Men don’t need to die when they do

By changing their views on doctors, men can improve their health and lifespan.

It’s common knowledge that the so-called stronger sex doesn’t make it as far in life as the so-called weaker sex.

Many reasons are put forward for this depressing phenomenon. These include gender related issues such as the role of chromosomes in the two genders, and of testosterone in males and oestrogen in females.

Other reasons cited include physically harder work for males, more stressful work lives of men (which women will rightly dispute) and other lifestyle factors which include more smoking and drinking on the part of males. Some commentators have even suggested that many men die to get out of a poor marriage! While these and other factors play a key role in determining quality and quantity of life, other more simple factors also play a role in determining how well and how long a man lives.

The most obvious factor is looking after one’s physical health. This is something too many men consider to be only for “sissies”. Sadly the men who share this opinion go to a prematurely “sissy” grave … Here, therefore, are just two suggestions to help men get more out of their one life.

1. Scrap the annual medical examination

Annual medical exams used to be considered very important. Well, scrap that idea! With the stresses, pressures and challenges of modern living and working, once a year is far too long to wait to see if there’s anything that needs to be attended to in your body. If you want to live a healthy, symptom free life, you need to be seeing your doctor at least every six months or, in the case of a health condition, at least every three months.

Men should get over the notion that seeing a doctor is a sign of weakness. In fact it’s a sign of responsibility. We would all be horrified if an airline started cutting down on aircraft maintenance. They would be accused of being highly irresponsible and the airline that engaged in such a practice would quickly slip into oblivion. Well, our body is the only vehicle that takes us through life so we need to display the same sense of responsibility regarding keeping it in good working order and this involves more frequent check ups.

2. Ask for more blood tests

If your doctor only checks your blood pressure, heart beat, weight and cholesterol, s/he’s not doing enough. Most of the secrets to your health and longevity lie in your blood, so there are a lot more tests that will alert your doctor to problems that can either be reduced or prevented. These include testing certain risk factors such as your homocysteine level which, if high, contributes to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, cancer, and autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases. These conditions are dead certs (no pun intended) to cause premature death. There are no symptoms to high homocysteine levels so don’t think you’re fine simply because you “feel” fine. First prize would be to get the level down to 9 or 10, but at least less than 13. Over that, you’re in the danger zone and the little red warning light is flashing.

Another important test is your CRP (C-reactive protein) level. This is a substance that is produced by the liver in response to inflammation in your body. Inflammation is the body’s way of indicating that something is wrong somewhere. A high CRP level (greater than 3) won’t tell what’s wrong but it will tell your doctor that something is wrong. Further tests will then need to be conducted to find out what’s causing the raised CRP level.

Treat your body like an airliner and ensure that it is regularly and properly maintained and you will clock up a lot more “air miles’ than you might have otherwise. You owe it to yourself, your family and your company.

Alan Hosking is the Publisher of HR Future magazine, He helps leaders acquire new leadership skills to lead into the future, and is an age management and self-mastery coach to senior executives. Alan is the author of best seller What nobody tells a new father, available at

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Good news for parents traveling with their children?

The requirement for Unabridged Birth Certificates for traveling minors may soon be a thing of the past.

In an unprecedented move in 2014, the Department of Home Affairs, much to the detriment of the tourist economy, announced rather suddenly that it was imposing a requirement that all minor children traveling in and out of South Africa had to be accompanied by their Unabridged Birth Certificates plus a relevant Affidavit of consent from a parent where the child was traveling only with one parent.

This was a highly commendable step in the bid worldwide to combat child trafficking. However, the step came with a host of difficulties, the most prominent of which was the inability of the Department of Home Affairs to process applications for Unabridged Birth Certificates with any degree of alacrity.

Whilst occasional Unabridged Birth Certificates were supplied timeously, the overwhelming majority were taking an average of anywhere from six months to one year or longer to process. This would have resulted in an exercise in futility if urgent travel was being envisaged.

The provisions of the decision of Home Affairs were unyielding and inflexible and this meant that many people were either turned back at the Port of Entry with their minor children because of the inability to provide the Unabridged Birth Certificate and overseas travellers coming to South Africa with their children also experienced much difficulty in this regard or were potentially, and sometimes actually turned back. I have previously written in this publication about these difficulties.

Since writing that article, nothing has improved nor changed, until the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, in the week of 9 July 2018, made an announcement in the media followed by an interview with his Director General of Home Affairs, stating that very soon parents will no longer have to travel with their children’s Unabridged Birth Certificates. This statement must be seen, firstly, against what is stated hereunder and, secondly, about when this will indeed happen.

Before delving into the situation, it is important that until the “paperless” environment in fact comes into operation in respect of births, deaths and marriages, the current requirements remain in place, and this means that minors, whether accompanied or not or with both parents or only one, will still be required to produce, through their parents, an Unabridged Birth Certificate and the relevant consent by the nonaccompanying parent, if applicable.

According to the Director General of Home Affairs the Department of Home Affairs was due to commence its modernisation IT programme with upgrades across the country from 13 July 2018. In terms of this process, other than the obvious element of being paperless, new child passports will be required by the Department of Home Affairs to include all of the details and identity numbers of the parents, so that this information is readily and easily available on the actual passport documentation, thereby obviating the necessity to travel with an Unabridged Birth Certificate.

This does not detract from the fact that, where a minor child is traveling with one parent only, the remaining parent must sign the necessary consent Affidavit in terms of which they give full permission to the accompanying parent to be accompanied by their minor child.

It is further important to note that this applies to South African citizens and passport holders only, and that foreign nationals traveling into the country, for the time being, will be required to present the Unabridged Birth Certificate and the relevant consent Affidavits where applicable.

I wrote an article in this publication earlier this year about the possible introduction of the electronic “e-Visa” system from 2019. Neither the Minister nor Home Affairs has made any utterance recently about the progress of that but, in an interview in the media with the Minister of Home Affairs in the week of 9 July 2018, the Minister did state that with the upgrades to its offices around the country as part of its modernisation programme ultimately a paperless system will be in place.

For the moment, the new live capture system will cover birth, marriage and death registrations, and will also hopefully streamline the application process and the issuance process in respect of such certificates. It is definitely expected that, during the upgrading process, services may very well be delayed and hiccups will be experienced, and this must be factored into any application being made.

The “live capture “system will be a huge boon for the Department as the biometrics, photographs and completion of the relevant forms will all take place in a paperless environment and be stored in a paperless digital environment.

The Minister also expressed the wish that other countries would similarly adopt this process of which South Africa will ostensibly be at the forefront. The facilitation of entry and exit from countries on this new system will also ostensibly become a lot smoother and hopefully quicker.

The information given in this article is as the situation stands at the moment and will be updated along the line, if there are any changes forthcoming.

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 August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

When has a trust relationship been destroyed?

Where an employer does not lead evidence that the trust relationship has been destroyed and, furthermore does not testify as to the impact of the offence on the trust relationship, this does not, by necessary implication, mean that the CCMA cannot make a finding that the dismissal is the appropriate sanction.

The Labour Appeal Court, in Woolworths (Pty) Ltd v Mabija and Others (2016) 27 SALLR 56 (LAC), considered the following important issues:

(a) In casu, the Labour Appeal Court indicated that various factors must be taken into account before concluding that the trust relationship had broken down. What are some of these factors originally identified by the labour court and subsequently approved by the Labour Appeal Court?

(b) In the scenario where an employer does not lead evidence to the effect that the trust relationship had been destroyed and, furthermore, also does not testify as to what impact the specific incident has on the trust relationship, does this by necessary implication mean, according to the labour appeal court in casu, that a finding cannot be made that dismissal is the appropriate sanction?

(c) According to the Labour Appeal Court, what is the true role of the ratio formulated by the supreme court of appeal, in Edcon Ltd v Pillemer NO and Others (2009) 30 ILJ 2642 (SCA)?


This appeal is against the judgment of the Labour Court, wherein it dismissed, with costs, the review application brought by the appellant.

Pertinent facts of the case

The first respondent (‘the employee’) was employed by the appellant from February 2007. He was dismissed on 17 November 2010. At the time of his dismissal, he was a controller or what was called a weekend manager at the appellant’s Greenacres store, Port Elizabeth. It was common cause that the stock of the Port Elizabeth stores was ordered from the appellant’s Cape Town warehouse. The stock would then be delivered by truck to the Port Elizabeth stores.

