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Managing Staff

HR Management Basics For The Small Business

Madelein van der Watt, Development Manager at Sage Pastel Payroll & HR, offers a simple guide to labour law for the SME.

Madelein Taljaard




Figuring that they can’t afford to hire full-time human resources (HR) specialists and thinking that outsourcing this function is more pain than its worth, many SMEs deal with HR management by ignoring it as best as they can. But small businesses owners that want get to the best possible results from the people they hire must take HR seriously.

If you manage them well, your people can be your biggest asset. But if you don’t follow labour regulations and procedures to the letter and fail to unlock your employees’ potential, they can quickly become a drain on the health and profitability of your business.

Here are five steps to healthier HR for small businesses:

Draw up employment contracts and workplace policies

You need to put in place a company policy that covers your basic terms and conditions of employment, including leave, working hours, remuneration and rewards, workplace conduct and a disciplinary code.

Related: 6 Must-Do Steps to Ensure New Employees Start on the Right Foot

Encode this policy in an employment contract signed by you and your employee. Ensure that your employment contracts and policies are aligned with South African labour law by consulting the Department of Labour for free advice or paying a professional to draw up proper documentation.

Enforce your policies firmly and fairly

Once you have drawn up your policies, enforce them fairly and consistently. Don’t let small breaches of your policy slide unless you want set precedents for poor workplace discipline – if someone is late for work without permission, reprimand them the first time.

The same rules should apply to all employees and they should be enforced without favouritism or exception as far as possible. If you do need to make exceptions to a workplace rule or policy, explain why.

Performance management


Though performance management at an SME does not necessarily need to be as formal as at a large organisation, do take the time every six months or so to discuss workplace performance with each employee.

Discuss your requirements, help them set goals, evaluate performance and examine opportunities for training and development. And align bonuses and increases with performance so that employees will regard these as a reward rather than a standard entitlement.

Put a disciplinary code in place

You might require professional help in setting a clear disciplinary code for when employees are in breach of your policies. It’s important to consider the guidelines set out in South African labour law when disciplining an employee and to thoroughly document the procedures you follow in case you end up in a hearing at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Be fair and reasonable – you can’t fire someone the first time you suspect they’ve called in sick because they’re off to watch the cricket.

Take the wellbeing of your employees seriously

Healthy, happy and financially secure employees are likely to be more productive. So try to ensure everyone has some basic medical cover, offer them retirement funds, and even consider income loss cover.

Related: Free SWOT Analysis Template

Remember that your employees are people with families, financial problems and bad days. You don’t need to shoulder all their personal problems, but you do have a responsibility to treat them with fairness and empathy.

Closing words

You probably did not start your business to deal with the woes of managing people but to reach your goals you need other people to take care of day-today business while you grow your passion.

Managing your employees’ expectations, performance and actions are important to get the best possible results and at all times you need to operate within the boundaries of the law.

Failing to follow the right procedures will get you in as much trouble with the CCMA as outright exploitation of your workers. It’s a good idea to understand your rights and responsibilities so that you can enjoy harmonious and productive relationships with the people you employ.

Madelein Taljaard is an expert in areas of employee tax and legislative changes affecting payroll. Madelein joined Sage Pastel Payroll & HR in 2000. She is currently Group R&D Development Manager for Sage Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa, as well as Senior Product Manager for Sage Pastel Payroll & HR. She is responsible for the development of Sage Pastel Payroll & HR software as well as Sage Pastel Accounting’s desktop products. In addition, she manages the integration of Sage Pastel desktop products in South Africa into other Sage initiatives like Sage Pay. Madelein has a BCom in financial management and has 16 years’ experience in personal income tax and employee tax.


Company Posts

How To Know If You’re Mismanaging Your Staff

Wouldn’t you like to free up some of that time to increase your company’s productivity and profitability while providing solutions to admin issues and organisational hazards? Workforce can show you how.

Workforce Staffing




The average manager can spend up to two full days a week on administrative tasks. You aren’t a machine and neither are your managers or HR team. However, to gain the most from your temp staff, a machine is exactly what you need. A smart one.

WorkTRACZone is the definitive product that’s been especially developed to offer you ultimate control through technology.

WorkTRACZone ensures that you surpass the 80% of businesses that are floundering in misadministration, and guarantees that your temp staff are utilised to the maximum.

Keep clear of the danger zone

Research by UK-based company, Service Now, found that eight out of ten companies still use inefficient manual tracking to drive productive work processes, putting their company’s temping situation in the danger zone. Are you one of them? Ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Are you aware of all the skills available to you through your temp workers?
  2. Can you remotely access your temp staff’s work rosters anytime, anywhere?
  3. Do you know exactly how much overtime is being generated in your business?
  4. Are your temp staff’s absenteeism records completely up to date?
  5. Do you have convenient access to all your temp staff’s work histories?

Related: Finding Your Staffing Partner

If you answered no to any one of these questions, then your temporary staff are gravely underperforming.

Manage your temp staff better today

As specialists in the temporary employment field, the designers behind WorkTRACZone are well aware of what businesses need to make the most of their workforce.

