South African employees more optimistic than Europeans that their business leaders can handle disruption

73% of South African employees believe that their business leaders can make a success of their organisations amid the turmoil of digital disruption, political and economic uncertainty, and the skills gap.
Only 5%, compared with 8% on average of their European colleagues, have no faith in their leaders.
“South African employees are actually among the most positive compared with our traditional counterparts across Europe,” says Jacques van Wyk, COO of Ricoh SA. “Employees in countries like Italy, the Nordic countries, Hungary, and Switzerland are among the most pessimistic. 11% of them have no faith in their leaders. It’s interesting because, while South African organisations may have been a little slower on the uptake of digital technologies and we arguably have our own pressing political and economic scenario, employees here believe their leaders are getting on the bandwagon and evidently believe they’ll do a better job.”
But the optimism comes with a number of caveats.
The major concerns, the economy, politics, digital disruption, and the skills gap, are collectively changing the way we live and work. But 95% of employees across the Europe-South Africa region think this time of change will actually benefit their business and put them in a stronger position in the new year.
However, South African employees (51%) responding to the research by Quocirca and Coleman-Parkes on behalf of Ricoh say they want better strategic thinking from their leaders in order to deal with widespread forces acting on their businesses today.
48% would like to see some effort go into improving employee morale. Allied to that another nearly half (47%) also want two things: a) employees more included in making decisions, and b) better transparency.
More creative thinking comes in a significant fifth on employees’ list (46%) of what they want to see more of in their leaders, as well as more stability and more entrepreneurial thinking.
“Interestingly, although the headline grabbing stories of maverick disruptors surround us on a nearly daily basis, employees don’t typically want their leaders to be mavericks. Just 19% said they want their leaders to be nonconformist,” says Van Wyk.

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Ricoh is a global technology company specialising in office imaging equipment, production print solutions, document management systems and IT services. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh Group operates in about 200 countries and regions. In the financial year ending March 2014, Ricoh Group had worldwide sales of 2,236 billion yen (approximately 21.7 billion USD).

The majority of the company’s revenue comes from products, solutions and services that improve the interaction between people and information. Ricoh also produces award-winning digital cameras and specialized industrial products. It is known for the quality of its technology, the exceptional standard of its customer service and sustainability initiatives.

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