Find your place on the HR shared services continuum

Shared services can support HR’s transactional and strategic responsibilities.

Over the past several years, the shared services concept has become an effective delivery model for countless HR functions around the world. Models of varying shapes and sizes are now commonplace in the US and the UK and are becoming more prevalent in Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries. Signs of shared services use are also on the rise in other Western European countries – such as Germany, Switzerland and Belgium – and, to varying degrees, within the developing economies of Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Organisations are turning to shared services in a drive for consistency, improved quality, consolidation, technology enablement, labour cost savings and business value. The move to shared services also supports the increasingly popular concept that HR can operate more effectively when it is organised and managed according to its two primary responsibilities – transactional and strategic.

In most instances, HR shared service arrangements in developed countries support the business and employees of that single country. However, an increasing number of arrangements have been established to deliver multi-country or regional services. Though finance and IT are typically further ahead than HR in the deployment of shared services, many smaller and geographically dispersed organisations are adopting multifunction shared services (for example, finance, HR and purchasing) to exploit greater economies of scale.

Despite this growth, some organisations have failed to realise the promised cost and service benefits of this approach. In such cases, HR processes have not been simplified, the technology has not worked or has not been implemented properly, and the HR staff has not been able to adopt the skills necessary to meet the new requirements of the organisation.

Perhaps, most important, the retained HR function and HR business partners have failed to increase HR’s value.

Today, shared services have matured to more consistently yield cost savings, enhanced process efficiencies and increased productivity. And though still rare for large-scale global implementations, some shared services have been implemented in significantly different ways – ranging from consolidating or centralising data through streamlining processes to complete outsourcing.

There remains great potential to leverage shared services to deliver better value to the business. At one extreme, shared services can serve as a delivery model for all business units and geographies of an organisation. More typically, it is the model for the business units in one country. But it is also possible for individual components of the shared service model to deliver material improvements in efficiency, quality and customer focus.

It is critical to choose the right configuration and know how far to push the model. Organisations have learned that shared services are not “one size fits all,” and that it is necessary to have a greater understanding of how to evaluate, design and implement the elements of shared services to arrive at the best model for each organisation.

Global drivers of HR change: What’s new and why.

The evolution of shared services as a delivery framework for HR has occurred simultaneously with broader changes within the HR function – in some cases, as a direct result of these broader changes in HR. Below is a brief look at several of the more prevalent global drivers of HR change and their impact on effective shared service models.

Meeting diverse customer requirements: Balancing integration and differentiation.

Every HR customer segment – from leadership to employees to retirees – has unique requirements that can place different, and sometimes contradictory, demands on the HR function. Meeting these distinct and varying needs (particularly across business segments) is critical to success. The flexibility of shared service designs enables the HR function to contribute to both the bottom line and the unique needs of its customers through a careful balance of standardisation and flexibility. Consistency and simplification of policies, programmes and operations will optimise the return on the technology investment and will make HR accessible to all customers. The HR function must be very good at delivering differentiation when it is essential to business success, but ruthless at driving consistency when it is not essential. The challenge is magnified when the customers of the shared services facility are spread across multiple countries.

The HR function must be very good at delivering differentiation when it is essential to business success, but ruthless at driving consistency when it is not essential.

Refocusing: Taking on the strategic partner challenge.

HR functions and their leaders increasingly are being asked to play the role of strategic business partner – decreasing their involvement in HR’s traditional administrative activities and increasing their involvement in decisions and activities that have a greater impact on business success. A primary benefit expected from shared services is that it will free up valuable time and energy of senior HR professionals to focus on business strategic needs.

However, the reality is more complicated. Reshaping the HR workforce into a centralised shared function and a residual business-centric function can present a serious challenge. New sets of skills and competencies must be defined, and talent must be upgraded by training or by purchase in a manner that extends well beyond traditional retraining programmes. If the reskilling is done correctly, it will deliver a win for the organisation and the individuals; if improperly managed, particularly if the HR business partners are not up to strength, it can undermine the benefits of the shared service model.

Delivering globally: Opportunity and challenge.

Many mature multinationals are grappling with the need to deliver on their global business strategies by moving key operations to lower-labour-cost countries, such as China, India or those in Eastern Europe. At the same time, emerging multinational companies are looking for ways to enter the attractive global marketplace and compete effectively. As a consequence, the HR function must redefine its policies and processes to be relevant and deliverable in countries in which these companies have little cultural or operational experience.

Next month: Shared services defined.

Anne-Magriet Schoeman is the Talent/Country Leader at Mercer Consulting (South Africa) Proprietary Limited,

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

How to find your place on the HR shared services continuum continued …

Shared services defined.

Shared services refers simply to the consolidation and sharing of services by different units or locations within an organisation. Shared service approaches typically are driven by the desire to achieve economies of scale, enhance consistency or standardisation across the organisation, improve quality, leverage technology investments, manage labour costs within certain functions, and provide greater value to the business.

Services most likely to be shared among the various units or locations of a company include finance, purchasing, human resources and information technology. HR shared service operations can be configured in a variety of ways, but generally handle HR administration/transactions and deliver day-to-day HR services to HR’s customers, including employees and managers. These services can include payroll, benefits administration, salary administration, training administration, employee relations and other responsibilities of the HR function.

HR shared service centres often represent the first line of communication with employees regarding these various services and issues, as well as more advanced advice and support.

In this context, shared service models provide an excellent opportunity to exploit a flexible multicountry infrastructure, but the context also adds additional layers of complexity to an already challenging environment.

HR shared services was originally seen as most suitable for “e-enabled” sectors such as technology, telecommunications and financial services. While it has certainly been deployed in these sectors, other industries are increasingly using this service model in direct response to the global shift of business operations and the impact on support services.

Offshoring and outsourcing: Site selection for shared services

Offshoring and outsourcing have developed simultaneously with the evolution of shared services. The labour arbitrage available in offshoring by relocating activity from traditional locations to emerging economies – particularly in Asia and Eastern Europe – has proven irresistible. However, it has also introduced new challenges in terms of organisational change and culture within the HR function. Offshoring, which has changed from just a cost-reduction strategy to a strategic means of global staffing, can exist within an internally sourced or outsourced model. Total outsourcing – the transfer of day-to-day responsibility for transactional tasks to a third party on a fee-for-service basis – whether offshore or not, has been seen as a natural evolution of the traditional sourcing strategy and as the ultimate fate for the HR function (that is, “improve or go”).

There are benefits and risks to outsourcing (whether offshore or locally). Some of the benefits include a shifting of responsibilities to the most efficient provider, cost reductions due to labour arbitrage, scalability and ready access to advanced technologies, and process improvements. But with outsourcing, new risks appear, including the loss of service delivery under day-to-day control, language and cultural compatibility concerns, time zone issues, labour supply and turnover, intellectual property protection and lack of acceptance by internal staff.

HR technology: Reaping the benefits

Technology continues to play an increasingly critical role in managing HR business processes and delivering services. In recent years, HR technology has shifted from a focus on software to solutions, from long-term licensing to software as a service, and from stand-alone products to product suites. For example, talent management suites are becoming more popular. In particular, there is growing interest in solutions related to recruitment, talent management, learning and compensation management – areas now with significant opportunities to create virtual centers with functional expertise that can deliver consistent quality services to a global customer base.

Full-service and integrated solutions have been primary enablers and critical success factors in lowering HR operating costs, whether or not HR uses a shared service model. In particular, better functionality (such as self-service and multicountry capability) and better integration (such as between HR and payroll applications, whether ER P (enterprise resource planning) or “best of breed”) have improved the effectiveness of multicountry shared service implementations.

On the other hand, poorly deployed technology has been detrimental to many shared service centres. In particular, a failure to establish high quality data undermines the ability to use the system and trust it as a reliable system of record.

Other deficiencies have come from underutilising employee and manager self-service and other functionalities, and failing to simplify the underlying HR processes. These challenges, however, usually relate more to implementation capability than to technology capability.

Technology will continue to provide growth opportunities for shared services and for multicountry applications. For example, within the last 18 months alone, clear opportunities have developed in multicountry payroll technology. Once seen as strictly local, payroll can now be delivered regionally or globally.

Technological capabilities are keeping pace with an evolving vision of a global HR service delivery model. The forces reshaping the HR function are having an equally profound impact on the design and proliferation of shared service approaches. The increased complexity in both the business and the HR environments that surround shared services decisions presents both challenges and opportunities.

The value in exploiting these opportunities is the flexibility of the solution. Again, while best practices have their place, a shared service strategy must be custom built for each organization and its customers.

When expectations don’t match reality

For one US-based organisation, outsourcing administrative HR functions was the logical shared services solution. With the move to outsourcing, the organisation was counting on the transition of retained HR staff into HR business partners to work with the company’s “local CEOs” in more than 1,000 locations on issues such as workforce planning, employee retention and employee relations.

