Thursday, June 30, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Where are your Employee Deductions

EARLY WARNING – Where are your Employee Deductions?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – June 2011

Times are tough – I get that, but stealing the money that you have deducted from your employees is just not on!

Funds that should be paid across to the Pension Fund or to SARS (South African Revenue Services) or even to the UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) and that are then misappropriated by the employer, can and do have serious implications for the employee.

The problem then is that if the company becomes insolvent the funds that should have been paid over cannot (or at best become extremely difficult) be collected or at best become extremely difficult to collect, especially if they were destined for the Pension Fund. This is because retirement type funds are not classified as ‘secured creditors’ but rather as ‘preferred ones’. Payments that were destined to go to SARS are a bit easier to collect, but the bottom line is that if there is no money, then there just is no money and having to wait for years to get that money back in, doesn’t help you one iota, if you are retrenched and unemployed right now without UIF to fall back on.

The bottom line is that the Trustees and Administrators of these funds need to take action the moment payment is not received rather than wait until such time as the company is declared insolvent.

There is also something that you as an employee can do and that is check on a regular basis that your contributions have been paid over to the relevant body and thereby ensure your future.

Be proactive and make sure that everything has been paid over.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BLOGGING TIPS - Great Articles equal Great Experiences

BLOGGING TIPS – Great Articles equal Great Experiences

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2011

One of the quickest ways to get me to unsubscribe, fire you as a service provider or indeed walk into your competitors lair, is to irritate me.

You see, for it is not just about what the offering is, it’s not just about the product or even the service – for me it’s about the whole experience. It’s about how that whole experience makes me feel (and I don’t necessarily mean in a warm and fuzzy or touchy feelie kind of way). Does it make me want to return, does it make me want to share (in a good way or even when I’m spitting mad), does it make me smile or laugh, does it make me want to change something?

Reading for me, be it articles or magazines or books, have the same kind of effect. Is it written in a simple manner that is easy to read and understand? Does it bring forth images that make me smile or laugh or even cry and squirm or shake with anger? Not every ‘good’ experience is sweetly pleasurable – some sadden and make me think and then act, some challenge and some . . . . well, they just irritate!

They irritate because they are too technical or they use words that necessitate me being permanently attached to the dictionary or they are so devoid of any type of truth or figment of reality that I am blinded by a red mist of anger and indignation at the fact that someone would even think that I would be caught up in their absolute nonsense!

Like many, I do not like to seeped and surrounded by negativity and if I am reading something that constantly brings this emotion to the forefront, I will stop and move onto the next article.

As a creature of habit, I usually return time and time again to the same sites. When I find an article that I enjoy on a site, I will usually ‘follow’ it to see what else comes up. That said however, I can just as easily ‘unfollow’, which is something that I will do from time to time, if I become disgruntled and irritated with the author and/or their content.

The reality is that I am not any different to anyone else out there in terms of how I deal with my own set of particular likes and dislikes. The reality is that there are truckloads and more, of information out there – useful stuff, enjoyable stuff and of course a load of nonsense too. It’s freely available to anyone and everyone. The only thing between someone reading your articles or not is the choice that they make about the experience that they are having.

So, if you want your readers to keep coming back, time and time again, you have to make sure that you do not irritate and annoy them. Make sure that every article equates to a memorable experience.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, June 27, 2011

MOTIVATION - Liberate Your Future

MOTIVATION – Liberate Your Future

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2011

The quote today comes from Marilyn Ferguson, who says “Your past is not your potential. In any hour you can choose to liberate the future.”

Well there it is – my old friend “choice” has come to give me a real swift, sharp, painful kick up the rear end!

Just when I think I’ve got the whole thing carefully sussed out, something like this comes along to remind me just how quickly my focus can wander and even more how quickly I can lose my footing on the path of my life. And yes . . . I often do write about what I most need to hear!

Quite often over the last couple of months my thoughts have turned to the past and instead of relocating them to the present and the future, I have allowed them to dwell there, with consequences you understand – there are always consequences.

I’ve allowed myself to dwell on relationships, both business and personal, that are no longer – I have wallowed in the hurt and injustice of the emotions that they aroused. I have grieved over the loss of animals and companions and friends and seeped myself in self pity – but ultimately at what cost?

Sure these things have to take place and it is healthy to go through them, ironically though, I thought that I had dealt with this . . . or had I? Was this self indulgent rubbish or was this me actually going through that process that I thought I had already gone through? Who knows and quite honestly does it really matter? Probably not!

What does matter though, is that I shrug it off and get myself re-focused because the more I continue down this path of self pity, the harder it will be for me to get myself back on track. I have to make a decision, a choice if you will. That choice is to turn away from the past, forget about it, wipe the slate clean and look to the present and the future.

