Buyani Zwane

Buyani Zwane

Buyani Zwane is an inspirational speaker, network builder, strategist, student, educator and leadership development facilitator. He has been engaged in the Human Resources Management, Business and Leadership Development for over 25 years with local and international companies. He was co-owner for over 7 years, and served as executive chairperson at FranklinCovey Southern Africa for 5 years, a leadership, training and development company with a presence in 14 Southern African countries and Indian Ocean Islands. He is an accredited ADKAR Change Management Facilitator.

Buyani is dedicated to excellent service as director of Dynamic Leadership Solutions (Pty) Limited and Magnificent Mile (Pty) Limited, while leading Breakthrough Development (Pty) Limited, a Leadership Development and Business Consultancy company founded in 2000 as Chief Engagement Orchestrator (CEO).

He has served as Human Resources Executive and Director, as well as CEO in the oil & energy industry, financial services, business consulting, gaming and public sectors organisations.
Buyani is a part-time lecturer at the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) specialising in Leadership, Management, Change and Organisation Development, and Strategy Implementation while at Wits Business School he teaches on Leadership and Strategy Execution. He earned his MBA at GIBS with a focus on employee engagement and business strategy.

He is a member of the University of Cape Town’s Council where he chairs the Human Resources Committee of Council (UHRC) while also serving in the Council’s Selections and Remuneration Committees. He further serves as independent non-executive director and member of the Human Resources Committee of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), non-executive director and chairperson of the board of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, and is a fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative (ALI) and the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN).

Leading companies enter Year 4 of National HR Standards Journey: Are you part of South Africa’s HR Leaders?


Leading companies enter Year 4 of National HR Standards Journey: Are you part of South Africa’s HR Leaders?
by Marius Meyer

Consistent with the market reaction during the National HR Standards Roll-out during 2013 (phases 1 and 2), the development of phases 3-6 (2014-2016) of the National HR Standards Journey has once again exceeded all minimum requirements for stakeholder engagement and participation.  Just a reminder of the five phases:

  1. HR Management System Standard with its 13 standard elements (2013);
  2. HR Management System Application standards (2013);
  3. Development of HR Professional Practice Standards (2014) – that is specific professional practices such as on-boarding, recruitment and selection, learning needs analysis, dispute resolution, employee engagement, absenteeism management.
  4. Development of an HR Audit Framework to audit the standards (2014).
  5. Development of HR Metrics Framework (2015-2016).
  6. Launch of First Annual HR Standards and Audits Awards (2016).

Stakeholder participation in this process consists of five types of groups, i.e. the HR standards developers, the HR standards commentators, thirdly the HR Standards Conference delegates, the HR Auditors, and lastly in-house participants.  Some companies were so enthusiastic about these processes that they participated at all levels.


Over the last four years, more than 5000 HR professionals from almost 2000 companies have participated in either the development, further awareness, audits or roll-out of the National HR Standards throughout South Africa.  Here is a list of most companies involved:

