The impact of restructuring at Eskom Free State Operating Unit Distribution Division
Songcaka, X. H.
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The objective of the study was to explore the influence of restructuring at the Eskom Free State Operating Unit Distribution Division. This study explored the impact of restructuring within the Free State Operating Unit and on its Asset Creation Departmental Section in particular, and presents various recommendations to executive management on how to approach restructuring in a way that will ensure the continued delivery of core distribution services. Eskom has been subjected to various changes in the internal and external environment, and its core vision and mission has constantly focused on supplying electricity in an efficient and sustainable manner. The instability in electricity supply has led to various challenges for Eskom, including financial sustainability, poor operational performance, customer satisfaction, and safety records. Its deteriorating reputation has led to management embarking on a restructuring process which aligned it’s regional areas to the nine provinces of South Africa. The study concluded that organisational restructuring has placed pressure on the existing employees who had to operate with limited resources, and had influenced their morale, workload, and productivity as well. If these aspects are not addressed they will directly impact on the Eskom FSOU operational goals, which include electricity distribution and maintenance of electrical infrastructure. The research methodology preferred for this study was the quantitative method. A questionnaire was developed for the Asset Creation department of the Free State Operating Unit (FSOU). The questionnaire covered the impact of restructuring on the employees, as well as the process. A range of questions dealt with the uncertainties of the employees, and whether they had been offered early retirement packages, were retrenched, or if existing and new vacancies had not been filled. The study investigated the impact of the restructuring implementation time line, the skills and responsibilities of employees, the principles of communication, employee engagement, and transparency. At an organisational level, the respondents were asked whether the restructuring has led to loss of valuable employees, loss of productivity, reduced confidence in management, and increased workload for the remaining employees. The study also investigated the impact of restructuring on the individual in terms of low morale, uncertainty of the future, increased anxiety, impaired performance, increased stress, and health and wellness. In terms of the findings, the study highlighted a loss of commitment of employees, which led to a loss of confidence in management. They also agreed that there was a shortage of skilled employees. On the positive side, the respondents all agreed that there was clear communication, that the company applied relevant policies and procedures, engaged with employees on the outcomes of the restructuring process, and were transparent about the nature of the restructuring. The responses highlighted that there was a loss of valuable employees, of productivity in general, and a resultant increase in workload on the remaining employees. The respondents were split on it’s impact on the morale of the employees with some disagreeing, and others agreeing that the morale was low. The outcomes of the study indicated that the impact of the restructuring on the employees as individuals disagree that there had been a loss of productivity and agreed on an increase in workload. The employees also experienced a loss of commitment and confidence in management. The final analysis was that the restructuring process was not properly managed, implemented or controlled, as the time line had not been indicated and could therefor not be effected. This also the reason why it took in excess of 3 yrs before it was finalised.Although there was communication from management, the respondents indicated that it was insufficient as the employees expected to know the impact on their roles, responsibilities, and training requirements if there were to be job changes by the end of the restructuring process.