Poor HR planning can ruin your expansion in Africa. Here’s how:

HR Planning

Of all the unfortunate events and issues that may ruin your expansion in an African country, does HR planning really rank that high up?

After all, when you have investors, business plans, feasibility studies, and profitability to worry about, HR planning often takes a backseat, probably filed under “Important, but not urgent” or “For later”. But “later” usually comes much sooner than you expect, and poor HR planning can wreak havoc on your expansion plans in ways you may not have considered, and with consequences that might make you wish you had acted otherwise…

Here is how poor HR planning will impact your expansion (and 5 actionable recommendations to avoid this whole situation).

1. Lack of local understanding will create a disconnect with your workers in Africa

Mismatch between existing work culture and your work culture

Would you use the exact same expansion plans in France, as you would in Slovakia, for example? After all, they are both European countries… You have probably understood by now that like most continents, Africa is no monolith. While all African countries – from Tunisia to South Africa – have a shared sense of African pride and identity, their cultures, circumstances, history, and political views are all different. Consider it in this way: in a continent housing over 1.4 billion people speaking over 3000 native languages, spread across a variety of climates and landscapes – from deserts to mountains and wetlands – generalisation and one-size-fits-all approaches are doomed to fail. As such, HR strategies that typically work well in the West or in other parts of the world may not be imported with great success in African countries. Even then, some HR strategies – like having a well-defined hierarchy of roles and responsibilities – may not work the same in every African country. In some countries, people may value collaborative work more, with hierarchy being less well-defined. But the opposite may also be true in other African countries. Localisation is a primordial aspect of good HR planning when expanding to Africa. Not understanding the local context and all the cultural nuances attached to it may well create a disconnect with your staff, a palpable mismatch between what you are asking for, and what the African country you’ve expanded in can offer.

Poor communication strategies

Broadly speaking, Africa can be divided into English-speaking, French-speaking, and Portuguese-speaking regions. But beyond these languages inherited from colonisation, there are many other native languages that are still thriving across the continent. In Nigeria, for example, people also speak Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and more. While contributing to Africa’s richness, this diversity of languages also creates more complex pathways to communication. When your HR and payroll provider does not account for this language diversity in Africa, clear and effective communication will be challenging. Your HR strategies – as designed by an EOR, PEO, or other HR Outsourcing expert – must incorporate multilingual communication plans and cross-cultural training. This will help to ensure that all your employees are on the same page. Of course, neglecting this will inevitably result in miscommunication, entirely avoidable errors, and a fragmented workplace culture.

Poor talent retention strategies in Africa

A lack of localisation efforts and poor communication already signal retention issues not-so-far down the line… After all, employees do not tend to stay long in work environments that are incompatible with their country’s work culture. And yet, to this, you must still add poor talent retention strategies. Retaining talent in Africa requires more than competitive salaries. Other factors such as career development opportunities, workplace culture, relevant benefits packages, and social impact also hold sway over an employee’s decision to stay or leave. Besides, it’s important to understand what motivates employees in different African countries, industries, and more. Poor HR planning that fails to address local motivations and concerns can lead to disengagement and low morale, ultimately affecting productivity and employee retention. Naturally, poor HR planning invariably overlooks these elements – too often discarded as “details” – leading to even higher turnover rates, disrupting business operations, and bringing recruitment costs up.
We have eliminated the need for these questions at Africa HR Solutions: our current payroll system has been created with the sole focus of improving payroll across Africa in one database. To do this:
  1. Each country on our system is set up individually with the required local Payroll Tax legislation and compliance.
  2. We also print payroll reports as required by the local Revenue Authorities in each of these countries.
  3. Our Statutory settings are maintained by a compliance team which is informed each time there are changes in local tax law and this is then updated on our system to achieve 100% compliance. Thanks to the high customization ability of our system, we can accommodate the labor laws for each country without any manual intervention.
  4. We ensure compliance in several different scenarios. For instance, in smaller African countries where the payroll taxes are mostly done by “local interpretation”, there can be cases where multiple companies within the country have different views on payroll items. Again, because we can customize any part of this process, we have the ability to cater for every and all needs when it comes to payroll legislation.

