"Employees are the heart of any organization." Andisiwe Tola, Human Resources graduate, currently completing further HR qualifications.

Working in South Africa. A field report.

As part of her further training, 26-year-old HR graduate Andisiwe Tola is gaining experience as an HR manager at Knorr-Bremse South Africa, near the ten-million-inhabitant metropolis of Johannesburg.

A partnership established between Knorr-Bremse SA and the South African Government is helping to grow the opportunities for previously disadvantaged women to upskill in the workplace. Andisiwe Tola is on a two-year work experience scheme at Knorr-Bremse in Kempton Park, completing her training at the end of 2018.

My day: out and about from 7 am to 5 pm

7:15 – I rush to the taxi rank to take a minibus taxi, a form of unofficial public transport in Johannesburg. Depending on traffic, it takes me about thirty minutes to get to work. Upon arrival at the office, I normally join my fellow HR colleagues in starting the day with a cup of coffee.

8:15 – Normally I first go through my emails and then discuss with the HR Officer what the priorities for the day are. The HR department has three full-time employees and two graduates. One full-time employee and one graduate do payroll. At the moment I support the HR Officer in HR generalist functions. A typical HR day can never really be planned, as there are constant requests for assistance by other employees; after all, HR is a service department and our job is to provide help and support for employees.

9:00 – I support the HR Officer by collecting data for the HR Manager. During the time I have been working in the department, I have gained a lot of practical experience to support my theoretical qualification. I realize the importance of HR in achieving the goals of the company; I can analyze trends, contribute to employee motivation and wellness, and recruit and train the right employees to take the business forward. Employees are the heart of any organization.

Professional goal HR Manager: Andisiwe Tola is prepared to invest plenty of time and energy in her training to gain the best possible further qualifications.

Late morning: training analysis and Christmas party

11:00 – The HR Officer and I meet with the HR Manager to analyze the training records and documentation as preparation for training needs. I enjoy working with my colleagues in HR, and in the year I have been here, they have taught me an enormous amount. The HR team works together as a family, working hard but also having fun during the day, laughing and teasing each other.

12:30 – Normally, we HR team members tend to take lunch at our desks because of the workload. However today I’m joined by my colleagues for lunch. The lunch break gives us a healthy and much needed respite from our desks.

13:30 – The Managing Director’s Assistant asks me for help with the Christmas function. I am very artistic and enjoy creative endeavors, so I’m happy to get involved with this task.

Afternoon: Shop stewards and employment equity

14:30 – I attend a meeting with the shop stewards and the HR Manager, where I take minutes and document the discussion. Labor relations at the plant are good and most major issues have been addressed and resolved, so this meeting goes smoothly.

15:30 – Back at my desk, I type up a notification for an employee to attend a disciplinary enquiry. The HR Manager also asks me for support with reporting on the employment equity program, which makes sure that formerly disadvantaged groups in South Africa are given more attention in recruitment.

17:00 – I pack up for the day, say goodbye to my colleagues who are still at the office, and leave to go home. My day is not over yet though, as I still have to study for my upcoming exams.

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