While the model was sound, the execution wasn’t. The implementation team underestimated the differences in the skills and competencies required in the old roles versus what was needed in the new roles. While some strategic-minded individuals were successful, most were not.

Instead of relationship building and partnering, many of the new HR partners remained focused on administrative transactions – sometimes duplicating or undoing the work of their outsourcing vendor. Trust and credibility quickly eroded, and the local CEOs questioned the validity of the model because not only were they not receiving strategic HR guidance, but they were also confused as to the value of human resources outsourcing (HRO), given the high number of errors, duplication and complaints from employees.

The HR leadership responded to this situation by partnering with the HRO vendor to develop and implement a targeted change management and communication campaign led by a dedicated team. As a first step, the campaign focused on clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the HR partners and the HRO provider using specific examples. By providing clear guidance on how employees should work directly with the HRO provider, and specific examples of what HR partners were not supposed to do, the HRO relationship began to stabilize.

Once the immediate pain points were remedied, the team focused next on delivering training to the HR partners on how to become truly strategic advisers to their business leaders. While the majority of the HR partners survived the journey, some decided to leave the organisation and others found roles more suitable to their skill sets.

Today, the organisation is working to identify the next phase of services to be outsourced and is ensuring that the significant change management issues faced early on are being addressed as part of the implementation process.

Anne-Magriet Schoeman is the Talent/Country Leader at Mercer Consulting (South Africa) Proprietary Limited,

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

Make total rewards a key part of your EVP

Integrate total rewards and your EVP to attract and retain the best talent.

Probably the simplest description of the employee value proposition (EVP) can be summed up in the question, “What’s in it for me?” Minchington (2010) defines an EVP more broadly as a set of associations and offerings provided by an organisation in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences an employee brings to the organisation. According to the Corporate Leadership Council (2007), the EVP is the total employment experience and therefore the differentiated total compelling employment offer.

Albeit that many organisations are not currently focused on the attraction and retention of key talent due to the economic meltdown, it remains important for organisations to have a unique, relevant and compelling EVP for it to act as a key driver of talent attraction, engagement and retention in the long term. The EVP should identify the unique people policies, processes and programmes that demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to, for example, employee growth, management development, ongoing employee recognition and community service. The EVP contains the reasons employees will choose to commit themselves to a specific organisation (Tandehill, 2006).

The EVP is an employee-centred approach that is aligned to integrated talent management strategies. An organisation’s EVP is typically informed by existing employees as well as prospective employees and therefore an organisation needs to understand what talent it needs to attract and retain currently, as well as in the future and how it will differentiate its offering in the labour markets. The challenge for organisations therefore is to:

– Clearly articulate the EVP, and package or brand it (also referred to as employer branding);

– Link the proposition to business strategy, talent needs and business results; and

– Integrate the different components of the EVP with financial and non-financial reward elements.

EVP and total rewards

The term EVP is often incorrectly used, in an interchangeable manner with the concept of total rewards. Confusion is then created in terms of what EVP stands for versus what total rewards refers to. Although rewards are critical to an organisation’s EVP, it is only a subset of the EVP. Authors have different opinions of what components should be included in the ambit of an organisation’s EVP. For example, Lamoureux (2009) states that the key components of the EVP include:

Remuneration – salary, incentives, cash recognition, pay process;

Benefits – healthcare, retirement, insurances, recognition programmes;

Affiliationwork environment, trust, transparency, organisational commitment;

Career – advancement opportunities, personal growth and development, training, job security; and

Work Content – challenge, autonomy, meaningfulness, variety.

Towers Perrin (2007) states the EVP complements total rewards by adding components such as market benchmarking, leadership research and organisational performance. Black (2008) identifies four components that form the foundation of an organisation’s EVP:

– Strong leadership;

– Organisational reputation, which includes reputation, culture, contribution to the community and the world, stability and core values;

– Interesting and compelling job and career opportunities; and

– Tangible and intangible rewards.

The following diagram explains the concept of an Employee Value Proposition:

Employee Value Proposition

Rewards are therefore clearly a component that contributes to the overall EVP, but the EVP also includes the intangible experience and reputation of the organisation as well as inter alia culture, organisational brand and success, transformation initiatives, environmental concern and job security (Armstrong & Brown, 2006).

Examples of organisations’ Employee Value Propositions

Organisations clearly differentiate themselves in terms of their EVPs. Here are some examples of how organisations define their EVP:

– Working at Starbucks is a lot like working with your friends. We understand, respect, appreciate and include different people. And we believe in keeping each other informed, so our senior leaders regularly hold Open Forum events to answer your questions. Starbucks refers to their EVP as “Your Special Blend” which includes a wide range of perquisites if one works for the organisation, that is:

  •  Competitive pay;
  •  Insurance: medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, life, disability;
  •  Bonuses;
  •  Paid time off;
  •  Retirement savings plan;
  •  Equity in the form of Starbucks stock and discounted stock purchase plan;
  •  Adoption assistance;
  •  Domestic partner benefits;
  •  Emergency financial aid;
  •  Referral and support resources for child and elder care; and
  •  A free pound of coffee each week.

– At Google, the EVP includes a culture that drives a fun place to work, subsidised broadband for all employees, pool tables in the tea room, on-site dental care, free T-shirts twice a week, free meals and the opportunity to bring your dog to work.

Nedbank‘s employer brand of “great things begin with great people” is supported by the nine elements of the Nedbank EVP namely:

  •  Performance is recognised and rewarded;
  •  An organisation that truly cares;
  •  A place where you can thrive;
  •  We have a community of leaders with a clear vision;
  •  A values-based organisation with a high performance culture;
  •  An organisation that is proudly South African;
  •  People that are bright and amazing to work with;
  •  A role with a sense of purpose and true value add; and
  •  People’s individual needs are respected.

Allstate includes in their EVP three components:

  •  A company that is innovative, successful and community-minded;
  •  Leaders who inspire, build trust and empower employees to achieve optimal performance; and
  •  An environment where employees feel valued and rewarded.

– The Sasol EVP consists of the following five themes:

  •  Flexible work practices;
  •  Reward and benefits;
  •  Learning and development and career opportunities;
  •  Organisational reputation and leadership; and
  •  Relationship with my line manager.

-The Sodexho EVP themes are summarised as follows:

  •  We care about our employees in the same way that we care about our clients and we strive to provide each and every employee with a wide range of professional and personal opportunities to improve the quality of their daily life;
  •  Our employees are able to develop their careers both locally and globally across all of our service areas. They have the flexibility to align the pace of their career with their various life stages; and
  •  By living the Sodexho values and ethical principles, and actively fostering diversity and inclusion, our people make Sodexho a company of the future.


The EVP is the unique and proprietary way in which organisations attract, retain and motivate employees. Increasingly more organisations are citing “culture” as a challenge to attract and retain talent and therefore forward-thinking organisations are revisiting their employee value propositions to ensure that the components that make up their EVPs remain relevant and in step with what employees require when they search for an organisation to work for. Organisations have also started to differentiate their EVPs on the basis of the different needs that employees have in the generational segments.

For example, career opportunities are much more important for younger employees than older employees, and therefore a stronger emphasis is placed on career opportunities when organisations recruit for younger employees. The CLC (2007) has also found that engineering and research employees place a premium on innovative work, IT employees place a premium on organisational technology and marketing employees value product brand awareness – these areas of interests can be very effectively integrated into the organisation EVP, with minor adjustments for different areas of the workforce.

The integration of total rewards and the EVP is the key to obtaining optimal effectiveness of both systems. By using an EVP effectively, organisations distinguish themselves in the marketplace to both attract and retain critically skilled employees. In order to do this, organisations should communicate to both potential and current employees a compelling and unique EVP, of which total rewards is a critical part.

Dr Ronél Nienaber is Vice President: Global Rewards and Benefits at Sasol Ltd, She is an Independent Commission for Remuneration of Public Office Bearers in the Office of the Presidency and a South African Reward Association (SARA) Executive Committee member.

Dr Mark Bussin is the Executive Chairperson at 21st Century Pay Solutions Group,, a Professor at University of Johannesburg, Professor Extraordinaire at North West University, Chairperson and member of various boards and remuneration committees, immediate past President and EXCO member of SARA, and a former Commissioner in the Office of the Presidency.

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

When to hold on and when to let go

Today’s leaders must learn how to travel light.

It is in our nature to want comfort, stability and security. We sometimes think, “If we had the choice, we would have preferred to stay in our mothers’ wombs where ignorance was bliss.”

