Analysing labour hiring freeze as a strategic tool for driving competitiveness in the sand minerals mining industry in Gauteng
The process of temporarily banning the recruitment of new employees is known as labour hiring freeze, this process could potentially leverage a company’s cost competitiveness. This research analyses labour hiring freeze as a driver of cost competitiveness in the sand minerals’ mining industry. The study uses a quantitative research approach. The sample of 96 respondents was drawn from the target population of 166 managers from 13 sand mining companies. Findings indicated the implementation of labour hiring freeze as a driver of cost competitiveness has influenced the reduction of personnel costs, improved cost competitiveness and better market performance. It has also influenced improved employee morale, motivation and productivity. However, despite such values, findings imply labour hiring freeze is associated with certain inherent drawbacks that can threaten its value as a driver of cost competitiveness in the sand minerals mining industry. Findings imply that the implementation of labour hiring freeze is causing distortion of work roles, overworking of the employees, employee dissatisfaction, low morale, low motivation, negative attitude about the organisation, high labour turnover and loss of valuable employees. Given these findings, executives would have been expected to adopt the appropriate strategies for improving the effectiveness of labour hiring freeze as a driver of cost competitiveness in the sand minerals mining industry. Unfortunately, it seems not much is being done. Although some of the respondents agreed, it seems there is a challenge of using strategies like communication of goals and vision during the labour hiring freeze as well as the use of job enrichment to render work more interesting. Besides the analysis and response to individual employee needs, there is also a challenge of using the other cost cutting strategies such as the control of raw-materials’ costs. Other limitations were identified in the use of tasks and process re-engineering. Just like the use of consultants and contract workers to support the employees where it is required, the use of bonuses and recognitions to reward outstanding performance was also found to be a challenge. To effectively undertake labour hiring freeze as a driver of cost competitiveness, it is argued that the executives in the sand minerals mining industry must consider using the accompanying cost cutting strategies like the minimisation of raw-materials’ costs. It must also consider developing and using communication as a strategy for influencing improved employee morale and motivation. These must be undertaken in conjunction with the use of incentives and recognitions to reward the outstanding performance. Other strategies encompass the use of exceptional recruitments for unique essential positions, and analysis and response to individual employee needs. Future research can use a qualitative approach to explore the values and constraints of labour hiring freeze. This study can be of great use to managers, company executives and boards members in future when considering the use of this initiative as a tool to curtail costs in their companies. The results and recommendations of this study can enable company executives to make informed decisions.