What people say


HR Future provides recent and up-to-date HR information that assists me to handle HR matters effectively.” (Director: HR)

“The articles in HR Future are relevant to my day to day work situation and give me more insight into what other people (companies) think about day to day HR issues and the relevance thereof. (Group HR Manager)

HR Future offers the HR (and business) person the opportunity to keep in touch with current and future trends in HR so that they can equip their organisations with the tools to best attract, manage, and develop their human capital.” (HR and Administration Manager)

“From the knowledge I gain from HR Future, I translate one new idea or view and incorporate it in my office each and every month.” (HR Co-ordinator)

I have used your magazine to help me with our company’s performance management and diversity, and have all the copies on hand for reference. Whenever I am doubtful on any aspect, I consult your magazine. I cannot wait for the next issue to arrive to see what exciting news is in it .This is one of the best ever investments I have ever made. Thank you for providing one of the best and readable magazines ever!!!!!!! (HR Co-ordinator)

“With the prevalence of information overload it sometimes really is a challenge to select credible, relevant and well-written sources of information.

As the Group Human Resources Executive, I wanted to give my team of six HR managers and practitioners a source of useful information which they could look forward to each month and which would give them valuable information. We subscribed to HR Future and for the past year, my team and I have found something of interest and shareable value in each and every edition. Personally, I enjoy the bite size articles, the ease of reading and the credibility of the contributors. The online version makes 24/7 article availability such a cool reality! We will definitely continue to subscribe for many years to come…

Well done to you and your team, Alan, for publishing such an excellent source of, sound, HR information! (Group Human Resources Executive)

“You are truly an inspiration and you have invigorated us again with your enthusiasm. HR Future is a must read for all our HR practitioners. Go well, Alan – once again thank you for your time.” (HR Manager)

“Reading some of the articles reminded me what an absolutely great read/tool/resource HR Future is. I (at last) logged onto the website as a member as I like reading via my tablet. There are many different options for staying informed of what is happening in the human capital management arena … HR Future is certainly one of the key.

I shared with my husband how relevant the articles are; that they are very seldom more than two pages but they are full of gems. I get so excited and energised by what I am reading.
So, thank you for continuing to provide a really awesome resource.” (HR Manager)


Having started out his career in Learning and Development, HR Future’s Executive Editor, Alan Hosking, continues to make his decades of experience available to companies wishing to take their leaders, managers and bright young talent to new levels.

Alan’s in-house training programmes are innovative, highly interactive and engaging. They combine the best of adult-based learning techniques with eternal principles to heighten impact and retention.

The training workshops are aimed at high performers, and are designed to impart not only new knowledge and insight, but also a renewed purpose and intent, to participants in order that they return to the workplace more knowledgeable, more focused and more motivated.

Training programmes include stress management, generational management, leadership development, self-mastery and parenting skills.

Alan is able to customise a training programmes according to a company’s specific needs so you are welcome to contact him to discuss your company’s particular training needs.

Get involved in our events

We will make your events memorable!

Osgard Media will conceptualise and produce your events to help you achieve your strategic objectives in a way that sets you apart from your competitors.

One of the most effective ways to build relationships with existing and/or prospective clients is hosting well planned and executed events. Nothing beats the power of engaging with people in a focused, live setting that results in a powerful resonance between your brand and your audience.

Events can be hosted in all shapes and sizes, but the key to making an event “pop” is to transform it from an event to an experience. And THAT’S what we do!

Having hosted highly successful events of our own for over 15 years, Osgard Media uses its expertise and experience to manage your events from beginning to end – from concept to congratulations.

We understand the key elements of staging a successful event and will guide you and your team through each of these elements of the process, making sure that all is in place, from the look and feel, the lighting and audio, to a polished execution on the day or evening. Give your clients and prospective clients a memorable experience, increase their loyalty and reap the rewards thereof.

Type of events we plan and manage:

1. Special Events;
2. Corporate Golf Days;
3. Conferences;
4. Product Launches;
5. Team Building events;
6. Networking Breakfasts; and
7. Road Shows.

What we will oversee and faclitate:

– Conceptualising the event with you;
– Sourcing appropriate venues;
– Décor, draping and flowers;
– Audio-visual, rigging and staging;
– Entertainment (where applicable);
– MC/Facilitators/Trainers/Speakers;
– Design of brochures, flyers and invitations;
– Gifting and branding;
– Onsite management;
– Porta potties (where necessary);
– Furniture;
– Catering;
– Linen;
– Cutlery and crockery;
– Waitrons;
– Bar service;
– Marquees or tents (where required);
– Health and safety :
• Police services;
• Medics;
• Umpires; and
• First Aid.
– Public liability;
– Logistics management:
• Booking process;
• Payment process (where applicable);
• Managing external suppliers and service providers;
• Registration;
• Name tags.

Project specs required from client:

– Budget
– Date/s
– Duration of Event
– Location/venue
– Type of Event
– Pax
– Special requirements
– Travel and accommodation requirements

All the above services are provided for a fee of 25% of the total event budget.

To host a memorable event, contact Kelsey Hosking at kelsey@hrfuture.net or 011 782 3719.


Architects of Greatness™ Initiative

Answer the call to greatness and join this collaborative initiative of South African leaders aspiring to greatness to address key challenges in our country.

Strategic overview

Various initiatives have been started by concerned South Africans wishing to play a role in improving the conditions and the economy of the country. These efforts are admirable, but have two limitations. Firstly, they are not part of one co-ordinated national initiative and, secondly, they tend to address the consequences rather than the causes of the challenges we currently face, resulting in few significant and sustainable changes.

What is needed is one high level national initiative to address the causes that have brought about the challenges our country faces. Such an initiative requires vision, courage, wisdom, humility and determination as, without these qualities, there is only reluctant effort.

Since October 2013, HR Future Publisher, Alan Hosking, has been working behind the scenes, with the support of a former Commissioner in the Office of the Presidency, on a high level national initiative to address certain key causes of our country’s challenges in order to create a new reality and a sustainable economy in which all can thrive.

Government is aware of the initiative, which already has the support of numerous senior business leaders. Individual and corporate supporters already include CEOs of large multinationals, Economists, University Vice Chancellors, leading Business Schools, Professional Associations and other Organisations.

The Architects of Greatness Initiative is a cause dedicated to utilising the knowledge, wisdom and energy of leaders from multiple sectors to help create a new reality for the good of all of our country’s citizens. To achieve this, the initiative will first seek to create a fundamental change in context – a change in the hearts and minds of our country’s people – a change from self-interest, negativity and small mindedness to a context of greatness – manifesting in selflessness, generosity and compassion.