1surance, Auditor-General, ABSA, Accsys, Adidas, Accenture, Ariston Global, African Copper Mining, AIDC, Alexander Forbes, Algoa Brick, Alos, Altech, Ampath, AMIHRP, Anglo American, Anglo Platinum, Anslow, AON, ARC, Avbob, ATNS, Aveng, Aranda, B&E International, BP, Barplats, Basil Read, Banking Association,  Barloworld, Bearing Man, BHP Billiton, Bidvest, Bloemwater, Bongani Rainmaker, Bothabile Holdings, Business Resource Development, Britehouse, Bruniquel & Associates, Business Results Group, BT Communications, Capfin, CBI Electric & African Cables, Emergence Growth, Chartered Wealth, Chibuluma Mines, CHIETA, China Construction Bank, Corobrik, City Lodge, City of Johannesburg, City of Ekurhuleni, City of Cape Town, City of Polokwane, Coca-Cola, Continental Coal, CSE, CSIR, Central University of Technology Free State, CIPD, Department of Agriculture, Forests & Fishery, Department of Public Service & Administration, De Beers, Deloitte, Denel,  Dyna Training, Distell, Eastern Cape Province – Department of Roads & Public Works, Department of Energy, DHL, Digby Wells, Dimension Data, DRD Gold, Dwarsrivier Chroom, Eastern Cape Development Corporation, Econet, EPI-Use, Edcon, Estee Lauder, ELB Engineering, Emergence Growth, Enviroserv, EOH, Engen, Exxaro,  Ethekweni Municipality,  Faircape, Fair Price, Fincor Leasing, Flow Centric, FNB, Forever Resorts, Foskor, Fraser Alexander, Fresenius Kabi, Financial Services Board, Grant Thornton, GFA, Gibb, Gibs Business School, Givaudan, Glencor Coal, Goodyear, Gauteng Partnership Fund, Gauteng Provincial Government, Group Five, Hatch Goba, H&E Creations, HR Touch, HSRC, Henley Business School, Hilton Worldwide, Heineken, Hollard, Health Systems Trust, ICAS,  Impala Platinum, IMPSA, Invest in Yourself, Insure Group, Interstate Bus Lines, IPMZ, Institute of Production Management, IPSOS, IV Storage, Isoworld South Africa, JCI, JDG Trading, JIC, Juta, JSE, Kalagadi Mangenese, KAP, Kaelo, Keypoint Consulting, Khethimpilo, Optimum Coal, KZN Office of the Premier, Labournet, LBM HR Labour Solutions, Lepelle Water, Liviero, Letseng Diamonds, LexisNexis, Liberty, Life Healthcare, Lancet, Liquor City, Law Society, MacDonalds Transport, Leisure Options, Mpact, MAN Truck, Marsh, Metropolitan, MCI, MMI, MMC, Metrorail, Milpark Education, Minopex, Mondi, Motlosana Medical, Mogale City, Momentum Retail, Morecorp, Motse-Motala, MrPrice, MTN, MGI, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Murray & Roberts, Media24, Merck,  Marsh, Massmart, Maccauvlei, National Ceramic Industries, National Brands, NCP Chlorchem SA, National Credit Regulator, NAMC, Nedbank, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, NGA Africa, North-West Development Corporation, Novo Nordisk, Ntshovelo Mining, NWK, Nafcoc, Netcare, Northam Platinum, North-West University, Eastern Cape Office of the Premier, Open Learning Group, Omnia Group, Otis, OVK, Oxfam, Pack & Stack, Paramount Advanced Technologies, Paramount Group, Penumbra Coal, Pick ‘n Pay, Pikitup, Platreef Resources, Premier Foods, Polyoak Business School, Post Office, Prasa, PHS, Primedia, Powertech Batteries, PT Operational Services, PwC, Public Service Association, QBit, Quest, RDL Consultants, Railway Safety Regulator, Rand Water, Redefine Properties, Regenesys Business School, Regent Insurance, Rand Refinery, Rendeals Four Consulting, Retail Solutions, Ricoh, Rio Tinto, Royal Bafokeng Platinum, Royal Swazi Sugar, Road Accident Fund,   Sun International, SA Bank Note Company, SABS, Safal Steel Group, Safintra, Safripol, SAICA, SALGA, ARM, Samancor Chrome, Sandvik, Sanlam, Sanral, Sanparks, Sappi, Sasol, SARA, SARS, Supersport, Scania, Servest, Shaft Sinkers, Sheriff Sandton, Simba, Spar, Spear, Storex South Africa, SA National Blood Service, Strategic Partners Group, Standard Bank, SABMiller, SANDF, Stefanutti Stocks, Strata Healthcare, Stellenbosch University, South African National Space Agency, Talent Factor, Telesure, Trans-Africa, Timken SA, Talent Africa, TCTA, Touch HR, Total Placement Solutions, Pnet, Total SA, TransHex, Transnet, The Human Resource Practice, Tsogo Sun, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Free State, University of Johannesburg, Umgeni Water, Umsinsi Health, Unique People Solutions, UNISA, Unversity of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape, University of Venda, University of Zululand, University of Limpopo, University of Pretoria, Vision Four Trading, Voorspoed Mine, VKB, Vaal University of Technology, Walter Sisulu University, WBHO Construction, WCGRB, Webber Wentzel, Wits, Wynnbro, Yum Restaurants, Zanaco, Zenprop, Zurich Insurance, Setsotso Local Municipality, Digicore, Sishen Iron Ore, Martin Engineering, EY, USB-Ed, UBank, Wits Business School.

If your company is not on this list of HR Leaders as supporters of the National HR Standards, now is the time to rectify the situation.  Become part of the HR Standards Leaders by joining us on 27 and 28 July 2016 at the 4th Annual HR Standards Conference.

The launch of the world’s first National HR Auditing framework sparked further interest in 2014.  The auditing framework provides an assessment tool companies can use to conduct a self-assessment on their readiness for an external HR audit against the National HR Management System Standard to be conducted by SABPP.  Several companies have now been audited and a pool of 192 auditors have been trained for this purpose.

It is clear that more than a 5000 HR professionals were directly involved in the process of developing, consultation and auditing of South Africa’s first set of HR standards.  These organisations come from all industries and adequately represent the seven categories of stakeholders, i.e. private sector, public sector, parastatals, non-profit sector, HR consultants, HR learning providers and universities.  We want to thank the thousands of HR professionals for their enthusiastic support.  However, we want to keep on inviting newcomers to the process, and therefore the 4th Annual National HR Standards Conference on 27 July om Midrand is an ideal opportunity for those who have not yet been involved in the process to interact with the pioneers who have been active participants in the HR Standards journey since 2013.


Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP.  They can be contacted on or on twitter @SABPP1.  For regular updates follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or visit the blog  HR professionals and subject matter experts who are interested to participate in this historic project, are welcome to contact us on book a seat at the 4th  Annual National HR Standards Conference at Vodacom World in Midrand. The 1st Annual HR Standards and Awards will be issued (selected companies from the above list).   The full programme can be downloaded from


A tribute to the HR Audit Pioneers


A tribute to the HR Audit Pioneers
by Marius Meyer

Since the launch of the HR Audit Unit in 2014, SABPP has been overwhelmed by the positive feedback throughout South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho, United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Canada, United States of America, Saudi Arabia and Namibia.  We are proud of our achievement in growing and sustaining the HR Audit unit for another year.  I want to share a tribute to the HR Audit pioneers – those individuals and organisations who did pioneering work in getting us this far on the HR Standards and Audit journey. While we do indeed celebrate our successes, we are still mindful of current challenges such as inconsistent HR practices at various organisations as well as gaps in HR capacity-building in several industries.  We also realise that the concept of HR Audits is still relatively new world-wide and that more awareness regarding HR standards and audits is needed to ensure the audits become the norm and do not remain the exception. That is exactly the reason why I want to pay tribute to the early adopters and champions – you are all change agents and pioneers in marching ahead in unchartered territory.

When SABPP launched the first set of National HR Standards for South Africa and indeed the world in 2013, the HR Standard journey has progressed, not only within companies but also nationally and internationally.  The purpose of the National HR Standard was to reduce inconsistencies in HR practice, and to improve the overall quality of HR practice within companies and at a national level.  The National HR Standards have become an overnight success and already expanded to several African countries.

