"The Ask Afrika Da Vinci Awards is a new initiative and is our way of recognising what our clients’ have achieved – not only by commissioning unique research but on how they use this research innovatively to have a positive effect on society," says Andrea Gevers, CEO and founder of Ask Afrika.

Companies entered the awards by detailing how they had used research results to create innovation in their industry. The submissions were assessed by an independent panel of nine judges.

The finalists were as follows:
  • Shoprite
  • The Financial Intermediaries Association of South Africa (FIA)
  • The Out of Home Measurement Council (OMC)
  • Routes to Results
  • The Childhood Cancer Foundation (CHOC)
  • Final Mile
  • The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC)
  • MMI Holdings Limited
  • Ithala Development Finance Corporation
  • Unjani Clinic
MMI Holdings Limited took top accolades for its innovative use of Ask Afrika’s research on employee presenteeism.

Ask Afrika conducted fieldwork for MMI Holdings Limited centred on employee productivity between 2016 and 2017. The results were analysed and used to produce the Presenteeism Report in 2018.

The market research was used to quantify the problem of presenteeism for employers and tracked the impact of implemented interventions to determine return on investment and improved employee engagement levels.

"This research has quantified that South African businesses are losing up to R89-billion per annum due to unproductive employees. This is costing local businesses as much as 5% of their gross operating profit," adds Sarina de Beer, director of client experience at Ask Afrika.

"Up until now, presenteeism has been very difficult to quantify as it is subjective. The research allows an organisation to tell what proportion of employees are distracted at work, as well as the time that employers lose," de Beer adds.

"It provides an opportunity for employers to assist employees to improve their personal situation, which includes finances and health. This is for the greater good of all – the employees benefit, the employers benefit and, ultimately, the economy benefits," says Elaine Wright, client engagement manager at MMI Holdings Limited.

The winner was presented with a sculpture, Voëlvry, created specifically for the awards by artist Anton Smit.

Final Mile, an international organisation involved in research for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, came second for its use of research Ask Afrika conducted to improve understanding of adolescent girls’ and women’s decisions and behaviours with regard to HIV testing, prevention and treatment and how to speak to different generations in their language and requirements. The research assisted healthcare-focussed organisations to improve adoption and adherence of healthcare products.

Shoprite secured third place for its use of Ask Afrika’s research on its Super Service Awards, which is an internal motivational programme that has proved to be a successful incentive to ensure employee participation, increased morale and the enhanced success of the Shoprite group of companies.

"It requires confidence, courage and creativity for business leaders and researchers to ask difficult questions and to be prepared to listen to unexpected answers. Using market research optimally is all about being prepared to listen and ultimately understand, even when the conversation is uncomfortable, and to be willing to alter your course of action or business strategy accordingly," says Gevers.

Gevers adds, "True business acumen does not always mean that you get it right the first time, but that you will learn, grow and innovate to create new models within your industry that will improve on the status quo. Our Da Vinci Awards celebrates companies who challenge assumptions and clarify business and political thinking for the greater good."

For more information, visit www.askafrika.co.za. Alternatively, connect with them on Facebook or on Twitter.