The employee was charged and convicted of gross misconduct in that, between 18 and 19 October 2010, he had failed to comply with the appellant’s cold chain policy and procedure by leaving a dolly with cold chain products unattended, resulting in a loss of R3 675.00. He was also convicted of leaving a pallet of long life products on the delivery truck despite indicating that he had received it. He was dismissed.

Dissatisfied with the dismissal, the employee referred a dispute to the CCMA. Conciliation was unsuccessful and he referred the dispute for arbitration.

The third respondent (‘the Commissioner’) found that the employee had committed both acts of misconduct. He, however, found that the sanction of dismissal was too harsh and reinstated the employee.

The appellant felt aggrieved by the award and launched review proceedings in the Labour Court that were eventually unsuccessful. With regard to the breakdown of the employment relationship, the Labour Court said the following:

‘No list of specific acts of misconduct or circumstances which destroy the trust relationship exists. Further, it is not enough for an employer to merely state that the trust relationship has broken down. It is necessary for evidence to be led to prove the breakdown of the trust relationship.’

The Labour Court also found that the trust relationship does not automatically break down each time an employee commits misconduct.

Findings of the Labour Appeal Court

The appellant submitted that, although the Commissioner acknowledged that Snyman had given evidence on behalf of the appellant that the trust relationship had broken down, he, however, had found that there had been no evidentiary basis laid therefor before him.

The appellant submitted that this finding was clearly at odds with the evidence before the Commissioner and that no reasonable decisionmaker could have found as the Commissioner did at paragraph 28 of the arbitration award and that there was no evidentiary basis laid by Snyman for a finding that the trust relationship was broken.

Paragraph 28 of the award reads as follows:

‘On the issue of sanction imposed by the respondent, I observed in the last paragraph of paragraph of 54 of the respondent‘s bundle of documents that the chairperson’s finding that the respondent would find it extremely difficult to trust the applicant was not supported by evidence and as such the chairperson entered the arena by making a finding in favour of the respondent without any evidentiary basis. Even though, Hein Snyman testified that he regarded the trust relationship as broken there was no evidentiary basis that was laid down by him on what basis the trust relationship was broken.’

The Labour Court also found that Snyman’s evidence was insufficient because the mere fact that misconduct was committed does not per se lead to a break down in the trust relationship. The Labour Court correctly pointed out that various factors should be considered before the conclusion that the trust relationship has broken down is reached.

The Labour Court then said those factors included ‘the industry the appellant operates in; the nature of the misconduct and its effect on the parties, and whether training and progressive discipline cannot prevent a recurrence of the misconduct’.

Factual findings by the Labour Appeal Court Snyman did not testify that the trust relationship had been destroyed. He did not testify as to what the impact of this specific incident was on the trust relationship. He, in fact, dithered.

The fact that the employer did not lead evidence as to the breakdown of the trust relationship does not necessarily mean that the conduct of the employee, regardless of its obvious gross seriousness or dishonestly, cannot be visited with dismissal without any evidence as to the impact of the misconduct. In some cases, the outstandingly bad conduct of the employee would warrant an inference that the trust relationship has been destroyed. It is however always better if such evidence is led by people who are in a position to testify to such break down (see Edcon Ltd v Pillemer NO and Others (2009) 30 ILJ 2642 (SCA) at paragraph [19]). Even if the relationship of trust is breached, it would be but one of the factors that should be weighed with others in order to determine whether the sanction of dismissal was fair (see Sidumo and Another v Rustenberg Platinum Mines Ltd and Others 2008 (2) SA (CC) at paragraph [116]).

In conclusion, the Labour Appeal Court agreed with the Labour Court that the decision of the Commissioner was one which a reasonable decisionmaker could make.

Order of the Labour Appeal Court

The appeal was, therefore, dismissed with costs.

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

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Managing your contingent workforce

HR teams must get ready to manage larger numbers of short term and temporary workers.

One on the current trends that HR teams are faced with managing today, is the ever-growing use of temporary or contingent workers. Research has shown that the ratio of permanent employees to that of contingent workers is changing as the new way of work starts manifesting itself in organisations, resulting in the reduction in the use of permanent employees in favour of contingent workers.

This change in the workforce dynamic requires HR teams to start thinking differently when it comes to using its standard policies and procedures when managing a diversified workforce, as these were probably compiled when the workforce was predominantly permanent employees. To this end, not only is a complete overall of these outdated
employment conditions long overdue, but an indepth investigation is also required to look into the various systems and technologies deployed for use by the HR team, to assess their readiness in being able to assist in the management of this new trend effectively.

What many organisations are finding is that, as these alternative work arrangements become more common in the workplace, the challenge is now focused around how new talent can be attracted, engaged and value driven through a workforce that is becoming more and more diversified.

In the Deloitte 2018 Global Human Capital Trends Survey, it was found that only 29 percent of respondents stated that their organisations track their workers’ compliance with work contracts, and only 32 percent track the quality of their work. In essence, to manage this diversified workforce which now comprises of a mix of full time and contingent workers, spread across five generations, HR professionals are forced to relook at their current tools and associated technologies, and assess if they are in fact sufficiently armed to take on the new challenges brought about by these changes viz:

• being able to tap into personal and professional networks of all their employees, including their contingent workforce;
• focusing on the retention of relationships, not the retention of people;
• building powerful alumni networks to provide a reliable source of referrals and being able to attract the return of previous talent; and
• gaining deep visibility of both their internal and external talent pools.

It is thus imperative that, with organisations’ needs and expectations evolving at an everincreasing pace, HR and business leaders need to be empowered to meet and conquer these new challenges through the latest that technology can offer.

In the current environment where employees are connected 24/7 through various social media platforms, it is key that organisations tap into these new technologies to enable them to engage with their employees and improve their overall work experience, which will lead to having a more engaged workforce, resulting in increased productivity and customer satisfaction, which will ultimately lead to improved business results.

When looking at how the latest technologies can assist organisations in managing their contingent workforce, artificial intelligence (AI) is also able to assist in decision making by being able to offer new insights through the analysis of data from various sources. When applied strategically, AI is able to assist HR and business leaders through its predictive analysis capabilities, by providing them with supportive data on projected manpower needs and the associated skills required to meet with the business objectives.

One of the risks however that organisations need to be aware of is that, by expanding the use of contingent workers, they can expose themselves to competitive risk through the loss of trade secrets, intellectual property and, of course, organisational knowledge, especially when contingent workers support business critical functions and interact with customers.

In addition, some other risks that arise can be brought about by the organisation not having an integrated workforce management strategy or system, poor or incomplete data management coupled with outdated or inadequate technology. These shortcomings can expose the organisation to significant risks with regards to their manpower planning.

The term “Total Talent Management” is now being used more and more as the usage of contingent workers grows, which in essence means that organisations now need to look at talent acquisition more holistically, that is, short-term or contingent (temporary) positions need to be viewed in the same light as permanent positions when looking at the various HR processes. In other words, the HR team needs to be applying the full-spectrum of HR processes and procedures for all new-hires irrespective of the type of positions being applied for. In conclusion, organisations who make use of contingent workers need to start ensuring that they apply the concept of “Total Talent Management” for all their talent acquisition and management functions, to ensure that all their talent processes are utilised across the entire workforce, inclusive of both permanent and contingent workers. In order to achieve this successfully, they need to ensure that their HR system is holistic in nature covering all aspects of HR talent processes across the entire workforce spectrum.


Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends Report.

Rob Bothma is an HCM Business Solution Architect at Oracle Corporation SA,, a Fellow of the Institute of People Management and past non-executive director and Vice President of the IPM, co-author of the 4th Edition of Contemporary Issues in HRM.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Employee recognition and employee inclusion … One and the same?

These steps will help you bring inclusion to your workplace.

Research employee recognition and the most common terms appended to it are “employee engagement”, “employee retention”, “employee motivation”. Employee recognition is ultimately indirectly linked to employee well-being, which in turn affects the bottom-line of the company. However, when you delve deeper, a term that seems to be trending these days is “inclusion” (often accompanied by diversity). This article will uncover exactly how and why inclusion and recognition are intertwined.

Defining recognition

A common definition of employee recognition is: “Communication between management and employees who rewards them for reaching specific goals or producing high quality results in the workplace. Recognising or honouring employees for this level of service is meant to encourage repeat actions, through reinforcing the behaviour you would like to see repeated”.

