As South Africans head back to the office, admin staff, receptionists, and assistants are in demand

Business Insider SA
(Getty Images/Ezra Bailey)
(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 rise of return-to-work ultimatums and data around hiring activity over the past three months.
  • Admin 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 companies are hiring admin clerks, receptionists, personal assistants, and human resources (HR) personnel as offices wake from a two-year slumber caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The recent ending of South Africa's state of disaster imposed two years ago as a means to manage the coronavirus outbreak signals a return to some sense of normality. Almost all restrictions have been lifted, and new government guidelines for the safe return to work have removed most barriers faced by office-based companies in coaxing staff back to their desks.

While it's still be seen how companies transition their employees from full-time remote work to offices – hybrid work models presenting a mixture of both according to specific jobs seem most likely – businesses are wanting to fill previously vacant desks.

See also | SA's version of the 'Great Resignation' is a little different – as are reasons for leaving

This push for employees to come back to the office is evident in the rise of return-to-work ultimatums among corporate and small to mid-size companies in South Africa. Advaita Naidoo, managing director of executive search firm Jack Hammer Global in Africa, told Cape Talk on Monday that this trend was "certainly gaining momentum".

And with this return comes the renewed need for administrative and office support staff, as shown by 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 biggest growth in finance, business, and office-related positions.

"Admin, office and support has seen the biggest increase in hiring activity," noted the recently published report.

"One reason for this may be that an increasing number of local companies are moving back to a more office-bound working environment as Covid-19 restrictions continue to ease."

Hiring activity in this jobs segment – including admin clerks, receptionists, personal assistants, and HR staff – has grown by 17% over the past three months.

Businesses' finance departments are also looking to swell their ranks, with hiring in bookkeeping, financial analysis, procurement, project accounting, and payroll processing increasing by 10%.

Business management positions, including staff recruitment, have also attracted attention, with hiring activity increasing by 4%.

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

Conversely, hiring activity in IT, which surged during lockdown as businesses pivoted to remote operations, has declined by 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 drop in remote work opportunities as a result of the recent lifting of the national state of disaster," explained CareerJunction.

"However, the fact that many businesses have already invested in remote working technology to attract top talent and reduce office overhead costs means remote work is unlikely to disappear from the employment landscape any time soon."

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