesdays are especially popular because, generally speaking, no doctors note is required. Not only does this absenteeism add pressure to the team but costs the company and by proxy the economy millions every year.
In fact, ‘According to Occupational Care South Africa (OCSA), absenteeism costs the South African economy between R12 - R16 billion per year, and the Human Capital Review estimates it to be an even higher at R19,144 billion annually**.
Contributor Trait: We need to consider the impact of consistent absenteeism. Everyone needs a day off but the contributor balances this need with the needs of the entire company.
Parasitic Trait: You don’t like change
As an employee, there is an unwritten expectation of proactiveness. Do you suggest processes and make them more efficient or do you ignore the problem as it ensures you look busy?
Contributor Trait: Change is everywhere, and it is up to us to embrace it. Changing from a manual, paper-based work environment to that of a total business solution, such as BuzzApex, creates greater accountability and efficiency. Efficiency doesn’t suggest that we lose enjoyment and growth in what’s being asked of us, in fact, it should benefit both the employer and the employee.
Parasitic Trait: You are popular
Company morale and culture plays a massive role in contributing to the success or failure of a business. Those work relationships we foster do make a difference to our life at work. Work wives, husbands and BFF’s motivate or deflate us through the tough days. The time wasted with meaningless chatter does little more than defer a result. It also engages the person they speaking to as it has a domino effect. Over time these interactions add up to many hours even days across the year, whereas contributors strike the right balance.
Contributor Trait: You are part of the team, you enjoy the social element of work, but you also realise that if you aren’t productive you are putting your livelihood and that of others on the line.
In business, the ultimate parasite is waste and a lack of control which is why embracing an online business management platform such as BuzzApex, which clearly articulates roles and responsibilities within jobs make so much sense. Whilst it won't solve every undesirable condition it will highlight the areas requiring attention by management and their employees. It does this by providing the platform where management makes management expectations clear through the controls on offer.
“At some point in time, the parasites will overwhelm contributors if left to their own devices and the list of liquidations of previously successful businesses is long and well documented. No business can afford costs greater than the sum of its production for protracted periods. Should unemployment subsequently arise, the question has to be asked: were you a parasite or a contributor? “concludes Radmore.
** https://blog.initial.co.za/blog/your-office-is-losing-100s-of-days-a-year-to- absenteeism-what-can-you-do-about-it