The HR Audit unit provides an independent centre of excellence for HR audits against the standards.  This is the first such national HR Audit unit in the world, and we are indeed proud of its establishment, growth and early successes.

I want to thank the HR audit pioneers for their leadership, innovation, support, encouragement, inputs and persistence in assisting SABPP to ensure a successful second year of national HR audits in South Africa:

  • Our Interim Audit Heads – Christine Botha and Dr Shamila Singh for their sterling work in developing, managing and building up the audit unit, including training the auditors and overseeing the audits;
  • Malebo Maholo, HR Audit Officer of SABPP for co-ordinating the work of the Audit Unit;
  • The SABPP Board for their excellent leadership in steering, strategizing, governing and resourcing the audit unit;
  • The SABPP Audit Council that was launched in the beginning of 2016 to establish and entrench sound governance of HR Audits, in particular I want to thank the Chairperson, Maropeng Sebothoma and Vice-chairperson, Advocate Nomsa Wabanie-Mazibuko for their leadership of the Audit Council;
  • Dr Michael Robbins from International Management of Risk in the UK for his guidance and support during the pre-audit period;
  • Dr Wilson Wong, Head of Insights at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), and the CEO of CIPD, Peter Cheese in the UK for their ongoing support and encouragement;
  • Dr Penny Abbott, SABPP Head of Research for her pioneering work, including the first audit assessment tool that we continued to use during the second year of HR audits;
  • Dr Chris Andrews, HR Director at Bond University in Australia for his visit to SABPP, and his continuous support in providing strategic and professional input in positioning HR standards and audits as a means to improving HR practice;
  • The hundreds of HR Leaders and facilitators in both the private and public sectors for their support in building capacity among HR teams in HR standards;
  • The first group of CEOs and HR executives for putting up your hands to be audited during the last year, you were not only brave, but true business and HR leaders in taking full responsibility for the quality of your HR systems and fully deserve your certification against the HR standards;
  • We are very proud of our pool of HR auditors responsible for auditing companies, you are at the centre of the auditing process and world leaders as national HR auditors;
  • While we have visited most of the large audit firms over the last year, the auditing firm Grant Thornton has become an early audit firm leader in embracing the HR standards and audits;
  • A special word of thanks to the presidents and others leaders of HR bodies in other countries, in particular in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Namibia for their continuous support in positioning the HR standards and audits as transformative interventions to improve HR in their countries. The Executive Director of the Institute of People Management of Zimbabwe, Fortunate Sekeso has been the best country HR standards and audits leader in our neighbouring countries;
  • A number of alliance partners have emerged as HR standards leaders. The Institute of Municipal HR Practitioners (IMPSA) and the Association of Mining Industry HR Professionals (AMIHRP) have been excellent HR standards alliance partners for several years. Likewise, we also want to thank the Institute of Internal Auditors and the Independent Regulatory Board of Auditors (IRBA) for the positive engagement over the last year;
  • Our publication designers and social media partner, BCore for always being ready to design and share HR standards and audits publications using different forms of media;
  • The first HR Standards and Audits Awards Committee was launched last month. This year, now that we have built up a good track record in HR standards and audits, the time is right to issue our first annual awards. Thank you to this new committee in being the adjudicators for the awards and congratulations to the first recipients of the awards to be announced on 27 July 2016;
  • Our academics and post graduate students at universities have been key stakeholders in supporting SABPP with research, teaching and development work.

Lastly, I want to encourage more HR executives to request HR audits.  Now is the time to show confidence and leadership in raising the bar for the HR profession and the quality of HR practices. The HR standard was developed to improve HR functions and systems, and by exposing yourself to HR Audits will provide confidence to executive committees and boards that HR’s house is in order.  I trust that the second annual report to be released at the 4th Annual HR Standards Conference in Midrand on 28 July will provide you with sufficient information to join the HR standards and audits journey.  Alternatively, we will gladly visit your company to present this report to your HR or Management Executive teams.

It was a privilege to work with so many HR professionals, auditors, auditees and other stakeholders over the last year around the HR standards and audits.  In essence, all participants are authors of this report, because without you there would be nothing to report on.  For daily updates, please follow us on twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram: SABPP_1. This National HR Standards and Audit Journey is an evolving process of elevating the HR profession, not only within companies, but also nationally, and in certain cases internationally. With the release of the King IV™ Report in 2016 and its increased focus on assurance of non-financial reporting, the HR Audits are well positioned to add value to integrated reporting and combined assurance processes.   I thank and pay tribute to all the pioneers and I appreciate you for being part of this developmental success story in advancing the HR profession in South Africa and beyond our borders.

Marius Meyer

Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. In 2014 he launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit organisations against the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. More information about the SABPP HR Standards is available on their website and their blog

  For daily updates on HR Standards and HR Audits, follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram sabpp_1


HR 2030: Launch of South Africa’s first labour market scenarios report


HR 2030: Launch of South Africa’s first labour market scenarios report
by Marius Meyer

The South African labour market has been criticised for various reasons over the last ten years.  The SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) therefore decided to work with top scenario planning guru, Clem Sunter in developing labour market scenarios for South Africa.  Adopting a strategic view in line with the aims of the National Development Plan (NDP), the labour market scenarios provide four possible routes for South Africa.  A group of 50 senior HR professionals, together with senior HR academics convened under the leadership of Clem Sunter to develop the four labour market scenarios.  In essence, the Labour Market 2030 Scenarios will provide us with a picture of HR in the year 2030.  The following is the result of the working group in March 2016:

A set of Rules of the Game and Key Uncertainties for the SA Labour Market emerged from the discussions:


The items identified in the figure above derive in large part from a “changing world of work”. The next section describes some of the features of this new world.

