Does Corporate SA need Anger Management?

Get a glimpse behind the corporate glass with HR Future’s workplace radical.

Back in the 1980’s when I was still walking to school, my vision of the future was clear: a space age society, filled with competent people, using unbelievable technology to conquer the impossible. Ah, the youthful stupidity of not knowing how the world works. Today we are wandering in the future with an energy crisis that threatens economic stability. Technology, supposed liberate time in our lives, seems to suck time out of it. Those competent people are suppressed, reporting to corrupt individuals in positions of power…

Little surprise, the stage is set for an unprecedented talent showdown this year.

In the angry corner, we have Corporate SA losing millions to blackouts (Harmony Gold Mining mooted 7000 jobs on the line), conceding market share to China/India and watching talent leave (great for relocation companies). Corporate SA is angry at government for not coming to the economic boom party. Some are angry about disloyal employees who job hop at the flip of a coin. Corporate SA is angry and intolerant of HR SA, the failure to steer them as a business partner is painful.

In the struggling corner, we have Individual SA, the average South African that is reporting for work without much engagement and wondering where Corporate SA is headed. They are tired of management shuffles and futile restructurings. Individual SA is worried about their debt and double digit increases in their cost of living. Individual SA is struggling emotionally and financially. If you suffer from traffic depression, I understand. Individual SA may not think much of Government SA and rather count on Union SA for support.

Union SA is primed in the fighting corner. Ready to rumble in the boardroom with Corporate SA for job security and higher pay. Union SA strengthened their political muscles in the past year. But they are concerned about dwindling membership due to casualisation and progress on their socialist agenda.  Union SA is prepared for strike action later in the year.
I was going to write about Government SA but unfortunately their leadership is divided and ‘no comment’ is a better response.
Finally we come to HR SA, thousands of professionals in academia, organisations and the public sector. Some in HR SA are progressively minded – they acknowledge problems, embrace new approaches and raise the stature of HR in the organisation. Others are closed doors, obstruct change and generate problems for Corporate SA. When the Financial Mail carried a cover article in March, based on the talent survey by international recruiting firm, Heidrick & Struggles that South Africa is the last destination for top end management and technical skills; HR SA has their work laid out. 

Budget 2008

At a time of volatility, Trevor Manuel delivered the 2008 Budget Speech with the gusto of Indiana Jones returning for the fourth instalment in the money spinning franchise. My take home gung ho team poster from this year’s Budget is “We are all in this together”. There was a surplus (again), wise words about planning for the long term and tax carrots/sticks for taxpayers. Unfortunately, taxation on employment related income and benefits, has more holes than real tax relief.


The tax free bursary benefit for your relatives jumped from R 3000 to R10000 provided you are paid below R100 000 per annum. For a country with a skills shortage enough to fill several Ellis Park stadium’s, this is too little, too late response. The fiscus needs radical incentives to encourage workforce training and development for all employees. Even, if they are dense executives earning R1 million per annum.

Travel Allowance

After the pounding in previous tax years on travel allowances, the deemed cost tables have been updated for inflation and higher fuel prices. With the additional 11c fuel levy and pump prices hovering close to R9 a litre, these changes are unlikely to provide significant relief.
Medical Aid

The tax deduction for your medical aid contributions goes up from R530 to R570 for the first two beneficiaries and from R320 to R345 per additional beneficiary.  It will offset some runaway medical inflation and the rest is for your pocket.

Until next month, enjoy those public holidays with visions of the future. See that nano-second, biodegradable society of talented people?

(HR Future, April 2008)

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