What do I want to see on the newly cleaned off slate? How do I want to populate it? I have a few ideas – do you?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Friday, June 24, 2011

HR - Religious Discrimination - Part 1


Religious Discrimination – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - June 2011

The law states, in Section 6 of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) that there can be no unfair discrimination against an employee on arbitrary grounds. One of these grounds of course, is religion and this means that as an employer you cannot discriminate against an employee or a prospective employee, on the grounds of their religion.

Some of the area’s around religion that you would need to take into consideration are (but not limited to):-

- You cannot turn down a job applicant based on the fact that they are no (or are for that matter) of the same religion as you are, irrespective of what that religion is
- You cannot decide that only the employees belonging to a specific religion will be allowed to go to church/temple/shul/mosque etc., during working hours. The requirements of all the different faiths must be taken into account.
- You cannot insist that employees of a specific faith or religion must work on public holidays

That said, this is not an exact science and although the statements made above are examples of the types of discrimination out there, there are instances where they may not be considered “unfair discrimination”. Whether the discrimination is unfair or not will depend on various issues, such as (but not limited to) whether or it makes sense. Now whether or not it makes sense or not will also be dependent on the requirements of the job.

Here are some examples:
If you owned a factory type business where there were machines operating and where stupid mistakes could lead to loss of limb or life, you could not stop religious emblems being worn underneath garments as this would not affect the way that they worked or put them in any kind of danger. However, that said, if under the same conditions and circumstances you staff insisted on wearing these same emblems on necklaces around their necks, dangling out of their clothing, you could state that this put them at risk of injury to themselves and their peers and in this instance, of course you would be well within your rights to make that rule. What you absolutely couldn’t do though is allow some of the staff to then wear necklaces and not others. You have to be consistent in your decisions.

Some of the other examples that I have seen posted by Ivan Israelstam are rather evident in themselves and I must admit that I had a good chuckle to think that someone would even have considered them – some of these are “You could turn down a Jewish person for the position of Pope – that would not be considered unfair. You could refuse to employ an atheist as a priest – that would be considered fair.”

Next time we will look at an actual CCMA case where the staff cried ‘foul’ and see what happened.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, June 23, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Credit Card Fraud

EARLY WARNING – Credit Card Fraud

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – June 2011

We seem to still be on the whole Credit Card experience – this was also received from a colleague. Again, how true it is, I couldn’t vouch for – but it does seem plausible and for me forewarned is always forearmed.

“Yesterday I went into a pizza restaurant to pick up an order that I had called in. I paid using my Visa Cheque Card, which of course, is linked directly to my current account.

The young man behind the counter took my card, swiped it and then laid it on the counter as he waited for the approval, which is pretty standard procedure. While he waited, he picked up his cell phone and started dialing. I noticed the phone because it was the same model as I have, but nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Then I heard a ‘click’ that sounded like my phone sounds when I take a picture. He then gave me back my card but kept the phone in his hand as if he was still pressing buttons. Meanwhile, I’m thinking: I wonder what he is taking a picture of, oblivious to what was really going on. It then dawned on me - the only thing there was my credit card, so now I am paying close attention to what he is doing.

He set his phone down on the counter, leaving it open. About five seconds later, I heard the chime that tells you that the picture has been saved. Now I’m standing there struggling with the fact that this youngster just took a photo of my credit card. Yes he played it off well, because had we not had the same kind of phone, I probably would never have known what happened.

Needless to say, I immediately cancelled that card as I was walking out of the pizza parlour. All I am saying is be aware of your surroundings at all times. Whenever you are using your credit (or debit) card, be cautious and don’t be careless. Notice who is standing near you and what they are doing as you use your card.”

The bottom line as always, be aware, be safe and take steps to ensure that you don’t become a victim.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, June 20, 2011

MOTIVATION - Greatness is Consistence

MOTIVATION – Greatness is Consistence

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2011

I recently attended the International Women’s Day Centenary Conference here in Johannesburg. Wow! What an intense but motivational experience that was.

We were lucky enough to have some really interesting internationally renowned speakers as well as some really powerful local women.

Our very own Venete Klein, who used to hold one of the top Management positions in ABSA and who has recently left the bank to pursue her own dream of owning a business, was our opening speaker.

Venete, during her speech said that ‘greatness is not brilliance, greatness is consistency’!

How profoundly powerful is that? Many SME’s who I encounter seem to think that ‘greatness’ is about being powerful or being brilliant, or indeed being rich beyond measure and whilst there are many individuals who could be called great, who have all of these attributes too, the fact of the matter is that their ‘greatness’ is attributable to the fact that they have been consistent in their endeavors.

Consistent in their goals. Consistent in their focus. Consistent in the application of their actions to achieve whatever it is that they set out to achieve.