Now that we have that under our belt, let’s move on to the concepts of diversity and inclusion.

Diversity and Inclusion defined

“Diversity” and “inclusion” generally go hand in hand. People often make the mistake of using them interchangeably but they do, in fact, have very different meanings. Diversity refers to representation. This involves the decision of who to recruit, who to hire and who to promote. Simply put, it’s the “who” term. Inclusion is a “call to action” in the workforce that embraces the conscious involvement of the ideas, perspectives, approaches, knowledge and styles of each and every employee for the sake of capitalising on business success.

Over the recent years, diversity has stolen the limelight. Hiring practices that reduce bias is where all the energy has been focused. With that mostly accomplished, the focus can now progress to creating an inclusive environment with an integration of diverse perspectives.

Globoforce’s Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting, Derek Irvine, prioritised inclusion and demonstrated it by means of a moving story. The story states that rapper ‘Common’, responded to Starbuck’s diversity and inclusion training session that shut down all US stores for a day. He said:

“I am grateful to be with you Starbucks partners today, because this work is close to my heart. I want you to see something in your mind’s eye. Close your eyes for a moment. Yes, close them. I want you to think of a time you felt seen.”

Derek Irvine then captures this with a thought provoking conclusion in support of Common’s profound statement: “A time you felt seen.” Isn’t that the heart of what it means to recognise another person? To truly see them? To see them not for what they do (or what they can do for you), what they look like, or how they worship, but to see them for who they truly are – their worth as an individual in society or in your workplace.

Once you have dedicated resources, time, effort, life, into building a well-rounded team that brings its A-game to the table, retention is the next factor of concern. How can you retain an employee that feels undervalued, misunderstood and uncomfortable? That’s where inclusion comes in. A company needs to offer employees what they need to counteract these unconstructive feelings. A company needs to create a workplace that caters for inclusion.

How does one do this?

A workplace where employees will feel included – valued, welcome and comfortable – is a workplace that offers things such as remuneration that is equitable, unconscious bias training and, most of all, an inclusive culture. An inclusive culture is one that has an impact on employees’ perceptions of belonging, equity and psychological safety. This leads us, once again, to recognition.

Use recognition to create an inclusive workplace 

The act of recognition is a simple one. The act of stopping for a minute to express, “I hear you and I see what value you bring, I appreciate all that you contribute,” is so basic but goes such a long way. This statement coins both recognition and inclusion. Here we can see that the two concepts are interchangeable.

Employee recognition can form the base upon which an inclusive culture can be cultivated and sustained. A recognition system can foster diversity. However, one must differentiate between recognition and inclusion when recognition hinders one’s organisation. How does this happen?

Generally, employee recognition programmes have the tendency to reward behaviours that are noninclusive. They also may be aimed at a specific group of people, overlooking diverse perspectives. In contrast to this, here are some suggestions for building a modern recognition system that will foster diversity and inclusion:

1. Recognise in a way that is both visible and interactive:
One can do this through social media platforms or something similar at the company;

2. Tie recognition to the values of the organisation:
By creating a shared set of values, employees are automatically united under the same concept. This may be used as a means to building organisational culture;

3. Recognition can be done to anyone, by anyone:
By building a culture where recognition is so prominent, a positive recognition culture is produced. Employees are united under a common proactive task, leaving people feeling happy, welcome and seen. This will in turn have a domino effect as those that are recognised will do the same for others;

4. Recognition should be performed timeously:
Recognition is most effective when it is immediate. This is due to the fact that the tighter the timing between behaviour and reinforcement, the stronger the reinforcement;

5. Recognition should be frequent:
Similar to the above point, reinforcement is stronger when it is continuous. It gives less time for people to forget the situation at hand and therefore forget behaviours and the outcomes linked to them. Frequent recognition encourages people to stay on track and boosts them further;

6. Recognition should be malleable:
This allows for certain behaviours to be rewarded or for accomplishments that are less obvious to be recognised; and

7. Recognition should be measurable:
Measuring recognition makes it easier to capture where you are and to make the necessary changes when needed.

When recognition is in a sturdy form like this, an inclusion culture has been fostered. Now that your company has an inclusion culture, the rest of the company’s doings need to be addressed in order to continue to build an inclusive workplace. The following steps can be followed:

Train your leaders to be inclusive

Leaders are actually the ones on the front line with employees so it is important that they have fostered the culture and spread values of inclusiveness. Unconscious bias training can also be undergone. Unconscious bias refers to the judgements people make based on race, gender, nationality and other variables, without realising they are doing so.

Unconscious bias training assists by surfacing this unconscious bias to the consciousness, making people aware of the bias. Thereafter, inclusive behaviour is demonstrated as a role-model, such as promoting different points of view (when it comes to performance reviews, meetings or other such communicative events) and active listening. At the end of the day, leaders are the ones to be held accountable for results. Communication should thus be structured with language that enhances inclusion.

Create an inclusion council

A council can be formed by selecting higher level individuals that demonstrate an enthusiasm and commitment to inclusion. The council should be diverse and representative. It should comprise members of various ethnicities, genders, geographic locations and business functions. If such diversity is unavailable at the top level of your institution, it must be ensured that the council members learn about the company’s diversity strategy from the various resource groups, from HR or other such departments. Also, you may well want to address this lack of diversity.

Understand differences and encourage them

An important way to demonstrate to employees that you respect them for who they are is by inviting them to include their traditions and backgrounds within the workplace. This may be done, for example, by hosting events whereby employees showcase the traditional food of their country.

Actively listen to employees

There are various ways companies can actively listen. In one company a “town hall meeting” is held so that staff can communicate with leaders. They are encouraged to divulge what makes them feel comfortable, what they suggest, and what makes them feel included ultimately. Just being listened to makes people feel important and that what they have to say actually matters. Find ways to actively listen to your employees.

Hold meetings that are more organised and effective

Meetings should encourage the active involvement of all the participants and should encourage view points from everyone. Firstly, meeting materials should be distributed in advance so that those who prefer to be given time to go over the information first, can do so. If workers are abroad in different time zones, meetings should be held at a different time each time so that it is fair for everyone. With regards to the way information is relayed, one should be conscious of one’s communication style. One should remain humble and not assume that one knows more than others. Debate should be encouraged in an organised manner – no employee should interrupt another. And, lastly, recognise an employee when they have put an idea up. When someone brings up the idea again, give credit to the person who had first brought it up by applauding them for their idea.

In conclusion

Inclusion results in the happiness and well-being of employees. Inclusion is prominent when you hear an employee say, “I feel welcome,” “I feel heard,” “I feel respected.” Inclusion is making people “feel” something positive about themselves. It is linked to both recognition and diversity. We need to be both a recognition and diverse culture in order to bring inclusion into play. That being said, inclusion can only have one end result … a positive one!

Dr Mark Bussin is the Executive Chairperson at 21st Century Pay Solutions Group,, a Professor at UJ, Professor Extraordinaire at NWU, Chairperson and Member of various boards and remuneration committees, and a former Commissioner in the Office of the Presidency. Daniela Christos is a Candidate HR at 21st Century Pay Solutions Group.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Rethink your views on employee engagement

There are reasons why your employee engagement initiatives won’t work in the new world of work.

Leaders agree that employee engagement and retention are at the top of the priority list. A comment last year by Aon Hewitt observed that, “Employee engagement is falling! With the rise of populism and rapid increase of disruptive technologies, organisations are being challenged in unprecedented ways. To survive the volatility of 2017 and beyond, organisations will need to make tough decisions on how to engage their employees and save their business.”

This is true except, Employee Engagement is not falling. We just need an understanding of what it is becoming in the new world of work.

Right now …

The job market is filled with Millennials who fundamentally think about their roles as a stepping stone and a growth opportunity. But they also want to feel deeply connected and committed to their roles and contribute to organisations that will invest in their development. This isn’t necessarily different from what other generations value. However, a greater emphasis is placed on opportunities to learn, grow and advance.

The traditional HR approach values tenure over impact. Therefore, the focus is on retention and engagement initiatives. We’ve placed emphasis on understanding how to attract and keep a new generation of employees, but what if they don’t need to be kept? What if this new generation requires us to simply partner and enable them to make meaningful contributions to the organisation’s success, while pursuing their own development?