2. Ignoring legal & regulatory compliance in Africa may lead to sanctions

Another victim of poor HR planning…and perhaps one of the most serious ones: compliance.  

Because every single African country has its own set of laws, regulations, practices, and exceptions, among other things, compliance will look massively different across the continent. In South Africa, for example, one of the rules for severance pay is that employers must pay their workers 1 week’s severance pay for every completed year of service. In Rwanda on the other hand, the law on severance pay begins to apply for an individual with less than 5 years of service, earning 1 month’s severance pay.

Now, consider all the other types of payments that must be made, the remittances to the relevant authorities at the right time, before deadlines…

Failure to meet all these exacting requirements will result in fines, legal trouble potentially, and a loss of reputation that is often near impossible to recover.

Poor HR planning may well land you in trouble with local authorities and may even lead you to being blacklisted, endangering the continued presence of your company in the African country you’ve expanded in.

3. Overlooking health & safety standards in Africa may lead to accidents

Health & Safety is crucial to employee well-being in Africa. In some industries, like agriculture, oil, mining, and more, Health & Safety can determine life and death. HR planning that does not account for compliance with health and safety standards in specific industries are potentially a tragedy in the making for your workers, and for your company. Workers can get injured, or get involved in workplace accidents more often, leading to greater employee dissatisfaction and, naturally, higher turnover rates.

Five Actionable Recommendations

  1. Conduct thorough research about the African country you are expanding to: understand the legal, cultural, and economic landscapes of the countries you are interested in doing business in.
  2. Localise your HR Policies: tailor your HR strategies to fit local contexts, including – crucially – compliance with labour laws and cultural norms, and even with unspoken rules.
  3. Partner with local experts like Africa HR Solution: collaborate with local PEOs or EORs who have in-depth knowledge of the market. There is so much to consider, so much to supervise to ensure that your HR planning is relevant and meets all the requirements that it often feels quite impossible to shoulder this burden all on your own.

This is why Africa HR Solutions is here.

We have helped hundreds of companies just like yours flourish in Africa, we have helped them face the same problems you are facing now, the same issues, doubts, and fears. We know what you are up against, and we can help you overcome it with little effort from your part…all thanks to our EOR and PEO offers through which we comprehensively take care of your HR, payroll, and compliance needs among other things.

Find out how we can help you establish a clear and successful HR strategy here.

4. Improve communication: develop multilingual communication strategies and provide cross-cultural training to ensure effective collaboration. At Africa HR Solutions, our team members are all bilingual (ENG/FR) and can help ensure harmonious communication across Africa, as a result.

5. Focus on employee engagement: create HR policies that address the unique motivations and concerns of African employees, leading to a more productive workforce, and to happier employees who will be more likely to stay with your company for longer.

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Achieve peace of mind for your business operations across Africa with Africa HR Solutions, your trusted compliance partner. Streamline your payroll process and ensure adherence to regulations effortlessly. Contact us today for a worry-free expansion journey
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GRANT GERAGHTY - Africa HR Team

GRANT GERAGHTY

HEAD OF CLIENT RELATIONSHIP

Grant Geraghty is the longest-serving member of the Africa HR team. This resident subject matter expert and client champion is responsible for gaining a deep understanding of our clients’ unique HR needs in Africa and providing tailored solutions that align with their business objectives. Grant collaborates closely with our clients to ensure that their requirements are properly implemented, providing ongoing support and guidance throughout the process.

Grant brings a wealth of experience to his role, having served as Africa HR’s longest-serving employee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics and Business Finance, from the University of Natal in South Africa. Additionally, he has completed a certification program in Payroll and Tax Administration from the University of Cape Town, further enhancing his expertise in HR operations and compliance.

His commitment to delivering exceptional service and his extensive knowledge of HR in Africa make him an invaluable member of the Africa HR team.