The mental picture that this always produces for me is the one of Nelson Mandela when he was released from prison – can you just imagine how focused he must have been to have endured 27 years of prison – my mind boggles!

By remaining consistent in his beliefs, his goals and his dreams, he achieved what was thought to be impossible.

So don’t worry about the power and the wealth – that will all come when it does – just be consistent in your actions and your dreams. Just continue to put one foot in front of the other, you’ll be amazed at what you will be able to achieve.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, June 13, 2011

MOTIVATION - Are you Part of the Problem

MOTIVATION – Are you Part of the Problem

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2011

Well are you? Coretta Scott King writes “It doesn’t matter how strong your opinions are, if you don’t use your power for positive change, you are indeed, part of the problem.”

Man, oh man, I can sure relate to this!

For the past few weeks I have been sorely challenged by someone who pays lip service to bringing about positive change but who is so blinded by her title (of manager) that she blocks every attempt to make a change that she hasn’t personally thought about or hasn’t been discussed to death with her in an attempt to get her approval.

Quite frankly it’s exhausting! It’s been seven weeks of ‘exhausting’ and I am no closer to the goal than when I started. I am seriously very close to finding someone else to run with the idea.

I have no doubt that I am not the only person to have experienced this and I am equally sure that this will be the last time I experience it either.

You see, this woman, let’s call her Alice, has now become a part of the problem instead of part of the solution, to bring about change.

Everything has to be in her time, as part of her criteria and with her own agenda and to make matters worse, she also does not communicate effectively, so if she has a query or is not sure of something, instead of making a call to ascertain what/where/how/when, she does . . . yeah, you’ve got it, absolutely nothing because “someone was supposed to have told me”!

In the meantime, several weeks of opportunity have gone by, nothing has happened and nothing has been resolved and we are still doing this really weird dance around her! Yes, I am sorely tempted to walk away and find someone else – someone who understands what I am trying to do and someone with the same code of conduct, same set of ethics and the same intention to make a difference and be a part of the solution.

I wonder if her Board of Directors will see the situation in this light when we meet this afternoon and I tell them of my decision. I wonder if they too will become a part of the problem or if they will stand up and be counted, and be a part of the solution too . . . . ?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, June 06, 2011

MOTIVATION - Procrastination

MOTIVATION – Procrastination

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2011

The quote today is by an anonymous person who once said “Procrastination is the natural assassin of opportunity.”

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy – the universe certainly delivered a swift sharp well aimed boot to my rear end when it gave me this particular quote.

Make no mistake – I am the master of procrastination – except in my world it is called anything but – Procrastination.

Much like I never, never, ever exaggerate, I don’t procrastinate either! Oh don’t get me wrong – I dream, I plan, I just have to do this or that, it’s too late in the day or it’s too early or I need a cup of tea, or a quick trip to the bathroom. I’m really tired and I can’t concentrate or need some ‘down’ time – anything to distract myself from what I know I have to do – all justified, all legitimate and all very true!

Here’s the thing though, when I do get my head together and I actually sit down and in the words of Jacob Zuma “apply my mind”, the actual task itself usually doesn’t take long and it’s usually quite painless, completely contrary to my initial perception. Then of course I end up kicking my own rear end because I have procrastinated to such an extent that I have left everything to the last minute and put myself under pressure. How ridiculous is that!

Have I learnt the lesson – sometimes I think I have, but the reality is, if I am completely honest, that I still procrastinate.

Thankfully though, I have been made aware of my negative ways and nowadays when I find or realize that I am procrastinating, I stop and make a list of the reasons as to why I am avoiding the task in question. Once I have the understanding of what the problem is, then I can solve it and get to the task a lot quicker. The challenge of course, is to actually admit that I am ‘procrastinating’.

Will I continue to procrastinate in the future – of course I will, its human nature, but I will also be far more aware of what I am doing and hopefully that means I will continually check to see that I am managing my time in the most efficient way.

So how about you – how do you manage your procrastination?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Friday, June 03, 2011

HR - Showing Remorse


Showing Remorse

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC - June 2011

To be quite honest, this particular case “bent” my mind in several different directions simultaneously, and not in a good way either.

What it also did however, was clearly highlight the need to use someone with the highest level of labour law expertise when conducting disciplinary hearings that may result in dismissal.

Let’s bring out the protagonists.

Mike owns a small paint factory in one of the industrial parks. He is very conscientious about the health and safety issues around what happens in the factory because of the paint fumes and chemicals that are used and how badly they can react with one another. All the staff are trained on safety issues on a regular basis and safety drills and evacuations take place quarterly. Mike employs around 100 staff members.

Mike walks onto the factory floor and with the usual smell of paint fumes he detects another underlying smell. Mike is very concerned when he realized that that smell is in fact gas. He issues an instruction for all the staff to leave the premises immediately, while the problem is investigated.

