Eight steps towards POPIA compliance

South African Parliament has shortlisted candidates for the Information Regulator and the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013 (POPIA), relating to the Information Regulator’s functions, are already in effect.
Thus, the appointment of the Information Regulator seems imminent and the remaining provisions of POPIA should come into effect shortly thereafter. Even though there will be a one-year grace period within which to comply with POPIA once it comes into effect, organisations are strongly encouraged to start considering what the implications of POPIA will be on the way in which they process personal information.  
Businesses that collect, hold, transfer and use individuals’ personal information will have to do so under certain conditions. POPIA will be particularly relevant for employers as they will have certain obligations as the “responsible party”. The consequences of non-compliance with POPIA are significant and include hefty fines as an alternative to imprisonment. A fine will be in addition to the reputational damage an organisation will suffer as a result of failing to comply with POPIA.
In light of these developments, organisations are encouraged to take the following eight steps towards compliance with some of the anticipated provisions of POPIA:

1. Review standard terms and conditions of service where services involve the processing of personal data for a customer;
2. Develop standard clauses around data protection to include in agreements with service providers, for example, obligations on third parties to protect and safeguard personal information as well as indemnities in the case of a data breach;
3. Conduct an audit as to what personal information is held by the organisation, where this information is held and by whom this information is held;
4. Establish what personal information is collected in one place and transferred to another and whether the countries to which the personal information is transferred have adequate data protection laws in place;
5. Develop group-wide standard data protection policies and protocols if these are not already in place;
6. Review direct marketing activities;
7. Include appropriate consents to data processing in employment contracts and job application forms;
8. Appoint an information officer and deputy information officers for POPIA purposes.
Monique Jefferson is the senior associate and Nadine Matheris a associate in the Employment and Benefits Practice at Bowmans.

CV red flags to Look out for

There are numerous ways in which a candidate can create a standout Curriculum Vitae (CV) that grabs the attention of a potential employer. From good formatting and layout to detailed experience and skills, a strong CV generally stands out from the rest.
But there are also CV embellishments that can make one stand out for all the wrong reasons. It is therefore important for employers to look out for key red flags during the recruitment process.

Tips on common CV stumbling blocks.

Regular job changes: While frequent job hopping used to be a sign of instability, the attitude around it is slowly changing and it has become a more acceptable, especially among millennials. However, it is important to look closely into the reasons for frequent job changes in any CV. Poor and unstable economies result in retrenchments and redundancies, which means the candidate is not always at fault. But if the candidate has had it happen to them often, that could be a sign of incompetence. Companies retain strong employees, so if a candidate was not retained then it could mean they were underperformers. Questioning them around frequent job changes can also help recruiters find out more about the candidate’s ambitions and expectations from employers.

Career gaps: Career gaps are nothing to be alarmed about unless they are not properly explained in the CV. Strong candidates are able to and will ensure that gaps in their careers are properly explained. However, candidates with long or unexplained gaps could be a cause for concern. Candidates who may have had a negative experience with a previous employer may decide to omit the tenure from their CV so that they are not questioned about it. But as a recruiter, is important to know the reasons behind unexplained career gaps. Furthermore, pay attention to start and end dates and question them if they don’t seem to add up.

Being unspecific: Everyone knows of someone who exaggerates their experience by listing a host of impressive duties and responsibilities. However, if they seem too broad or generic, then they probably are inaccurate embellishments. Look out for candidates who don’t qualify their claims with facts and figures. They should be able to tell you in detail about the nature of their duties and responsibilities.

Attention to detail: It is not uncommon for job seekers to spam employers and recruiters with generic CVs. However, a person who is serious about your specific vacancy would take the time to customise their CV before sending it to you. If you are looking for the right candidate, focus on those who pay attention to detail. A customised cover letter is a positive sign that the candidate has given enough thought to the vacancy and made a conscious effort to showcase their skills and experience that are relevant to you. It is important to pay attention to grammatical and formatting errors as this can be a sign of haphazardness.   

Adverse screening results: it is imperative to run verification checks on candidates’ personal details, experience, credit history and criminal checks. By using the correct tools, you will be in a better position prior to offering employment. Make informed decisions by improving transparency and disclosure through background screening. It is worth the investment as it protects your business from financial loss and expensive legal action that could be incurred through employing people with questionable integrity, credibility and skills.