But, at some stage, nature wanted it differently. And, as I understand it, when the time is right, unborn babies actively begin to participate in the birth process. Even though they cannot know what is waiting for them on the outside, their existing home is no longer where they want to stay and they join nature by starting to pump their legs to exit into a new world. And so, in life, there is always a part of us that wants to stay where we are as long as we can, and a part that wants to go.

What we do with our free will

The wonderful, mysterious and awe-inspiring fact is that we are born not only with bodies to move and act, and not only with minds to think and feelings to express, but with a free will. Wonderful! It is however a double-edged sword. It can free our potential to create, love and enjoy life, or it can tie us down to something miserable and disastrous. As adults we can use our developed and powerful will to hold on to things and to stay in our ‘places of comfort’ when it would have been better for us if we had let go and moved on. We can similarly at other times follow our will and turn our backs on people and/or commitments and later sense that we have lost something of real value and significance – ourselves included.

Our options

Today, as enlightened and thinking people, we have learned to calculate our actions and manage our risks to the degree that, in most cases, we want a convincing rational argument before we will let go. In earlier times, religious doctrine was supreme for many – people wouldn’t let go of the letter of the dogmatic word as sanctioned by the church hierarchy. In both scenarios ‘living in faith’ is cast aside. In the first case in admiration for the rational argument and in the second as an escape from personal responsibility. Who needs faith if all the answers are already provided by intellectuals or by church authorities? The options seem to be either to hold on to the last best rational explanation you heard or the last sanction that was proclaimed. Else, let go of both and follow your urges more or less as an animal would do – and I don’t think that is an option we would want to consider seriously.

To travel lightly

I believe that the choice of holding on or letting go is linked to the ideal of travelling lightly in this world. And to live in faith, is to travel lightly. To rephrase, travel with as little weight as possible (letting go), but make sure that what you take with you (holding on to) are the essential things that will both sustain you and guide you on your way. We don’t travel lightly if we hold on to our opinions and are unwilling to listen and learn, with open mind (mentally), open heart (emotionally) and open will (spiritually). We don’t travel lightly if we tie our souls to material things that rust and go to waste – holding on to possessions. We don’t travel lightly if we always feel we need to defend or promote ourselves – holding on to our pride. We don’t travel lightly if we become addicted to anything – holding on to our fears and anxieties. We don’t travel lightly if other people’s opinions or perceptions derail us – holding on to our dependencies. We don’t travel lightly if we hold on to old dreams or latch on to new ones and miss the moment to feel gratitude and just be present. We don’t travel lightly if we don’t want to forgive others and ourselves – holding on to false pride.

Shining example

I have a dear friend of thirty-eight years in Darius Botha. He and his wife lost two of their children to cancer and now he suffers the illness himself. But if you ever want to meet someone who lives lightly you should meet Darius – and you will meet a man of faith as well. As much as he courageously stands up to the challenge of his illness with his spirit high, I know he will let go graciously when the time comes.

In the words of Danaan Perry, “Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience.”

I conclude with an extract from Perry’s book Warriors of the heart:

“Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing, and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swing towards me. It’s empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts, I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on this present, well-known bar to move to the new one.

Every time it happens to me, I hope that I won’t have to grab the new bar. But in my knowing place I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moment in time, I must hurdle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurdles across the void of unknowing, I have always made it. Each time I am afraid that I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars. But I do it anyway. Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantees, no net, no insurance policies, but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging on to that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone; the future is not yet here.” It’s called transition. I have come to believe that is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.”

Dr Gerhard van Rensburg heads up New Era Leadership,

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

Formula for success

Strategic workforce planning can help HR create business success.

Identifying and investing in the right people is more important than ever. Strategic workforce planning is about overcoming this challenge, by identifying the right people, today and tomorrow, with the right skills, at the right cost. It is one of the most important roles we have in HR today and, I believe, will be at the very core of HR in the future. HR’s important decisions will increasingly move from hiring policies and defining training and development needs, to redesigning jobs, optimising the organisation’s design and winning the talent war.

Strategic workforce planning isn’t just about HR though. It’s key for everyone from the CEO to the CFO to business unit leaders, because people make strategy happen. Getting the right people is a key item on any CEO’s agenda.

For HR professionals wanting to make a material difference to their business’s success going forward, it’s vital to have a working knowledge of strategic workforce planning, which has two levels:

1. Optimising the workforce, which is mainly about improving the productivity of your people and identifying the workforce you need today; and

2. Scenario planning for the future, which looks at how to achieve the right workforce in the future that will turn your strategy into reality.

Understanding these two levels helps you appreciate the power and potential of strategic workforce planning but to really understand it on a practical level, you need to look at the ‘Five Rights’ which will help you make the most of your investment in people.

Right size

Size is all about numbers. Some businesses need more than they have, whilst others need less. Many companies experience both situations at the same time in different divisions.

So how do you know how many people you need, now and in the future? Of course, there are certain methodologies that need to be applied to make the process more robust and the outcome more accurate. But to have an indication, start by asking:

– Is the workload increasing or decreasing, and why?

– Are there disruptions in the environment that will impact staffing needs?

– Are there people shortages in any critical areas and are they temporary or permanent?

– Is there any room to reduce your workforce in any areas without compromising service quality and revenue?

– Does it make sense to outsource non-core business processes?

– Is technology leading to more changes or causing issues with productivity? and

– Are new technologies creating changes in your structure or in your productivity? This can reduce the number of people that you need. Are you ready to deal with the outcome?

Right shape

It’s easy to think about shape in terms of the layers of your organisational chart and the percentage of workforce at different levels. This is, of course, important as it has a direct impact on the workforce cost, but there is a critical question that needs to be answered first: does the composition of your workforce match your organisation’s needs and plans?

To get the right shape, it’s important to think through the issues of what is core and non-core, what needs to be fostered internally, and what should be outsourced. And once you know the answers, then you determine the right mix of leaders, senior managers, experts and professionals.

Steve Jobs used to remark that Apple was focused on innovation, technology and design – and, therefore, he didn’t want manufacturing within the firm. He was right, why maintain hordes of manufacturing staff when that’s not what will gain you competitive advantage and can be done better by other companies?

Right skills

‘Strategic capabilities’ are the set of skills you need to successfully implement your strategy. By nature, they vary by sector. For example, Telcos around the world are evolving their business models, moving from “Network Guarantor” to “Experience Provider” providing their customers with an attractive combination of targeted applications and content (such as access to music, video, games), digital, customer insights and customer experience experts become vitally important. In the oil industry, on the other hand, sound project management skills can mean the difference between success and failure.

In these changing times, with organisations that have many different functions and new ones in the pipeline, it can be difficult to determine which skills really matter. Leaders and managers often have a good sense of the skills that will be required in the future but this information can get lost in the daily pressures of the modern business environment. HR can help by maintaining that long-term view and considering how an evolving business model impacts strategic capabilities, whether you have the skills to deliver key processes in the future and which skills will be critical to success not just this year but also in the future. You could have capabilities today that are critical for the organisation but, in the future, they might not be critical anymore, and vice versa.

Don’t mistake skills with job titles/positions. These are two very different things. Titles are for free and you can name jobs anything that makes your attraction and retention easier, but that’s not a good reflection of the skills that you expect from the job holder. Adopt the habit and refer to your workforce requirements in terms of what kind of people you are looking for and what skill set they need to have, rather by job title.

Right site

Organisations are on the move. More and more companies are expanding their operations outside the region or developing a more integrated model. As companies grow and become more complex and global, there often appears to be a disconnect between where people are physically located and where they are needed. Over time, organisations’ business units can tend to create their own approaches that respond to local needs but aren’t necessarily what’s needed at a corporate level.

In addition, there is a) the operating model of an organisation and the approach chosen to serve the market, b) the labour costs of different geographies to consider and c) the skill set available in those markets. Helping your business determine which people are needed in which location can seem overwhelming. Start by answering these questions:

– Do strategic shifts (expansion into a new market) require a different distribution of staff across regions or locations?

– Where is the workload coming from, today and in the future?

– Do we have critical mass in the critical locations?

– Can we create hubs of experts to serve multiple locations?

– Are we currently in a high-cost area and should we relocate resources to a cheaper area? and

– What is the impact on service quality and revenue if we shift people to different locations?

Right spend

By concentrating on getting the right size, skills, shape and site, you’ll be getting the spend right and be focusing it on the areas that make the most business sense.

If you’re like many organisations for whom cost optimisation is the most pressing goal of strategic workforce planning, this may also be the starting point. To optimise those costs; consider benchmarking your people costs against similar organisations, using past figures to project the rising staff costs to see if it’s likely to grow in line with (or hopefully, more slowly than) your forecast revenues and considering options for cost savings through a different site (location) or shape (through outsourcing or/and different percentage mix of resources).

