PoPI – Friend or Foe

Is the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act just another piece of legislation trumped up by politicians or is it just good business practice that has been neglected over the years?
Gone are the days when companies can be lackadaisical in their approach to the protection of their client’s personal information. Ignoring the PoPI Act will soon result in hefty fines and even jail sentences.

Systems that were originally put in place to store and protect personal information have become a major threat to organisations and more specifically, to the businesses or individuals who entrust their personal or business information upon these organisations. As a result, thousands of SA companies now find themselves in an uncompromising position.

These risks can be split into three categories. Companies that acknowledge the rulings and opt to embed the risk and not take appropriate action to become PoPI Act compliant. Secondly, companies that realise their current systems will soon be obsolete and are now taking steps towards compliancy.

And finally, institutions that naively assume that because they simply have a reputable software in place, wrongly adopt the view that their vendor’s product is automatically robust enough to match the requirements of the Act.

The arrival of the PoPI Act is imminent, with an anticipated commencement date of July 2016. The legislation fundamentally indicates that personal information is a ‘precious good’ and businesses found to not treat their clients information in such a way, will incur a strict, unforgiving penalty.

The POPI Act permits fines up to the value of R10-million with the possibility of a jail sentence. Pleads of ignorance and naivety of the PoPI Act will not shield businesses from punishment. The severity of penalties will be determined solely by the extent of the infringement and the degree of negligence.

Because of the stringent penalties, it’s imperative every business is mindful of the conditions of the PoPI Act and exercises due diligence when they’re in the market for an accounting system.

The decision making process in determining which accounting software to purchase has never been so critical. The assumption that all accounting software providers are secure and POPI Act compliant, is a common misconception and companies need to be aware of this.

There are multiple aspects of the POPI Act that aren’t accounted for by many available accounting systems. For instance, the Act stipulates that consumers must be notified if, or when, their data is compromised.

This may be a simple regulation to abide by, but it’s worth contemplating the potential implications on consumer trust and potential irreversible damage to a company’s brand. It’s important to mention that there are reputable accounting and related systems that are plagued by data corruption. So what might appear to be an unlikely scenario, may in fact be an unbeknown inevitability, simply because of the chosen vendor.

The POPI Act demands that there are adequate measures in place that allow companies to dictate and monitor employee access to client information. Not every registered employee on an accounting system needs access to the personal information of clients to carry out their duties. Thus to be compliant, a prospective system should possess the relevant security features that enables the company to appropriately tailor employee access to certain areas of the system.

Furthermore, it’s imperative that businesses have safeguards in place that ensure that client information cannot be compromised. Therefore, it ought to be considered how potential accounting vendors store their data, with regards to their applications database, and how easily these systems can be hacked or compromised.

A simple YouTube search will quickly demonstrate that this safeguard is not a given with some software providers, thus research needs to be taken into the underlying technology that vendors systems utilise.

Another requirement one can deduct from the PoPI Act, is that implemented software systems need to be stable and have rollback capabilities. This is to ensure data integrity and perpetual accuracy of client information.

Because of the outdated databases some providers still utilise, this is a key requirement that cannot be guaranteed by numerous suppliers. There are several considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing accounting software.

Although it may be easy to view compliance as an inconvenience, it should in fact be seen as a business opportunity. As companies experience ever intensifying competition, PoPI Act compliance ought to be seen as a unique selling proposition. Companies that are quick to take action will be in a position to use PoPI Act compliancy as a source of differentiation from competitors.

At the end of the day, exercising due care in the protection of third party personal information shouldn’t be regarded as another piece of laborious legislation, it’s the right thing to do.

Stephen Corrigan is the Managing Director at Palladium Business Solutions.

Responsibility of government, business and citizens to improve education

The grim situation of the education sector is not limited to South Africa and there is a global call for collective action between government, business and civil society.
Globally, at least 250 million of the world’s 650 million primary school children are still unable to read or write, according to a report commission by the UN education agency. Rethinking collective responsibility for public education’ was the theme for this year’s Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) which was held in on 12 and 13 March 2016 in Dubai, with the aim to discuss how public-private partnerships can help achieve quality education for all.

What was very clear from the Forum was that the issues experienced by South Africa with regard to poor quality of education are experienced in other countries around the world. There were 1,600 delegates from 110 countries with 22 ministers of education in attendance. People were committed to reach out, learn from each other and share their innovations.

We are very far from quality education for all at the moment. Even though the UN’s Millennium Development Goals contributed to improved access (more children in school), 58 million children globally still do not attend primary school and half a billion are attending failing schools. More than 8 million children in South Africa are in failing schools.

The only way to change a failing education system is by business, government and civil society working together. We need a shared vision for educational reform. The beauty of a shared vision is that all parties involved will benefit when education improves.

Speaking at the GESF, Tony Blair, former British premier and founder of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, said that education is now the biggest determinant of whether a country succeeds or fails.