A change in perspective

Using myself as reference, I would say that Millennials, unlike any other generation, are not too shy to make known their plans, which might not include their current employer/organisation. I was once employed, highly committed and engaged (aligned and connected to my company’s overall success), but life happened, my priorities changed and I was no longer aligned to the company’s values, and I moved on. Some of my colleagues on the other hand had already checked out (disengaged) years ago, but were struggling to find other jobs, so they stayed and continued to receive their long service awards.

There was simply no intervention/assessment or incentives that would change or distract me from my “bigger plans” however, in light of the signs of disengagement, my manager attributed it to himself and the organisation’s inability to create job satisfaction and naïvely invested in development plans and cool engagement initiatives that were never going to work for most employees in the long term. This is much like a teenager in love, who tries to show their crush that they have the same long term goals as they do.

In the future role of HR, Employee Engagement is undergoing a metamorphosis that requires us to relook at our current thinking. Here are three things we need to re-think about Employee Engagement in the new world of work:

1. De-emphase the weight placed on tenure and attrition rates.

When creating a job role, HR Professionals need to become more intentional about how long they would like the candidate to occupy the role, as well as how they will motivate and develop them in that period of time. The shift from trying to achieve infinite employee engagement and longer tenure is moving towards the question: how do we enable meaningful work contributions, impact and personal development in the shortest period of time? There are some companies, especially in the management consulting industry, that encourage people to move on after a period of time. They therefore value innovation and development, without placing much weight on attrition rates and they don’t celebrate tenure in certain job roles. In this case, an intentionally high attrition rate becomes the new norm and we start to appreciate those that do move on at the right time.

2. Realise that the need to find alignment in personal and organisational values is fruitless.

In the past we have learned that the alignment of personal and organisational values leads to higher retention rates and employee engagement, however, with the exponential changes in technologies and business, we might need different people with different skills quicker than we can find value alignment (engagement) or develop them. The focus will then be on enabling an environment where employees can contribute more meaningful and impactful work in a shorter period of time.

3. Stop driving behavioural change without really addressing the factors that drive employee performance.

As behavioural specialists, we are eager to drive behavioural change but often send people back to the very environments that produced the behaviours we don’t want.

It might be very easy to put our focus on developing what we think are life changing programmes and initiatives that are devoid of context and a deeper understanding of the root causes of performance deficiencies. We need to consider questions more typically related to engagement, such as inquiries about managerial attention, pay, ergonomics, wellness, communication, culture, transparency, meaning, one’s future with the company, recognition, teamwork, empowerment and accomplishment. I have experienced a manager that was more interested in developing my will to innovate, but put internet quotas in place and restricted all social media platforms, which were a critical part of idea sharing and information. He was driving a certain behaviour but his trust issues disabled the environment and defaulted to how things are always done.

All I am saying …

There are many drivers of engagement, and understanding them in the context of the future will assist organisations to look at how they recruit, lead, develop and measure the success of their employees in the long term. In the new world of work, more value is placed on innovative and meaningful work over time rather than tenure and infinite employee engagement. This presents a contemporary challenge for HR to become the driver of the new employee and employer relationship that is emerging.

Refiloe Manyaka is the Chief Executive Officer of Twice Blue,, a strategic partner, assisting organisations to build capacity and reach objectives through their human capital.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

On-boarding case study

Top Employer Accenture shares how they create an environment that enables their new joiners to thrive.

Our supportive, human-centred, yearlong onboarding programme is all about thinking global and acting local. Aligned with the global New Joiner Orientation (NJO) agenda, the locally relevant programme incorporates some of the best strategies for fast tracking new joiners’ journeys to meaningful, fulfilling, productive work.

And it all starts before they walk through the front door.

Prior to their first day, new joiners experience Countdown to Accenture – our pre-onboarding programme, which focuses on building excitement, comfort and context. To do this, we employ gamification techniques, for example, with our innovative Sky Journey app. With 25 levels of increasingly difficult gameplay, the app challenges new joiners to operate a futuristic airport using real Accenture strategy as well as digital, technology and operations offerings. It’s all about improving systems and sustainability, satisfying customers, and having fun! Millennials represent a large proportion of new joiners, so finding the best way to connect and generate interest is key.

The next phase is all about building momentum and getting ready for impact – introducing new joiners to the magnitude of the difference they can make as part of the Accenture family.

Our formal welcome is a two-day orientation programme, focused on exploring the Accenture Way – valuing inclusion and diversity, collaboration and working with purpose. During the welcome, we ensure our new joiners have access to leadership, who facilitate business overview sessions and explore our culture and core values.

But that’s not the end – not by a long shot. A critical element of Accenture’s ethos is what we call truly human – being able to be your whole self, so that you can be your best, professionally and personally. The first-year framework supports this ethos and is tailored to a year-long online learning programme.

In the mix is everything from new joiner webcasts and bringing communities of people together to tips for career success from Accenture leadership. There is also our ‘buddy’ system, under which new joiners receive the support of a peer advisor in addition to coaches and supervisors or managers. There’s also the seven-week personal integration programme, covering everything from simple logistics such as workstation and telephone setup to stationery requests and scheduling meetings.

We also help our new joiners familiarise themselves with Performance Achievement – our approach to performance management that includes realtime, forward-looking conversations about setting priorities, growing strengths and creating rewarding career opportunities for our people – as well as the Gallup Strengths Finder tool, so those new to the workplace see how to best leverage their unique capabilities in a team setting.

On our internal ‘portal,’ the ever-changing articles, blogs, series and memos mean access to insights on how to be more successful, productive and confident at Accenture. Series such as ‘Year One Stories’ is an example of fun, interactive stories that reinforce Accenture’s success strategies.

Our people take advantage to share ideas and advice on our blog, take a look.

The primary goal of this blog is to share ideas on how to better get to know and navigate Accenture. It is written with new joiners in mind, but my hope is that some tips may benefit our “old timers” as well. Accenture is constantly evolving so there is always something new to learn!

Beyond this, there are the 10 tips on making a success of your first year at Accenture. A few years ago, an Accenture analyst set out to discover what steps he could take to be successful. He interviewed over fifty of Accenture’s top employees, at all levels of the company, and asked them, “How can I succeed in such a large company, full of so many talented people?” The answers are ready and waiting for new joiners to explore on the portal.

Nelisa Doda is the HR Lead at Accenture South Africa,

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

South Africa’s ‘Born Free’ generation in the workplace Part 2

Wellbeing challenges of Millennials.

South Africa is still recovering from unique historical circumstances rooted in inequalities that hinder growth in employment and impact the educational sectors (Horwitz et al., 2006), including shortcomings of national training facilities and the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). The accumulation of these deterring events generates particular challenges for employers and the workforce.

South African organisations face surmounting challenges to find talented and skilled employees in a limited pool (McKechnie and Bridgens, 2008). Meanwhile, forward-thinking organisations try to outsmart competitors seeking young employees using “people management differentiation” (Markova and Ford, 2011) to attract talented individuals, motivate them to attain high productivity, and retain them in the organisation as a fundamental business priority.

Challenge 1: Attraction factors: What counts for Millennials?

The reputation of employers is an essential factor to attract job applicants to specific positions when they seek additional information about an organisation (Collins, 2006). The value of reputation or a recognised brand are competitive edges notorious in South Africa (Moroko and Uncles, 2008) as worldwide and a critical factor that yields benefits as preferred source of employability. Organisations that show commitment to improve the internal as much as the external environment attract Millennials seeking to match values of their own. Millennials who seek to make meaningful contribution to an organisation and remaining true to themselves, are drawn by these organisations.

Beyond remuneration and income, the prospects of career growth, work/life balance, strong sense of purpose, investment in and use of technology, opportunity to travel, and professional development, all are factors that attract young people to organisations (Deloitte, 2016).

As a consequence of skilled shortage mentioned earlier, young talented South Africans are in the unique position to choose an employer based on their specific criteria rather than settle for ‘just a job’. South African organisations face a dual challenge to compete with other organisations for talent and to offer a high level of mobility to Millennials within the workforce (Bussin and Moore, 2012).

Organisational solutions

Drawing from strategies deployed by successful global organisations to attract high skilled Millennials, South African employers are making adjustments in recruiting and organisational work climate to include preferences of the young generation (Erickson, 2008; Howe and Strauss 2007) that include 1) communication about the what and how; and 2) the i-deal proposition.

