Mteto Nyati shares how Altron employees have been living the company's brand

Altron employees don't want to just innovate, they want to make a difference, says Mteto. 

On Wednesday night, 3 June, CHRO South Africa launched its first-ever CHRO Day online. More than 60 of South Africa’s top HR executives came online to talk about employer brands during and after Covid-19. 

After CHRO South Africa MD Joël Roerig welcomed the rapidly growing CHRO community, he handed over to Altron CEO Mteto Nyati, who’s succeeded in the rebranding of a 55-year-old company. 

“Three years ago, we changed Altron from a family-led company to an independently managed company with new executives at the helm – one of which [Dolores Mashsi, group executive: human capital] is part of this community,” Mteto said. 

As part of this process, Altron’s executives had to rationalise the nine brands they had been planning to take to the market and align themselves behind the One Altron brand. 

Mteto brought more than 80 executives and managers into Altron to help formulate a new strategy for the company. 

“At the time, the facilitator of the strategy said that he had never facilitated a strategy with so many people involved before,” Mteto said. 

He explained that, in the ICT space, companies are forever trying to come up with new innovations. “However, at Altron we want to do things that make sense, that matter. We don’t want to innovate just for the sake of innovation, we want to make a difference.” This became the strategy that the One Altron brand represents today. 

Over the three years of implementing the new strategy, Altron ensured four key elements:

  • Being a great place to work for 
  • Doing good business while doing good
  • Being open and transparent
  • Being passionate about employees 

“It’s nice to talk about values when things are going well, but do you really live those values when things get tough?” Mteto said. 

For Covid-19, Mteto felt that there were things that needed to be addressed that hadn’t been fully addressed in the strategy. Altron introduced some Covid-19 guiding principles: 

  • To respect the country’s laws and regulations
  • Prioritise staff safety and wellbeing
  • Protect the sustainability of the company
  • Avoid or minimise job losses
  • Protect vulnerable citizens and staff
  • Apply the principles of fairness to customers, employees and shareholders

Two weeks after lockdown, Mteto received a video from some of Altron’s employees who have been supporting essential services staff and the hard work that goes into it. “These are employees who feel like they are living our purpose and values and they are proud to show it,” he said. “This is the employee brand.” 

Altron’s employees have been stepping up in many other ways as well, especially in supporting each other and the community. 

The first lockdown period had 13 working days and the employees who weren’t supporting essential services were required to take annual leave. Altron contributed to 50 percent of their annual leave days and employees who had accrued a lot of leave days were asked if they wanted to donate those days to others who had been forced to take leave. “We collected over 5,000 leave days to help these people,” Mteto said. 

The leaders within Altron had to cut 50 percent of their bonuses, but the company still paid the rest of the staff’s bonuses. Non-executive directors also reduced their fees for the three months of May, June and July, and because of this, the board decided not to pay a full dividend. “Fairness does not mean sameness,” Mteto explained.  

Tonight's even wouldn't have been possible without principal partners Momentum Consultants & Actuaries and Workday, media partner Oracle, and associate partners ClarkHouse Human Capital, Compliance Online, SAP Concur and Sanlam.