Once a change in context is started, a national process can then be started to address, in a co-ordinated yet very practical way, three key challenges. Architects of Greatness is inviting the country’s political, business, labour, education and religious leaders to rise above and beyond their own personal, professional and political agendas and interests to collaborate with one another, as South Africans first and foremost, and as parents, secondly, in an unprecedented historic initiative to address three high level challenges in the South African economy. The three challenges are:

1. Developing authentic leadership;
2. Enhancing employability; and
3. Reducing inequality.

These three are not the only challenges we face but serve as a way of creating a focus for many other issues that need to be addressed.

Architects of Greatness recognises that many sincere and compassionate South Africans are trying in their own way to make a difference in the lives of our citizens. We will therefore never attempt to ask people or organisations to forsake their own particular vision and efforts to improve our reality. Instead we invite them to become a Partner of Architects of Greatness so they can benefit from support of other likeminded people and organisations who are doing similar work. In this way, they can indeed strengthen one another’s arms in their noble efforts.

Who are the Architects of Greatness?

The term “Architects of Greatness” comes from a poem, “The Dreamers”, by Herbert Kaufman. According to Kaufman, the Architects of Greatness:

• have a vision that lies within their souls;
• peer beyond the veils and mists of doubt;
• fight for bigger things than crowns and higher seats than thrones; and
• hear the voice of destiny call to them from the unknown vasts.

If you have a vision for this country that sees through the mists of doubt, if you are prepared to fight for bigger things than crowns and higher seats than thrones, if you hear the voice of destiny calling to you, you are an Architect of Greatness and you are invited to be a part of this historic initiative. We all know what the Architects of Apartheid did to our country and its people. Now it is time for Architects of a different kind – Architects of Greatness – to rise up and join the cause to create a better reality for this generation and those to come.

Code of Greatness

A key document that will guide all conduct, planning and implementation of this initiative is a Code of Greatness that has been written for this purpose. The Code of Greatness has been tested with key people in different sectors of the Business community and has been accepted and embraced without reservation.

The Code of Greatness can be signed by all South Africans who wish to identify with the cause to aspire to living and leading with greatness. Signing the Code is completely voluntary. Those who know they have greatness in them and sign the Code will then have a clear road map to follow as they live out their greatness. It is however important for people to be aware that, by signing the Code, they are agreeing to be held responsible for abiding by the Code.

Why must we do this?

The success of this initiative lies in our rising to a collective greatness as a nation. Here is a sample of what commentators have said:

“We need our leaders in the public, private and civil society sectors to work together.”
Jay Naidoo, on Leader.co.za

“… we are very good at coming up with plan after plan, policy after policy, but so far we have fallen woefully short on the execution. If we get execution right this time, we can grow our economy by the requisite 5.4 percent per annum …”
Bonang Mohale, in Reimagining South Africa

“South Africa watches, waiting for someone to step up and fill the void with direction and purpose.”
Gareth van Onselen, in Sunday Times

“Let the good and wise leaders stand up!”
Ben Turok, in Sunday Times

“Business and civil society need to show more leadership.”
Isaac Shongwe, in Sunday Times

“South Africa is facing many formidable challenges and visionary, inspirational and competent leadership is sorely needed.”
Brand Pretorius, Sunday Times

“I am an optimist about South Africa. I know we can take our place in the first rank. We have the people, we have the resources, and we have the will, but getting there will require everyone to do their part. We just need to get started.”
Gloria Serobe, in Reimagining South Africa

What is the next step?

We are currently building a critical mass of people in the different sectors who wish to join the cause. Once we have reached an appropriate level of awareness and achieved a collective consciousness, we will be launching the initiative publicly (date and venue to be finalised).

Answer the call to greatness

Should you wish to answer the call to greatness in your own capacity or on behalf of your company, become a Partner of the Architects of Greatness Initiative, contact Alan Hosking at alan@hrfuture.net 

If you’re not going to do something great in this life, in which life will you?



HR Future is a South Africa-based global business-to-business magazine delivering strategic, business-driven human capital content to Executives, HR Directors, HR Managers and Line Managers in South Africa, Africa and countries around the world.

The magazine features editorial that helps companies recruit, remunerate, lead, train, educate, develop, manage and retain the most appropriate talent for sustainability and growth into the future.

Our content is delivered via a multimedia platform which includes:

• a print and digital magazine;
• a web site (www.hrfuture.net); and
• live events .


HR Future’s vision is to inspire and inform its readers and so encourage them to rise to greatness and change their company, their community and their country

The magazine provides relevant, strategic and practical business-driven information on human capital issues in the international and the SA workplaces.

Readership Profile

The magazine (print and digital) has a distribution of approximately 35 000, with a readership conservatively estimated at over 70 000.

Readership includes:

• CEOs, MDs and FDs;
• HR Directors;
• HR Managers and Practitioners;
• HR and Other Professionals;
• HR Consultants;
• Industrial Relations Practitioners;
• Labour Lawyers;
• Line Managers; and
• Business Owners.


HR Future’s contributors represent the cream of the crop in leadership and people management thought leadership, and are drawn from the highest echelons of the business world both globally and locally.

More than a magazine

In line with our “More than a Magazine” strategy, HR Future hosts innovative and unique events which include:

• regular breakfasts in Johannesburg and Cape Town;
HR Future SolutionsFests; and
• women’s events – “What nobody tells women about the boardroom”.

Other services the company provides includes, video production, public speaking and high level leadership training.

Public opinion

In two independent surveys over the past three years, HR Future was rated as the number one source for human capital content by HR professionals in South Africa.


34 000+ followers

Click here to view Osgard Media’s PAIA Manual.

Corporate videos

The emergence of the YouTube phenomenon is evidence that video’s time has come. There is no more powerful way to get your message across in a short space of time than through a video with appropriate script, visuals and audio.

Osgard Media has the expertise and experience to create highly effective video content for you to use on social media, at events, as well as for branding and multiple other purposes.

If you’re looking for a team to conceptualise and produce video material of which you will be proud, contact our Video Producer, Mandy Marshall, (mandy@hrfuture.net or 011 888 7019) to discuss your video needs and ideas.

Click here for an example of Mandy’s work. 

Look after your own greatest asset

Have regular check-ups and enjoy a healthy, well-balanced life 12 months of the year.

Career-driven professionals work like crazy for 11 months of the year, ignoring niggling health issues because there are seemingly more important issues to be dealt with – deadlines to be met, projects to be completed, products to be launched, commitments to be honoured, and so on –

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, because you have an important position in your company and that many people are relying on you, you can ignore your health.

Typically, come December each year when many professionals take a break from the office, they reflect on the past year and how things went. The conversation in their minds goes something like this: “Wow, this was a tough year. I really felt the pace and pressure. I must make a point of not working so hard next year and look after my health more. I’m not getting any younger and I need to take care of myself more.”