1. Communication – the what and how

As was previously stated, Millennials are attracted to organisations with good reputation, intensive use of technology, and access to continuous growth and development. Reputation matters to Millennials and when they have the opportunity to choose between organisations, recognition and prestige become central factors. Therefore, more
organisations need to ensure that their public profiles are regularly updated with key messages attractive to Millennials. Beyond website updates, webmasters must be aware of current trends and social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter that encourage job applications given that online job searching is among the most popular recruitment methods. In addition – organisations need to develop social recruiting platforms with relevant data that provide insider’s view of organisational culture using videos and snapshot showing activities of young employees in work days (Moye, 2013).

Millennial employees can also help as recruiters of new talent. These referrals can occur through employees sharing job vacancies via social networks, advertising growth opportunities, and promoting future and ongoing training and development. One of the key attractions for Millennials is certainty that their chosen organisation will continue to show interest in their continuous learning capacity. Ongoing training and development is an area ‘Born Frees’ demand as part of the employment package and career development and includes partial or full study reimbursement (Bussin and van Rooy, 2014). An effective source of applicants and talent search is embedded in strategic alliances between job provider, organisations, the workforce and educational institutions. This is a partnership that facilitates necessary input in curriculum development and help advisory committees to synchronize graduates’ skills and competences demanded in the workforce, sponsor graduate career fairs to inform about organisations’ profile, and study reimbursement fringe benefits for high achievers high school students and graduates.

2. An i-deal value proposition

The notion of idiosyncratic deals (or i-deals) underpins the customised employee value proposition. An i-deal, “grants workers preferred employment condition(s) and helps employers attract, motivate, and/or retain highly valued contributors” (Rousseau et al., 2009, p. 980). Typically, employees negotiate conditions that satisfy personal needs and preferences of applicants. An example of an i-deal is the salary structure which is an important factor for Millennials. Young employees need assurance that the organisation offers a suitable base remuneration consistent with benchmarking standards and allows progression in the organisation. While pension funds and investment share schemes seem to be less attractive to ‘Born Frees’ than bonuses and cash incentives (Bussin and van Rooy, 2014).

I-deals are important because from their perspective offer win-win employment situations that encourage organisations to customise people’s management strategies. Employers need innovative ways to attract skilled ‘Born Free’ applicants and i-deals help organisations face fierce competition for skilled employees. I-deals have shown a positive impact on organisational commitment that plays a significant role in employees’ motivation and retention (Ng and Feldman, 2010).

Challenge 2: Motivating and engaging Millennials

Two areas require special attention to engage Millennials with their work: a) provision of regular performance feedbacks and clarity of career development path, and b) explicit and meaningful performance recognition. Frequent and effective communication is at the heart of these concerns for Millennials. Most of them seek on-going reassurance that they are valued and that seek frequent feedback and appreciate managers who are supportive and nurturing as leaders (Wieck, 2003; Wieck et al., 2003).

Although Millennials seek increasing involvement with work and the organisational environment, this is a subtle consideration that requires good balance between work demands without overwhelming young employees with a high volume of tasks with negatively impacting on personal life. Although in the short-term this may not seem an important issue for new employees, symptoms of increasing stress and burnout require fast attention because in general this generation places greater importance on worklife balance than previous generations (Smola and Sutton, 2002; Zemke et al., 2000).

Furthermore, Millennials need personal support from organisational leaders well equipped with skills to help them to manage projects effectively and make decisions necessary to deliver expected results (Chartered Management Institute, 2008).

This series is based on a chapter extracted with permission from the book Wellbeing for sustainability in the workplace, part of the Routledge Human Centered Management series.

Linda Ronnie is an Associate Professor in Organisational Behaviour and People Management at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business,

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Prepare your workforce for 2028

We can’t predict the future, but we can help prepare those who will work in it.

For most people, the year 2028 seems like the very distant future. But when you consider that 18 years have already passed since the prospect of a new millennium had the world in a panic over what would happen to their computers and data, the next 10 years is sure to fly by at a similarly eye-watering pace.

Interestingly, while the number of days per year is never going to change, the pace at which the world changes every day is guaranteed to keep accelerating. And, while it’s possible that predictions of driverless cars, wearable cellphones and voice controlled appliances will have become our lifestyle realities in 2028, the one area in which complete transformation is guaranteed is the world of work.

Thanks to a combination of elements, not least of which are rapid technological evolution, massive urbanisation and fast-diminishing energy, water and food resources, the relationship between industry and broader society is set to quickly and radically change. This is the true impact of the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. Not just that the role of technology is growing; but that this increasing technological impact demands a completely new way of thinking about the work we do, and the impact we have on society through it.

Of course, it’s very difficult to contemplate this future when we can’t really define it. For example, it’s been posited by numerous trend analysts that the hottest, most sought-after jobs in 2028 don’t yet even exist. Then there are the other transformative forces that will shape the way we work in a decade’s time, the most notable of which are almost certain to be the prioritisation of innovation over function; the massive growth of large corporations, but the shrinking of physical work spaces as remote and contract employment arrangements reduce on-site staff counts; and the rising importance of social and environmental sustainability commitments as the essential cornerstones of employee, employer, customer and investor value propositions.

Most analysts broadly agree that these workplace changes are inevitable, but the one area in which futurists appear unable to reach consensus is whether or not the stellar advances in artificial intelligence and automation will mean that, in 10 years’ time, robots are performing the majority of functions currently done by humans in the workplace. While this is understandably a source of worry for those who feel their roles could be done by robots, the fear of robotics advances is typically tempered by the argument that the rise of technology and artificial intelligence will, in fact, create untold new work opportunities. These will, however, be very different in shape, form and function from the jobs most people currently hold.

All of this begs the question: How can the learners and students of today ensure that they are prepared for future work roles that can’t yet even be clearly defined? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. There’s also no denying that universities, governments and employers have a vital role to play in helping today’s students become tomorrow’s thriving employees, managers and leaders. The first, and arguably most important, step towards delivering on that responsibility is to focus less on leveraging technology and automation as merely a means to greater profitability, and more on how the workforce of the future might engage with technology for the mutual benefit of corporations and society.

Ultimately, it matters little what the world looks like in 10, 20 or even 100 years’ time. What’s really important is that the people who live and work in that world have been equipped to stay firmly in touch with their human-ness. So, while robots may be doing a lot of the work, and the concept of full-time employment for life will probably have become somewhat archaic, the focus of the workplace should, and will, always be on people. More specifically, that focus will need to be on how to best equip and enable employees to engage with technology to achieve the types and levels of outputs that we probably cannot even contemplate today.

This means that preparing today’s young people to be productive employees tomorrow requires a shift in education focus, and employment criteria, from purely academic-based learning outcomes to the demonstrable ability to access and leverage knowledge, acquire, adapt and grow skills sets, and engage meaningfully with others and the world at large. Because, while competition, capitalism and commoditisation may well be at all-time highs by 2028, an agile and innovative human workforce, with a sincere commitment to ethics, sustainability, fairness and the greater good, will ultimately always differentiate the successful future organisation from the failed one.

Professor Alwyn Louw is the President and Academic President at Monash South Africa,

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Want to avoid losing your good employees?

Make your culture inclusive and you’ll retain your talent.

Some C-suite executives take the view from 30,000 feet, but don’t see everything going on within the many organisational levels below.

It may be time to answer the pressing question they keep asking themselves these days: “Why do some of our best employees keep changing planes?”

Turnover is a concern for many companies – and at many different job levels. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employees are staying in a job on average for 1.5 years. So retention is becoming a relic.

Why is that? From up high in the organisational stratosphere, an honest look at the entire work atmosphere is necessary. And much of that vibe in the culture starts with how comfortable and engaged – or not – people feel on a daily basis.

In short, do they feel included? Truly valued? Or are those diversity statements just empty promises? Much of employee retention – and lack thereof – is tied to the level of inclusion employees feel in the workplace. Studies have established that diversity initiatives can be a driving force in the overall betterment of companies, from financial performance to recruiting and retention. But none of that – especially employee retention – happens at a high rate without inclusivity in the work culture.

Diversity is clearly important in terms of demographic representation, but inclusivity walks the walk, going the vital extra steps where everyone has opportunity and voice and thus becomes fully engaged. Inclusivity is fundamentally about the culture; it’s about how comfortable all employees feel about bringing their whole selves – their authentic selves – to work.