What do we mean by “the new world of work”?

However, a clear picture of possible labour market will be incomplete without taking consideration of the new world of work.  There are many publications on the nature of the new world of work and the drivers which will shape that new world.  Three of these are highlighted here to illustrate the general agreement on key features of that world of work.

In the 2010 book The 2020 Workplace[1] the authors identified three major drivers as follows:

[1] J.C. Meister & K. Willyerd. 2010. HarperCollins.

Three Forces.png

The UK’s Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), in their 2013 publication “Megatrends – the trends shaping work and working lives”[1] identify important trends affecting the work itself, the workforce and the workplace  as below:

trends to now.png

The major shifts in the demand for well-educated people are illustrated in the 1997 book Workforce 2020 : Work and Workers in the 21st Century[1] which uses data from the United States.

[1] R. W. Judy & C d’Amico, 1997. Hudson Institute

The workforce place

Changes in the workplace since 1997 would most probably change the demand  percentages (the right hand column in the above figure) so that the 4 year college degree requirement would be higher.

Clearly, the supply situation in South Africa (the left hand column in the above figure) would be different.  The White Paper of the Department of Higher Education and Training[1] has set a target of 1.6 million students at university (from 937 000 in 2011) and 2.5 million students in TVET colleges by 2030 (from 345 000 in 2010 and estimated 650 000 in 2013). These figures represent 25% and 39% respectively.  Assuming a demand situation which is less knowledge intensive than the US, it can still be seen that the gap will be extremely high.

Research by the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment[2] has identified that new technologies are not creating many jobs; that technology has increased the range of tasks skilled workers can perform; that new “high touch” (as opposed to “high tech”) jobs are being created; and that many new personal service jobs are being created.

“With falling prices of computing, problem-solving skills are becoming relatively productive, explaining the substantial employment growth in occupations involving cognitive tasks where skilled labour has a comparative advantage, as well as the persistent increase in returns to education. The current trend is towards labour market polarisation, with growing employment in high-income cognitive jobs and low-income manual occupations, accompanied by a hollowing-out of middle-income routine jobs. However, our model predicts a truncation in the current trend towards labour market polarisation, with computerisation being principally confined to low-skill and low-wage occupations. Our findings thus imply that as technology races ahead, low-skill workers will reallocate to tasks that are non-susceptible to computerisation – i.e., tasks requiring creative and social intelligence. For workers to win the race, however, they will have to acquire creative and social skills.”

[1] 2014.


The trends identified by the CIPD imply that employees in the future will be (even) more pressurised and the workplace climate will be less supportive.

More positive qualitative aspects of the future world of work are identified by Meister and Willyerd in 2010 as below. Some of these factors are already evident in South African workplaces, whilst others are possibly less likely to emerge.

1.       You will be hired and promoted based upon your reputational capital.
2.       Your mobile device will be your office.
3.       Recruiting will be done on social networking sites.
4.       Web commuters will force corporate offices to reinvent themselves.
5.       Companies will hire entire teams.
6.       Job requirements for CEOs will include blogging.
7.       Your corporate curriculum will use video games, simulations and other reality games as key modes of delivery.
8.       The world will be networked and you will need a networked mindset.
9.       Outsourcing will be replaced by crowdsourcing.
10.    Corporate social networks will flourish and grow inside companies.
11.    You will elect your leader.
12.    Work-life flexibility will replace work-life balance.
13.    Corporate social responsibility will be a key business driver and used to attract
14.    Diversity will be a business imperative.
15.    The lines between marketing, communication and learning will blur.
16.    Social media literacy will be required for all employees.
17.    Building a portfolio of contract jobs will be the path to obtaining full-time employment.
18.    Corporate app stores will offer ways to manage work and personal life better.

These aspects apply more to knowledge workers than other workers, for whom the new world of work could be less attractive if it is characterised also by a lack of job security and fluctuating incomes.

Whilst the actual work and workplace will change, as outlined above, the nature of the workforce itself will change, as the CIPD points out.  Popular descriptions of the attributes of the so-called “millennials” concentrate on their values (civic-minded, family-focused, favour lifestyle and experience over money and prestige) and wants (being able to express themselves, constant challenge) as well as their education level.  However, one aspect not often covered is their financial situation – as the result of their higher education level, millennials often start their careers carrying debt from their student days. They also face a shortage of jobs and as a result, their ability to save and buy their homes is very constrained. They are used to cheap credit. They understand that their financial long-term future is uncertain, especially as governments will be unable to fund their retirement. Hence there is often a preference to spend today rather than save for tomorrow.

Additional material on the future world of work will be sourced, developed and published by the SABPP over the coming periods.

The National Development Plan

Policy goals of the National Development plan are to:

  • Maintain fiscal discipline and macro-economic stability;
  • Achieve sustained GDP growth of 5.4%;
  • Reduce unemployment to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030;
  • Overhaul the civil service to improve efficiency and implementation;
  • Promote market competitiveness;
  • Reduce the cost of living;
  • Reduce impediments to investment;
  • Create jobs via entrepreneurship and reduced regulation as well as a public works programme.