Rudi Kruger is the General Manager at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

Workplace factors impacting on employee happiness

In the workplace there are two environments to consider – the physical environment and the emotional environment. For employees to be engaged, happy and productive, the ideal balance of these environments is required.
The physical environment relates to the actual building or workspace that the employees need to function in, and the emotional is the feeling produced by a group of people, often driven by the culture of the company.

With Generation Y entering the workplace, and Google-plex making employees all over the globe jealous, there is much talk about office culture and workspace personalisation – and how these affect morale and workday productivity. According to MakeYourBuildingsWork.com, “… a comfortable, well-ventilated, well-lit, safe workplace increases productivity by as much as 16 percent, and job satisfaction by as much as 24 percent, while reducing absenteeism.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have found that a work environment has a significant effect on a person’s wellbeing and perception of happiness. The study shows that the quality of one’s working conditions is key to employees’ happiness. So what is an effective working space? At its most basic, it incorporates natural light, functionality and the correct colour pallet.

The first step is installing windows. Research has found that employees stayed on task 15 percent more in windowed offices, as opposed to those working in windowless buildings. Natural light and fresh air are known to boost energy and overall satisfaction, keeping employees awake and alert for longer. Fluorescent lighting does little to nothing for employees’ energy and productivity. Installing natural lighting or allowing employees to bring in their own desk lamps can make a world of difference.

Functionality is another important aspect. Are employees able to park near their office? Are open air spaces featuring plants available? Are there sufficient plug points, cooling and heating facilities, nearby and sufficient toilets, disability friendly facilities, and enough space for all staff members?

One of the biggest issues that arise when it comes to employee happiness is the lack of functional work space. Employers want their staff to perform miracles, but often provide them with tiny workspaces which are simply inadequate. This space should be a place where inspiration and hard work can be derived, and personal space for each employee should be of paramount concern. As an employee spends eight to 10 hours a day in this space, it is essential that it is fit for its purpose. Employees also need a space that is their own. The principle of contracted workers ‘booking’ a desk makes practical sense but it creates an environment which fosters unsettled feelings of belonging, often leading to high staff turnover. When you don’t really know where you ‘belong’, why would you stay?

Colour introduces the opportunity for a creative and inspiring form of expression. Colour therapy has taken the world by storm over the past decade and it hinges on the fact that colour influences who we are, our creativity and our inspiration. Some experts believe it even has its own energy. No one is ever inspired by drab grey colours on ceilings and walls, so one of the key aspects in a work environment is colour selection. Colour does affect one’s feelings, moods, and emotions.

Research indicates that different colours have varying effects on people. For example, the colour blue can have a calming effect which can then result in lower blood pressure, whereas the colour red might have the opposite effect. Green is another colour that may be used to relax people, while yellow may be used to help invigorate people.

The most successful pallets at the moment include cool soft colours – creams, whites and browns, with pops of colour here and there to attract the mind but not detract from the corporate space. Cool colours – which are said to relate to boosting the mood – include green, blue, and purple. Purple is often used to help spark creativity as it’s a mixture of blue (calm) and red (intense). In budget conscious environments, converting a drab space into a positive space won’t cost a fortune; all it takes is a lick of paint.

In conclusion with a few ‘quick fixes’ to convert dreary workspaces into happy, inspiring offices. Paintings can be used in older spaces to brighten up walls, rugs and throws can be used to cover old drab carpets, and additional lighting can be installed on desks to enhance light. Allowing (and encouraging) staff to decorate their own workspace, according to their own personal preferences, is key. These are cost effective yet positive ways to encourage a happier environment.

Liane McGowan is the Founder of Happy Monday CC.