If you would like to protect your company from all the possible failings hiding behind mismanagement, visit, or call 087 135 8888 to take the first step in distinguishing your business.

Solutions to your biggest temp staffing issues

1. When I don’t have information available now, my business fails later

WorkTRACZone is a digital portal that is available to view from any smart device at any time. It provides complete transparency on all of your temporary staff, from work rosters to up-to-date labour costings. Have access to your outsourced staff’s information, collected onto the WorkTRACZone digital dashboard, and integrate time and attendance with payroll and invoicing systems.

2. How can I be sure staff aren’t taking advantage of overtime?

Mismanaged overtime is one of your biggest risks to profitability. WorkTRACZone records all overtime recorded by temporary staff, allowing you to spot dangerous patterns or misused hours before it becomes a drain on profits.

3. I’m not totally aware of what my temp staff can offer me

From clock number to ID, WorkTRACZone makes searching easy with editable fields and succinct categories. Workers’ skills are available to you at a moment’s notice with this digital portal.

4. I hardly monitor staff backgrounds, equipment issues, and other details

Having this information on hand is the first step to ensuring complete control over your outsourced staff. If you skip this step, all other processes often fall to disorder. WorkTRACZone provides the best solution to ensuring all this information is captured and easy to access.

5. With worker turnover, predicting salaries has become near impossible

All your temporary staff’s past and current work rates are viewed on demand via the WorkTRACZone digital dashboard. This provides accurate salary projections, allowing you to plan ahead and foresee any potential complications.

Related: 11 SA Entrepreneurs on What They’ve Learnt About Managing Staff


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Company Posts

Have Your Incentive Scheme In The Palm Of Your Hand

Mobility solutions are making incentive plans faster, simpler and more impactful than ever before.

Uwin Iwin




Vital Stats

According to GSMA, the body representing the interests of mobile operators worldwide, lower smartphone prices are driving a digital revolution in Africa, allowing mobile phone users to access the Internet at unprecedented levels.

The number of smartphone connections across the continent almost doubled over the last two to three years. More than half a billion people across Africa now subscribe to mobile services. Operators recorded data traffic growth of more than 50% in 2015 and this trend will keep on expanding. Operators and developers are also leveraging the power of mobile networks to transform services in the health, agriculture, education, and other sectors.

Related: Why Incentives Are A Must For Your Business

Another service that is transformed by this mobility is incentive schemes. When it comes to the implementation of incentive programmes, being mobile means ‘on the move’ motivation and keeping in touch with your valued workforce and channel partners.

Incentive schemes can be driven by the participants

Uwin Iwin’s innovative digital platform driving incentive schemes, uses the power of mobility to its greatest advantage. The custom-developed, white-labelled interface (which looks like a website), enables participants to enter the rewards portal online anytime they want. They interact with their incentive programme by entering sales and performance figures, which will be processed by the system.

Related: Uwin Iwin Incentives Hits The United Kingdom Shores

Participants can view their leaderboards and immediately determine their advancement. Automation ensures that the participant can diligently track their points and progress. It delivers immediate feedback to keep participants motivated. In addition to that, the easy rewards cash-out system, digital catalogue, or virtual mall, enables participants to convert their points into tangible rewards, providing a full incentive management system.

Further motivation is provided through social media, emails and programme-specific websites.

The message can be reinforced throughout the duration of the programme and participants are reminded of the plan, motivated towards the goal and informed about current progress.

The more interaction, the greater the impact on motivation, success of the programme and ultimately the all important ROI.

Mobility saves money

By allowing participants direct access, less personnel are needed to run the programme and that means lower costs and a higher ROI. Another benefit is that accurate reporting is instantly available. The effectiveness of the incentive scheme can be monitored in real time.

Rewards that appeal to the target audience

Uwin Iwin believes strongly in giving participants choices when it comes to awarding rewards. The reasoning is that adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach alienates some of the workforce as the rewards may be undesired. Giving a participant a choice for their reward is a reward in itself, as they can choose a prize that they desire. Uwin Iwin uses a catalogue of over 14 000 products (available online, of course) that can be exchanged for points or e-cash earnings.

Staying dynamic

Bringing the incentive schemes to the participants means that Uwin Iwin has to keep innovating and keep on searching for ways to keep participants interested. There is nothing more exciting than to be part of an ever-changing solution. That is their business — to keep finding bespoke solutions for specific clients’ needs.

Uwin Iwin Incentives is at the forefront of innovation, especially when it comes to mobile/digital/e-solutions. Notably, they were the first in South Africa to migrate onto a digital platform and understand its dynamics well.

Moreover, the platform has evolved over time to become highly sophisticated and efficient, so get in touch and make sure that your incentives scheme exploits the latest technological developments to the benefit of your enterprise.

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Managing Staff

Why I Stopped Doing Annual Employee Reviews

Why wait months to discuss problems that matter now?

Ximena Hartsock



employee reviews

When my company Phone2Action launched in 2013, we tried to manage employee performance with annual reviews. It was pointless. Why wait months to discuss problems that matter now? In a start-up, we needed to move faster and calibrate more often than annual reviews permitted.