Thus, companies wanting to recruit and retain diverse employees need to create a culture of inclusion, which needs to start at the top and be woven into the day-to-day operations. If you don’t retain most of your top employees, and you lost them because they lost faith in your programme or never could build trust in it, then the mathematical increases you make in diversity numbers don’t carry the same weight.

How can companies achieve real inclusivity? First, companies need to get back to the basics. Many businesses struggle with retaining good talent, a critical driver for profitability and sustainability. The core of the issue? Employees leave because they don’t feel supported in achieving goals aligned with their personal – as well as organisational – visions. Studies such as one by Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative reflect the need for inclusion relative to Millennials. After all, Millennials will comprise nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. The study found Millennials put a premium on inclusion, examples of which to them are when leaders and the culture promote a collaborative environment and recognise all employees for their unique value. The problems come, the study said, when managers and upper-level executives don’t allow Millennials to express freely.

So, what needs to happen? It’s about making a fundamental shift in company culture to one that is truly inclusive, collaborative, and high-performing. There are practical solutions to facilitate employee collaboration in order to achieve goals that matter for both themselves and their organisations.

C-suite executives and managers at each level can consider myriad ways to establish and sustain inclusivity. Some examples: Give all team members a chance to be heard; take time to get to know your team; spread out the cherished opportunities so as to convey a sense of real, equal opportunity; help diverse team members find their way on the company roadmap; and leverage technology to help facilitate day-to-day engagement, collaboration, development, and success of your employees.

The bottom line: companies with inclusive cultures have lower turnover and are more attractive to clients. This leads to higher profits and sustainability. In my book PO-LING POWER, I connect employee retention in a “Virtuous Cycle,” starting with an inclusive community. That, in turn, leads to employee engagement, employee success and development, organisational success and increased diversity. Ultimately, real inclusion means more employee retention and enhanced recruiting, as word gets out that the company walks the walk. The PO-LING POWER framework provides a tool to keep everyone focused on what matters for both the individual and organisation.

By helping to foster an environment where everyone helps each other to achieve goals aligned with personal vision – that is, each person’s authentic self – as well as organisational objectives, an organisation can build a genuinely inclusive community that will better attract and retain diverse talent.

Betty Ng is the founder/CEO of Inspiring Diversity, LLC “iD,” (, which works with organisations to drive profitability and sustainability through increased employee inclusion, engagement and performance. She is the co-author of PO-LING POWER: Propelling Yourself and Others to Success. Based in the Greater New York City area, Ng holds degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Business School. She is a tech entrepreneur, media and content creator, author, trainer, public speaker and consultant. Ng was a high-level executive at Citigroup and Moody’s and has written for several top-tier publications including Forbes and Bustle.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

How to spot fraud before it happens

Prevention is the most effective way to combat fraud occurring in your business.

It’s important to ensure you have strong business practices that make it difficult for fraud to occur and, if it does occur, make it easy to detect and address. There are also key indicators that you could have a problem, including late financial and other reporting, un-reconciled and unexplained account balances, rushed system implementations that may help “cover up” the audit trail, and sudden resignations of key staff with access and control over assets and/or reporting. Not all fraud is simple theft of company money. Fraud includes redirecting the companies’ tax deposits, taking kickbacks, buying products not for the company, and the company pays for it, running compensation through Accounts Payable and so forth. Often fraud includes elements of cover up and obfuscation that can lead to a significant delay in detection.

Measures that can help prevent fraud from occurring are:

1. Communication

The first and most important component of preventing fraud is communication. To prevent fraud, communication policies should include clear policies and expectations related to reporting and report-monitoring on processes and protocols in the company. Generating and monitoring reports lets stakeholders in the business know that what’s happening is being watched, making fraud harder to get away with.

Keeping an eye on operations through reports can also help identify fraud right away, if it does occur. Setting clear standards of communication in the organisation creates a foundation on which fraud can be prevented. Basically, the tone at the top has to stress a highly ethical environment where wrong doing will not only not be tolerated, but will also be prosecuted. Perhaps overused, but the saying, “If you think you saw something, say something,” has to be part of the culture. Larger companies may want to consider an anonymous tip off line for reporting strange or suspicious activities.

2. Policies

Along with communication, it is necessary for an organisation to have policies and procedures that can be referred to by all stakeholders. The policies and procedures provide standards for the way stakeholders handle certain circumstances or information. When it is clear how information should be handled, there is a decreased likelihood that sloppy procedures can be blamed for fraud practices. For example, limiting sensitive information to relevant stakeholders can keep other employees from gaining access to something they shouldn’t have access to. The policies should also outline risk tolerance for the business, which helps ensure that stakeholders know when activity should be reported and how it should be handled. It is also essential that, when something seems wrong, the company looks into it right away and resolves it and does not just assume it’s probably nothing or will clear itself. Basically, policies must be enforced and when violated, investigated and staff help accountable.

3. Data Analysis

One of the advantages of technology is that it can also be used to detect potential fraud in your organisation. Data analysis software examines transactions in your business and generates reports that focus on key performance indicators and statistical anomalies. Through these reports, stakeholders can identify trends in the organisation, spot problems and help prevent fraud from occurring. Sometimes, just knowing (or thinking) that data is being analysed and monitored keeps individuals from committing fraud. However, using the reports to monitor operations can ensure that, if there is a problem, it can be addressed quickly to minimise damage to the company. As noted earlier, late, bad and missing reporting could be a signal that a deeper look is needed right away.

4. Networking

Another way to prevent fraud is to connect with other businesses and stakeholders in fraud prevention. Networking with fraud prevention professionals and other organisations working to prevent fraud can be useful. Specifically, it can help keep you updated on innovations and advancements in fraud prevention and provide information that can be used to strengthen your organisation’s fraud prevention measures. In addition, since technology solutions advance quickly, networking can help ensure that you’re using the best fraud prevention technology for your company’s needs.

5. Corporate culture

The corporate culture of your organisation can also contribute to preventing fraud in the company. A positive corporate culture will help prevent fraud because stakeholders will not want to do anything that could damage the organisation or their position in it. When employees and other stakeholders are invested in the organisation because of its positive corporate culture, they will also be more likely to work within the organisation to help prevent fraud and report it if they become aware of it. This can ensure that the business is operating without any obstacles.

Spotting fraud can be as simple as monitoring data analysis reports and having clear expectations of all stakeholders. Whether your company is at high risk for fraud or not, taking steps to prevent fraud and spot it early keeps your company on track for success. A very tangible side benefit is a deeper understanding of the transactional nature of the business which can be used for process improvement and resulting in a better bottom line.

Jennifer Barnes is Co-Founder and President of San Diego-based Pro Back Office in the US,

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

Meet the HR Agility scale

This tool will help you to determine how agile your HR function is.

Taking a proactive approach to occupational health and safety will help small contractors to build their businesses and help the industry as a whole to transform and realise its potential. Even better, there is a way to achieve this.

There has been an increased focus lately on the need for ‘HR Agility’ within progressive organisations that are seeking a profound competitive edge in the Digital world. However, there is a lurking concern that ‘HR Agility’ is in danger of becoming the ‘trending buzzword’ in corporate conversations, rather than, actually delivering on its promise. Let’s gain an understanding of what ‘HR Agility’ actually is through the discerning lens of a clear and simple definition before proceeding any further. ‘HR Agility’ is the capability of the HR function to respond more quickly and effectively to changing employee expectations, workplace disruptions and business requirements. Therefore, the expectations for the HR function are being elevated to a level where it can keep pace with the evolving demands of the Digital world.

A significant number of HR Leaders see ‘HR Agility’ as their ‘ticket’ to the ‘big table’ for stamping their justifiable presence as strategic partners in determining/cementing the future direction of the organisation. This has prompted quite a few ‘visible’ initiatives that have been hastily undertaken to provide ample evidence in the respective context. However, this also opens the door for committing significant errors, especially, in terms of overestimating the inherent strengths of the HR function and the daunting challenges of maintaining a brisk pace while delivering desired results on multiple fronts.

Consequently, it is prudent to gain a clear understanding of the status-quo in order to ensure that a baseline is firmly established before any measures are taken within the realm of ‘HR Agility’. This also systemises the approach to ingraining agility within the HR function and lays the foundation for consistently providing a high probability of success in terms of fulfilling desired expectations. The HR Agility Scale (HAS) on the following page, can be used for an honest self-reflection.