The “new world of work” trends outline above will challenge the achievement of these goals considerably, demonstrating that some creative solutions will need to be found by all stakeholders. Against the backdrop of the above discussion on the new world of work, four labour market scenarios were developed for South Africa.  These scenarios will be launched at the 4th Annual HR Standards Conference of SABPP on 28 July 2016 at Vodacom World in Midrand.  I want to thank all the HR leaders for the inputs into the Labour Market 2030 Scenarios Report.  I am proud to launch the outcome of the working group and I trust that the document will be used as a key framework for increased levels of stakeholder engagement in considering clear options for labour market reform.


Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. In 2014 he launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit organisations against the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. More information about the SABPP HR Standards is available on their website and their blog

  For daily updates on HR Standards and HR Audits, follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram sabpp_1


South Africa’s 1st Employer Branding Standard: Building your company brand in attracting and retaining talent


South Africa’s 1st Employer Branding Standard: Building your company brand in attracting and retaining talent
by Marius Meyer

In 2013 the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) launched the world’s first National HR Standards covering 13 key standard elements for sound HR practice.  These standards are as follows:  Strategic HR Management, Talent Management, HR Risk Management, Workforce Planning, Learning and Development, Performance Management, Reward and Recognition, Employee Wellness, Employment Relations Management, Organisation Development, HR Service Delivery, HR Technology and Hr Measurement.  This was the first phase of the National HR Standards project.  In 2014 phase two was launched, this time addressing additional HR Professional Practice Standards ranging from absenteeism management, through to succession planning, total of 19 such practice standards were developed.  Last year, the process continued and four new standards were commissioned to be developed. These standards were change management, incapacity management, workplace learning culture and employer branding.  Thus, there are now a total of 23 HR professional practice standards in South Africa, in addition to the 13 standards comprising the HR Management system as outlined above.

Today, I want to share a brief outline of the employer branding standard with you.  This standard forms a key component of talent management.  In fact, if you get this standard right at your organisation, your company will be able to not only attract the best talent, it will also be well positioned to retain key talent.  In essence, the employer branding standard focuses on infusing a strong employment value proposition for your organisation in attracting high calibre potential employees to your company.  The key question is the mind of a potential employee is: Why would I like and go and work at this company?  If there is no compelling reason, the individual is unlikely to apply for a position at the company.

Over the last ten years, employer branding initiatives such as “Best company to work for” or “Top Employers” have grown in the market place.  Some of these efforts amount to high level public relations and window-dressing exercises.  What happens in practice is that you do everything possible to attract talent to your organisation.  Then employees are signed up, and months or a few years later they leave when their expectations are not met.  That is the reason why SABPP developed the employer branding standard to prevent this problem from occurring.  We are now saying to organisations that it is imperative to develop a professional approach to employer branding.  While the best employers will continue to thrive with sound talent management in place, the reality is that average and poor employers will continue to suffer.  Some commentators are stating that the talent war is a myth, however, it is a fact that talented employees are attracted to good employers.  If average and poor employer continue to attract average and under-performing employees, they will feel the results in their bottom-line performance.  Already, many municipalities, government departments, state agencies and other state-owned enterprises are feeling the punch.  However, it does not have to be a win-lose situation.  All organisations could build strong talent cultures and employer branding should become a powerful strategy in achieving this goal.

The SABPP Employer Branding Professional Practice Standard proposes the following process for South African organisations:

Employer Branding Process

What is clear about the standard and its proposed process for implementation, is that companies need to make the paradigm shift from traditional recruitment and selection practices to a more proactive talent-driven approach to attracting top talent to your organisation.  This will only happen if your company as a good employer is branded in an appropriate and professional way.  Employer branding will also require HR, marketing, communications and public relations professionals to collaborate in making a success of employer branding initiatives. Ultimately, all HR practices will have to align to the overall employer branding and talent strategy.  I look forward to be at the launch of South Africa’s first employer branding standard on 28 July 2016.  If you have an interest in employment branding, I hope to see you there (see details below).  If you can’t make it, follow the action on twitter @SABPP1.

Marius Meyer

Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. In 2014 he launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit organisations against the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. More information about the SABPP HR Standards is available on their website and their blog

  For daily updates on HR Standards and HR Audits, follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram sabpp_1


The Auditor-General Report on local government audits: HR Challenges and Opportunities


The Auditor-General Report on local government audits:
HR Challenges and Opportunities
by Marius Meyer

Last month the Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu released its consolidated report on the audit outcomes of local government.  The report covers an analysis of the MFMA 2014-2015 audits conducted by the Auditor-General.  The scope of the audits covered by the MFMA includes all municipalities as well as municipal entities such as the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Pikitup, Mandela Bay Development Agency and the Cape Town International Convention Centre.  While the report clearly outlines gaps exposed during audits, it is balanced from the perspective that it also recognises commitments that leaders have made to improve audit outcomes from previous audits.  While good audit performance mainly in provinces such as Gauteng and the Western Cape are highlighted, sadly in some provinces such as the Free State, Limpopo and North-West performance has been poor.

As the national and international leader in the area of Human Resource (HR) Management, the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) has a particular interest in the outcomes of HR audits and our comments will mostly cover HR outcomes.  Having said that, and given the importance of sound HR and people management in municipalities and municipal entities, it is our view that good HR Management has a direct impact on other areas of audits, such as financial management, supply chain and service delivery.  It should also be born in mind that over the past five years (2010-2015), several municipalities in South Africa have reported a steady improvement in audit outcomes, with 53% having improved, while 13% regressed and 34% remained unchanged.  In particular, good improvement has been seen in six of the eight metro councils while about half of district municipalities and local municipalities have improved.