The result of focusing on the ‘Five Rights’ is a more efficient and effective workforce that’s closely tied to your business strategy. By identifying your strategic capabilities and finding people with the right skills early, you will create a competitive advantage for your company, help improve its economic performance and become an integral part of its strategic decisions.

Last but not least, strategic workforce planning is sometimes under the mandate of HR, and sometimes it is under a separate unit like Strategic Planning. There is no right or wrong, what’s important is that it is hosted by a unit that understands the big picture (strategy) and is able to translate it into workforce requirements.

Lisete Harris is Sector Head at Hay Group South Africa,

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

Technology disrupts talent management

Reimagine a workforce where humans and machines combine their skills to increase productivity.

The notion of a blended workforce where humans and intelligent machines collaborate to deliver vastly more productivity and efficiency than either could do on their own is a key trend for 2015. This blended workforce has been made possible by advances in robotic and wearable technologies as well as human-machine interfaces. And it couldn’t be at a more opportunistic time.

Why? In companies’ race to become digital, they’re encountering global talent shortages – in critical skill areas such as IT, cybersecurity and analysis of huge datasets. The result is a digital talent war that’s hot now – and it will get only hotter. Forward-looking organisations are building blended workforces to fill those skill gaps. And so we find ourselves entering an era of humans and machines.

As more and more smart machines are working interactively with people, companies can divide and distribute the tasks that play to each side’s strengths. People are better suited for creativity, contextual understanding and complex communications; even as machines provide precision, scale and consistency. As a team, they accomplish more than either human or machine could on their own, providing enterprises with increased intelligence, performance and productivity.

Experiments at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) show how, in this blended workforce, robots can make workers more efficient. Researchers there have shown that an industrial robot can be trained by essentially observing and adapting to the habits of an individual worker. In one manufacturing experiment, humans inserted objects into prepared drill holes in whatever sequence they preferred. Robots were then able to predict their human teammate’s preferred sequence of object placement to then fill holes with glue just before the workers came along to insert objects into the holes. The workers didn’t have to change or adapt their human styles and the overall outcome proved beneficial. The possibilities really appear limitless.

Here’s another instance: in an auto-manufacturing trial, a human-robot team assembled a car frame. The robot had a video projector that showed the person exactly where to put different parts – and then made perfect welds in just five seconds per weld. For more difficult welds, the robot deferred to its partner. Together, they completed the project 10 times faster than a team of three human professionals could.

While the blended workforce promises significant advantages, capturing these advantages will require fundamental change in organisations.

For one thing, they’ll need to “democratise” technology – categorising and shifting skill sets so tasks previously reserved for specialists are approachable for less skilled employees. By doing so, they’ll expand their available talent pool.

Companies will also have to answer to new kinds of questions like:

– Which jobs will we assign to machines and which to humans?

– How can we decentralise decision-making so machines can carry on more of the workload?

– How can we train our employees to teach their non-human colleagues? And

– What conversations should our IT and HR leaders be having right now?

In addition, companies will need to prioritise training of their blended workforce – paying the closest attention to what’s needed to upgrade skills for the tasks that people do well, and identifying the skills that will be required to complement what machines do well.

Human and machine – each on their own – won’t be enough to drive businesses in the coming decades. Tomorrow’s leading enterprises will be those that know how to meld the two effectively. How will your company start fostering game-changing collaboration between the human and non-human parts of your workforce?

Lee Naik is Managing Director of Accenture Digital in South Africa. This article was compiled from excerpts of his keynote address at Unisa’s Talent Management Conference on 7 – 8 September 2015.

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

Don’t let the need for speed erode ethics

Resist the temptation to cut ethical corners in order to get things done quicker.

The need for speed in business is widely recognised, both in terms of the driving factors, such as increasing technological advances, and in terms of the benefits, such as staying ahead of competitors. A question that this focus on speed poses is whether organisations can operate at increasingly high speeds and be ethical at the same time.

Does speed encourage cutting corners?

An obvious trap is that the need for speed can prompt organisations and employees to cut corners. This could take many forms. If the issuing of a necessary business permit or licence is very slow, it could lead to the permit being “bought” to short-circuit the process. Customs officials also know that speed is a crucial factor for trucks transporting fresh produce or perishables across a border. This can lead to a “price” being paid to avoid a delay that would ruin the goods.

The manufacture of the Ford Pinto provides a more extreme example of the consequences of a desire for speed. In the 1970s, Ford President Lee Iacocca’s goal of a compact car that weighed less than 2,000 pounds and was priced at less than $2,000 resulted in the production of the Ford Pinto. During the period of only 22 months from concept to production, Ford had been aware of the design defects. However, under competitive pressure from other small car manufacturers, the company was not open to any delay in production and therefore did not change the design, deciding instead that it would be cheaper to pay off possible lawsuits. The defect? In a rear-end accident the car could leak fuel and burst into flames. Figures vary as regards the number of deaths, but it is conservatively estimated at 27.

Another pertinent example of the consequences of the need for speed centres on journalism, especially online journalism. The pressure to be the first to publish, to put out news at greater and greater speeds, to keep news updated, and to meet the public’s increasing demand to access news as it happens poses huge threats to the accuracy and veracity of reporting. Corrections can – and are – made after the event. But given the ability of online news to reach millions of people almost instantaneously, it is often not possible to adequately correct the facts when they are being shared across a proliferation of other news outlets: individual blogs, radio, television, websites and web broadcasts. It amounts to a case of having let the genie out of the bottle and not being able to get it back in again.

Too time-consuming to be ethical?

Speed and ethics can also combine negatively when tasks are particularly time-consuming. This can have disastrous consequences when it leads to short cuts in areas such as safety or quality.

One such high-profile example was the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The US federal investigators’ report into the cause of the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig found that BP had run behind schedule and tens of millions of dollars over budget in trying to complete the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico. More importantly, the report also found that BP had taken many shortcuts that contributed to the disastrous blowout and oil spill, which claimed eleven lives and is considered the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

The risks associated with time-consuming tasks can also apply to the compliance function. The increasing demand to be compliant with a multitude of laws and regulations is making compliance an onerous task in many countries. The consequent time pressure can be used to justify a “tick box” approach to compliance, which is clearly not ideal, not least from a risk perspective.

However, the far greater problem that can arise is that compliance comes to be seen as the totality of the organisation’s ethical focus and ethics initiatives – that companies decide that no more time, funds or resources can be allocated to anything else beyond compliance. This risk is enhanced by the reality that compliance is almost always obligatory (for example, relative to legislation) while much of ethics can be considered voluntary.

The unsatisfactory consequence of a choice in favour of compliance instead of broad-based ethics would be to restrict the company’s ethics to only one facet of ethics, the rule-based side of ethics. But, to be an ethical organisation and create an ethical culture requires an equal focus on fostering value-based behaviours, which are much more sustainable and contribute significantly to an ethical culture. Rules and compliance alone are not sufficient to achieve an ethical culture.

Achieving greater speed via ethics

The positive contribution that ethics can make to achieving greater speed is arguably not well recognised. The primary area where ethics can make a positive difference is relative to organisations that have a strong ethical culture and widely shared values. This affords them the advantage of high levels of clarity about what is and is not acceptable, which translates into both faster and more consistent action and decision-making.

A good example of this, which is still used as a best practice case study, is the 1982 Johnson & Johnson Tylenol case, when Tylenol capsules laced with cyanide led to seven deaths in the US in the Chicago area. Johnson & Johnson’s admission extended to the action of recalling 31 million bottles of Tylenol capsules and offering free replacements in the safer tablet form. After reintroducing their tamper-proof product, in just a year they had regained a 30% market share from a prior 37% share of the market. Central to this was the role their credo (values or code of ethics) played. It shaped, informed and kept aligned the myriad decisions which needed to be made and the priorities which underpinned them.

As to the question of whether operating at increasingly high speeds can erode ethics, the answer is unfortunately a loud yes. However, with appropriate levels of awareness, these pitfalls can be avoided without unduly losing speed. Crucially, organisations need to recognise that ethics can promote speed – with the added bonus that it contributes to greater consistency and better business practices too.

Cynthia Schoeman is Managing Director of Ethics Monitoring and Management Services,, and the author of Ethics: Giving a Damn, Making a Difference (2012) and Ethics Can (2014).

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

Establishment of picketing rules

Labour Court considers the CCMA role in establishing picketing rules.

The labour court, in SA Airways v SA Transport and Allied Workers Union and Others (2013) 24 SALLR 296 (LC), had the opportunity of considering the following important issues:

(a) Is it competent for the CCMA to establish picketing rules where there indeed is an agreement, collective or otherwise, so regulating the picketing in casu?

(b) To what extent is it a prerequisite jurisdictional fact for the establishment of picketing rules by the CCMA in terms of s69(4) of the LRA that the union has to authorise such picket and inform the employer accordingly?