The usual procedure is for staff to meet in the lower car park, several hundred meters from the factory. When they do the drill the evacuation generally takes less than 15 minutes.

Mike contacts his service provider and the authorities to report the problem and then goes to join the staff in the car park to wait for the technicians to arrive, investigate the problem and then proclaim the factory safe or unsafe. If the factory is declared unsafe the staff will be sent home until such time as the ‘all clear’ is given.

Mike gets to the car park around 20 minutes after his instruction to evacuate was issued and some of the staff are still taking a leisurely stroll to the car park from the factory and not only that, it is also clearly evident that many of the staff are not present and accounted for.

After chatting to the safety officers and investigating the issue further, it was discovered that many of the employees just did not follow the correct procedures – some just took their own sweet time to get to the safety of the car park and some went straight home without even reporting to the car park.

Mike was furious, and understandably so – what if the factory had explored while staff were still inside. What if they were looking for the bodies of people who had actually gone home and even worse, what if the safety officers or authorities had gone into the building to ‘rescue’ those that had not come out and the factory had blown up whilst they were inside and the people who they were supposed to be rescuing were safe at home. Clearly this was not acceptable at all.

Every person who had arrived late (after 20 minutes of the instruction to evacuate was originally given) as well as everyone who went directly home, were required to attend a disciplinary.

So far so good, I am sure you will agree – but here is where the whole thing goes pear shaped. You see, some of the employees were issued with final written warnings and some were dismissed. The dismissed staff took Mike to the CCMA.

The arbitrator found that the dismissals were ‘too harsh because the dismissed employees has shown “genuine remorse”’

Wow! So it doesn’t matter that someone could have been killed going in to look for them whilst they were safely at home, but they were ‘sorry’ so that’s okay then. Now that is not good for me at all!

What is also not good for me though, is the lack of consistency with the penalties issued at the disciplinary hearings – for me personally, that is where most of the problem lies and whether they showed ‘genuine remorse’ or not should have been featured as part of the mitigating circumstances. I understand that they were all given individual hearings (as they should have been), but the fact of the matter is that they did not follow safety procedures and because of this they put other people’s lives at great risk.

Let me put it this way – if Mike had ignored the problem and not followed the safety rules and the factory had blown up and the staff had been killed, but he showed ‘genuine remorse’ would his liability, responsibility, accountability and ultimate penalty, been reduced? I doubt it.

Once again this evidences the need to have someone with the correct legal HR ‘know how’, when dealing with these matters as the law is always open to interpretation.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, June 02, 2011

EARLY WARNING - Credit Card Theft


Credit Card Theft

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting – June 2011

I received this mail from a colleague and now pass it on in an attempt to halt this particular type of theft. The article appears to have been taken from the website

“A man at a local restaurant paid for his meal with his credit card. The bill for the meal came, he signed it and that the waitress folded the receipt and passed the credit card along with the receipt. Usually, he would just take it and place it in his wallet or pocket.

Funny enough though, he actually took a look at the card and ‘lo and behold’, it was the expired card of another person. He called the waitress back and she looked perplexed.

She took it back and hurried back to the counter under the watchful eye of the man. All the waitress did while walking to the counter was wave the wrong expired card to the counter cashier, and the counter cashier immediately looked down and took out the real card.

No exchange of words . . . nothing! The waitress took it and came back to the man with an apology.

Make sure that the credit cards in your wallet are yours. Check the name on the card every time you sign for something and/or the card is taken away for even a short period of time.

Many people just take back the credit card without even looking at it, assuming that it has to be theirs.

For your own sake, develop the habit of checking your credit card each time it is returned to you after a transaction.”

Good advice, whichever way you look at it.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

BLOGGING TIPS - Always be Yourself

BLOGGING TIPS – Always be Yourself

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2011

I must admit, I really did have quite a chuckle when I read the article “Be Yourself” by Oleg Mokhov the other day. You see I am a very literal person and the first thought that jumped up into my mind was ‘well how else could I be anyone other than myself?” The thought of being or even trying to be someone else is absolutely repugnant to me!

After some thought (and of course reading the whole article through also helped), I got the point.

Mokhov’s point is that that he writes the way that he talks, which is in a ‘very relaxed and informal’ manner and very much like myself, he keeps it simple and easy to understand.

It appears that some people’s perception is that their own type of personality is not particularly successful and the result is that they then try and force themselves to become someone else and quite frankly unless you are an accomplished actor or actress, this just in not going to happen – remember also, even accomplished actors and actresses say the words and become the persona of someone else’s imagination. So just don’t do it!

In the words of Mokhov “Are you funny, be funny. Serious, be serious. Angry, be angry.”

For my part, above all enjoy yourself and have fun – without that, there’s no real point anyway.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or