A look back at 2021 CHRO SA community events
Highlights from yet another challenging year.
While still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CHRO community still managed to engage and have valuable exchanges throughout the year. Here are some of our 2021 highlights.
HR Indaba Online keynote highlights how stress and uncertainty can support your game plan
A packed virtual auditorium greeted performance expert Richard Sutton, who hosted the first Impact Session of the gamified HR Indaba Online 2021, titled “The Game Plan: how to turn stress and uncertainty into resilience and success”.
The best-selling author and stress expert reframed the ground rules for working with people and revealed key factors that will shape successful HR strategies for the future.
“We have faced relentless pressures, relentless stress and it’s not the end. It’s an environment we will be in for several years,” said Richard. “We will be dealing with the economic and social impact for decades to come.”
Richard explained that the obvious assumption of Covid-19 being the cause of this relentless pressure was incorrect. “This is not new,” he said. “Worry, stress and fear had already started to emerge in 2019. Covid-19 almost provided an acceleration of the trajectory that we were already on and created exponential change.”
The challenge, according to Richard, arises when a system has to deal with elevated levels of stress for a prolonged period. “Cortisol is the main stress hormone and it affects the nervous, brain and digestive systems,” he said. “These systems have a finite ability to cope with cortisol and long-term, this results in immune suppression. The most profound effect of long periods of stress is the potential to atrophy seven regions of the brain.”
Finding the right tools to cope with disruption in focus at HR Indaba Conversation
In a conversation made possible by Workday, leaders at an HR Indaba Conversation said it has been imperative to find new ways of working while in the midst of a crisis, and to ensure that the solutions put in place now endure in the long term and attract future talent.
Walk the talk
EOH Group HR director, Malisha Awunor said follow-through is essential when responding to a crisis, and pointed to the July 2020 riots as a time when her organisation chose to step up. When the violence broke out, the company had to try to maintain a sustainable business while supporting their people through the intense fear and panic.
Malisha explains that EOH created a chatbot on WhatsApp, which was deployed in 24 hours. Through that platform, people could request accommodation, food, medicine and counselling.
Within a few days, in response to requests, EOH procured 24 tonnes of food for its people and ensured it was delivered. They partnered with restaurants and made 6,000 warm meals for people to pick up, and more than 500 people and their families took up trauma counselling.
Women’s Event shares the difference between thriving and surviving companiesOn the evening of 4 August, 120 leading women in finance and HR gathered virtually for a unique online immersion event in honour of Women’s Month. Each leader also had the opportunity to bring along their mentees.
The annual Women’s Event, which took place online for the second time, celebrated everything the attendees had achieved and learned over the past year and which of these lessons they would take into the “brave new workplace” of the future.
After a brief welcome and thank you to the partners who made the event possible, including Workday, CaseWare Africa, Dimension Data and Momentum Corporate, the virtual floor opened up for some of the women attending to share their experiences over the past year.
Charlotte Mokoena, executive vice president: HR and corporate affairs at Sasol said one of the things she has learnt from the pandemic, “is how emotions can come all at the same time and you don’t have the words to describe those emotions. You are not sure whether you are angry, sad or anxious.
“Often when we feel the tension of pressure we tend to go back to our true self. To what we have been taught or what we were born to be. The pandemic has made me go back to the basics I was taught, to dig deep into myself and it has brought the best of who I am.”
She added that she also dug into her authentic self, “and I realised that authentic me appreciates silence and, having raised four children, there was never full silence in our home. I found that there is strength in being silent and going deep into who you really are. I also learnt that I could cope in times of pressure and learnt who I really am when the going gets tough.”
Read more: https://chro.co.za/articles/womens-event-shares-the-difference-between-thriving-and-surviving-companies/
South Africa’s leading CHROs celebrated at elegant 2021 CHRO Awards ceremony
On the night of 18 November, the CHRO Awards recognised five outstanding CHROs for the work that they are doing on the people side of business. The winners received their awards before their peers at an elegant gala dinner held at the prestigious Polo Club at Inanda.
The CHROs were welcomed with a glass of champagne, cocktail steak tacos, tempura prawns and canapés and with sounds of a beautiful violin in the background while mingling with their peers at one of the few in-person CHRO community events that took place this year.
The executives were ushered into a glittering ballroom to tables set with crisp linen, polished silver, and sparkling glassware, where a sumptuous three-course menu was curated by leading Johannesburg caterers, Word of Mouth. The candles were lit, and the HR leaders were treated to a highly entertaining welcome by comedian Riaad Moosa.
CHRO SA’s Community Manager Sungula Nkabinde greeted the guests and thanked the partners who made the event possible, including Momentum Corporate, Deloitte, Dimension Data, SHL, Mercer SA, and Workday.
Sungula said there were no losers when it comes to the CHRO Awards. “Just being nominated is a huge privilege and this year’s 20 nominees are all exceptional leaders in their own right and truly deserve their accolades as nominees and winners.”
He also acknowledged and thanked the panel of judges for their time and effort in making sure the process is fair and has integrity.