Africa needs young entrepreneurs not job seekers

Although Africa has highs and lows economically and politically, the long-term trend is upwards. Whilst there is volatility, the underlying drivers are upwards and strong.
In the next few decades we believe hundreds of millions of Africans will be lifted out of poverty. There are now fewer rogue leaders, fewer conflicts and more democratic governments. Africa is now the world’s youngest continent with 70% of the population under the age of 25.
When looking at the youth, it is important not to confuse education with intelligence. Previously, if you were educated, people thought you were intelligent and vice versa. Of course this is not true. Many Africans, highly intelligent Africans, were systematically deprived of education. We now have to put that right and build our continent’s capability, knowing that intelligence has little to do with education.
There is a wealth of intelligence already in Africa that needs to be harnessed. People with education are our future. People educated with energy and drive, using innovative skills and mentorship.
This intelligence is evident in Henley’s local students’ most recent exam results who produced better results than the UK, German and Asian students with 70% of Henley’s local students black and 40% women.
There’s no better time to be an African. However, the continent’s leadership has to allow its people and the continent to thrive and grow. Whereas Africa is growing, many Africans are not, we need more inclusive growth.
In the 1960’s Kenya had the same GDP as South Korea. Now South Korea’s GDP is twenty times greater and has a strong economy based on its investment in education, electronics and the automotive manufacturing industries. Africa has had 204 presidents since 1960, and it’s hard for us to name a handful of ethical leaders that would be emulated by the future generation of leaders.
Education needs to meet Africa’s changing needs. For example, Uganda’s youth unemployment is about 80%. Even at its best, the economy can only absorb 20% of the young people entering the workforce. In Kenya, for each graduate requiring a job, there are 700 applications. The current education systems in Africa therefore need to produce job creators rather than job seekers.
Things won’t change without interventions that involve skills development and entrepreneurial thinking and teaching. Africa needs to teach entrepreneurship as a mindset, even in schools. We need entrepreneurial thinkers across all our sectors, from business, civil society and government. The potential exists, it now needs to be harnessed.
According to a World Economic Forum report, creativity will move from being in 10th position in the top 10 skills in 2015 to third in 2020. This is not surprising.
The world around us screams “new”, “meaning”, “purpose”, “passion”, “spirit” and everything that the education system is not constructed upon. Neither organisations, governments, institutions or societies are built on this crucial foundation. Yet, the world yearns for it.
The question is how do we rethink industries, redefine work, rebuild confidence, recover and reignite the innate creativity we all possess? And more importantly, how do we utilise this creativity to inspire people.
This is especially true for entrepreneurs. Creativity is in essence the origination of all entrepreneurial ideas. It encourages new businesses, new decisions, new actions and inspires people to believe they can achieve beyond the restrictions of their environment.

Jon Foster-Pedley is the Dean of Henley Business School Africa.

Is blockchain really a silver bullet?

Blockchain is being spoken of reverently – and irreverently – by business pundits, and backed by media and industry leaders as a potential cure for all financial threats/hurdles across the globe.
A blockchain has been promoted extensively as the latest ‘must-have’ technology for financial and related institutions. However, because of its historical connection to the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, it has been sceptically scrutinised for use in business transactions due to the assumption that they are one and the same. The good news, however, is that the needed separation of the currency from the technology has evolved. A late 2015 report titled  state of bitcoin and blockchain, by Skry (formerly Coinalytics) indicates that the focus has shifted gradually away from bitcoin towards the blockchain, clearly separating the two technologies.

A blockchain technology can be applied to a wide array of businesses, markets and verticals, from logistics to retail, and even government agencies. As per industry news reports, the UK is currently investigating how a blockchain can improve the transparency and accuracy of its own transacting and reporting (source: CoinDesk). Any entity that transacts, and makes or receives payments, can potentially use a blockchain. But, can it work for you? While it has the potential to change the way we conduct business on a global scale for the better, is it the best solution for every problem? And really, what is a blockchain?

Blockchain is a “how”, not a “what”

A blockchain acts as a decentralised automated ledger that records and verifies digital events and transactions, and stores them in a secure global network. It is, in a nutshell, a globally accessed, but secure, database that acts like an electronic filing cabinet. It makes use of something called a ‘trust protocol’, which means that all information recorded and stored by a blockchain is done by consensus. It is, perhaps, better to view a blockchain as a “how” rather than a “what”, so that we can understand how a blockchain can be applied to address business problems, and where it makes the most financial sense.