While the audit area that showed the greatest improvement was the audit opinions on financial statements, even within this area, problems were identified pertaining to material misstatements, competence gaps and concerns regarding the effective use of consultants.  Likewise, gaps pertaining to the management of consultants is not limited to financial reporting.  Also, weaknesses in the planning and appointment processes, performance management and monitoring and transferring of skills (all HR practices) were identified at 68% of the municipalities that used consultancy services.  Consistent with HR implications within financial management, HR factors were also prevalent within the supply chain of municipalities.  The Auditor-General identified a high prevalence of awards being made to suppliers in which employees, councillors and state officials have an interest.  The Report goes on to state that “little progress has been made in complying with legislation relating to awards made to close family members of employees and councillors.”

It is therefore also not surprising that the Auditor-General identified some key HR risks such as vacancies and instability in key positions of municipal manager, chief financial officer and head of supply chain management as risks affecting financial and performance management and thus also overall audit outcomes.  Hence, the report also flags the fact that competence levels of these key officials are a contributing factor to under-performance.  For instance, vacancy rates for CFOs stood at 20% and those for municipal managers at 17% by the end of 2015.   The practice of too many acting officials in these two key positions is of particular concern.  It is also evident that a lack of consequences for poor performance exacerbates the problem.  In addition, surely HR professionals were called in regarding disciplinary cases dealing with irregular, unauthorised and wasteful expenditure, and non-compliance with laws and policies. If not, this will once again point to a lack of consequences management.  In fact, the Auditor-General Report identified financial misconduct as one of the main problems.  In 45% of the municipalities, management failed to conduct the required investigations for all instances of unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.  Clear incidents of conflict of interest, fraud and improper conduct have been highlighted in the report.

Regarding performance management, SABPP would like to commend the Auditor-General for allocating a full section on this important aspect of audit outcomes.   However, the report deals mostly with annual performance reports covering the overall performance of the municipality and not necessarily the performance management system affecting al managers and employees.  Be that as it may, it is good to see that there has been an improvement in municipalities’ reporting on the degree to which services are delivered in accordance with the planned targets as per their integrated development plans (IDPs) and the service delivery and budget implementation plans (SDBIPs).  Ultimately, service delivery is the most important function of any local government entity.  Whether reporting is reliable and accurate is of course, an entirely different question and perhaps requires closer scrutiny.

Interestingly, HR is included under section five covering root causes.  This section starts with the status of internal controls.  Three key drivers of internal controls are used, namely leadership, performance and financial management, and governance.  Although improvements in these areas were identified, a lack of documentation affected all areas of the audit outcomes.  It is worrying that the internal controls of most municipalities not only failed to prevent non-compliance with legislation, but also failed to timeously detect the deviations, some of which were only detected and responded to following the audits of the Auditor-General.

The Auditor-General’s Report has a section on the status of HR Management controls.  It covers reporting on HR controls since 2010.  The bad news is that HR Management has improved only slightly since 2010-11 and the previous year (2013-2014).  Out of 272 municipalities included in the report, regarding the status of HR Management controls, 26% (72 municipalities) had audit findings, 43% (116) with findings, while 31% (84 municipalities) with material findings.   The improvement in 2013-2014 is mainly due to increased adherence to requirements relating to minimum competencies and qualifications, improve management of senior management performance, and a focus on leadership on filling vacancies.   One of the biggest challenges for municipalities is to attract and retain qualified and competent persons in all areas of administration.  The Auditor-General therefore focused on the management of vacancies and retention of key staff.  However, if the right calibre of staff is not appointed, developed and retained, even a 0% vacancy rate would be meaningless.  While a high vacancy rate is indeed a problem in key positions, a low vacancy in itself does not necessarily resolve the problem, especially if competence is neglected during appointments.   Furthermore, the Auditor-General is indeed correct in asserting that rural municipalities are at a bigger risk given the increased difficulty to attract qualified and competent managers and other specialists to rural municipalities.  In cases where municipalities were placed under administration, some CFOs resigned and this put even more strain on an underperforming municipality.   The report clearly showed that those municipalities with stability in their CFO positions produced better financial statements or audit outcomes.   It is also a reality that municipal managers are resigning in certain municipalities due to political pressure.  In addition, with local government elections around the corner, some municipalities may be reluctant to appoint new municipal managers going into the new election cycle.

Regarding the municipal regulations on minimum competency levels, municipalities were required to ensure that staff members meet these standards specified.  These regulations define the minimum competency levels, not only in terms of proficiency in competency areas, but also higher education qualifications and work-related experience.  While some improvements have already been implemented, more focused work is needed to ensure effective implementation.

Finally, it is also evident that broader governance structures play an enabling role to position HR Management as a key element of local government service delivery.  The South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, as well as the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation have all identified HR Management as one of the key performance areas in improving local government.  Whether these initial efforts will be successful and sustainable, remains to be seen.

In conclusion, it is clear from the Auditor-General’s Report that the main root causes of municipalities’ continuing challenges are as follows:

  • Slow response in improving internal controls and addressing risk areas;
  • Instability or vacancies in key positions or key officials lacking appropriate competencies;
  • Inadequate consequences for poor performance and transgressions.

In the words of the Auditor-General:

“The low level of action in response to the high levels of non-compliance, poor audit outcomes, supply chain management transgressions and unauthorised, irregular as well as fruitless and wasteful expenditure demonstrate a lack of consequences in local government for poor performance and transgressions.  It is important that officials who deliberately or negligently ignore their duties and contravene legislation should be decisively dealt with through performance management and by enforcing legislated consequences for transgressions.  If they are not held accountable for their actions, the perception is created that such behaviour and its results are acceptable and tolerated.”