(c) Is it permitted that picketing is to be undertaken in support of a strike that is not protected?

(d) Is it a prerequisite jurisdictional fact that the strike must actually be in progress before the CCMA can establish picketing rules in terms of section 69(4) of the LRA?

(e) What is the content of the review test to be utilised when considering the prerequisite jurisdictional facts necessary to enable the CCMA to establish picketing rules in terms of section 69(4) of the LRA?

(f) In the scenario where a trade union has referred a dispute to the CCMA, conciliation has taken place at such level and a certificate of non-resolution issued but such trade union has not given notice to the employer of its intention to strike, is it competent for the CCMA to establish picketing rules in terms of s69(4) of the LRA?

(g) In the above scenario where the trade union furthermore refuses to give an undertaking to the employer that it will not embark on strike action, is it competent for the CCMA to issue picketing rules in terms of s69(4) of the LRA?

(h) In the circumstances where the CCMA either secured a picketing agreement or, alternatively, determined such picketing rules, when does the picketing agreement or such rules come to an end?


This matter concerns an application by the applicant to review and set aside an arbitration award of the third respondent in her capacity as a commissioner of the CCMA (the second respondent). This application has been brought in terms of s145 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 (“the LRA”).

In an award dated 17 July 2011, the third respondent determined that the CCMA lacked jurisdiction to conciliate and establish picketing rules in the absence of a strike or lock-out, or the threat thereof.

Pertinent facts of the case

Common cause facts

The applicant and first respondent have an existing and organised relationship, which includes a recognition agreement.

The first respondent enjoys organisational rights in the applicant in terms of the recognition agreement, and this recognition agreement further stipulates that the applicant and first respondent would bargain annually on wages and conditions of employment.

In the period between January and June 2011, a number of disputes arose between the applicant and the first respondent concerning matters of mutual interest.

Content of disputes

These issues, inter alia, concerned the following, as appears from the documentary evidence:

· the annual negotiation on wages and conditions of employment;

· the introduction of a new security structure by the applicant without consultation with the first respondent; and

· the use by the applicant of “foreign language” as a requirement for recruitment.

CCMA referrals in respect of all the above disputes

Why it is important to refer to these issues specifically is that, in all of these instances, the first respondent recorded, in its CCMA referrals, that the desired outcome was a certificate of failure to settle for the purposes of strike action.

Intention of the union to strike in respect of all the issues

There were five cases actually pending before the CCMA as at June 2011, under case numbers HO2 – 11; HO1058 – 11; HO483 – 11; GAEK1366 – 11 and GAJB11379 – 11.

Because of these five pending disputes, the applicant contemplated strike action being embarked upon by the first respondent in order to resolve same.

Failure of the parties to conclude picketing agreement

The applicant tried to conclude a collective agreement with the first respondent to establish picketing rules for the contemplated strike action but, unfortunately, this did not come to fruition.

Referral of dispute to the CCMA to establish picketing rules: s69(4) of the LRA

On 3 June 2011, the applicant then referred a dispute to the CCMA in terms of s69(4) of the LRA to establish picketing rules in respect of the strike action it contemplated could take place. This dispute was referred to all five centres of the CCMA.

The CCMA then, at some point after this referral by the applicant, requested the applicant to confirm which disputes this s69(4) dispute referral of the applicant related to.

In a letter, dated 8 June 2011, the applicant, through its attorneys, confirmed that the s69(4) referral of the applicant related to all five of the pending disputes referred to above.

All five referrals consolidated

The CCMA then advised that the picketing rules issue would be dealt with by the CCMA at its head office, and all five disputes were consolidated into one.

Wage dispute settled

The dispute with regard to the issue of wages and conditions of employment (the annual wage negotiation) was set down for conciliation on 17 June 2011 and was subsequently resolved.

Remaining four disputes still unresolved

It was, however, common cause that all the other four disputes remained live and unresolved.

No actual pending strike when matter was heard

What is common cause is that, on 5 July 2011, when the matter came before the third respondent, there was no actual pending strike action by the first respondent in respect of any one of the four outstanding disputes.

No strike notice issued at such stage

Whilst it is so that the 30-day time period in terms of s64(1) of the LRA had lapsed in respect of each of these disputes and such disputes remained unresolved, the first respondent had not given notice of contemplated strike action in terms of s64(1)(b) to the applicant in respect of any of these disputes.

Respondent also refused to give undertaking not to strike

In the proceedings on 5 July 2011 at the CCMA, the applicant requested the first respondent to undertake that it would not proceed with strike action in respect of all four disputes, and recorded that, if the first respondent did so, it would not pursue its picketing rules dispute. The first respondent refused to so agree, and the proceedings then continued.

Findings of the Court

Interpretation of the Sidumo test

The labour appeal court in Fidelity Cash Management Service v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and Others (2008) 29 ILJ 964 (LAC) specifically interpreted the review test as determined in Sidumo and another v Rustenburg Platinum Mines Ltd 2008 (2) SA 24 (CC), (2007) 28 ILJ 2405 (CC) and others where the issue before the commissioner concerned the very issue of the jurisdiction of the CCMA, and held as follows:

“[101] Nothing said in Sidumo, means that the grounds of review in s145 of the Act are obliterated. The constitutional court said that they are suffused by reasonableness. Nothing said in Sidumo means that the CCMA’s arbitration award can no longer be reviewed on the grounds, for example, that the CCMA had no jurisdiction in a matter on any of the other grounds specified in s145 of the Act. If the CCMA had no jurisdiction in a matter, the question of the reasonableness of its decision would not arise. Also, if the CCMA made a decision that exceeds its powers in the sense that it is ultra vires its powers, the reasonableness or otherwise of its decision cannot arise.”

The labour court, thus, in what can be labelled a “jurisdictional” review of CCMA proceedings, is, in fact, entitled, if not obliged, to determine the issue of jurisdiction of its own accord.

In doing so, the labour court is not limited only to the accepted test of review, but can, in fact, determine the issue de novo in order to decide whether the determination by the commissioner is right or wrong.

The establishment of prerequisite jurisdictional facts objectively determined

In SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union v Speciality Stores Ltd (1998) 19 ILJ 557 (LAC), it was held that:

“Generally speaking a superior court always has the power to determine whether the preconditions for the exercise of a statutory power to act have been met “even in the absence of any statutorily provided remedy by way of an appeal or review” (per Marais JA in Minister of Public Works v Haffejee NO 1996 (3) SA 745 (A) at 751G). Where the precondition is an objective fact or a question of law, its existence is objectively justiciable in a court of law and if the public authority made a wrong decision in this regard the decision may be set aside on review (Minister of Public Works v Haffejee NO at 751F-G; Hira and Another v Booysen and Another 1992 (4) SA 69 (A) at 93A-B).”

The court concluded that:

“Generally speaking, a public authority is obliged to determine the scope of its own powers before it can act (cf Baxter Administrative Law at 452). In doing so it cannot finally determine its competence, because if it wrongly decided that it had jurisdiction, its decision may be reviewed on objectively justiciable grounds. This kind of jurisdictional review does not depend on any statutorily provided remedy by way of appeal or review (Minister of Public Works v Haffejee NO at 751G-H). But, as noted above (para 23), the determination of the existence of a jurisdictional precondition may be left to the public authority itself to determine and the nature and extent of judicial review of its decision will then depend on whether the determination was left to its subjective discretion in terms of the empowering statute, or whether the determination had to be made on objective grounds.”

In Zeuna-Starker BOP (Pty) Ltd v National Union of Metalworkers of SA (1996) 20 ILJ 108 (LAC) it was said:

“The commissioner could not finally decide whether he had jurisdiction because if he made a wrong decision, his decision could be reviewed by the labour court on objectively justiciable grounds – “

In the labour court’s view, the same principle certainly applies to the current review application in this matter.

Application of the above principles in casu

Based upon the above principles, the labour court, therefore, does not intend to determine this matter on the basis of whether the determinations made by the third respondent were determinations a reasonable decision-maker could arrive at.

The labour court would determine de novo whether the CCMA, in fact, had jurisdiction in this matter, and, therefore, whether the third respondent was right or wrong in her determination.

The labour court concluded that, in a jurisdictional review, it is, in fact, entitled (if not actually obliged) to determine the issue of jurisdiction of its own accord.

In doing so, the labour court is not limited only to the accepted test of review, but can, in fact, interfere with the award simply on the basis of a wrong decision by the arbitrator.

This matter should, accordingly, be determined hereunder, on this basis, and, if the third respondent was right, her award stands to be upheld and, if wrong, her award falls to be reviewed and set aside.

Critical issue

Whilst it is, of course, trite that s69 affords the CCMA the power to establish picketing rules in order to regulate the issue of demonstrations by employees during the course of protected strike action, the critical question at stake in this case is exactly when such power may be exercised by the CCMA.