That’s a good conversation. Only problem is that you’ve probably had that conversation every year for the past five or 10 years and nothing’s changed. Let this year be the last year you have it.

Make some changes

Start changing the way you view your health and wellness by understanding that your health is your most valuable asset. Remember how you’ve told others that people are the company’s greatest asset? Well now it’s time for you to understand that your health is your most valuable asset.

What about your partner and family, you wonder. Of course they’re important, but if you can’t get out of bed because of ill health, you will certainly not be able to give them your love and share the fruits of your labour with them.

Have regular check ups

If you’re not having an annual medical check-up, start having one! You might think that regular check-ups are unnecessary. Would you be prepared to fly with an airline that did not maintain their planes regularly but waited for something to break down before repairing them? Thought not. Yet you are quite happy to use the same policy when it comes to your health. Check-ups help prevent problems as your doctor can identify potential health issues long before they become a problem.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. The older generations would go to the doctor because they were ill. Now you go to the doctor so that you don’t get ill.

Apart from the usual checks like heart, blood pressure and cholesterol, ask your doctor to test your homocysteine level too. Many doctors don’t test this. Homocysteine is a toxic amino acid that builds up in the blood due to contributory factors such as chronic stress and regular coffee intake.

There are no symptoms for high homocysteine levels, so, if your levels are high, you’re walking around like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. That’s because high levels result in unannounced heart attacks and/or strokes. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your future. Get your homocysteine levels checked. An optimal level is nine to 11. If yours is over 15, you’re in the danger zone for a heart attack or a stroke!

Your doctor can recommend steps to reduce your homocysteine level. These include certain supplements, managing your stress and cutting down on all that coffee. If you’re living a stressful life, you may also be suffering from adrenal fatigue and your DHEA levels will be low and your Cortisol levels high. These can and should also be addressed.

Adrenal fatigue will make you feel flat and tired. With the right care, you can give your adrenal system a holiday too. That will make you feel so much better and a lot more energised, both physically and mentally.

Start looking after your health in 2016. You’ve worked so hard to get to where you are. Why risk losing it all just because you failed to have regular medical checks?

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, an age management and self-mastery coach to senior executives, and the author of best seller What nobody tells a new father, available at Amazon.com.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Vexing question of dual citizenship

It’s important to take the correct steps when becoming a dual citizen.

At the outset it is necessary to distinguish between “loss” and “deprivation” of citizenship status.

The Constitution of South Africa in section 20 thereof provides that “no citizen may be deprived of citizenship” in terms of the Bill of Rights.

The Constitution however does not deal with the concept of “loss” of citizenship status.

The most recent Citizenship Act (number 88 of 1995) “The Act” together with subsequent amendments as well as the predecessors of the 1926 and 1941 amendments to the original Citizenship Act provided statutorily for a situation allowing dual or multiple nationalities subject to certain conditions.

Since the situation only became more prevalent since the 1995 Act came into operation it is therefore the focus of this article.

Until the amendments in 2004 to the Act, in fact a person could obtain a “permission letter” to hold another passport in terms of 9(2) of the 1995 Act.

In terms of the 2004 amendments however this “permission” letter no longer was possible as the subsection was expunged from the Act.

If the act of taking up citizenship of another country took place after October 1995 then in terms of section 6(2) of the 1995 Act one would automatically lose South African citizenship status unless an application was first brought on a formal basis, for retention of South African citizenship status.

Initially the Department of Home Affairs whilst issuing the section 9(2) “permission letters” refused to take in retention applications and stated that the “permission letter” was sufficient. This left many people exposed when the 2004 amendment to the Act took place and in fact they may have lost their South African citizenship status, and in all probability did, on the basis of the fact that they did not apply for retentions of their status, at the same time.

The Act did provide, as implied above, that if one were to first apply for retention of South African citizenship status prior to the “formal and voluntary act” of acquiring citizenship of another country then one would become a dual national upon that acquisition of another passport. Indeed the section is liberal and allows for more than one citizenship and therefore multiple nationalities are possible. The only restrictions that are placed on a dual or multiple national, and this is in line with international best practice in this regard, is that they must enter and leave South Africa on their South African passport, but would be free to travel on their other passports outside of South Africa.

The only other restriction placed on a dual national is that they may not claim any benefit off their foreign passport to which they would not ordinarily have been entitled to on their South African passport. This was to combat many persons in this situation, who were taking advantage thereof, from reclaiming VAT that they were not entitled to.

A practical problem that does arise is that a person, by way of example, who is a dual national with a UK passport and who must now leave South Africa on a South African passport, would need to provide proof at the airline check-in and to Immigration at the Departing International Airport that they have a right to enter their country of destination.

Accordingly on check-in at the airline counter they would have to present their foreign passport providing proof of entry to their country of destination. It would be best in that instance to also disclose that they are South African nationals and as a matter of courtesy to present their South African passport as well. When they move onto the Immigration officials they would need to present a South African passport in order to comply with the Citizenship Act and this is the passport which would bear their departure stamp. It may very well be that the Immigration official does ask, as they would be entitled to, that the person does exhibit their passport providing proof of ability to enter their country of destination.

The Director International Relations at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation recently made a rather heavy-handed statement which harshly advised that the Government intended Legislating by way of an amendment to the Citizenship Act preventing dual passports. And indeed requiring a Citizen to make an unenviable choice as to which passport to retain.

This would fly directly in the face of section 20 of our Constitution which is entrenched in the Bill of Rights and would therefore not only be unconstitutional but would also be very bad in Law and specifically Administrative Law.

The Minister of Home Affairs very shortly thereafter backtracked on this unfortunate statement which had been made by the Director of International Relations and announced that the Government did not have any plans in the pipeline to amend the Citizenship Legislation in any way. Hopefully this status and statement will perpetuate.

In the Global Village that we live in it is necessary to be mobile in order to succeed in business and a second or further passport is an asset in affording such mobility and should therefore be welcomed.

Primarily, as a South Africa citizen, our loyalty lies with South Africa and that right should never be placed in any form of a constitutional dilemma.

Advice to anyone who is contemplating taking up citizenship of another country is to consult an Attorney specialising in citizenship issues in order to ensure that you protect your rights to the fullest and do not incur an unexpected and surprise loss of status as a result of not taking the necessary steps in this regard.

Tarryn Pokroy Rietveld is an Attorney at Julian Pokroy Attorneys, Immigration, Nationality and Refugee Law Specialists, www.immigration.org.za.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Validity of agency shop agreement and the applicability of s77

Labour Court clarifies between legality and constitutionality.