The result obtained from utilising the aforementioned HR Agility Scale (HAS) can then be used to develop astute strategies/action plans that are designed in congruence with associated goals/objectives. Another effective way to benefit from the HR Agility Scale (HAS) is to use it periodically, such as annually, for developing a temporal record of the status-quo in order to gauge the improvement level in the agility of the HR Function and the lessons learnt in terms of overcoming any impediments/challenges. This can also be tied to corroborating performance metrics, such as average time to hire, average cost per hire, average complaint resolution time, performance rating average of HR employees, bench strength for succession planning, problem employee rate, HR function satisfaction rate, annual training and development (T&D) cost per employee, annual training and development (T&D) hours per employee, diversity and inclusion (D&I) rate and so forth, and surveys from ‘client’ functions within the organisation that can provide factual evidence of the HR function’s enhanced ability to meet/exceed expectations.

HR Agility requires ‘sincere’ teamwork with ‘client’ functions and it thrives on constructive feedback that is crucial for refining the approach taken to provide seamless services. The aforementioned scale inevitably creates a robust bond between the role played by the HR Function and the organisational imperatives. Furthermore, it provides the impetus for innovation that is increasingly becoming a life-saving skill for organisations in an era where the proverbial sun routinely sets on the titans of yesterday still caught up in the hangover of past accomplishments and perilously ignoring or being complacent at the rise of ambitious start-ups eager to disrupt the corporate landscape.

Murad Salman Mirza is a Committed Organisational Architect, Positive Change Driver, Unrepentant Success Addict and a globally published author based in the United Arab Emirates.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

HR Agility scale

5 must have skills for HR in any company

Do you have what it takes to make a success of HR.

How HR departments function and operate have evolved. This holds true for HR teams in any industry. Whether a company sells hardware tools like The Home Depot, or makes skincare products like Nu Skin, company reviews demonstrate just how effectively those HR departments are adapting.

HR departments no longer only take care of payroll or handle employee disputes. For HR Professionals to succeed, they need to have the necessary skills for their respective job functions. Here are five “must have” skills for HR in any company:

1. Strategic thinking

Gone are the days where HR simply gives new company employees a key to the front door and explains insurance benefits. The days are also over where HR employees function purely as comment suggestion boxes. In order for the HR department to be taken seriously, HR Professionals need to become strategic thinkers. HR Professionals need to rise above menial tasks that will eventually be taken over by software programmes, such as compliance and payroll. To become strategic thinkers, members of HR need to understand how they can add value to the goals and objectives of a company.

2. Data analysis

Being able to understand the value of Big Data and how to make data-based decisions is a must-have skill for HR. The use of Cloud-based HR systems has given HR departments all around the world the opportunity to gather data that can be used to make better decisions. As HR practitioners learn to use data, they will be able to add greater value to the organisation they are a part of. They will be able to improve employee productivity, attract the best talent, and improve how their company takes care of employees.

3. Improved internal communications

How many employees actually know the benefits they are entitled to? Do all members of the company know when the next “town hall” meeting is? The percentage of information employees receive can drastically improve with creative communications. Methods used by HR to share information need to adapt and evolve with the times. This is due in part to the fact that the workforce is changing in age, and technology has changed the way people want to receive information. Companies can enable HR departments to more effectively communicate internally by using media such as video to announce policy changes and upcoming parties. Simply stapling a flyer on the bulletin board next to the bathroom will no longer do the job. It’s not good enough. HR practitioners need to be creative and resourceful.

4. People-savvy skills

As most people know, HR Professionals need to have great people skills. Interpersonal skills are critical to the success of any HR department. Without these skills to effectively engage with people in any setting, the members of any HR department cannot succeed. The ability to keep the human element in mind is vital to the long-term success of any company whether it’s a company of 100 people or a company of 100,000 people.

5. Risk management

All HR Professionals need to know how to handle things when something goes wrong. HR Professionals also need to know what to do to prevent problems and also need to understand the risk involved in the following HR functions:
a. Compensation negotiation;
b. Benefits;
c. Employee supervision;
d. Exiting employees; and
e. Onboarding new employees.

When HR Professionals understand how to handle risk involved, they can be more effective and save the company money in the long run.

Lindsey Patterson is a freelance writer and entrepreneur based in the US who specialises in business technology, customer relationship management, and lead management. She also writes about the latest social trends, specifically involving social media.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

New mandate for leaders in a learning organisation

What it means to be a leader in a learning organisation.

Our traditional view of a leader is flawed. In this view, a leader is a person who sets directions, makes the key decisions, and energises people. Such an idea is deeply rooted in the ruggedly individualistic worldview. By contrast, leadership in learning organisations centres on more subtle work. Here, the leaders are designers, stewards and teachers. Their main skill is in building a learning organisation. They are not necessarily charismatic leaders, but they create an environment which is conducive to autonomous learning within the organisation.

The opportunities for learning within any organisation are plentiful. Many organisations are infused with people from different backgrounds and ethnicities. This important attribute may define the role for a leader to enhance the learning opportunities for the members of an organisation. One method for enhancing the learning of the members may be for the leaders of an organisation to assist the learners in understanding or even designing the mission and vision for the organisation and then asking the learners how this could be achieved through a learning endeavour. Again, the leaders of a learning organisation ensure that learning endeavours are designed and practised throughout the entire organisation.

This approach can be described as bottomup learning, where front-line employees influence managers and leaders of the organisation. The factors associated with autonomous learning are in place within a leadership setting; they can best be described as self-directed leadership. The leaders of an organisation must enhance through sparking the desire of employees to learn; this may enable the employees to take the initiative to start a learning endeavour. Thus, learning and actually embracing learning throughout the organisation should certainly involve the people who comprise the organisation. Many leaders offer training endeavours which are, for the most part, designed by consulting trainers for specific skills. By contrast, some training programmes are designed by the employees themselves and training is imparted by their senior colleagues. Both these patterns of training are seen in the learning organisation. Learning organisations do not operate in a vacuum. They have to be operated on a day to day basis, which requires administrative leadership.

The tasks undertaken by an administrative leader ensure the continuity of an organisation on a day to day basis. The leader requires feedback to enhance and ensure the organisation can function effectively. The second form of leadership is by mentoring. In this role, the leader encourages the participation of employees in their daily activities. More important, however, is the leader’s ability to connect individuals who need knowledge from each other, transitioning new members – and members on the periphery – into the core activities of the organisation, and being a spokesperson or advocate of the organisation outside its boundaries.

The role of a leader in a learning organisation is implicit in the very definition of a learning organisation. Pedler (1989) defined it as an “organisation which facilitates the learning of all its members and continually transforms itself.” This implies that leadership of a learning organisation should facilitate the learning of an individual or a team at an organisational level through various techniques, such as individual or team-building programmes or through mentoring. Garvin (1993) defines a learning organisation as an “organisation skilled at creating, acquiring and transferring knowledge and modifying its behaviour to reflect new knowledge and insight.”

The emphasis on the role of a leader in facilitating collective learning can be easily attributed to this idea. It used to be that organisations were designed based on the old, bureaucratic, command-andcontrol model. Currently, however, that model is being replaced by a model based on learning and self-renewal. The old model is crumbling because it has proved inadequate in facing new challenges.

Therefore, a search is underway for a new kind of organisation that accommodates radical change. Ideally, such an organisation would build the capacity to thrive on change. Thus, Peter Senge of MIT (1990) describes this new organisation as an organisation that teaches stakeholders to learn how they create their own reality. In fact, such learning organisations are designed to capture the imagination of an organisation’s employees and galvanise their efforts to achieve a higher purpose, ideal or cause.

Such learning organisations bond people together in a search for excellence. Such learning organisations have a strong emotional appeal that engages stakeholders to commit their full energies and minds to achieve a higher ideal. If this ideal is achieved, it can position the firm for industry-wide leadership. Furthermore, in a learning organisation, motivation is recognised as being inherent in an employee. A learning organisation believes that employees are self-motivated and individuals and teams can set their own agenda for learning. A learning organisation perceives itself to be a living system in which every part is connected to every other part. Such a learning organisation encourages cross-functional and cross-organisational communications and believes in a cross-fertilisation of ideas.

In a learning organisation, training is not an event. Rather, process knowledge is encouraged during training. Everyone gets involved, not just in learning but also in teaching. People tend to learn from one another. For example, a learning organisation learns from its employees, suppliers, vendors and customers. Moreover, in a learning organisation, learning and teaching are not a responsibility of their training departments. In fact, everybody is responsible for learning and teaching. Many organisations do not know how to transform their groups into teams. However, in a learning organisation, team members understand one another’s priorities and help and support other team members when difficulties arise.