Jurisdictional preconditions must be established

Therefore, and in a similar fashion to all other instances of dispute-resolution functions conducted by the CCMA where the CCMA issues a determination binding on employer and employee parties, it must be determined what are the prerequisite jurisdictional facts that must be shown to exist before the CCMA can exercise the power and functions conferred on it in terms of the LRA.

To put it simply, what jurisdictional facts need to exist before a commissioner can determine picketing rules in terms of s69?

Approach to be adopted

In order to answer this question, a complete consideration of not only the provisions of s69 is required, but also its actual place in the LRA and the objectives it seeks to achieve.

Reference to chapter IV of the LRA: first consideration

Section 69 is found in chapter IV of the LRA, being the chapter specifically dealing with strike action.

Same protection as strikes

In the case of the participation by employees in a picket in terms of the provisions of s69, the same protective provisions as can be found in s67 in respect of protected strike action would find equal application to the picket.

This would mean that employees cannot be dismissed for participating in such a picket nor can such employees be considered to be acting in breach of contract or committing a delict.

It is, therefore, the labour court’s view that, in general context, having regard to these provisions and the actual location of s69 in the LRA, the application of s69 on face value requires the existence of strike action by employees in compliance with the provisions of chapter IV of the LRA in order to find application.

Reference to s69 of the LRA: second consideration

The next issue to consider is the actual relevant provisions of s69.

Section 69(1) provides:

“A registered trade union may authorise a picket by its members and supporters for the purposes of peacefully demonstrating –

(a) in support of any protected strike; or

(b) in opposition to any lock-out.”

Section 69(4) provides:

“If requested to do so by the registered trade union or the employer, the Commission must attempt to secure an agreement between the parties to the dispute on rules that should apply to any picket in relation to that strike or lock-out.”

Section 69(5) provides:

“If there is no agreement, the Commission must establish picketing rules, and in doing so must take account of –

(a) the particular circumstances of the workplace or other premises where it is intended that the right to picket is to be exercised; and

(b) any relevant code of good practice.”

Section 69(7) provides:

“The provisions of section 67, read with the changes required by the context, apply to the call for, organisation of, or participation in a picket that complies with the provisions of this section.”

Reference to the Code of Good Practice on Picketing: third consideration

The Code of Good Practice on Picketing (hereinafter referred to as “the code”) must also be considered.

Item 1(1) and (2) provides:

“(1) This code of good practice is intended to provide practical guidance on picketing in support of any protected strike or in opposition to any lock-out. It is intended to be a guide to those who may be contemplating, organising or taking part in a picket, and for those who as employers or employees or members of the general public may be affected by it.

(2) Section 17 of the Constitution recognises the right to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions. This constitutional right can only be exercised peacefully and unarmed. Section 69 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act 66 of 1995) (‘the Act’), seeks to give effect to this right in respect of a picket in support of a protected strike or a lock-out.”

Item 2(1) provides:

“A picket contemplated in section 69 of the Act must be authorised by a registered trade union. The authorisation must be made in accordance with the trade union’s constitution. That means that there must either be a resolution authorising the picket or a resolution permitting a trade union official to authorise a picket in terms of section 69(1). The actual authorisation should be formal and in writing. A copy of the resolution and, if necessary, the formal authorisation ought to be served on the employer before the commencement of the picket.”

Item 3(1) provides:

“The purpose of the picket is to peacefully encourage non-striking employees and members of the public to oppose a lock-out or to support strikers involved in a protected strike. The nature of that support can vary. It may be to encourage employees not to work during the strike or lock-out. It may be to dissuade replacement labour from working. It may also be to persuade members of the public or other employers and their employees not to do business with the employer.”

Compliance with s69(4) of the LRA: request by party to establish picketing rules

On the facts of this matter, it is clear that the employer (the applicant) did request the CCMA, in terms of s69(4), to secure an agreement between the parties in respect of the issue of picketing rules, in circumstances where no such agreement existed.

Therefore, and on a procedural basis, the applicant indeed complied with s69(4), in that, principally, it asked the CCMA to assist the parties conclude an agreement on picketing rules as contemplated by such section.

De novo enquiry as to the existence of jurisdictional preconditions

Because the labour court determined the issue in this matter de novo, on the basis of the principles as set out above, it will not consider the reasoning of the third respondent in arriving at her ultimate determination.

The labour court, however, referred to some of the reasoning of the third respondent insofar as it specifically relates to the cases advanced by the parties in the interests of a complete and proper determination of this matter.

Whether or not establishment of rules by CCMA undermines collective bargaining

In paragraph [18] of her award, the third respondent concludes that a picketing agreement should “ideally” be concluded through a process of collective bargaining, rather than being established through the CCMA.

The third respondent goes further and concludes that for the CCMA to establish picketing rules (she does say in the absence of a strike or threat thereof which issue will be addressed hereunder) would undermine collective bargaining.

The labour court was of the view that this reasoning by the third respondent is not sustainable, on the basis of the reasons that will be set out hereunder.

Collective bargaining may be conducted at any time on any matter of mutual interest, which, of course, would include that the employer and the trade union could seek to conclude a collective agreement which would in general terms and in respect of all disputes into the future establish picketing rules that would apply in any future industrial action.

This is clearly a process distinct and separate from s69 and any agreement concluded in terms of that particular section. Because, in such a case, the issue of picketing rules is determined by collective agreement, the application and enforcement of such picketing rules cannot attract the application of s69.

In such a case, either party can hold the other to the terms of the collective agreement and enforce it in terms of the normal right enforcement provisions in the LRA. Therefore, and once there is a pre-existing collective agreement determining picketing rules, s69(4) cannot apply.

An example would be where picketing rules, in the case of industrial action, are regulated in a recognition agreement between the employer and the trade union.

Whilst it may be so that a picketing agreement concluded in terms of s69(4) would comfortably resort under the definition of a collective agreement in terms of s213 of the LRA, it is not an agreement brought about by collective bargaining. It is, in fact, an agreement which the CCMA must seek to secure in terms of a specific duty prescribed to it in s69(4), where no such agreement exists in the first place.

As a matter of principle, if either an employer or a trade union asks the CCMA to try to secure such agreement where none exists, the CCMA must do so, and it is irrelevant whether or not this would “undermine” collective bargaining. All that is required to be determined and considered is whether a collective agreement regulating picketing rules exists or not. If not, then s69(4) can, as a matter of principle, be invoked by either the employer or the trade union, subject, of course, to all the other requisite jurisdiction facts also being in existence, which are addressed hereunder.

There is, thus, no requirement that the parties must first try to collectively bargain on picketing rules, and that it must be shown that such collective bargaining failed, for s69 to apply. In the end, and once it is accepted that s69(4) has been legitimately invoked and pursued by either a trade union or an employer, then the CCMA must act to secure an agreement.

Of course, this agreement may only have, as its subject-matter, picketing rules, and this agreement would not be an agreement in perpetuity, in that it can only apply to the particular dispute at stake in that instance.

Once the particular and specific underlying dispute is resolved, one way or another, the picketing agreement comes to an end along with such resolution. It is an ad hoc, case by case, process, conducted by the CCMA when requested by either a trade union or employer, and only once there is deadlock between such parties on a matter of mutual interest susceptible to protected strike action.

In the circumstances, it is not a prerequisite jurisdictional fact for the application of s69(4) that the parties first had to try to collectively bargain the issue of picketing rules and have been unsuccessful. All that must be determined is whether there actually exists a collective agreement regulating picketing rules in respect of disputes between the parties. If not, then the application of s69(4) is competent.

In the current matter, the labour court accepts that the applicant was not seeking a collective agreement with the first respondent in perpetuity with regard to picketing rules which would regulate and determine all disputes into the future.

Relief sought in casu

The labour court accepted that all the applicant sought was, firstly, an agreement, alternatively, rules issued by the CCMA, only in respect of the four live mutual interest disputes which were susceptible to possible strike action. This was entirely competent in terms of s69(4) and if this was the only consideration with regard to whether s69(4) could have been invoked by the applicant then the applicant’s application would have succeeded.

The following issue to be considered is whether it is required, as a jurisdictional fact, that there must either exist a strike or there must be an actual threat of a strike by a trade union before s69(4) can be utilised. In this respect, the third respondent found that there needed to be an actual strike or actual threat of a strike, and this is also the case advanced by the first respondent.

The applicant, on the other hand, contends that all that is needed is a live and unresolved dispute in respect of a matter of mutual interest to exist between the parties, and no threat of strike action is required. Nothing is said in s69(4) itself that there must be a threat of a strike and all that is referred to is “that strike”. That being said, s69(4), however, cannot be read in isolation only by itself without having regard to the rest of the section and the code.

