Eskom: A wellness and job perception study
Tuesday, March 24th, 2015
In March 2015, Solidarity undertook a wellbeing and work experience study among its members at Eskom. The aim of the study was mainly to determine the members’ experience, views and feelings regarding aspects of their workplace, as well as their job satisfaction and future expectations.
An electronic questionnaire was sent to 4 807 Solidarity members in Eskom’s employ and a good response rate of about 25% was obtained.
It was mainly men (62,5%) who completed the questionnaire and 43% of all the respondents fall in the age group 51 – 60 years. Most of the respondents (67%) are older than 41 years. Therefore, the respondents are mainly experienced employees and about 70% of them have been in their current positions for longer than 6 years, and they have probably worked for Eskom for a much longer period of time.
Most of the respondents (86%) who completed the questionnaire were white, while the study also included 11% blacks, Indians and coloured people.
The findings indicate that the biggest frustration experienced by Solidarity members at Eskom is the incompetence of management and colleagues. Members feel that people without the necessary qualifications, experience or abilities are appointed in top positions. This applies to managers as well as other employees. According to the respondents, appointments are often politically and racially motivated. The respondents’ frustration is nested in the fact that they often have to fix botched work and they have to carry a bigger workload because many employees are unable or unwilling to do the job.
The respondents mention that many injustices exist in this situation because those with the ability to perform the work and with qualifications and experience often receive no recognition in this regard, are not promoted and do not have any development prospects, and frequently they neither receive the remuneration that they feel they are entitled to.
In addition, they often feel frustrated by the lack of discipline, professionalism, integrity, urgency and work ethics. Respondents report indolence, poor quality of work and a lack of interest and drive. People do not care about the type of work they do or about service delivery. The respondents fear that this has become the norm for work done at Eskom because management often does not take action against poor service or bad work. Laxness and laziness are not condemned. They describe how norms and standards are declining and service delivery is deteriorating.
Members also have numerous other complaints about various aspects of management. Respondents feel that they are leaderless and directionless. They feel that managers often are unable to take the lead, to provide direction or to make the right decisions. Decisions are made rashly and management frequently refuses to accept advice or suggestions from the respondents. Members often observe a lack of vision or planning for the future. According to them, the main reasons are political and government interference and racially motivated appointments of incompetent people without the necessary training, skills and experience.
The respondents complain that not all employees are treated equally. White people are often accused of racism when they object to the lack of discipline and work ethics. They frequently feel that management is unreliable. They cannot rely on management for guidance, support and involvement.
The other major issues causing frustration are promotions and remuneration. Respondents indicate that they regularly receive lower salaries than other employees with fewer qualifications and less experience. This happens despite the fact that respondents frequently have to do more work and accept greater responsibilities.
They describe the racial discrimination experienced by them when they are not considered for any promotions or other positions because they are white. According to them, there is no doubt about the fact that race determines their career opportunities, their opportunities for promotion and their remuneration packages. Three quarters (75%) of the respondents indicated that promotions were not fair, and 75,5% said that no opportunities for career growth at Eskom existed for them.
The majority (81%) of the respondents indicated that to a large extent, their career opportunities were complicated by the application of racial representation.
About one third of the respondents are currently concerned that they might lose their jobs, and a further 40% are unsure about this. Uncertainties definitely exist and tales and rumours of further retrenchments of white people give rise to despair and create more anxiety about the future. Respondents say that they receive mixed messages and that they never get straight answers and information. Many feel that Eskom does not care about them any longer.
All of the above inevitably result in people feeling increasingly negative, aversive, reluctant and unhappy at Eskom. Many feel that they no longer have energy and drive, that it is no longer pleasant to work at Eskom, and that they no longer take pride in being Eskom employees. Their morale is low and they are not motivated.
Almost a third (31%) of the respondents have therefore sought another job in the past four weeks. More than half (55%) also indicated that they would consider other jobs if they would receive the same salary and benefits that they currently receive at Eskom. A further 24% were unsure about this, but in view of the circumstances at Eskom, they would probably also consider other jobs.
It is ironic and sad that 73,3% of respondents feel that their skills and knowledge could be well utilised at Eskom. According to almost half of them, their jobs are actually satisfactory to them. However, only 35% of respondents are currently satisfied with Eskom as an employer.
This study reveals how frustrated Solidarity members currently feel at Eskom. The main reasons for this can be attributed to political interference and racially motivated decision making.
According to respondents, there have been major changes in work ethics, work culture, and norms and standards over the past number of years. Due to this, respondents experience major frustrations. People want to work diligently, they want to develop their abilities and skills, and they want to be afforded the opportunities to do so. They want to take pride in the work they do and the company they work for. They want to feel that their managers and Eskom care about them and listen to them, and that they are not discriminated against because they are white.
They want to see that Eskom is turned around and they want to see exceptional service delivery to clients and the public. They want to work in an environment where no injustices exist.
At this stage, and under these circumstances, people are deprived of their basic needs and rights in their job.
Click Eskom Wellness and job perception study to view the full study.