Blockchain holds a vast amount of promise and can – and will – make a positive impact on all business transactions, but its possibilities are still being explored and researched within and beyond the realm of finance. In the meantime though, a blockchain is being heavily invested in on the premise that it will cure multiple business processing and transactional problems, among many others. It has already been successful in various arenas, but while researchers and think-tanks can dream up any number of possible problems for a blockchain to solve, it may not necessarily be the solution for all of them. There are some business issues that can be resolved as easily – and possibly far more quickly – by re-engineering processes or using a number of application-specific tools already on the market.

So how do I know if a blockchain will solve my business issue?

The best way to know if a blockchain can answer your business’s specific needs is for your business to approach its problems from the bottom up. Instead of taking a blockchain technology and trying to match it to a problem, the sensible approach would be to take the problem and see what potential solutions will fix it — whether that is a blockchain or a different solution. It is also important to acknowledge that a blockchain can be applied to any number of businesses and industries, not only financial services.

Start from approaching the problem – and the solution – cohesively, and with a small, trusted group of people across all departments. The first step is to identify the problems and challenge them, testing them to clarify the causes and effects. Buy-in from multiple departments, not just the obvious ones, can ensure that the problem is properly examined and no perspective is overlooked. It is possible that one department may have a solution that another may not have thought of.

In order to properly assess a blockchain as a potential solution and, in fact, to look at all possible solutions, it is advisable to consult with a trusted partner who has knowledge and experience with cutting edge technologies, and who can challenge your thinking. By engaging an advisory and technology partner to assess the business and its problems, it can ensure that all its issues have been objectively addressed from all angles, and that the solutions are realistic and in line with budgets.

Once the problem has been identified and potential solutions have been raised, business cases can be compiled and applied. It is only then possible that blockchain could be the answer.

Blockchain as a global solution

However, it is important to incorporate innovation. Expanding the boundaries of the current state could be instrumental in identifying new opportunities. It is also vital to conduct “ideathons” that promote creativity through non-linear activities that don’t just replace existing processes, but create new processes.

Another element that has evolved is any concern or confusion over the use of, or regulation of “how” a blockchain technology should not be a barrier to adoption. Regulation will apply to the “what” – to the actual transaction type being undertaken. Using a blockchain requires that shift in mind-set. On a small scale, even within a single organisation, a blockchain can be applied with relative ease, yet whether just internal use is best can be debated – but it is a good start. A blockchain should be effective on a global scale, cross-industry and cross-entity, which it is positioned to do, and that is where global standards and interoperability will come into play, not regulation. This points to the importance of collaborative consortiums that work together to create the global standards necessary for the world to effectively participate.

On the local front, we are seeing huge interest in blockchain technology, particularly within financial services, insurance, telecoms and other large enterprises. Yet as with any technology that hasn’t yet gained traction or momentum in South Africa, local businesses tend to wait for general acceptance and success stories. This may take a few more years.

In short, blockchain is still in its infancy as a technology. It should be considered as an underpinning platform. However revolutionary and exciting it promises to be, it is still relatively new in terms of use and adoption. It is, in some ways, “a technology in search of a problem to solve”. Given time and a lot more experimentation, it may very well be the silver bullet it promises to be for a number of industries and businesses. Until then, get engaged and avoid potential disappointment by consulting with a strategic partner who will help you ascertain whether you need a blockchain for your business issues or ideas, or if something else entirely can do the trick.

Mary Ann Francis is the Executive Business Advisor and Practice Partner at Wipro Limited.

The cost of payroll errors

Regardless of size, no organisation is immune to payroll errors and while in some instances the impact will be felt on the bottom line and businesses may be seen skirting the edges of the law,  in most cases the hardest hit will be the employee and business morale.
Payroll can be seen as an intimidating and complex minefield. Fortunately, unlike the analogy, payroll comes with a map, and experts are available to organisations of all sizes that can assist in ensuring that the most common errors are avoided.

Regular errors

Some of the most common payroll errors include: the incorrect calculation of pro-rata pay for part periods worked, payslip reversals for the correction of a payslip, the incorrect application of tax directives and getting the details of an employee wrong. There is also the risk of misclassifying an employee, failing to maintain proper payroll records, filing taxes late and running late on payroll processing and output.

Irrespective of the efficiency of the system being used, or the person in charge of payroll, these issues can easily occur. A technical failure may result in delays in paying employees, or perhaps the person responsible is just too busy. Not having a dedicated payroll professional in place could see the business owner pay people late.