Another speaker, Sunny Varkey, reminded attendees that the world has made a commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Goal 4: Quality Education for all, at the heart of all the goals, without education the other SDGs cannot be achieved.

The education systems increasingly do not supply the skills employers need, said Andreas Schleicher Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris during his address at the GESF.

There is wide-spread recognition that governments cannot do this on their own. Business and society expect children to have the skills to succeed in the 21st century. However, those schools that are disconnected from the industry will never achieve this. The only way that we can ensure that students are ready for the world is to break down the boundaries.

At the Forum, Blair stated that the private sector has a critical role to play to help with experimentation and innovation in schools.

An overwhelming take-away from the GESF was that teachers are at the heart of quality education. As Andreas Schleicher said so eloquently: ‘The quality of education will never exceed the quality of teachers’.

Technology can supplement good teachers but if you don’t have great teachers, you have no chance. A critical enabler to make the most of ICT in the classroom is without a doubt teacher training. Teachers are critical to make the most of ICT by moving from presenter to facilitator.

In Singapore only the top 3% of students are able to apply to be teachers and they earn as much as graduate accountants in their first year of teaching. In Singapore teachers are acknowledged and celebrated for their role as nation-builders.

At the GESF the important role of leadership in schools was also highlighted. Blair said that he had never come across a good school with a bad leader and that school leadership is critical.

Schools and education have been inaccessible for too long and it is time to open education for all and people need to recognise that it is a societal responsibility. Everyone, including businesses, government and citizens, must take greater collective responsibility for education.

Louise van Rhyn is the Founder and CEO of Partners for Possibility (PfP) and one of the representatives from South Africa at the Forum.

Six lessons on business transformation

The words ‘business transformation’ are easily said, but how often is real transformation achieved, especially in today’s difficult economic climate, when it can easily be put on the back burner?

The question remains, is there ever a good time for transformation? Do you wait until figures plunge and staff morale is at an all-time low, or look at how even small changes could make a difference to your bottom line? Transformation doesn’t necessarily have to mean an entire overhaul of a business.

In fact, business transformation shouldn’t be a ‘one-off’ occurrence in an organisation, but rather a continual process in terms of awareness of how to improve systems, processes and products.

While figures show the failure rate in change programmes to be around 70-80%, the flip side is that organisations that use effective transformational approaches obtain almost 80% more success than those that don’t.

Here are six tips for effective transformation:

Lessons for success

• A lack of buy-in, either from the top or from employees.
Lesson – It’s essential to have buy-in from the top.
• Taking too long.
Lesson – By setting short-term goals, employees stay motivated and enthusiastic.
• Constant communication.
Lesson – Staff need to know not just what’s expected of them, but why and how the changes will help their performance and the overall business.
• Misaligned talent.
Lesson – Although using internal personnel who are invested in transformation, it’s critical to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the project team – so, if needed, external resources should be brought in to add a fresh perspective.
• Unclear goals.
Lesson – If the end goal is to reduce costs by 10%, the objective needs to be refined. What is creating the excess cost (or the perception)? Cutting personnel by 20% could mean short-term savings, but would it negatively impact the long-term viability of the business?
• High costs.
Lesson – Spending on redesign and new technology implementation without a detailed business plan can derail transformation before it starts.

Before you can transform a business, you have to understand the environment, identify the business needs and then work out solutions to business problems. It’s about planning, productivity, teamwork and accountability. Transformation is a constructive and continuous process, which results in a cultural shift that enhances a business’s bottom-line and ensures it’s not left behind.

Eleanor Potter is the Executive at Altech Autopage.

Bridging the generation pay gap

The fabric of the modern organisation is woven by people from a number of different generations. Generation X and Generation Y.
The middle generation and the older with a smattering of the youth – each one has its own measure of reward. Each one has to be met on a different level in order for it to thrive in the corporate workplace. Recognising these differences and understanding the value of rewarding the generations on an individual level is of enormous value to the business, both in the short and long term, and more easily managed and controlled when there is a trained reward specialist on hand.

Having an engaged workforce which works for more than just money is extremely valuable to any organisation. It also assists in attracting and retaining great employees. By customising the elements of the reward strategy to each generation, the company is able to extract the most value from its employee value proposition – or EVP – and this is where the reward specialist comes in.

A reward specialist plays a vital role in ensuring the corporate reward strategy is in line with the overall business strategy and fits in with generational requirements. The differences between each are often far greater than management realises.

Work-life balance, positive personal impact and developmental opportunities are of significant importance to the younger generation. The middle generation is interested in career development, insurance, bursaries for children and time flexibility – rewards which map to their needs and families. The older generation is interested in retirement savings benefits and the more conventional aspects of a reward package such as pay, incentives and share or equity rewards.

The first critical step is to recognise that different generations have different reward needs. The next is to understand these needs and to recognise which elements of the reward offering are most valued by different generations.

