As we commemorate Human Rights Month and specifically Human Rights Day on 21 March 2022, we are reminded to always keep these privileges in mind. This is especially important in the workplace where the act of denying or disregarding a human right could not only lead to serious lawsuits but can also impact overall employee satisfaction and productivity.

This blog will go back to basics as we explore what our human rights are as South Africans in the workplace, how worker rights promote productivity growth, and the power of inclusivity.

What are human rights?

According to FET Phase Business Studies, in South Africa, human rights in the workplace include:

  1. The right to privacy.
  2. The right to human dignity.
  3. The right to equality (or equity).
  4. The right to information.
  5. The freedom of speech and expression.
  6. The freedom of association.
  7. The freedom of thought and religion.
  8. The right to vote.
  9. The right to basic education.
  10. The right to health care, food, water, and social security.
  11. The right to safety, security, and protection of life.
  12. The right to an environment that is not harmful to your health or well-being.
  13. The right to fair labour practices.
  14. The right to access Labour Court.
  15. The right to assemble and protest (peacefully and unarmed).
  16. Freedom from slavery and forced labour.
  17. The freedom of movement.
  18. The freedom to choose a trade or occupation.
  19. The right to choose your own language and culture.

When these rights are respected and adhered to, a business environment will operate for the greater good and promote a sense of transparency, trust and inclusivity. As a result of creating a positive work environment, productivity levels can increase.

A study done by JSTOR, showed that when workers were treated better, encouraged to participate in management, and given substantial rights to bargain, productivity was not diminished, but enhanced.

The power of inclusivity

There is no denying South Africa is one of the most diverse countries in the world, and with our beautiful extent of diverse cultures, races, and traditions, we need to create a work environment that respects our diversity.

When workers feel safe and empowered in their workplace, they can explore their full potential and in return drive productivity.

Harvard Business Review highlighted five strategies that can help leaders, employers and managers create a space of unity:

  1. Emphasize the business case for diversity and inclusion.

Their research found that when workplace teams reflect their target customers, the entire team is more than twice as likely to innovate effectively for their end users.

  1. Recognise bias.

It all comes down to the individual in the position of power to make decisions. Ensure that person always operates on an unbiased basis and implement third-party checkpoints to increase fairness.

  1. Practice inclusive leadership.

Leaders are responsible to shape an environment that encourages communication and fosters collaboration in the ways of working.

  1. Provide sponsorship or mentoring programs.

The research found that people who have had sponsors or mentoring are 81% more likely to be satisfied with their career progression than those without.

  1. Hold leaders accountable.

Inclusion must be the core value of any organisation.

Productivity SA’s role in promoting human rights

Productivity SA is established in terms of section 31 (1) of the Employment Services Act, No. 4 of 2014, as a juristic person with a mandate to promote employment growth and productivity.

We promote a culture of productivity in workplaces, facilitate and evaluate productivity improvement and competencies in workplaces, and support initiatives aimed at preventing job losses and increasing inclusivity in the workplace.

We have partnered with various business formations such as the Black Business Council (BBC), South African Chamber Of Commerce And Industry (SACCI), Small Business Institute (SBI) and National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (NAFCOC) to increase participation in our Competitive Improvement Services programmes.

In addition, the core mandate of the Department of Employment and Labour is to regulate the South African Labour Market for sustainable economic development through appropriate legislation and regulations, inspection, compliance monitoring and enforcement, protection of human rights, provision of employment services, promotion of equity, social and income protection, and social dialogue.

Our main goal is for human rights to be upheld, drive individual responsibility and as a result, create a ripple effect of positive business outcomes that can drive economic growth in South Africa.

We would love to help with your business’ productivity and progress or shape an environment that celebrates diversity and drives inclusivity. Learn more about Productivity SA’s services or get in contact if you have any questions or requests.