Admin staff

As South Africans return to the office, administrative staff, receptionists and assistants are in demand

(Getty Images/Ezra Bailey)

  • South African companies want their employees to return to the office after working from home for two years.
  • This is evident in the recent increase in return-to-work ultimatums and hiring activity data over the past three months.
  • Administrative clerks, receptionists, personal assistants and HR professionals are being hired at a rapid rate, according to the latest CareerJunction Employment Insights report.
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South African businesses are hiring administrative clerks, receptionists, personal assistants and human resources (HR) staff as offices wake up from a two-year slumber caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recent end to South Africa’s state of disaster imposed two years ago as a way to manage the coronavirus outbreak signals a return to some sense of normalcy. Almost all restrictions have been lifted and new government guidelines for a safe return to work have removed most of the barriers office businesses face in getting staff back to their desks.

While it can still be seen how companies are moving their employees from full-time remote work to offices – hybrid working models featuring a mix of the two depending on specific jobs seem the most likely – companies want to fill previously vacant positions.

See also | SA’s version of the “big resignation” is a bit different – as are the reasons for leaving

This push for employees to return to the office is evident in the rise of return-to-work ultimatums among businesses and small and medium-sized businesses in South Africa. Advaita Naidoo, managing director of executive search firm Jack Hammer Global in Africa, told Cape Talk on Monday that this trend is “certainly gaining momentum”.

And with that comeback comes the renewed need for administrative and clerical support staff, as seen in hiring trends for the first quarter of 2022 in the latest CareerJunction Employment Insights report.

The report shows that hiring activity has increased by 39% over the past year, with the strongest growth in finance, business and office related positions.

“Administrative, clerical and support saw the largest increase in hiring activity,” the recently released report noted.

“One reason for this may be that an increasing number of local businesses are reverting to a more office-related working environment as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease.”

Hiring activity in this job segment – ​​including administrative clerks, receptionists, personal assistants and HR staff – has increased 17% over the past three months.

Corporate financial services are also looking to swell their ranks, with hiring in the areas of accounting, financial analysis, procurement, project accounting and payroll processing increasing by 10%.

Corporate management positions, including staff recruitment, also received attention, with hiring activity increasing by 4%.

Professionals in account management, human resources and project accounting are also being offered higher salaries than a year ago.

Conversely, IT hiring activity, which surged during the lockdown as companies shifted to remote operations, fell 3%.

And while all indicators point to employees returning to the office, CareerJunction’s report notes that remote work opportunities are unlikely to disappear.

“In the coming months, there may be a decline in remote work opportunities due to the recent lifting of the national state of disaster,” CareerJunction explained.

“However, the fact that many companies have already invested in remote work technology to attract top talent and reduce office overhead means that remote work is unlikely to disappear from the employment landscape anytime soon. “

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