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The Top Employers in Africa named for 2014

While challenges abound for any company extending its reach into Africa,The Top Employers Africa 2014 Certification Programme shows that HR plays a vital role in bridging gaps and ensuring that both business and employee needs are met.


The Top Employers Africa 2014 Certification results published today shows that leading employers in Africa continue to invest heavily in developing their people and that this is a key part of their growth strategy on the continent.


The African economy is growing faster than any other continent in the world, with one-third of African countries having a GDP growth rate of more than 6%. According to the African Development Bank, the costs of starting a business in Africa have fallen by more than two-thirds over the past seven years while delays for starting a new business have been halved.

Yet many big companies and corporations extending their reach into Africa still stumble because they fail to adapt business strategy and operational models to uniquely African circumstances.


As Elanie Kruger, Regional HR Director of G4S Africa, that received the Top Employers Africa 2014 Certification, points out: “It is important to stress that Africa is not one country but consists of 54 countries. Although there are some similarities, most countries are different with unique features. If you want to do business in Africa you need to understand the individual countries, cultures, languages, politics and economic models and obviously unique business and people challenges. Similar business models are adapted, but legislative requirements as well as cultural differences do require businesses to be flexible and innovative.”


The annual Top Employers Africa Certification Programme, which is carried out by the Top Employers Institute, and independently audited by Grant Thornton, shows that good people management can help mitigate this and mean the difference between success or failure on the continent.


“Globally, there has been a shift in the importance businesses place on talent and people management within company structures – and this is very evident in businesses operating in Africa,” says Samantha Crous, Top Employers Institute, Regional Director Africa and Benelux.


“There is a great demand for talent and human capital and companies find themselves competing for the most experienced and skilled staff,” she says. “We are seeing companies spend more on developing local expertise through employee training and education. Benefits like child care and special working conditions as well as internal communication platforms are also evident.”


SAP, which was named the number one company in the Top Employers Africa2014 Certification Programme, is a business management software company that operates in 130 countries across the globe. The company was Certified in four African countries; Cóte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. According to HR Manager for Africa, Queen Mokonoto, taking care of employees and ensuring that people are developed efficiently is a crucial part of SAP’s vision. “SAP is well known as a brand but less so as a company. Yet we are very focused on our people, we make sure that they are taken care of from a developmental point of view. We drive diversity, we don’t discriminate based on gender, age or colour and we encourage innovative thinking.”


Mokonoto mentions a range of developmental programmes, leadership projects, mentoring and coaching initiatives as well as regular motivational talks to keep employees inspired and encouraged. But she acknowledges that working in Africa is often challenging.


Seshni Samuel from EY, another Top Employer 2014 in Africa, Certified in Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria and South Africa, agrees. “Working across Africa is not always convenient, for example we struggle with network connectivity, transport, electricity and so on. However, you also learn to adapt, improvise and move on. Our employees in some of the most difficult environments, are often the most engaged because they appreciate working for an employer that cares even more. We are also continuously impressed with the calibre, dedication and commitment of our staff in our offices across the continent.”


Clotilde Boury, telecommunications company Orange’ Africa Middle East Asia HR Vice President says that their main challenge doing business in Africa is the fierce competition. “It is this competitive market that requires our people to be agile and highly responsive to the market evolution and customer expectations.


The company’s actions are guided by the Orange People Charter, to ensure that they have the right people and expertise at the right time and in the right place.

Orange, which achieved the Top Employer Africa Certification in Senegal, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Business Services Egypt believes that its people are at the heart of each aspect of its business.  “Today, we assert our sustainable and responsible engagement to all our employees and ensure that our people grow as we grow,” says Clotilde Boury.


Cherise Mendoza, HR Lead for West, East & Central Africa for Microsoft Africa – another Certified Top Employer – agrees that caring for employees and offering them consistent opportunities for growth is key: “Microsoft has a fundamental belief that no matter where you are in the world, our brand needs to stay consistent. This means, that what is available to employees in the US or Europe is available to employees in Africa.  We strive to make our programmes, processes and overall way of working with our employees first class,” she says.


This mirrors the belief of Erna Oldenboom, director of the programme HR as Strategic Business Partner at the UCT Graduate School of Business, that successful organisations integrate HR into their overall business strategy. Oldenboom believes that the role of HR must parallel the needs of the organisation. “Successful organisations are becoming more adaptive, resilient, quick to change direction and people-centred.”


Never has this been as relevant as in the current economic climate, which is still battling the consequences of a global recession. “There are many more opportunities for business across Africa today than there were five years ago. At the same time the competitive landscape has intensified as more companies try to leverage these opportunities. Across Africa companies need to quickly catch up and meet the same high standards required to compete and operate in any other market. There is also a need to be more innovative, more nimble, more adaptable than ever before,” says EY’s Seshni Samuel.


Aligning people and brand can be challenging and it helps if a corporate culture dominated by good HR practice is in place. This is often what separates a Top Employer from the rest of the crowd – a company that realises that people are the backbone of the business.


“Companies are increasingly merging the notions of company branding, strategic business decisions and HR,” reflects Samantha Crous. “Companies are realising that looking after their employees is not just vital to employee satisfaction, but to business success as well. Good HR practice quite literally makes good business sense as well.”

The number one Certified Top Employer Africa 2014 is:

SAP: Cóte d’Ivoire, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria.


The remaining group of organisations Certified as a Top Employer Africa 2014: (in alphabetical order)

British American Tobacco: South Africa, Angola, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe;
EY: South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Nigeria;
G4S: Botswana, South Africa, Cameroon, Cóte d’Ivoire, Democratic Repulic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zambia;
Microsoft: Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria;
Old Mutual: Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe;
Orange: Senegal, Uganda, Cóte d’Ivoire, Mali, Business Services Egypt;
Unilever: Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria.

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