The labour court, in UASA and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union v BHP Billiton Energy Coal South Africa and National Union of Mineworkers (2013) 24 SALLR 82 (LC), had the opportunity of considering the following important issues:

(a) Does the CCMA have jurisdiction to determine the lawfulness or validity of an agency shop agreement?
(b) In the above scenario, if it is found that the CCMA lacks such jurisdiction, on what basis is it to be determined that the labour court has jurisdiction to determine the lawfulness or validity of an agency shop agreement?
(c) Is it competent for a litigant to challenge an agency shop agreement as infringing the Bill of Rights without challenging the empowering section in the LRA, namely, s25, as being unconstitutional?


On 7 August 2012 this court made the following order:

• the first point in limine is dismissed;
• the second point in limine is upheld; and
• the issue of costs must be determined at the conclusion of the trial.

Pertinent facts of the case

The first applicant in this matter is UASA, a trade union duly registered in accordance with the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (“the LRA”).

The second applicant is the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union Africa (“AMCU”), a trade union duly registered in accordance with the LRA (UASA and AMCU are referred to collectively as “the applicants”).

The first respondent is BPH Biliton Energy Coal South Africa Limited (“BECSA”).

The second respondent is the National Union of Mineworkers (“NUM”), a trade union duly registered in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

From the papers, it appears that it is common cause that BECSA owns and manages a number of coal mines (Douglas Mine, which is, however, being closed down, Kutala Mine, Klipspruit Mine and Middleburg Mine) and employs a significant number of employees at each operation in one of four grades (B, C, D or E) comprising:

• as to B grade, general workers;
• as to C grade, most members of the skilled and supervisory staff;
• as to D, grade some officials and managerial staff; and
• as to E grade, senior personnel such as engineering and general managers.

This application only concerns B and C level employees.

Apart from the four mines, BECSA also has within its organisational structures a central services department, a mine closure operation, a research unit (“Yanka) and the BECSA Academy. These four units all fall under central services and operate, according to BECSA as part of a single integrated BECSA business.

According to the applicants, each of these locations (eight in total) is geographically and administratively a discrete and separate unit and is treated as a separate unit by the respondents under the threshold agreement and industrial relations policy documents applicable at BECSA.

It is stated, in the statement of claim, that each of these locations, accordingly, constitutes a separate workplace within the contemplation of the LRA in general and s25 in particular. This is denied by BECSA. According to BECSA, these divisions, units and depots are not “independent” of one another. All of these operations are situated in close proximity to each other in the Witbank/Middelburg area and are all controlled as a single and integrated unit. According to BECSA, these operations do not operate independently from one another by reason of their size, function or organisation.

However, this dispute is not the subject of these proceedings.

Agency shop agreement

During July 2009, BECSA and NUM entered into an agency shop agreement (hereinafter referred to as “the agreement”). The agreement provides for the deduction of agency fees from employees “within the B and C levels job grades in a workplace of BECSA”. The agreement further conceives of BECSA as a single entity and the degree of representation for the grant of agency shop rights (a clear majority) is determined with reference to BECSA’s enterprise taken as a whole.

Deduction of agency fee

BECSA expressed an intention to deduct, with effect from November 2009, agency fees in the amount of 1% from the basic salaries of all BECSA employees in the B and C grades who are not members of NUM.

Claim of the applicants

Pursuant to this intention, the applicants filed a statement of claim setting out the following two causes of action as set out infra.

Breach of s25 of the LRA

The first claim relates to a breach of s25 of the LRA. The applicants argue that, under s25 of the LRA, agency shop agreements can be lawful only if the union enjoys the majority support within the workplace in which the agreement is expressed to be binding. According to the applicants, within BECSA such support must be determined by poling employees in each of the eight workplaces and, for this purpose, they must be treated as separate and discrete.

The applicants, therefore, claim that the agency shop agreement is in breach of s25 of the LRA because NUM’s support was calculated with reference to BECSA as a whole (and therefore as a single workplace) instead of eight separate workplaces.

In its respective responses to the statement of claim, both BECSA and NUM deny that BECSA consists of eight workplaces for proposes of poling support within the workplace. Instead, it is submitted that the workplace of BECSA consists of all its operations operating as a single unit.

Contravention of rights to freedom of association and fair labour practices

The second claim (assuming that the agency shop agreement is otherwise lawful and enforceable) relates to the constitutionality of the agency shop agreement. In essence, it is claimed that the agency shop agreement constitutes an impermissible contravention of the rights to freedom of association and fair labour practices embodied in clauses 18 and 23(1) of the Bill of Rights respectively.

The applicants seek an order declaring the agency shop agreement unlawful and invalid and an interdict restraining the respondents from implementing the agency shop agreement.

The applicants further claim that any monies deducted from the applicants’ members be reimbursed with interest. BECSA and NUM oppose the claims and seek an order dismissing the claims.

Points in limine

In its response to the applicants’ statement of claim, NUM (the second respondent) raised two points in limine.

These two points in limine are the subject of these proceedings:

• firstly, in relation to the applicants’ first claim, it is submitted, on behalf of NUM, that the labour court does not have jurisdiction to determine whether an agency shop agreement complies with s25 of the LRA because that is not a matter that has been assigned to the labour court for determination in terms of “any other law”, as envisaged in s157(1) of the LRA; and
• secondly, in relation to the applicants’ second claim, NUM submits that this constitutional challenge is bad in law.

In essence, it is argued that the applicants have not challenged the constitutionality of s25 of the LRA and, therefore, the claim does not disclose a cause of action.

BECSA opposes the first point in limine raised by NUM but supports the second point in limine.

The labour court was in agreement with the applicant that should the jurisdictional point be upheld no evidence will be required to determine the applicants’ claim.

For the findings of the court, please visit www.hrfuture.net and view this month’s “Just in case” in the December 2015 issue (accessible to HR Futuyre members only).

Findings of the court

First point in limine

CCMA does not have jurisdiction to deal with validity or lawfulness.

What is clear is the fact that the CCMA does not have jurisdiction to decide the lawfulness or validity of agency shop agreements.

The CCMA only has jurisdiction in relation to the interpretation and application of a valid collective agreement (including an agency shop agreement) in terms of s24(6) of the LRA (see, in this regard, NUMSA and Others v Highveld Steel and Vanadium Corporation Ltd [2002] 1 BLLR 13 (LAC) at paragraph [21] and Annandale Building Materials (Pty) Ltd t/a Altocrete Brickworks and Another v NUM [2002] 11 BLLR 1058 (LC) at paragraph [40]).