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL Africa HR Team

KEVINA TAKOORDYAL

HEAD OF OPERATIONS

Kevina Takoordyal has a BA Hons Business Management from the University of Glamorgan, UK, with MBA in leadership and Innovation, MBA General, PMP Certified, and Agile Scrum Master. She currently works as the Head of Operations at Africa HR Solutions Ltd with more than 20 years of proven leadership capabilities in Operations, Business Development, People Management, Process Optimization, and Project Management in the Financial Services, BPO, Banking Industry, and Heath Care Industry. In Senior leadership roles with an international footprint across Europe working and extensive Pan- African experience from a compliance, finance, and operations angle, Kevina comes across with a panoply of cross-functional skills. Kevina also serves on a few Boards, Non-Independent Executive at MioD and for NGOs on a voluntary basis, a coach and mentor to aspiring female leaders across Africa and Mauritius.

Kevina is a firm believer in Servant Leadership with a strong focus and commitment to uplifting others, with the ability to deliver through a highly engaged – diverse team, and works towards consistently synergistic value creation. While being a focused and adaptive thinker and Kevina is actively participating in panel discussions on Innovation, CX, Digital transformation.

Kevina serves as Project Assessor for the National Youth upskilling program. She has been recognized as Global Talent in a few companies, Ceridian, and International SOS Ltd whereby she has been awarded a few scholarships and had the opportunity to be mentored by Senior Vice President in the US. Award Winner in various fields and at a national level and recognized including Super Achiever Leader Award in Africa in 2016, Awarded Africa Women Leader 2018.

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE​

VILOSHNA PACKIRY POULLE

Head of Finance & Business Support

Viloshna is an experienced finance professional with 18 years of expertise in strategic financial planning, financial analysis, cash flow management, systems and controls implementation, financial reporting, and continuous process improvements. She currently serves as Head of Finance & Business Support, where she has successfully automated and leveraged the financial reporting system capabilities to ensure efficient company operations.

Viloshna’s background includes senior roles in a multinational pharmaceutical company and a large listed Mauritian conglomerate. Her meticulous attention to detail and strategic thinking have streamlined financial processes, making her a valuable addition to any finance team. Viloshna is a qualified finance professional with an FCCA qualification and an MBA, bringing valuable expertise to any organization.

In her current role, Viloshna leads the company’s Treasury and Payments function, including the fulfillment of the company’s cross-border payments into Africa. With her strong educational background and extensive experience, Viloshna consistently demonstrates her ability to optimize financial operations, minimize risks, and improve profitability. Her expertise in financial reporting and process improvements make her a valuable asset to any organization.

MARK DU PREEZ​

MARK DU PREEZ

Head of Legal & Compliance

A qualified lawyer who joined Africa HR Solutions in July 2020, Mark Du Preez has experience working in private practice for a reputable law firm in South Africa. He also played commercially focused roles at a leading private bank, wealth management company, and outsourcing firm in South Africa and Mauritius.

Mark has played a pivotal role in Africa HR Solution’s risk mitigation strategy, which positively impacted P&L performance over the years.

He currently leads the Partnerships function of the company including relationships and oversight with in-country partners (ICPs) across Africa.

Alex Daruty - Africa HR Team

ALEX DARUTY

Head of Commercial

Alex has more than 15 years of experience in the global, strategic development of both enterprise and consumer brands in categories including technology, transport, enterprise software, entertainment, and travel.

With experience in roles on both agency and corporate side, he has worked across international brands and has led the development and execution of multi-discipline campaigns across EMEA, NORAM and Asia Pacific.

His focus is on driving meaningful business impact through brand differentiation and building high-functioning, digitally oriented, and analytically driven capabilities. He is motivated by working with, and developing dynamic people, teams, and organizations.

He leads, manages, develops and mentors the Key Account Management department, including line management responsibility for the team of Key Account Managers and Key Account Administrator who represent the Company as the primary communication link between all relevant stakeholders, including clients, third party in-country partners and internal functions.

Originally from Mauritius, he holds bachelor’s degrees in International Business, Finance and Management from the University of Nevada, Reno.