COVID-19 Ushers In Paradigm Shift Within Manzini Council
Not a single organization anticipated that the world would at some point go through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which is sweeping across the globe. The sudden change it has brought about in the work space has been volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. The Municipal Council of Manzini has not been spared from the brunt of this novel pandemic.
The organization is still adjusting to the ‘new normal’ that is being ushered in by the pandemic. The Municipality, which prides itself with its employees is working tirelessly together with employees, customers and stakeholders to ensure that this transition is not hard hitting. The coronavirus pandemic has also brought key insight on how as a Municipality we respond to drastic change and align our leadership and management style to cater for the new change.
One key challenge was that MCM had to downscale operations and the staff, compelling it to implement the management concept of “Do more with less” and sent half the staff to work from home whilst others took annual leave.
This was one of the measures taken by the Municipality to ensure physical distancing and by so doing curb the spread of Covid-19. As expected, that resulted in a productivity slowdown as well as a slowdown in processing of key functions of the organization.
A number of interventions were put in place within the organization as a form of ensuring employees and external stakeholders were protected from the virus. Now that the partial lockdown has been relaxed and most businesses are back in operation, most of the municipal employees have returned to work. As a result, the current practice within the organization is that each employee is subjected to temperature screening every morning as they report for work, an isolation facility has been set up for those whose temperature may be found to be exceeding the maximum, all employees have been provided with more than one face masks, frontline employees such as the Receptionist have been provided with face masks and face shields, 70% alcohol based hand sanitisers have been placed in strategic stations within the civic offices, disinfection of the civic offices is being carried out periodically, regular employee sensitization sessions on Covid-19 and preventative measures are periodically being carried out through professional health practitioners, door knobs and high touch surfaces such as desks are sanitized regularly, employees are implored to frequently wash their hands with soap and running water, physical distancing is emphasized during meetings and at workstations; and information updates on the virus are disseminated regularly.
This is all done by trained personnel. The pandemic has also exposed the need for increased collaboration within and amongst departments. Issues of horizontal succession are being looked into. This will help in the sense that when one employee is not in the office a customer can still get the assistance they require. The Municipality is also looking into introducing robust Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) which will largely help minimise the psychological impact of Covid-19 on employees.
COVID-19 PREVENTATIVE MEASURES FOR COUNCIL CUSTOMERS
Notwithstanding the relaxation of the partial lockdown, it is worth mentioning that the Municipal Council of Manzini still encourages minimal visits by customers to the civic offices. For service requests and fault reporting customers are still encouraged to make use of the 24/7 Call Centre (800 2004/2505 firstname.lastname@example.org) whilst for payment of property taxes and vending fees the use of MTN Mobile Money, Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) and Debit Order arrangement is preferred. The Municipality has laid down the following guidelines for customers who will find themselves having no option but to physically visit the civic offices;
- Security personnel at the gates are to ensure that all customers wear their face masks properly.
- All customers will have their temperature taken upon entry at the gates.
- Taking of temperature is mandatory for all customers and they will not be allowed to enter Council premises without undergoing this process.
- Customers with high temperature (over 37 degrees) will be handed over to the nurse’s gazebo for further screening.
- Every customer entering Council premises will be compelled to have their hands sanitized at the reception area.