The labour court has already had occasion to decide whether or not the labour court has jurisdiction to pronounce on the validity of agency shop agreements.

s157(1) of the LRA

Francis, J in Annandale Building Materials (Pty) Ltd t/a Altocrete Brickworks and Another v NUM [2002] 11 BLLR 1058 (LC) at paragraph [40], concluded that this court does have jurisdiction on the following basis:

“[40] This brings me to the question whether this court does have jurisdiction to rectify the agency shop agreement. In terms of section 24(6) of the Act, a dispute over the interpretation of an agency shop agreement must be referred to the CCMA which must attempt to conciliate the dispute and if it fails to do so, the dispute must be resolved by the CCMA in arbitration. Where it is the validity of an agency shop agreement that is challenged, the CCMA would lack jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. The labour court would have to exercise jurisdiction over that dispute in terms of section 157(1) of the Act. That section confers on the labour court ‘exclusive jurisdiction of all matters that elsewhere in terms of this Act or in terms of any other law are to be determined by the labour court’. The labour court has general supervisory powers and appellate jurisdiction in terms of section 24(7) of the Act in regard to some portions of an award dealing with an agency shop agreement. It follows that it may pronounce on the validity of the agreement.”

The respondent submitted, with reference to this decision, that the court was correct in considering whether the determination of the lawfulness or validity of an agency shop agreement is, in the language of s157(1), a matter that “elsewhere in terms of the [LRA] or in terms of any other law [is] to be determined by the labour court” but submitted that the court was wrong in assuming jurisdiction on the basis that it did, namely, that this court has “general supervisory powers”.

In this regard, it was submitted that, the mere fact that this court has supervisory powers or appellate jurisdiction over CCMA awards regarding the manner in which funds are being administered and utilised in terms of s24(7) of the LRA (read with s25(3)(c) and (d)), this does mean that it is clothed with jurisdiction to determine a dispute about the lawfulness or validity of the agency shop agreement itself. The labour court is in agreement with this submission.

If regard is had to the decision in Fredericks and Others v MEC for Education and Training, Eastern Cape and Others [2002] 2 BLLR 119 (CC) at paragraph [38], it is clear that the LRA does not confer a general jurisdiction on this court to deal with all disputes arising from employment.

Paragraph [38] reads as follows:

“[38] Section 157(1) therefore has the effect of depriving the high court of jurisdiction in matters that the labour court is required to decide except where the Labour Relations Act provides otherwise. Deciding which matters fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the labour court requires an examination of the Labour Relations Act to see which matters fall “to be determined” by the labour court. It is quite clear that the overall scheme of the Labour Relations Act does not confer a general jurisdiction on the labour court to deal with all disputes arising from employment. As Nugent JA held in Fedlife Assurance Ltd:

‘…section 157(1) does not purport to confer exclusive jurisdiction upon the labour court generally in relation to matters concerning the relationship between employer and employees'” (see also Fedlife Assurance Ltd v Wolfaardt [2001] 12 BLLR 1301 (SCA) at paragraph 25).

The question, therefore, arises, namely, where can the jurisdiction of this court, to determine the applicants’ first claim regarding the validity and/or lawfulness of the agency shop agreement, be located?

Is this a matter that can be determined in terms of the LRA or is this a matter than may be determined by the labour court in terms of “any other law”?

The labour court is in agreement with the submission that it does not appear that there is a section in the LRA which expressly clothes the labour court with jurisdiction to determine the said dispute.

It was argued that a jurisdictional foundation may be found in the BCEA which, in the language of the s157(1) of the LRA, qualifies as “any other law”.

s34(1)(b) and s77(1) of the BCEA

It was argued, with reference to s34(1)(b) of the BCEA, which deals with deductions from remuneration of an employee, that the labour court has exclusive jurisdiction in terms of s77(1) of the BCEA in respect of all matters in terms of the BCEA.

Section 34(1)(b) of the BCEA stipulates that an employer may not make any deduction from an employee’s remuneration unless “the deduction is required or permitted in terms of a…collective agreement”.

An agency shop agreement is a collective agreement and, consequently, the labour court has jurisdiction.

The jurisdictional foundation of the labour court can, therefore, be found in s77(1) of the BCEA which provides that the labour court “has exclusive jurisdiction in respect of all matters in terms of the [BCEA]”.

Furthermore, in terms of s77(2) the labour court has jurisdiction to “review…any act or omission of any person in terms of [the BCEA] on any grounds that are permissible in law”.

It would appear that the labour court has jurisdiction in terms of s77(1) and/or s77(2) of the BCEA on the basis set out above.

If regard is had to the applicants’ amended statement of claim, it is clear that what the applicants are claiming is for an order declaring the agency shop agreement (permitting the deduction from the applicants’ members’ salaries of an agency fee) unlawful and invalid and for an order that all monies deducted unlawfully from the applicants’ members with interest to be reimbursed.

This being the case for the applicants, the labour court has jurisdiction in terms of s157(1) of the LRA “in terms of any other law [in this case the BCEA]”.

In the event, the first point in limine is dismissed.

Second point in limine

In respect of the second point in limine, NUM argued, with reference to case law, that it has been held that, where the legislature gives expression to the Bill of Rights, a party cannot rely on the Bill of Rights without challenging the legislation in question first.

Section 23(6) of the Bill of Rights (contained in the Constitution) provides that national legislation may recognise union security arrangements contained in collective agreements and that, to the extent that such legislation may limit a right in the Bill of Rights, the limitation must comply with s36(1) of the Constitution (see generally, Cheadle et al, South African Constitutional Law: The Bill of Rights (issue 11, 2011) at 18-17, paragraph 18.5.2).

As already pointed out, the applicants argue that the agency shop agreement is unconstitutional.

Various judgments indicate that an agreement under s25 of the LRA is not immune from constitutional scrutiny (see MEC for Education, Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Others v Pillay 2008 (1) SA 474 (CC) at paragraph 40 and City of Johannesburg and Others v Mazibuko and Others 2009 (3) SA 592 (SCA) and Investigating Directorate: Serious Economic Offences and Others v Hyundai Motor Distributors (Pty) Ltd and Others: In re Hyundai Motor Distributors (Pty) Ltd and Others v Smit NO and Others 2001 (1) SA 545 (CC)).

The labour court is in agreement with the submission that an agency shop agreement could not be challenged without challenging s25 of the LRA.

In this regard, the court was referred to the unreported decision in Greathead v Metcash Trading Ltd and Others (unreported judgment of the WLD Case No 97/24313) where the court pertinently held that, in order to succeed in declaring an agency shop agreement unconstitutional, s25 of the LRA must first be declared unconstitutional.

Moreover, where legislation is enacted to give effect to a constitutional right, it is not competent for a litigant to bypass legislation (such as the LRA) and rely directly on the Constitution in claiming that a collective agreement (such as for example an agency shop agreement) is unconstitutional.

In Mazibuko v City of Johannesburg and Others 2010 (4) SA 1 (CC) at paragraph [73] the court confirmed this point and pointed out that, were litigants permitted to ignore legislation and rely directly on a constitutional provision, it may lead to the creation of a dual system of constitutional jurisprudence: the one under the Constitution and the other under legislation.