The Auditor-General also concedes that “their message on these three root causes has remained constant since 2011-12.”  All three root causes directly or indirectly have a strong HR link.   Given the fact that there has been “no improvement in the response to root causes over the past four years, while there has been a reduction in the municipalities where instability, vacancies, competency gaps and inadequate consequences were identified as the root causes of poor audit outcomes” strong action is needed to improve the situation.  While SABPP appreciates the Auditor-General’s focus on HR Management as part of its audits, we recommend a more all-encompassing approach to auditing the whole HR function, including strategic HR Management, talent management and HR risk management to enable local government to improve its HR strategy, system and processes.

Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. In 2014 he launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit organisations against the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. More information about the SABPP HR Standards is available on their website and their blog

The full report on local government audit outcomes is available on the website of the Auditor-General, you can download it from

  For daily updates on HR Standards and HR Audits, follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram sabpp_1


Think Innovation in HR


Think Innovation in HR
by Lathasha Subban

“Innovation” is a common term used in business today. To define it means to encapsulate the different understanding in its diverse usage. The Business Dictionary defines innovation as “ The process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.”[1] It has evolved in its definition and further explained as “To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable at an economical cost and must satisfy a specific need. Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products. In business, innovation often results when ideas are applied by the company in order to further satisfy the needs and expectations of the customers.”[2] The definition in itself has a very clear map that leads to HR in the usage of resources and processes. The two things that HR is the custodian of in any business, as everything starts with an idea generated by a “person”.



The idea or concept of innovation, as best practice, was coupled with the profit generating or product development areas of the business. It has always made sense to link innovation to customer needs and satisfaction outputs, yet presently innovation is envisioned holistically by organisations, with every area of the business expected to innovate. HR is not the exception.

In order to understand HR innovation, we have to create content and context. Since there are numerous definitions of innovation, HR innovation is captioned within the SABPP Competency Model below:

The SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) HR Competency Model Core Competency 5: Citizenship for the Future includes innovation in its definition:

“The ability to drive innovation, optimise technology and contribute to sustainability of organisations.”


Further to its (innovation’s) mention within the Competency Model, the SABPP has incorporated innovation within their National HR Management Standard: Standard 1: Strategic HR Management. Under the standard’s objectives, the HR Strategy must make provision to the change towards innovative thinking to:

“Provide strategic direction and measurements for strategic innovation and sustainable people practices.”

Innovation in HR relates to the responsiveness and the proactive approach used by HR professionals to drive their employee strategies. It speaks to the creative and game changing initiatives that HR utilises to understand, motivate and direct employee thinking, behaviour and needs.   In fact, the National HR Standards Project of SABPP is a good example of national and international HR innovation in action. The whole HR profession has been transformed by developing, applying and auditing the HR standards.

The common questions around innovation is always “where” does it start and by “whom”? Innovation in HR begins with the HR professionals and unfolds within the paradigms of HR practice. Organisations of today are evolving in their methods on how they manage people and leans towards HR to guide them with innovative people practices. Who, how and why you recruit individuals must be aligned to the business vision and growth. Hence innovation within the HR strategy is a crucial part of the business expansion.

Article: Reinventing HR: An extreme makeover[1]

  • HR needs an extreme makeover driven by the need to deliver greater business impact and drive HR and business innovation.
  • While CEOs and top business leaders rate talent as a key priority, only 5 percent of survey respondents rate their organization’s HR performance as excellent. This year, HR’s self-assessment showed virtually no improvement over last year’s.
  • Companies are now moving beyond talk to action, revisiting the required capabilities of the HR function, building HR universities, and modernizing relationships with internal business partners.

With technological development, growing competition and current economic conditions, South African organisations are relying more and more on their human resources and workplace innovations to compete and be successful. The acceleration of digital disruption coupled with rapidly changing competitive markets does not make this an easy proposition for any business. HR is now expected to meet the changing environment with a focus on the following areas.

  • Culture design and development: fashioning a culture that behaves and thinks innovatively to meet business strategy with creativity and uniqueness.
  • Ensure you have talent/resources who think creatively, deliver on products and services that meet customer needs, possess the skills and competencies to drive and deliver on innovation. Recruitment of innovative individuals are important for competitive business advantage, however HR must define the skill set before recruitment, hence defining the innovative skill set required for the position.
  • Reward and recognition is dominant within HR’s area of retention and attraction. Consistent with the SABPP standard on reward and recognition, FNB can be used as an example to magnify the success of recognising employees for their employees’ contribution towards the innovative culture and delivery.
  • Technology and digital platforms have been seen as a leading driver of innovation. Analysts have categorised the drivers of this change into streams: “social”, “mobile”, “analytics” and “cloud” in an effort to understand and manage the change, and it is dually acknowledged that these drivers are related to “technology”.
  • Performance management is a business process that can monitor and evaluate innovation. Business performance is driven by the employees and their individual performance drives business success.

Leadership must set the tone for innovation. HR must guide and groom leadership with development programmes like coaching, innovation awareness training, innovation skills orientation by using gamification/casestudies/videos. Innovation must be included as a major competency in leadership development plans. Leadership has a bigger role to play in managing innovative disruption in all forms. According to recent trends in driving innovative leadership, research has found that effective leadership must ensure the building of organisational capabilities that promulgates innovation routinely. These capabilities[2] are:

  1. Creative abrasion. This capacity for collaborative problem-solving includes the ability to generate a marketplace of ideas through discourse and debate. It requires a healthy culture of listening, inquiry and advocacy, alongside an underlying recognition that breakthrough ideas rarely emerge without diversity of thought and conflict.
  1. Creative agility. This capacity to learn by discovery includes experimenting through quick trial, reflection and adjustment. Typically associated with design thinking, this capability is a mix of the scientific method and the artistic process – in which you act, not plan, your way to the future. 
  1. Creative resolution. This is the capacity to create new and better solutions by integrating diverse ideas, even opposable ones, in unanticipated ways. No one individual or group is allowed to dominate – neither bosses, nor experts. Rather, the team practices a patient and inclusive decision-making approach that allows “both-and” versus “either-or” solutions to emerge.