This is often the case in smaller businesses where entrepreneurs are on tight budgets and are forced to undertake all tasks themselves. The impact on the business is significant, employees rely on the money to pay their bills and may be stung with fines or left out of pocket. This may negatively impact on their relationship with the business and result in high staff turnover and a poor reputation.

A precise detail

Ensuring that payslips are completed properly, filled in correctly, and distributed accurately is also important. Each slip should include the employer’s name and address, the employee’s name and occupation, the payment period, the total salary, details of deductions, the full amount paid and calculations, where appropriate, of pay and overtime, ordinary and overtime hours, and hours worked on Sundays or public holidays.

It’s critical that business pay attention to prevent errors. It is a potential risk that errors may result in the payroll being flagged by the South African Revenue Service, which has a clear line on what the penalties for incorrect payroll and PAYE are, and how these should be paid. It’s in every employer’s best interest to read the rules and make sure that payroll adheres to them.

However, this may not be as relevant to the large enterprise, as they often have a payroll department and payroll experts on hand. Although, for the larger organisation, perhaps an error which can cause mayhem and cost the company is a technical one.

Payroll mistakes may also be made by the systems put in place to process payment. These technical issues could be once off, or could be a warning to the organisation that the system is battling with volume and may need to be updated to keep up with the growth of the business.

No breaks allowed

Unfortunately, one of the next most common payroll challenges is holiday pay. This could be miscalculated when a person leaves the company, or payroll distribution and numbers can be impacted by public holidays which see automated systems fail to process payslips and cause payment delays.

This has a marked effect on employee morale. Business must ensure that the employee is paid the right amount, at the right time and to the benefit of the employee. Awareness of these challenges can also prevent employees from suing the business, so it’s best to be prepared.

The above represents the tip of the iceberg when it comes to payroll errors. Negative payslips, inability to correct errors properly, manual payment updates, overpaid amounts for medical aid, the impact of hours worked, time off and employee-specific reductions are among some of the other challenges that payroll faces every month.

Prevention is best

While mistakes creep in, organisations can take steps to prevent many of these mistakes from taking place. For the smaller business, investing in the support of a payroll consultant can ensure that systems are set up properly and allow for easy maintenance, while giving them much-needed confidence throughout the process.

It is important to remember that while a payroll system may have been configured correctly at time of installation, rules change, and the setup should be checked annually against current legislation.

Larger organisations should ensure that a professionally qualified payroll manager is employed, who has a full, up-to-date understanding of payroll incorporating, payroll accounting, payroll legislation, governance and compliance, as well as broad systems knowledge.

Furthermore, the payroll manager should have access to an income tax specialist and a payroll consultant for support.

Lavine Haripersad is the Vice Chairman at the South African Payroll Association.

Zero tolerance with regards to sexual harassment must be enforced

South African businesses must ensure they have a policy in place to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace and that this policy is effectively communicated and understood by all employees.
Businesses can safeguard themselves against sexual harassment lawsuits.
According to the Employment Equity Act 55 of 1998 Code of Good Practice: Sexual Harassment, employers must adopt a sexual harassment policy and they must ensure all employees are aware of this policy. Employers should also ensure that they create and maintain an environment where sexual harassment is never tolerated. These two steps eliminate the risk of an employer being held liable in sexual harassment cases.
In early August, research conducted by the Trades Union Congress and the Everyday Sexism Project in the United Kingdom (UK) found that 52% of women in the UK alone had experienced unwanted behaviour at work including groping, sexual advances and inappropriate jokes.
South Africa’s Code of Good Practice for Sexual Harassment set out the practices that a workplace policy should include.
If a company does not have a policy, then the Code of Good Practice becomes the guideline in cases where sexual harassment has occurred.
The sexual harassment policy should be tailored to the workplace so that differences in environments can be accommodated. An element of discretion was given to the employer as to how to proceed during a sexual harassment case, as each workplace is different, but employers should follow the Code of Good Practice as a general rule.
South Africa’s sexual harassment laws are informed by the Constitution, where gender equality and human dignity underline the country’s legal framework.
If sexual harassment has taken place, an employee usually reports this to HR or is directed to another relevant person to report the issue. Then an investigation should take place to ensure that sexual harassment has occurred. This first step should always be to ascertain the nature of the harassment and whether or not it took place.
In order to deal with the harassment, it was important to bear in mind the nature of the harassment. For instance, a graze on the shoulder that has made someone uncomfortable may be treated differently to a forced kiss in the elevator. A more serious charge might also involve investigations to gauge whether the company was dealing with a serial perpetrator and if disciplinary action should be taken.
Broadly speaking, sexual harassment does affect women more than men, but men are also subject to sexual harassment. In addition, same-sex harassment must be taken as seriously as heterosexual harassment.
In certain industries, particularly male dominated industries, sexual harassment is very rife. Thus it is difficult for victims of sexual harassment to come forward as they fear that this may be a career limiting move. According to the Bar Standards Board report, female barristers are not reporting harassment and discrimination over fears their careers will suffer – nearly eight out of ten female barristers who have experienced sexual harassment chose not to report their experiences.
The purpose of the Employment Equity Act was to provide a fluid environment where equity in the workplace was expected and enforced.
The law is there to protect all races and genders, and to ensure they have the same opportunities and rights in the workplace, including the right to work in an environment free from harassment.
Sisi Nxumalo is a professional speaker focusing on employment law.