Dr Brian van Zyl is a Director of labour law firm Van Zyl Rudd and Associates, www.vanzylrudd.co.za.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Balancing high performance vs high potential continued …

Create a culture of training and development.

As a follow on from last month’s article where I focused on high performers and employees with high potential, this month the focus shifts to employee development. It is well worth noting that even when high performers and those with high potential have been correctly identified, they may still fail to realise their true potential to the organisation due to the absence of a well-defined, relevant and customisable development plan.

So the question that needs to be asked is, “What is the best way to develop high-potential talent to prepare the leaders of tomorrow?”

In research conducted by The Conference Board, Inc., they looked at key strategies for leadership development and how these were ranked by organisations, their finding being as follows:

As can be seen from the above research, the highest ranking mechanism for developing leaders is through growth of internal staff. The obvious benefits of following this route is that the organisation already has:

– an understanding of the employee’s capabilities;
– the employee already has a proven track record within the organisation;
– the employee understands the culture of the organisation; and
– the employee already has an established network of peers within the organisation.

All of the above factors become areas of risk when employing talent externally. This is not to say talent should never be sourced externally, but organisations should always try to prioritise their current staff whom they not only know but where they have probably already made a substantial investment in training and development.

When looking at developing internal staff this can be seen as a multi-pronged approach as there are various ways in which to empower employees for the future:

Ranking of key strategies for leadership development

Formal training

Your specialist employees will always require continual development to maintain their subject matter knowledge. This would also include management programmes focusing on leadership development as these skills are important in their roles and in connecting with other leaders of the organisation.


It is always important to expose your employees to both leaders and experts in the fields in which they operate. This helps them broaden their horizons not only in their specialised knowledge but also in how other leaders operate in different environments.


Employees will continually grow by participating in projects related to their field but should be encouraged to become involved in projects involving other high potential employees within the organisation.

However, as with most well defined initiatives that organisations plan to address, there are always barriers to their success, with some good examples being:

Cost Training and development budgets are the first to go when the squeeze for profit margins is on. A short sighted move at best, as it is the very nature of upskilling the employee is what enable the organisation to deliver more with less.

Time Training takes employees out of the workplace, thus reducing production time and, as the old adage goes, time is money, but how often is the cost of not training employees calculated through measurements such as having an inefficient workforce or staff turnover.

Lack of a development culture Organisations need to build training and development into everything they say and do. It needs to embed itself into the organisation’s culture. A learning organisation is one that is growing, and on the other end, an organisation that is not learning is effectively dying.

In conclusion, the leadership team is primarily responsible for creating a culture of developing talent within the organisation, and although leaders are widespread in their acknowledgement of the importance of developing staff, too few actually empower the organisation to follow through with this initiative.

Rob Bothma is an HR Systems Industry Specialist at NGA Africa, a non-executive director, Fellow and Vice President of the Institute of People Management and co-author of the 4th Edition of Contemporary Issues in HRM and member of the Executive Board for HR Pulse.

How to unleash the high potential talent in your organisation, Right Management, Manpower Group;
Is your high potential program relevant for the talented non-manager? Jacques Quinio, EMEA Leadership Development Solutions Director & UKI Talent Management Principal Consultant, The Conference Board, Inc.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Manage the transition to a coaching culture

Many CEOs and HR Directors we have spoken to over the last few years have been tremendously proud of the growth of coaching in their organisations.

At the same time they are concerned about the benefit to the organisation – how they can sustain the offering and evaluate the return on their investment.

One HR Director of a large retail organisation proudly recounted how they had a strong panel of external coaches, had developed and trained a community of internal coaches, and had trained many of their managers with coaching skills. When she was asked how many coaching conversations she thought took place every week in her organisation she responded that “there must be thousands worldwide”. When asked how her organisation derived learning from those thousands of coaching conversations she looked shocked and had no answer.

Many people confuse a coaching culture with an organisation where a lot of coaching takes place. These two are not the same thing. A coaching culture is about more than the coaching inputs taking place – it’s crucially about the alignment of these inputs to create individual, team, organisation and wider system value-creating change.

“A coaching culture exists in an organisation when a coaching approach is a key aspect of how the leaders, managers and staff engage and develop all their people [at all levels] and engage their stakeholders, in ways that create increased individual, team and organisational performance and shared value for all stakeholders.” Peter Hawkins: Creating a Coaching Culture (McGraw Hill 2012).

Too often, coaching is seen as an end in itself rather than as a means to an end. For an organisation to really benefit from coaching, it needs to develop a coaching strategy that starts with the end in mind. This needs to begin with the organisational strategy, and be based on an understanding of how the organisation’s current and future stakeholders need to develop to create greater value for all stakeholders.

This strategic understanding can then address how the organisation’s culture and, within that, its leadership culture, needs to be different in order to deliver this strategic development. Only then can it address the question: “How can coaching most effectively assist this necessary cultural development?”

It is no longer enough for coaches to deliver coaching that is primarily valued by the individual coachee. Coaching must also deliver organisational learning, development and value to the coachee’s stakeholders, and in the broader scheme of things, to the organisation’s stakeholders. Coaching needs to have a much stronger systemic orientation.

Practically speaking, where organisations are using a number of coaches to work with multiple individuals and teams, there should be a suitable mechanism for feeding back cultural patterns and emerging trends that come to light through coaching conversations in a non-attributable way (thereby preserving the appropriate confidentiality). This information will assist in identifying where and how change needs to take place and is vital to organisational learning. Without it the organisation loses much of the value to be derived from coaching.

An effective mechanism for harvesting this information is by utilising the services of a qualified and experienced coaching supervisor to work regularly with all of the external and internal coaches working in the organisation. Leading coaching consultancies will provide this service as part of a consolidated service for managing coaching within and on behalf of organisations. Organisations with their own established processes for managing coaching can contract directly with a reputable coaching supervisor, making attendance at supervision sessions mandatory for coaches engaged by the organisation. Coaching supervision has the added benefit of assisting the coaches to manage ethical dilemmas which arise from time to time, and maintain a balanced approach to their work.

Success brings with it many dangers. A big one is complacency, which can in turn become arrogance. It may also induce less motivation to change and adapt and failure to notice that the ecological niche in which you operate is changing faster than you are. The business literature is full of cases where ‘excellent’ companies which were leaders in their market, failed to adapt and their success vanished before they knew it.

If you are number one in your sector, you can be slower than less successful companies to notice and respond to critical changes in the wider marketplace. By the time the impact of these changes is evidenced through a decline in financial performance, it is too late. Well-known examples include Olivetti who were market leaders in typewriters, IBM in mainframe computers, Kodak in print photography, and Tesco in supermarket retail. All were blinded by their success and failed to see the changes taking place in their wider ecology.