World Economic Forum: What it takes to be an innovative leader

Think innovation within your HR strategy by developing people strategies that drive the organisations skills and competencies. Innovation in itself cannot be separated from the people who develop and create it. HR professionals have to be involved and evolved in their plans to develop and nurture an innovative culture within their organisations. They have the opportunity to enable the culture and platform(s) that harvest innovative thinking and practice, which is overall the drive of most companies today.
The SABPP is launching their first HR Research in Practice conference at the SABPP 4th Annual HR Standards and Research in Practice Conference on the 27-28 July 2016. This innovative approach has aligned to the SABPP’s is dedication in uplifting HR professionals in their delivery and practice. The Innovation in HR Fact sheet is available to all members of the SABPP and can be requested on




Lathasha Subban is Head: Knowledge & Innovation at the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP).  You can meet her at the 4th Annual HR Standards conference (see below), or email her on 

Follow SABPP on twitter @SABPP1 or Instagram sabpp_1




Launch of First Annual HR Standards and Audits Awards


Launch of First Annual HR Standards and Audits Awards
by Marius Meyer

Since the HR Standards and Audits were launched during 2013 and 2014 respectively, the journey to raise the standard of HR practice has continued.  It has been a wonderful experience to work so closely so many HR teams throughout South Africa and several other countries.  On the one hand we visited companies to raise awareness and to build the capacity of HR teams in aligning their HR practices to the National HR standards.  On the other hand, when companies achieved the level of confidence to be audited against the HR standards, auditors were sent in and 17 audits have now been conducted in five provinces (Gauteng, KZN, Western Cape, Free State and North-West).  Very soon, Limpopo and Eastern Cape will join the other provinces in having HR functions audited against the HR standards.

What was very interesting about the audits so far, is that examples of good practice have emerged at several organisations.  In other words, some companies provided evidence that they meet, and in certain cases, exceed the National HR standards.  This is the good news. The bad news, on the other hand, is that many organisations are not ready to be audited. We even observed fear for audits at certain organisations.  The SABPP Audit Council believes that it is unnecessary to fear HR audits.  In fact, the audit in itself become an important continuous improvement mechanism.

Having said that, now that we have audited so many companies, we are in the position to indicate who the leaders are in all 13 HR Standards.  For instance, we know which company scored the best in Strategic HR Management, in Talent Management, in Workforce Planning and so on.  In order to give recognition to these HR standards leaders, the SABPP management team decided to issue the first Annual HR Standards Awards at the 4th Annual HR Standards Summit.  What makes the HR audit awards unique is that we did not need a committee to recommend who the winners are, we simply took the scores allocated by the auditors who spent a full day at the company auditing their HR practice.  The scoring system provides clear scores on all the 13 HR standards.  In addition, we then compared the overall audit scores with one another to determine a national winner for all 13 HR standards combined, as well as a runner=up and a third place auditee.  Also, in recognising other companies performing well against the HR standards, we decided to issue two additional awards for companies scoring more than 65% average in all HR standards combined. Furthermore, an award will be issued to the auditee demonstrating exemplary practice in HR standards integration, i.e. achieving HR excellence by integrating best practices across HR standards.


The second part of the HR audit awards will be to recognise excellence in driving and supporting HR standards, given the fact that the HR standards journey is still a relatively new concept requiring buy-in and change management before most HR and management teams will embrace the importance of HR standards.  Fortunately, and thanks to the Auditor-General, the public sector has made good progress to align their HR practices to the HR standards, but a good pipeline of private sector companies is on board to be audited during the rest of 2016 and 2017.

The HR standards excellence awards as adjudicated by the SABPP Awards Committee are as follows:

  • Best university in HR standards alignment;
  • Best HR standards academic of the year;
  • Best HR standards research paper/dissertation of the year;
  • Best HR standards occupational learning provider of the year;
  • Best HR auditor of the year;
  • Best HR standards consulting product or service of the year;
  • Best HR standards alliance partner of the year;
  • Best HR standards champion of the year.

I want to congratulate all the winners and finalists of the first Annual HR Standards and Awards ceremony.  The special awards ceremony will take place on 27 July from 18:00 to 21:00 at Vodacom World in Midrand.   While we want to celebrate with the winners and finalists, I want to invite as many other companies and individuals to join us at this special awards function.  Let us celebrate with our colleagues who were brave enough to put up their hand first.  Let us be inspired by their pioneering work in attaining excellence in HR standards alignment and actual HR audits.  Perhaps some of you could be winners next year.  But more importantly, the individual and collective inputs of hundreds of HR professionals helped us in achieving this significant milestone towards HR excellence. Please join me on 27 July at this special occasion in recognising South Africa’s HR standards and audits leaders. Book your seat on  Alternatively, you will see the announcements and photos on Twitter and Instagram during the awards ceremony.

Marius Meyer

Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP. In 2014 he launched the world’s first National HR Audit Unit to audit organisations against the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. More information about the SABPP HR Standards is available on their website and their blog

  For daily updates on HR Standards and HR Audits, follow SABPP on Twitter @SABPP1 and Instagram sabpp_1