2009 Year in Review

Get a glimpse behind the corporate glass with HR Future’s workplace radical. We are rapidly approaching the end of another year. Time flies especially when you are working.  So here is a blast from the past: 

Where did the 2009 go? 

Well in my book, 2009 was about leadership and succession battles, dominated by personalities (from Charlie Chaplin humour to the Hulk’s rage) over the greater good and enough drama to rival your daily Isidingo fix. I’ve found that many HR professionals, are likely to find a similar theme in their organisation and life. My favourite episodes from 2009:

January 2009 – Recession

The year started without the usual optimism, high energy and visible excitement. We put on a brave face, concerned about the political showdown, Rand hovering around R10 to the green back on global risk aversion, and bottom line pressures.

February – Budget & Pockets

The Budget Speech was an impressive balancing act between conflicting interests of politicians, business and labour. Taxpayers, especially lower income earners, shared in the tax bonanza of R13.6 billion (don’t expect the same in 2010). It was quickly devoured by higher fuel, sin and electricity taxes. When the draft 2009 Taxation Laws Amendment Bill came out later in the year, mooted changes in the taxation of the travel allowance and medical aid contributions could affect your pocket from March 2010.

April – Strike a Match

Contrary to expectations, the elections went off peacefully and reaffirmed international confidence in our democracy. On the streets, ordinary South Africans were taking their leaders to task over their livelihood. If you didn’t strike for more pay in 2009, you were probably overpaid or in the wrong profession.  In April, truck drivers went on strike; in June, doctors brought public hospitals to a stand still and a month later, construction workers scored pay goals for 2010. SABC staff, miners and MetrolRail workers followed thereafter.  The lights went dim at Eskom, but not out, as they reached settlement with their workforce. The unions flexed their muscles and the nationwide strike again labour brokers in October, left no doubt about their intentions.

June – Vuvuzela Fever

The cultural weapon of mass excitement, the vuvuzela made a loud appearance at the Confederations. The voices of detractors were drowned out by local fans. My suggestion to transfer the vuvuzela from the soccer pitch to the boardroom, received the silent treatment.

September –   Running into Trouble

The IAAF World Championships in Berlin will be remembered at home, for the 800m gender-for-gold scandal. The future of the Athletics Sports Association (ASA) is running out fast, having lost credibility and sponsorship from Nedbank. More drama followed at the South African Football Association (SAFA) elections. When personality and ego overshadows the sport, it is better to run off the field. At the time of writing, there are rumblings about the legal standing of the elections.

November – Calling Home

The Independent Communications Association of South Africa (ICASA) dialled the wrong numbers twice in one year – after a flip flop attempt to derail the Vodacom listing in May, the line went dead on slashing interconnectivity tariffs. Political pressure forced their hand to meet cell phone operators and bring the rates down by November (waiting for it)

December – Green Shoots?

As the year draws to a close, the worst is behind us.  While SA is not yet out of the woods, lower interest rates & fuel prices (<R7.60), stronger rand-dollar (under R8) and renewed confidence bode well for business and talent. To quote Jimmy Dean, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

(HR Future, December 2009)

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