The Covid-19 pandemic has had dramatic implications on the workspace in Eswatini according to findings from ILO report

For enterprises, the pandemic has been characterized by almost unparalleled disruption, forcing them to adapt to new circumstances almost overnight. Enterprises have had to alter and adjust their operations and production processes, human resource strategies, work modalities and many other aspects of their businesses. This report explores the pandemic-era experiences of Eswatini enterprises in four key areas: (1) the working space; (2) workplace relations; (3) skills development, knowledge sharing and productivity; and (4) human resources.

News | 24 August 2022
To better understand the dynamics of COVID-19 and its impact on business, the Bureau for Employers Activities of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the ILO Regional Office for Africa partnered with employer and business membership organizations (EBMOs) from across Africa to study these changes, enterprises’ views about them, and steps enterprises are taking in response to them. To try to capture key trends that are most relevant for enterprises. The study focused on four closely related areas: (1) the working space; (2) workplace relations and labour law; (3) skills development, knowledge sharing and productivity; and (4) human resources management.

The Eswatini report is a component of an Africa-wide study which was based on a survey of over 1,000 non-randomly selected formal enterprises who collectively employ nearly 750,000 workers across a wide range of economic sectors in 15 African countries. The Africa report was launched in Johannesburg on the 12th of June 2022. It was pleasing that just two months later, we were able to launch the Eswatini component of the report, that is on 24th August 2022.The launch was a resounding success with the Minister of Labour and the ILO Director DWT-Pretoria both speaking at the event.

The destabilizing effects of the COVID 19 pandemic have had dramatic social, economic and health effects across the African continent. While the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic have been significant across the board, some groups—such as informal and casual workers—have been hit especially hard. The pandemic also had a dramatic effect on enterprises, with many struggling to remain afloat due to higher costs, government restrictions, and changing consumer behaviour. Many African enterprises faced new costs, often associated with health and safety measures to ensure customers and workers are not exposed to COVID-19 and in many instances, costs associated with remote/virtual working.

To support constituents during these trying times, the ILO embarked on several initiatives all aimed at helping them to cope:
• Right from the onset of lockdowns, ACTEMP Specialists – Ms Maria Machailo-Molebatsi initiated virtual meetings with leaders of employer organisations throughout our sub-region to check in with them regularly and identify together how the organisation can best support them.
• Throughout the pandemic we provided support to BE to undertake a COVID- impact assessment using the ILO developed Enterprise Survey Tool - Qualtrics so that as they engage government for relief measures, they do so through evidence-based advocacy.
• Various tools were developed such as Working from home guidelines and Policy Statement template that could be used to present professional looking policy positions.

Despite these challenging circumstances, many enterprises and their workers across the continent have taken a wide range of steps to adapt to this fluid environment. They have changed everything from the characteristics of their working space to their human resource strategies, and throughout, all have demonstrated great resilience and adaptability. Yet, the disruptive forces unleashed by COVID-19 will have longer-term implications for African labour markets