It is more cost-effective for the organisation to customise the non-financial aspects of the employee value proposition to be in tune with specific employee segments than it is to try and satisfy all employees with a monolithic, singular offering. The company is in a unique position to take advantage of the multifaceted skill sets of each generation by recognising their strengths and establishing a culture which respects their individual contributions.

There have been numerous studies undertaken which allow the reward professional to take a more granular and scientific approach to the generational differences. Their skills and training allow them to truly harness the advantages and mitigate many of the generational challenges through well-structured reward programmes.

Martin Hopkins is a Exco member of the South African Reward Association (SARA) and partner at PwC.

What in the world do job seekers want?

Candidate motivations for changing jobs vary by geography and generation, according to a global study from ManpowerGroup Solutions.

Key findings from the study are available in a new paper, “Below the Surface: Emerging Global Motivators and Job Search Preferences”. In addition to highlighting the differences and similarities between job seekers around the world, the paper also provides “7 Keys to Attracting and Retaining Talent Globally”.

As the talent shortage grows, making it more difficult to find candidates with the right skills, businesses should understand exactly what job seekers look for. People with in-demand skills are making different career choices today based on lifestyle preferences and beliefs, which complicates traditional recruitment models and forces companies to think differently about their recruitment and workforce management strategies. The insights found in this survey can help companies tailor their strategies to better attract and retain top talent.

The survey was conducted on nearly 4,500 job seekers in key global markets to identify trends and market-based differences around job search practices and motivators for change. The results can help employers find better ways to attract and retain the world’s top talent. While there are a number of universal motivators among candidates around the world, the survey results identified some unique differences between markets and generations.

A person’s job role is an important differentiator in developed markets – as high as 76 per cent in the UK – but in markets like Mexico and China, it’s as low as 31 per cent. So what’s important for candidates in countries like Mexico and China? It still comes down to compensation – 73 and 81 per cent, respectively, compared to just 27 per cent in the UK.

The regional differences do not end there. Job seekers in China rank company reputation highly; Mexico shows very little preference towards industry. Both use social media to research their potential workplaces much more so than developed markets.

Several generational differences were revealed in the study, including Gen Y’s desire for better onboarding, upward mobility and the need for employers to value corporate social responsibility. These findings point to the importance of several emerging best practices among employers, which are shared in the paper.

From bold new strategies that involve collaboration within industries, to old-fashioned boots-on-the ground tactics, employers need to customise their outreach to attract and retain the best talent across the globe.

Kate Donovan is the Senior Vice President of ManpowerGroup Solutions and Global RPO President and Jim McCoy is the Vice President of ManpowerGroup Solutions and RPO Practice Lead.

Sourced from ManpowerGroup Solutions.

How to attract top talent through a EVP

Having a clear Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in place is a critical tool in obtaining top talent and is increasingly seen as an integral in the employer branding strategy. This is the employment deal that defines what an employer expects from its employees, and what it offers them in return.

A transparent and well-communicated EVP assists businesses in attracting, retaining, motivating and engaging employees to drive business success.

For employees, it shapes the overall view, emotional connection and discretionary effort they bring to the company. For both, it’s a critical element for a successful workplace and career experience.

If employees are not happy, how will they lead the organisation towards achieving goals? The modern business mantra is to take care of your employees first and they will take care of your customers. This is an approach that successful businesses have adopted for years.

Research from American global professional services firm, Towers Watson shows that organisations who use their EVP effectively are five times more likely to report that their employees are highly engaged and twice as likely to report achieving financial performance significantly above their peers.

The EVP tool is a powerful management tool when used and communicated effectively. Plus, improving communication of competitive rewards can have a greater impact on employee satisfaction and often – in turn – productivity.

Honing your EVP

The right team is crucial to the successful development of the EVP – make it cross-functional and include marketing or corporate communication, executives or managers as well as a diversity of age and tenure on the team.

Think about how you reward your employees – getting the right balance of benefits is crucial. Regard the EVP as the deal made between your business and its employees.

Getting it right

Focus on these key components when drawing up your EPV:

Rewards (compensation and health benefits, pension assurance, vacations etc.);
Opportunity (career growth opportunities, promotions, leadership opportunities, empowerment);
Work Environment (interesting work, work life balance, opportunity to be creative and innovative, recognition for the efforts, amount of travelling for job requirements etc.); and
People (team work, interaction amongst employees, social life, camaraderie etc.).

The process of getting your EVP right can be distilled into these practices:

• Effectively communicate the EVP to employees.
• Align the EVP with what your business stands for in the marketplace.
• Make sure to deliver on EVP promises.
• Use your business strategy regarding talent management and rewards programmes.
• Articulate a total rewards strategy aligned with your business and HR strategy.

An effective EVP aligns the whole work experience, from culture, mission and values, to total rewards, through jobs and people. It requires both a strong employer brand strategy and communication plan.

Once the EVP is defined, communicated and designed, check with employee groups regularly to refine your EVP. This will ensure that your organisation is delivering on its promise.

Kay Vittee is the CEO of Quest Staffing Solutions.

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