In traditional organisations, conflict in groups is considered as disturbance to be avoided. In contrast, learning organisations welcome conflict in a team and view this as an opportunity to find solutions to problems. Through dialogue, conflicts can be resolved before they become destructive. Therefore, a leader in a learning organisation must have excellent communication skills and must permit a free flow of communication among members. The leader must be perceived as being open, fair, honest and willing to listen. Thus, a leader in a learning organisation must be a good coach because coaching helps people to grow and adjust to the organisation as a whole. This is the new mandate for stakeholders in a learning organisation.

Dr Archan Mehta has a PhD in Management and is based in India. He has over 10 years of work experience in sectors like Media, Food Services, Hospitality, Education, and Security. He is currently a Consultant.

Let’s bust the myth that the only way to reduce costs is automation

If you bear in mind that automation is a double-edged sword, you’ll be a lot better off.

I feel compelled to make a confession at the outset here. I am not anti-automation. In fact, automation was the focus of my entire career after graduating in the very first batch from the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Mechatronics Engineering degree back in 1998! I recall studying PID controllers and programming a robot using hexadecimal machine code at the UNSW Engineering lab. You will still catch me regularly writing Visual Basic code for complex Excel spreadsheets. So I’ve certainly got a soft spot for automation. My intention here is to challenge your thinking to check if automation is the only solution left to reduce costs or increase capacity.

After graduating, my first job was working as a process engineer at a manufacturing company where they had hundreds of employees “making it all happen” — there was zero automation. That is where I learnt there is so much potential with the existing people and processes to reduce costs, before investing more in capital equipment.

My view quite simply is that there is definitely a place for automation. However, before you go down that path, there’s more you could get from your current processes, even if you think they are maxed out in terms of capacity and potential.

“Today we are bombarded with technological solutions to automate activities even in our day-today life. So it is not surprising that we seek more and more tech-based solutions in our manufacturing sites as well.”

At your manufacturing site, I’m sure you have come across employee relations issues, from absenteeism to poor performance, where you’d be forgiven for thinking, “Is there a solution where these situations don’t arise …?” Perhaps the quality defects that created all the rework last month, eroding a fair chunk of the profit margins, begged the question whether automation could have avoided the situation. Typical scenarios where automation is explored as a solution are when manufacturers want to pursue the benefits, such as increasing labour productivity, reducing labour costs, reducing or eliminating routine manual tasks, improving worker safety, improving product quality and reducing defects/mistakes.

Whatever the situation and the challenges, the main question that you should be asking is, “Have I got the best possible efficiencies from the current processes, equipment and employees?”

Whilst automation may be the answer to some situations, it may also bring some nasty surprises that you hadn’t anticipated. If your existing processes are poor, then automating in most cases will result in a poor automated process. My recommendation is to make any process effective first, then make it efficient.

Why do we fall into this trap?

We are bombarded with technological solutions for nearly everything we do. Manufacturing can have so many variables: equipment performance, employee issues, material variation, etc. We believe automation can be a plug-play technology that can eliminate all the headaches.

For example, you may have come across the term Industry 4.0 in print media, blogs, presentations and other places. Industry 4.0 is a term that is generating its fair share of interest, attention and hype.

What is Industry 4.0? At present, we are going through the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) since the invention of the steam engine late in the 18th century.

Coined as “Industry 4.0” by the German government in 2011 following the global financial crisis, it promises to advance the manufacturing sector with the Internet-of-Things (IoT), Big Data and cyber-physical systems – connecting our supply chains from paddock to plate. The progression from Industry 1.0 to 4.0 is shown in the following diagram:

Automation image

The cost of automation is decreasing, making it more affordable for small and medium businesses. While the thought of automation taking care of the issues you have today (productivity, throughput, etc.) can bring a sense of relief, I’m sorry, however, to burst your bubble! Automation could potentially introduce unforeseen problems as well.

Common pitfalls of this approach

With regards to concepts explored under Industry 4.0, there is a major difference between the technological advancements that the leading German automation companies are making and the food manufacturing sector here in Australia. Most here have not even gone through Industry 3.0 revolution yet. It is concerning that many may get into trouble by believing that they could make a quantum leap in a single bounce, expecting Industry 4.0 to be a silver bullet.

One of the case studies presented in this chapter involves Industry 3.0 implementations. What happened in the example is definitely not an isolated case; in fact it is not that uncommon even for the “big boys.”

The people in your business today generally “make it happen” due to their adaptability. Owing to this flexibility, there is one aspect of your current processes that may not be a concern right now – equipment tolerances. This can be particularly true when it comes to packaging processes.

You may have been able to negotiate an extremely low price for your raw material, as you didn’t have to worry about the tight tolerances. With automation, however, machines have a very low threshold to variability. Therefore, you may find all of a sudden that the raw material specifications need to be tightened up, which in most cases come with an increase to cost.

While you may get step change in productivity and throughput, don’t be surprised if the scrap levels increase as well. I’m not talking about the absolute quantity, as that would be a given considering the increased speeds.

I’m talking about percentage of scrap: the machine jam-ups, the stop-starts to troubleshoot issues, the increased raw material waste at end-of-run (which may not be reusable) can all increase scrap rates quite rapidly.

As operators try to grapple with new ways of working, be prepared to expect a slip-up here and there where batches may need to be either reworked or discarded.

Automation also adds another level of complexity to safety (OH&S). Let me explain both ends of the spectrum that I’m aware of as I write this chapter. On one end we have incidents causing fatalities where human and machine interaction have gone horribly wrong. When you speak with the families of the individuals who have passed away, it is irrelevant whether it was the operator’s fault or the machine malfunction that caused the fatality.

On the other end of the spectrum we now have “Cobots” (collaborative robots) that are designed to work side-by-side with human operators in a collaborative way. They are designed with sophisticated safety features where they immobilise at the slightest touch, preventing any danger to operators around them.

However, if you have a culture where employees take shortcuts and the term OH&S wakes you up in a cold sweat at night, then integrating even a Cobot to your workplace would require some serious effort. Even if the implementation goes well and none of the issues discussed so far are a concern for you, there is one more point that requires your attention before you sign that purchase order for automation: increased maintenance costs. Bringing in new equipment adds another layer of complexity to maintenance — spare parts, training of maintenance staff, preventative maintenance schedule, lubrication schedule, etc., all of which require time, resources and money.

Any tweaking or optimising of the programme that runs the automated equipment in most cases requires the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to visit the site and make all the necessary changes. This could add frustration for your own maintenance staff as they would feel somewhat helpless. Apart from the cost aspect, having to wait for the OEM to turn up can be frustrating and on some occasions crippling if you are in the middle of a production start-up, with your entire crew twiddling thumbs waiting for the product.

I am dwelling on the negatives of automation here. On the positive side, equipment providers will guarantee a certain level of response time, giving you some peace of mind.

I’ve just seen too many Murphy’s Law situations where things have gone wrong in the middle of Sunday night start-ups and help wasn’t available as expected, resulting in unplanned production run changeovers and creating heart palpitations for production crews.

Changeovers between production runs can get longer and complicated. Similar to what we explored in the sales growth chapter, adding extra equipment brings extra process steps that need to be incorporated into changeovers.

If not designed well, you will find that this equipment needs to be cleaned during every changeover. If a change to a different product or configuration is required, this will bring with it various accompanying demands: finding the correct changeparts, designing change-part trolleys, training staff to carry out changeovers efficiently and effectively, and needing additional tools. All of these will require some extra patience from you, before you even begin to see the same level of efficiency you had before automation.

Your high-cost investment needs a high level of operator care to ensure that you get the best value from it. Whether it is understanding the functionality of various sensors, learning that motors cannot be washed down (yes, it happens), or realising that the rubber mallet should be the last tool they pick up to clear blockages, all of these indicate one point — the business maturity level for equipment care is not at a level where they know how to look after these machines.

Ishan Galapathy,, has a wealth of knowledge in the field of Operational Excellence, working across six countries for nearly two decades, including companies such as Kellogg’s and Campbell Arnotts. An industry expert in Operational Excellence, a speaker, and an author, Ishan lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and children, and strives to thrive on purposeful living.

This article appeared in the August 2018 issue of HR Future magazine.

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