Prerequisite jurisdictional facts: authorisation of picket by union

In the case of s69(1) of the LRA, the trade union must, authorise the picket, which provision, if read with the code, means the trade union must resolve to hold a picket and notify the employer accordingly.

Once that is done, again as a matter of logical sequence, either the employer or the trade union, now knowing for sure a picket is coming, can approach the CCMA in terms of s69(4) for rules to regulate the authorised picket. In the CCMA, an agreement can then be concluded on this, or, failing an agreement, the CCMA issues picketing rules.

The point is that s69(4) can only follow on an event in terms of s69(1).

Section 69(4) cannot apply in isolation, simply because there is an unresolved dispute in respect of a matter of mutual interest before the CCMA.

Section 69(1) itself then also has a jurisdictional prerequisite.

Prerequisite jurisdictional fact: existence of strike or actual threat of strike (notice of strike)

The trade union can only call the picket in terms of this section in support of a protected strike. Therefore, there has to actually exist a strike, or at least a proper notice of a strike that complies with the provisions of chapter IV, for s69(1) to find application, because, simply put, if there is no such strike then what is there to support by way of a picket?

The specific reference to “protected” in s69(1) is of importance. A strike can only be protected if there is proper notice of the strike in terms of s64(1)(b) given to the employer by the trade union.

The labour appeal court in Ceramic Industries Ltd t/a Betta Sanitary Ware and another v NCBAWU and others (2) (1997) 18 ILJ 671 (LAC) said:

“One of the primary objects of the Act is to promote orderly collective bargaining. Section 64(1)(b) gives expression to this object by requiring written notice of the commencement of the proposed strike. The section’s specific purpose is to give an employer advance warning of the proposed strike so that the employer may prepare for the power-play that will follow.”

It cannot be ignored that picketing is an essential part of the “power-play to follow” and that one of the “manners” in which an employer may deal with that situation is by way of picketing rules.

The labour court, therefore, concludes that s69(1) can only be invoked by a trade union if proper notice of a strike has been given by the trade union to the employer as contemplated by s64(1)(b) of the LRA or there is an actual protected strike in progress. In turn, s69(4) can then only be invoked by either the employer or the trade union once the trade union has invoked s69(1). As a matter of necessary consequence, this has to mean that s69(4) can only be applied if there is an actual strike pending or notice of a strike has been given by the trade union in terms of s64(1)(b). This conclusion is also supported by the provisions of the code, referred to above, and, in particular, item 3(1) as to the very purpose of a picket.

Prerequisite jurisdictional fact: picket rules must relate to

The next issue to consider is what exactly does the phrase “that strike” in s69(4), to which the picketing rules must relate, then mean? It can only mean the strike as contemplated by s69(1) in respect of which the trade union has called the picket. The fact that specific reference is made to “that strike” and not, for example “a strike” or “any strike” is significant. The point is that the use of the word “that” in s69(4) can only be intended to create the link with the strike specifically contemplated by s69(1).

In Shoprite Checkers (Pty) Ltd v Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and Others (2006) 27 ILJ 2681 (LC) it was said, with specific reference to s69(4):

“[8] – The CCMA may be called upon by the same parties to establish picketing rules for them each time there is industrial action. Hence the reference to “that strike or lock-out” in s69(4).”

It seems pointless to try to establish picketing rules where there is no actual or threatened strike, using the provisions of s69(4), especially considering that a strike to strike scenario is actually contemplated for each application of the section. There has to be an inextricable nexus between picketing in terms of s69 and the existence of a protected strike, and the one is directly dependent on the other. In the absence of a strike, there can never be a picket and, thus, simply no cause or need to determine picketing rules.

Therefore, and based on all of the above reasons, the labour court concluded that the jurisdictional facts that must exist before the CCMA can determine a dispute in respect of picketing rules in terms of s69(4) and (5) are as follows:

· there must be the actual authorization of the picket by the trade union;

· there must be an actual protected strike in existence or notice must have been given to the employer of a protected strike as contemplated by s64(1)(b); and

· there must be no prior agreement (collective or otherwise) in existence between the trade union and the employer which determines picketing rules.

If the above jurisdictional facts are then applied to the facts of this matter, the only jurisdictional fact that indeed exists is that there exists no agreement on picketing rules in this matter.

As to the other two jurisdictional facts, the trade union (first respondent) in this instance has not called (authorised) a picket, and there is no actual strike pending or even notice given of a strike.

These two requisite jurisdictional facts are, therefore, absent for the CCMA to have had jurisdiction to determine picketing rules in terms of s69(4).

Dr Brian van Zyl is a Director of labour law firm Van Zyl Rudd and associates,

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

Traveling with minors

Make sure you know exactly what is required when traveling with a minor.

The advent of the new Immigrations Regulations on 26 May 2014 heralded in a new era surrounding traveling with minors.

In terms of the new Regulations, simplistically put, a traveling minor has to be accompanied by an unabridged birth certificate.

At the outset it must be noted that terminology “unabridged” is relatively unknown in many countries. The reason behind this is that most countries in any event issue the so-called “long” birth certificate which reflects particularity of the parents of that minor as a matter of course.

The first area of confusion therefore surrounded nomenclature with many persons intending to travel to South Africa and not knowing what an “unabridged” certificate was in the first instance.

The provision was bound to cause much confusion and a lot of unintended consequences flowed therefrom.

For this reason, the Minster of Home Affairs at the time agreed, after considerable pressure from the tourism industry and other sectors, to postpone the operation of this provision until 1 June 2015.

The first question that begs asking is to enquire as to what an unabridged birth certificate actually is.

Prior to the coming into operation of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 in April 2003, the traditional naming of birth certificates was the “long” form of birth certificate and the “short” form of birth certificate.

Let’s deal with the latter first in that it is the easier of the two. A “short” form is merely an extract from the birth record and reflects only the name of the person who was born, the date, if a South African citizen, and the identity number allocated administratively at the time of registration of the birth.

By way of contrast, the “unabridged” certificate or “long” form is a lot more complex. The certificate itself bears the names of the parents of the person whose birth has been registered and it is not simply an extract. In order to issue an unabridged birth certificate, the vault copy of the birth certificate must be inspected and a certification can only then be done of that document.

As a direct result of the aforementioned, unabridged birth certificates take a long time to procure.

Delays in obtaining unabridged birth certificates vary from six to eight weeks to more than a year. This is based upon anecdotal information obtained from colleagues and my personal professional experience.

The requirements for a South African child traveling would therefore become rather complicated if an unabridged birth certificate is not available and a departure is imminent. A classic example of this would be a child who has been selected to represent a school or college academically, in sport or for other reasons, outside of our borders.

The position becomes more difficult when the individual minor who is traveling to South Africa is not a South African citizen and has to procure the so called “unabridged” birth certificate from their country of birth. Part of the reason for this is stated above, but the situation becomes more complex in a scenario where it is sometimes extremely difficult or impossible to obtain a certificate in line with the requirements of the new provisions of the Immigration Act. One of the unintended consequences of this has been the amount of tour groups including minors, school groups and the like, that have been cancelled as a result of this provision.

In terms of South African law, a “minor” is defined as any person under the age of 18.

The underlying reason for the tightening up of entries into and departures from South Africa of minor children relates to the increase worldwide of child trafficking.

The Minister of Home Affairs, when approached by stakeholders regarding the possible negative effects and also negative impact the new requirement could have and has now indeed had, on tourism, has remained doggedly determined and has stated publicly in the media on a regular and ongoing basis that the Ministry’s office would not back down on this requirement.

Figures have been bandied around as to the actual number of children that have been trafficked but these vary to such a degree that it is impossible to state numbers with any degree of accuracy. Without in any way detracting from the seriousness of child trafficking, it is relatively straightforward to deduce that persons engaged in child trafficking are highly unlikely to use our major ports entry for this purpose.

South Africa has thousands of kilometres of porous borders and that would be the more likely mode of trafficking children. Be that as it may, we are faced with the administrative dilemma presented by the new Regulations.

The purpose of this article is to clarify some of the administrative issues and we proceed to do so hereunder. The first category to be dealt with relates to children who are traveling with both of their parents. The requirement in this category is that the parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate and a valid passport for the said minor child.

It is suggested that, whilst the original should be carried as well, a certified copy should be presented to the Immigration official upon departure or entry into South Africa.

Please note that children from visa exempt countries in respect of South Africa do not need to carry this certificate in terms of a Directive issued by the Minister of Home Affairs recently. The list of visa exempt counties can be assessed here.

