Transparency is a business imperative, as record number of Top Employers Certified

South Africa can hold its head high, as a record number of organisations achieved the prestigious Top Employers Certification this year. Research has revealed one of the top factors contributing to driving HR best practice was effectively implementing a high level of transparency and open communication.

Workforce magazine recently quoted HR communications specialist, Jennifer Benz, as saying: “A lot of companies still communicate like it’s 2006”. The 86 certified Top Employers South Africa for 2017, however, have no such problem – coming in way ahead of the communications curve.

A record of 86 Top Employers were certified nationally this year, up from 77 in 2016. “This year, we have certified more Top Employers in South Africa than ever before,” said CEO of the Top Employers Institute, David Plink. “The certification of 86 organisations in South Africa shows that these employers are continuously working to optimise their employee conditions and lead the way in the development of their people. For their employees, clients, and other stakeholders, it is an accomplishment that they can be truly proud of.”

A recent study, entitled “The Power of the Top Employers Certification Seal Research Report”, found that among Top Employers – certified by the Top Employers Institute – are widely perceived as leaders, as well as being more innovative, personal, and honest. Open communications and transparency were some of the crucial ingredients that led to these positive observations.

Certification is no mean feat for Top Employers, who are evaluated across nine key areas: Talent Strategy, Workforce Planning, On-boarding, Learning & Development, Performance Management, Leadership Development, Career & Succession Management, Compensation & Benefits, and Culture. The Top Employers Institute found, furthermore, that transparency and open communication tied these nine key elements together.

“HR professionals spend numerous hours creating practices to develop staff strategically, so if employees are not aware of these practices or do not understand them, it negates the full value of what they are trying to achieve,” said Billy Elliott, Country Manager South Africa for the Top Employers Institute. “Transparency and thorough communication, therefore, is essential to implementation, as well as to engaging and retaining top talent.”

There’s no shortage of ways in which Top Employers keep communication effective. David Moloto, HR Director at Top Employer Nestlé, says: “We support and encourage our people to grow in more than one dimension, to achieve all they can both professionally and personally. It is for this reason we use an integrated approach to learning, supported by blogs, enterprise social networks, Webinars, eLearning via multi-media platforms, tutorials, classroom training, mentoring and many other resources made available to employees to meet their goals.” Nestlé also makes use of a ‘culture survey’, which enables it to listen to its employees and take note of individual feedback.

Blended communication channels, like those used at Nestlé, can ensure that HR best practice is more impactful and firmly ingrained in the organisation. At Microsoft, another Top Employer South Africa, HR Director Enid Lizamore says the key to success is building a culture where failure is viewed as a learning opportunity and employees are “obsessed” with success – not just their own, but each other’s. This means relationships are paramount. “We also listen to employee feedback to build an overall employee experience that raises the bar in our industry, creates a more inclusive working environment, and recognises the importance of our people to the continued success of Microsoft,” she says.

“Overall,” explains Lizamore, “this process has resulted in tying talent strategies to corporate strategies, made recruiting more of a competitive advantage, improved employee satisfaction and morale, and has helped employees develop their knowledge and skills, to deliver on the company’s mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more.” Moloto relates a similar experience, noting that the Top Employer Certification helps attract high calibre talent in a challenging economic trading environment, giving Nestlé a competitive advantage.

For this reason, both Lizamore and Moloto argue that HR best practice is increasingly playing an instrumental strategic role in business. “HR leadership needs to take a progressive approach to achieve the business goals of the company. They must focus on strategic planning, prioritising investments, and modernising the portfolio to fully embrace industry trends such as social, mobile, big data analytics, and cloud,” says Lizamore.

“The days of large HR organisations focused on administrative tasks are over and will be replaced by lean, digitally-enabled, well-trained HR teams and professionals. These teams will be able to drive talent practices, use HR analytics and partner with business leaders to drive impact,” adds Moloto.

In this climate, it is significant that the Top Employers Institute found transparency and communication throughout the organisation – not just to Exco and management – to play a critical role in ensuring HR best practice became entrenched, having the desired impact on employees and contributing to an optimal working environment and higher levels of employee engagement. This is in line with recent research by Quantum, which found that “[a]cross all industries, transparency has never been more important to a successful business model, regardless of company size. When it comes to employee engagement, this particular business practice has been proven to be essential, at a global scale.”

According to the Top Employers Institute, some 538,000 employees are currently positively impacted by the world-class HR conditions in place amongst Top Employers on the African continent. If the current trend is anything to go by, this number is set to grow and Africa’s business people will continue to develop, always.

The Top Employers South Africa in 2017, in alphabetical order, are:
AbbVie South Africa
Adidas South Africa (Pty) Ltd
ADvTECH Limited
African Rainbow Minerals Limited
AfriSam (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd
Airports Company South Africa SOC Limited
Anglo American Platinum Limited
BASF South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Becton Dickinson (Pty) Ltd
British American Tobacco South Africa
Cell C (Pty) Limited
Clicks Group Limited
Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages
Coca-Cola South Africa
Denel Land Systems incorporating Mechem, a division of Denel SOC Ltd.
DHL International (Pty) Ltd
Dimension Data
Dow Southern Africa (PTY) LTD
EMC Computer Systems South Africa (Pty) Limited
EY South Africa
Foskor (Pty) Ltd
G4S South Africa
Godrej South Africa
Goodyear South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Group Five
Hilti South Africa
Howden Africa (Pty) Ltd
Huawei Technologies
Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Limited
Kimberly-Clark Southern Africa
Legal Aid South Africa
Liberty Group Limited
MAN Truck & Bus (S.A.) (Pty) Ltd; Centurion Truck & Bus (Pty) Ltd; MAN Bus & Coach (Pty) Ltd
McCarthy Volkswagen/Audi
Mercedes-Benz South Africa Ltd
Merchants SA (Pty) Ltd
Mutual & Federal
Nestlé (South Africa) (Pty) Limited
Nike South Africa
Novo Nordisk (Pty) LTD
NWK Limited / Beperk
Old Mutual
OneLogix (Pty) Ltd
Orange Business Services - South Africa
Orion Group
Palabora Mining Company
Pernod Ricard South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Philip Morris South Africa
Redefine Properties Ltd
Richards Bay Minerals
Safripol (Pty) Ltd
Saint-Gobain Construction Products South Africa (Pty) Ltd incorporating Saint-Gobain Pipelines (Pty) Ltd and Saint-Gobain Abrasives (Pty) Ltd
Samsung Electronics SA (Pty) Ltd
Santam Ltd
SAP South Africa
Simba (Pty) Ltd
Takeda SA
Tata Consultancy Services (SA) (Pty) Ltd
Telesure Investment Holdings (Pty) Ltd
The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited
The Spar Group
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Tiger Brands
Total South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Transnet Engineering
Transnet Freight Rail
Transnet Group Capital
Transnet National Ports Authority
Transnet Pipelines
Transnet Port Terminals
Transnet Property
Transnet SOC Ltd
Unilever South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Vodacom (Pty) Ltd
Volkswagen Group South Africa
Wipro Technologies SA Pty Ltd

About the Top Employers Institute
The Top Employers Institute globally certifies excellence in the conditions that employers create for their people. Optimal employee conditions ensure that people develop themselves personally and professionally. This in turn enables companies to grow and to develop, always.

Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company has recognised Top Employers around the world since 1991. The company is now active in more than 100 countries and in six regions: North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Almost 1,100 Top Employers were successfully certified in 2016.

Twitter:@TopEmployersAfrica and @TopEmployersAF

Issued by Rothko on behalf of the Top Employers Institute. For more information, please contact Niemah Davids at