What did 9/11 teach the business world?

Sunday, 11 September 2016, marked the 15th anniversary of the day on which two hijacked airliners were flown by religious radicals into the Twin Towers in New York. That day changed America for ever and, for that matter, changed the world for ever.

There have been many lessons that have emerged from that tragic day on which 2,996 innocent people were killed and a further 6,000 were injured. Few business leaders have, however, grasped one of the key messages that emerged for all businesses.

Until 11 September 2001, business leaders have sought to motivate, inspire and engage their employees by getting them to embrace the company’s mission and vision.

The term “mission statement” first appeared in the 1960s and, over time, found its way into the business world – further evidence of how militarised the business world is as “mission” is essentially a military term. Briefly, a company’s mission statement clarifies a company’s overall goal as to what it wants to achieve. Its vision statement is intended to clarify its reasons for what it wants to achieve and set out how it’s going to do so.  

There are some good mission and vision statements and there are some poor ones. No matter whether they’re good or bad, though, the events that took place on 11 September 2001 signalled the end of the era for mission and vision statements.

That was the day that heralded the new era for the way to engage, motivate, inspire and retain talent. That was the day that the “cause” was announced to the world as the key factor in business success.

That day showed the whole world in a matter of minutes just how powerful having a cause is and what can be achieved by people who have embraced a particular cause.

A mission and vision are well and good but they appeal only to our intellect so they elicit a fairly cold, rational, intellectual response. A cause, on the other hand, reaches and owns the heart, and generates a passionate commitment that the intellect could never produce.

Without a cause, companies get only reluctant effort. And because they get only reluctant effort, they are forced to spend millions on all sorts of additional incentives for their talent to get them to perform at their peak.

When companies have a genuine cause that gives meaning and purpose to their employees, the game changes. As 9/11 showed the world in a very powerful way, people will die for a cause. They don’t have to be incentivised and motivated and encouraged. Once they have embraced the cause, that’s it. They will do what ever it takes to do what they have to do, no matter the cost.

Now I am not for one second suggesting that people should die for a company’s cause. I merely make the point to demonstrate how powerful a cause is.     

The need to move from a mission and vision to a cause has not yet percolated into the collective consciousness of business leaders. Some have, as I mentioned earlier, almost subconsciously embraced a cause but, until business leaders recognise that the mission and vision are now “last century” and that the cause is what has replaced them, they will blunder along trying the same old, same old, over and over again, hoping against hope that something might change. They will grapple with themselves as to why their workers need so much work just to get them to perform but will never find an answer.

A cause must speak to all three generations in the workplace – the Boomers, Gen Y and the Millennials. It should not leave any of them out. When leaders are able to identify and express an appropriate cause for their companies, they will trigger a force so powerful that their challenge will be to channel and guide it appropriately rather than have to urge people to do things they really don’t want to do.

What kind of effort would you like in your company? Reluctant effort or passionate effort? It’s your choice …

Find and communicate your company’s cause and you’ll guarantee your company’s future!

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.

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