The next category relates to that of a minor child traveling with one parent only. In this instance, the accompanying parent must produce an unabridged birth certificate and a valid passport for the said minor child. In addition, the consent, proved by way of an affidavit by the consenting absent parent must also be provided in a sworn affidavit format which confirms in writing the absent parent’s specific written consent and permission for that child to travel. The format of this affidavit is available on the Department of Home Affairs website. If the “absent” parent is deceased, then a certified copy of the death certificate would be required. In the event of the parent of the traveling minor being divorced, then the “absent” parent’s consent, again in an affidavit format, allowing and consenting to the travel must accompany the traveling minor. In addition, in the latter scenario, a certified copy of the final divorce order and/or custody order must also be provided.

The next category relates to the situation where a minor child is traveling sans both parents and is in custody of a guardian. In this scenario, again an unabridged birth certificate would have to be provided together with a valid passport, relevant affidavit by the parents of the traveling minor in which they give a specific consent and permission for the child to travel and name the guardian in that affidavit. If there is a divorce or death of one of the parents then, as indicated in the previous paragraph, a certified copy of the divorce certificate/custody order or death certificate must be provided.

The final scenario relates to the situation where the minor child is traveling unaccompanied.

In this scenario the child must again be in a position to produce an unabridged birth certificate, valid passport, a court order (if applicable) relating to divorce and custody, of their parents, a death certificate in the event of deceased parent(s) and in the event of none of these being applicable then affidavits from both parents confirming permission and consent to travel and/or an affidavit from a legal guardian of that child.

A further requirement, which is absent in the other scenarios painted above, is that a letter will also have to be provided from the person(s) who will receive the child in South Africa for the duration of their stay including full contact details and address of that person and a certified copy of their green barcoded identity document or passport must be provided.

A further note is that any affidavit that is provided in any of the eventualities described above may not be dated more than four months prior to the first arrival or departure of the traveling minor.

A further note is that, where a minor is traveling from a non-visa exempt country to South Africa, an application would have to be brought for a visa in their country of usual residence seeking permission to enter South Africa.

In that application, one of the required documents would be the provision of an unabridged birth certificate. Further requirements would relate to the affidavits and/or certified copies and letters of consent dealt with elsewhere in this article.

In terms of the Department of Home Affairs guidelines in this regard, where it has been a specific requirement when applying for a visa at a South African Embassy abroad which has required an unabridged birth certificate to be presented, then it shall not be necessary for the unabridged birth certificate to be carried with that minor upon entry to South Africa. We do however advise to rather be safe than sorry and recommend that the document(s) be provided not withstanding this guideline.

Julian Pokroy is one of South Africa’s leading immigration specialist attorneys,, and currently heads the Law Society of South Africa’s Immigration and Refugee Law Specialist Committee and the Immigration, Nationality and Refugee Law Committee of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces. He is a member of the South African Law Reform Commission Committee.

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

Don’t blink first

Parents, when you go eyeball to eyeball with a wilful toddler or teen, don’t blink first.

Having worked extensively with parents of children of all ages for over two decades, I have learnt that good people don’t necessarily make good parents. That might sound like a rather harsh comment to make but it’s not intended to be. It’s merely recognising that some people are gentle natured and just not up for taking on a strong willed child.

Sadly, this results in a child who grows up thinking that s/he is in charge and has the right to call the shots because their mild mannered parents (nice people), are not naturally confrontational, and rather opt not to get into an argy bargy with their child, just to keep the peace.

This may be a short term solution for keeping the peace because it takes two to have a fight and, if the parent does not respond, no fight takes place. But down the road, a cheeky five-year-old turns into an obnoxious, arrogant, selfish teenager who tells his/her parents what to do. And, with the way things are going, where children are staying in the family home well into their 20s, the parents end up with a 20-something dictator in the home. These mild mannered parents (the nice people) who spent years trying to avoid confrontation with their child then end up living in fear of an adult child whose lifestyle they are actually funding.

While it may sound like some countries we know, this is not the way it’s meant to be in the natural order of things.

So, prevention is better than cure because there really is no cure for a child who has grown up with no respect for their parents. Bad parenting results in a life sentence for both parties –

Accept, then, that parenting is therefore not for sissies. It takes a healthy dose of courage to parent a strong-willed child so, as a parent, you have to let your child know who’s in charge.

This doesn’t mean you go to the opposite extreme and come down heavily and harshly on your child for all sorts of minor things. And it also doesn’t mean that you have to be aggressive and heavy handed.

Few people know that gentleness is the ultimate form of strength. When you are truly strong within yourself and you know you are, you do not have to resort to all sorts of aggressive ways of dealing with a child. You can be gentle – but very strong.

If your children are still young, there’s good news for you. Start today. When your toddler throws a tantrum, don’t back down, don’t shout and don’t show any signs of weakness. Go down to their level, lower your voice and speak very quietly, very deliberately and very calmly to them. Tell them in no uncertain terms that their behaviour is unacceptable (use whatever language is most appropriate) and tell them what you will do if they don’t cease their unpleasant behaviour, then take action if they try to call your bluff and, believe me, they will.

Remember – don’t blink. If you do, you’re finished and will spend the rest of your life as your children’s slave.

Children come into the world thinking that their parents are there to meet their needs and do what they tell them to do. There’s nothing wrong with that – that’s quite normal, so don’t get angry about this. Your and my role as a parent is to teach them that it’s not all about them.

So, be gentle, be strong, be consistent and be forgiving when you need to be, and you will raise children who will be caring and compassionate towards you and others long after you have stopped actively parenting them. There’s nothing more uplifting than children who show love and kindness to their parents. But they have to learn it somewhere –

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

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

STOP doing your best

The best is no longer enough if you want to rise through the ranks.

For much of my career, I was led to believe that putting your best foot forward was the only way to succeed. Join the best companies in my industry. Schmooze with the best people in town. Embrace the best practices in my field. Perform like the best in the business. In return, I expected opportunities to learn, hone my expertise, earn well and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Today, I am not so sure that the best matters. Perhaps, I need to let go of being the best, for myself or my expectations of others. The more I look at South African organisations, the less convinced I become that the best is enough to succeed. In some organisations, one can become insanely successful by accepting a different deal.

What do they offer?

Let me share with you what these employers offer that sets them far above their best competitors.

Employer brand

Don’t expect to find these employers in the official best ranking lists. Rather, go through the breaking stories each week and you are likely to come across them. Their employer brand is regularly associated with CEO departures, management reshuffles and allegations of underhanded activity. Their brand is regularly plunged into one crisis after another. Surprisingly, talent is still lining up for their vacancies.

Your future boss

During the interview, your future boss will grill you about values and ethics. Performance is an afterthought. Unfortunately, years of conditioning about being your best, may disqualify you for the position. If you struggle to compromise your values or ethics, your future boss will quietly eliminate you from the shortlist. It was never about appointing the best person for the position. What were you thinking?

Remuneration package

Unlike their counterparts, these employers truly believe that remuneration is all art and no science. The science of remuneration is a mere inconvenience in their books. They rather play with a paintbrush in the boardroom. You will be shocked to discover that the CE, executives and selected staff are generously remunerated above the market. Don’t bother about performance. As long as you stay away from doing your best, you won’t limit your career or future package increases.

Unlimited meetings plan

You are automatically enrolled on the unlimited meetings plan. You are welcome to attend unlimited, pointless meetings for the duration of your employment. Forget about holding effective meetings. Meetings are used to frustrate others that want to perform at their best. Meetings about meetings reinforce it.

Employee wellness

Unfortunately, HR doesn’t offer much by way of employee wellness. With over 90% of the staff operating at less than their best, you will stick out like a sore thumb. If you are battling to overcome your beliefs about being the best, HR will arrange a counselling session. You definitely need help to fit into the culture.

So what do they expect?


The truth is that nobody truly cares about performance. The organisation continues to succeed in spite of its colossal blunders. Shareholders or taxpayers continue to bail them out, year after year, of operating losses. Executives go through the motions of performance management without actually managing performance. Unless you fall on the wrong side of management, you will be rewarded for non-performance. It won’t take you long to learn that the trick is to delegate everything to the shadow workforce (permanent consultants and service providers). Just don’t delude yourself that you are making a real difference to the business.


To keep your career steady, you must be willing to talk above the table and pass things underneath it. Let the tender that they awarded to a “distant” relative of the CFO sail through the committee. Authorise transactions without asking questions. You don’t want to make others feel nervous about your best intentions. Ignore executives paying themselves handsome bonuses. (You will also get a bonus, don’t be selfish.) Occasionally, you will be called into closed door meetings. By helping others to slowly cover their tracks, you will have a fast track to the C-Suite. In the unlikely event that you develop a conscience, keep it to yourself. Trying to do the best thing, will be the worst thing for your future at the company. Remember what happened to –

Until next month, are you putting your best foot forward?

Yusuf Mahomedy (CA(SA) is the founder of Worksucks,, and is a reward consultant.

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

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