We scrapped reviews and implemented a performance management system developed by Martin O’Malley, former governor of Maryland. He “disrupted” conventional management techniques well before Agile and Lean Start-up methodologies swept through Silicon Valley.

Today, many companies use “data-driven” management techniques. However, they struggle to find a balance between team and individual accountability, transparency and privacy, and actions and goals. O’Malley’s approach may help you find the sweet spot.

The CitiStat story

citistat-logoWhen O’Malley become mayor of Baltimore in 1999, the city suffered from chronic absenteeism, excessive overtime and poor response times. He implemented a data-tracking and management approach called CitiStat, inspired by the New York City Police Department’s CompStat crime analytics. Between 1999 and 2007, CitiStat saved Baltimore an estimated $350 million yet the programme cost only $400,000 per year (spent mainly on staff salaries), according to the Center for American Progress.

Related: These 4 Types Of ‘Nightmare Managers’ Are Scaring Employees Away

CitiStat required city departments to track performance metrics unique to their responsibilities. The Department of Transportation, for example, recorded how quickly it filled potholes after being alerted.

The department heads met with the CitiStat team every two weeks to review the data. If it was trending in the wrong direction, the CitiStat team and department head would brainstorm and test a solution. At the next meeting, the data would reveal whether the follow-up actions had made a difference. By 2007, the Department of Transportation was filling 97 percent of potholes within 48 hours of notification.

Other cities took note of O’Malley’s success. Mayor Adrian Fenty introduced a version called CapSTAT in the District of Columbia Government, where I learned the system. We used it to track major initiatives such as school openings.

“CapSTATs” were intense accountability meetings that gathered all the agency heads. When an initiative hit delays, there was no place to hide. The numbers, the colors (green for on track, yellow for delayed and red for behind) and mapping revealed the status of everything.

Having observed the effectiveness of CapSTAT, I wanted to create a version for Phone2Action. We called it ActionSTAT.

Why it’s different

There are different schools of thought in performance management. ActionSTAT addresses three conflicts that arise in most performance evaluation systems.

1. Team v. individual

Traditional employee reviews often happen in isolation and emphasise individual achievements. In contrast, ActionSTAT holds both the team and individual accountable by measuring how people spend their time. The system connects individual actions and goals to departmental and company goals.

This kind of “systems thinking” is hard to achieve in government but comes naturally in technology companies, which have standard measures of success. In software-as-a-service (SaaS), these could include annual recurring revenue (AAR), monthly recurring revenue (MMR) and gross retention.

For example, let’s say we ask each salesperson to make 40 calls per day. The salespeople who perform this “leading action” close more deals than those who don’t. The action appears to work, so we keep doing it. If salespeople made the 40 calls but didn’t close more deals, we’d test other leading actions. Ultimately, we trace the salespeople’s work to AAR and MMR.

2. Public v. private feedback

One of the hardest aspects of performance management is giving and receiving feedback. When a manager gives an employee feedback in private, the company doesn’t gain institutional knowledge. Only two people learn from the experience. When performance management is a team activity, a culture of continuous learning, improvement and transparency can emerge.

Phone2Action holds ActionSTATs every Thursday at 10 a.m. The meetings are open to everyone but focused on one department each week. We start ActionSTAT by reviewing a dashboard that shows the most important metrics of company health. Those include our load time, conversion rate and retention rate.

Next, we look at the department’s lagging indicators (marked green, yellow and red, just like in CapSTAT) followed by its “leading actions.” Often, we look at individual leading actions, too. The data sparks questions, conversation and feedback from across the company.

Related: 10 Tips To Motivate Employees Without Resorting To Money

Over time, a few things happen:

  1. Everyone in the company gets used to providing and receiving feedback.
  2. Everyone gets used to discussing performance publicly.
  3. Everyone sees what people do in other departments and therefore learns how each team member contributes to the company’s goals.

The health metrics never change, but how teams spend their time can. By discussing the leading actions of each department, we set and correct behaviours.

3. Actions v. goals

ActionSTAT distinguishes between how people spend their time (leading actions) and lagging indicators (goals defined by metrics). This is crucial because companies that manage solely by objectives cannot address the behaviors that drive the outcomes.

If we want to lose weight, jumping on the scale everyday won’t change anything. What we eat and how much we exercise will. The same applies to companies. If we measure lagging indicators but not the activities that influence them, we will not identify what works.

Every ActionSTAT becomes a chance to refine leading actions. If we wait one full year to evaluate an employee, we see if she hit the metrics, but we cannot correct behaviours along the way. Performance management is about continuously identifying the actions that produce desirable outcomes.

Related: ‘Let’s Be Friends’: Bad Idea When That Person Is Your Employee?

A thing of the past

Every tech company wants to be “agile,” but traditional employee reviews hinder that culture. Annual reviews exhaust managers and stress out employees who might have spent months working tirelessly – in the wrong direction. Neither the company nor the employee can afford to wait a year for the feedback.

Today, people choose work environments where they can learn continuously and understand how their actions contribute to the company’s success. Annual reviews are thing of the past.

This article was originally posted here on

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