If you are a market dominator you need to be actively listening to and engaging with all parts of your wider stakeholder ecology to understand and create the market that is needed for tomorrow. Valuable information will arise from the various coaching conversations taking place in your organisation. The learning that emerges is a valuable resource for identifying potentially problematic issues and responding to these before they become a crisis.

Professor Peter Hawkins is Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School in the United Kingdom, and a Non-Executive Director of Metaco Consulting in South Africa (www.metaco.co.za). He is the author of several best-selling books on the topics of Systemic Leadership and Coaching. Barbara Walsh is a Director, Coaching Consultant and Executive Coach with Metaco Consulting. She has an MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change and is a credentialed Neuro-Semantics Meta-Coach and Coach Trainer.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

China’s success due to planning, discipline and leadership

Tour of China provides key lessons for South African companies.

Students and alumni from Henley Business School Africa, and clients of Henley, visited China as part of Henley‘s annual business exploration programme.

Major corporates and government entities were visited including the Asia Development Bank, known as the BRICS bank, the Shanghai Stock Exchange, Huawei, Fosun, Yingli Solar, Shanghai Urban Planning Centre and Ping An Discovery, the Discovery Health partnership in China.

A key factor evident across Shanghai is the emphasis on education.

China has a low unemployment rate (7%). Skills are developed in preparation for when needed. For example, on our visit to the Shanghai Urban Planning Centre, their 50 year plan for the city is now in its 35th year. The plan sets out growth and infrastructure targets, in a city with a population of 25 million people, all of which have been met to date.

The planning centre identifies needs for specific future skills such as engineers, town planners and trained construction workers. The mayor of Shanghai, who has a PhD in Engineering, puts a strategy in place to recruit the required number of students to be educated with their graduation coinciding with the timeline of when the skills are needed.

Lesley Maasdorp, formerly with ABSA, who is now with the New Development Bank in China, addressed the students. He said that although BRICS countries contribute to a quarter of the world’s economy, they only have 11% of the votes at the World Bank and IMF. The Asia Development Bank, he said, aims to become the new IMF or World Bank for other countries, providing better voting rights and a source for funding.

The BRICS bank’s approach to development finance is different from western banks. The bank is looking to fast track the execution of financial projects. China has a very different approach to trading. It focuses on what is good for China. The Chinese market is potentially so large that they don’t need to focus elsewhere, only on their own market, and can therefore do business on their terms.

The principles of the BRICS bank are pragmatism, sustainability and innovation. Their approach is similar to a start-up business. They want to use a different business model. Maasdorp believes that the World Bank and IMF will look very different five years from now.

BRICS will also have various other members five years from now, including emerging market countries such as Indonesia and Argentina.

Andrew Webb, head of Ping An Discovery, Discovery Health‘s partnership in China, advised that, when looking to do business in China, one needs to be in a partnership or merge with a local company. “It is important to work within the existing Chinese business structures,” he said. Ping An Discovery holds 60% of the Chinese market and insures about 1,000 lives a day.

Webb said that it is important to be at the coal face and not rely solely on email and remote communications. Face-to-face contact in China is important. Solutions should be co-created and flexible. “One should consider one’s business strategy carefully before acting, and learn to listen carefully,” he said.

“If there is a failure it is important to learn from it and don’t hold personal views too strongly. Views should be changed or adapted in the Chinese context.”

The visit to Huawei demonstrated its 5G mobile technology. Viewed as the Apple of China, Huawei is introducing the concept of P2P, people-to-people transactions.

Yingli Solar demonstrated advances in electric vehicles and Fosun, one of China’s biggest investment banks which holds 50% of its business outside China, explained their investment strategy.

The visit to the Shanghai Stock Exchange gave a brief history of how the exchange began in 1990 and now has 1,013 listed companies of which 70% belong to self-owned enterprises. Other stock exchanges around the world usually have about 10 to 20% self-owned enterprises. The exchange has a turnover of 400 billion yuan per day.

The presentation indicated that the recent crisis was due to overheated stock prices and that the share price fall was a correction. The plan is to open the market to more overseas listings.

Overall, our impression was that planning, discipline and leadership have played an important role in the success of China’s economy. The country has a strong economy which contradicts traditional economic models of combining socialism with a capitalistic system, but its works extremely effectively.

Dr Adri Drotskie is the MBA Director of Henley Business School Africa, www.henleysa.ac.za.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Power up with gamification

How to make HR more impactful on business.

Gamification happens when features of games are added to non-game activities – it’s all about adding scores, rules and competitions to everyday business scenarios and activities, making those activities that people generally don’t like doing more fun by creating and encouraging a competitive environment.

Just as gaming has been part of our lives since childhood and has provided us with the basic concepts of life as we used applied behaviour and motivating techniques, gamification is 75% psychology and 25% technology, combining work and play while illustrating a path to accomplishment and mastery. It stirs up people’s natural desires for competition and achievement when faced with real life situations, makes monotonous processes more engaging, and encourages users to stay engaged and interact with each other.

Early adopters of gamification in the workplace tended to be outward facing. Marketing and customer-facing teams used gamification to encourage interaction between the organisation and its customers. And as more and more business people become comfortable with gamification, its application as a tool for more than just customer loyalty and retention is becoming more prevalent. In fact, the market is growing, from $100 million in 2011 to a projected $2,8 billion in 2016, with major organisations such as Google and Cisco using gamification to boost their business results.

So how does gamification improve organisations? It decreases turnover rates by 36%, increases employee engagement by 48%, brand loyalty by 22%, and has a positive impact on organisations’ brand awareness, motivation and employee training levels. Gamification is applied to customer engagement, innovation management, employee performance, personal development, sustainability, training and education, health and wellness.

For example, an employee wellness platform is being used by enterprises to maintain lower group health insurance costs and reduce expenses, such as unnecessary sick days. This offering employs gamification within its platform, enabling employees from client companies to log into a personal dashboard to view crucial statistics, earn awards for achievements for completing tasks, and even supports co-workers to reach their goals.

So why does gamification work?

Games engage our achievement motive so companies can use this as a “hook” to focus individuals on certain activities, such as following through on development plans, something many managers find difficult to do. Games arouse the achievement motive in people, as we get energised by opportunities to meet or exceed a standard of excellence. This appeals to our Darwinian instincts. Video games, for instance, are often addictive because we get caught up in the flow of competing against standards (internal or external), solving a unique problem or mastering a challenging environment.

Well-designed gamified apps can make it personally satisfying for employees to pursue their own personal development while changing behaviours in ways that align with corporate strategic objectives. Employees who embrace such gamified apps will gladly perform self-reinforcing activities over and over again in pursuit of the achievement motive – even in the absence of any external reward.

So how can companies make gamification work?

To successfully build and deploy a gamified application that promotes strategy implementation, companies must first have a solid understanding both of their own strategic objectives and the personal goals of the audience that will use the app. According to Gartner analyst Burke, companies have to consider the goals of their target audience and then identify the intersection where those audience goals align with the organisation’s strategic objectives.

Burke warns companies to look, think and plan before they leap. “The biggest pitfall company’s face when launching a gamification initiative is not having clear business objectives from the outset. They just want to employ gamification technology because it sounds cool. To have a good chance of success, companies should take the time up front to develop a sophisticated understanding of employee goals so they can develop gamified apps that help employees achieve those goals while acting in ways that promote the organisation’s strategic objectives.”

Game over

While it is predicted that more than 70% of organisations will adopt some sort of gamification in the next couple of years, companies do need to be aware that, as with all new developments, there is going to be a time when these initiatives will fail.

Companies can avoid this by making sure that player objectives are taken into account when business objectives are identified. The best time to gamify objectives is when business and player objectives overlap.

Companies also have to realise that employees participating in the initiative are players and, as such, will participate only for as long as there is a purpose they can identify with. The moment that purpose is not clear, the game becomes a set of instructions to be followed. Companies must also be careful that the rewards/points/leader boards showing success have meaning. If the same people keep ending up on top of the leader board, or with the most points, will this demotivate other people in the organisation? Similarly, if rewards are simple tokens or badges, with no discernible value (intrinsic or extrinsic), then employees will not be motivated to work for them.

Supporting strategy

If it is used wisely, gamification can be an effective tool to support strategy implementation. Smartly designed and deployed, gamification can activate employees by appealing to their built-in motives – especially the achievement motive. The best gamified apps actually make it enjoyable for individuals to change their behaviours and learn new skills in ways that collectively help the organisation implement and achieve their strategic goals.

Andrew Dickson and Alex Pires are the Team Leads of Productised Services at Hay Group, www.haygroup.com/za.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Workforce metrics and analytics

Many organisations don’t have a plan. What’s your plan for 2016?

The value of joining the big-data and advanced-analytics revolution is no longer in doubt. The number of successful business cases continues to build, reinforcing broader research suggesting that when companies inject data and analytics deep into their operations, they can deliver productivity and profit gains that are five to six percent higher than those of the competition. The era of data-driven businesses, better predictions, and faster decision-making is here. But the required investment, measured both in money and commitment, can be large. The answer, simply put, is to develop a roadmap. A roadmap can help to prioritise investments in how data, analytics, technology and people come together to create business value.

Typically organisations move beyond anecdotes and reactive checks to focus on building a consistent, repeatable process to create and distribute regular, ongoing reports. These reports allow an organisation to identify and understand the macro workforce trends that point to risks that need to be addressed.

Through an international study we recently asked HR professionals in organisations where they are in the Workforce Analytics Measurement Continuum (figure 1). Over 65 percent of organisations are currently producing ongoing reports such as headcount, hiring and turnover. The majority of our clients tell us that these reports are manually produced, and they often do not have the time or resources to analyse the trends on what is happening. As we move up the continuum, organisations are doing significantly less with more powerful analytics such as workforce segmentation and correlations.

Workforce Analytics Measurement Continuum
In the future, 28 percent of organisations want to do more with correlations and predictive/casual modelling respectively. The correlations stage is the first step towards using statistical techniques to help understand which variables have a positive or negative relationship to each other – for example, engagement and turnover, or pay and retention. Predictive and causal modelling takes correlated variables and determines which independent factors have the biggest impact on a dependent variable. For example, what workforce characteristics of client-facing teams (tenure, experience, spans of control, engagement, pay, qualifications, training) have the biggest impact on profitability? This type of analysis allows for pinpoint accuracy and absolute confidence in understanding what workforce practices will have the biggest impact on the outcomes a company wants to achieve.

We also asked organisations what are the top challenges they foresee in achieving this goal?

The biggest challenge is: “HR doesn’t know how to ‘translate’ big data to resolve business issues”. Simply collecting big data does not unleash its potential value. People must do that, especially people who understand how analytics can resolve business issues or capture opportunities. Organisations need specialists, or “translators,” who can analyse, distil, and clearly communicate information of the greatest potential value.

Next, organisations say “inaccurate, inconsistent and hard-to-get data”, is a challenge for them. For many organisations, their big data journey in workforce analysis starts with data clean-up, a large-scale investment in technology, and trying to find automated predictive analytics. A different focus is needed. Consider, for example, business and workforce analytics. Business managers generally have an incomplete understanding of the data available, no matter how well versed they are in data or how well developed their analytics requirements are.

The key to a successful workforce analytics programme is to start the process by focusing on the impact of the data you will collect and the analysis you will undertake. This can be identified by determining the critical workforce questions that you want your analysis to solve – which talent groups or categories will be critically important to achieving our strategic goals – without being constrained by the data available. Workforce planning specialists or HR business partners with an appreciation of the data, who also understand the business and have a clear vision of the objectives, can proactively offer solutions and options.

What’s in your 2016 plan?

In these early days of big-data and analytics planning, companies should address business issues: choosing the internal and external data they will integrate; selecting, from a long list of potential analytic models and tools, the ones that will best support their business goals; and building the organisational capabilities needed to exploit this potential.

Data and technology

Start with data that is available and supported by technology, for example, payroll data (hires, headcount, promotions, lateral movements, exits). Internal Labour Market (ILM) maps can help your organisation to understand workforce structure and interrelated flows of talent in, through and out of the organisation (moving away from traditional reporting).


Companies are quite concerned about what to measure and how to measure workforce metrics. Their main challenge is manual reports are time consuming and the lack of internal capability to analyse the data. Start the process by focusing on the right questions to be answered and use this to inform the metrics and data that should be collected. Gather data needed, and bring other available data needed onto suitable technology platforms.

Organisation and people

Establish a workforce analytics and planning Centre of Expertise (COE) to define the process, provide guidance and templates, an objective, single-source of data in workforce planning. Ensure communication and training of all stakeholders (HR and business leaders). Use business leaders to provide strategic guidance and context, business scenarios and related workforce solutions, manage implementation and communication. HR Business Partners facilitate workforce analytics and planning processes with business managers, ensure results, validation and implementation.

Identify a few key resources to kick-start your journey, a workforce analytics and planning specialist and a technical resource who understands data and technology. The essential technical competencies required to achieve quick wins include HR/business intelligence, HR technology utilisation and data integration.

Anne-Magriet Schoeman is the Talent/Country Leader at Mercer Consulting (South Africa) Pty Ltd, www.mercer.com.

“Making advanced analytics work for you,” Harvard Business Review, October 2012, Volume 90, Number 10, pp. 78 – 83.
“How to get started in Workforce Analytics” Mercer, 2014.

This article appeared in the December 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.

Your Cart