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Human capital

A skilled, motivated, culturally diverse and productive workforce is fundamental to our strategy.

Our key talent imperatives include understanding our current talent and gaps therein, and recognising necessary human capital investments.

Telkom has embedded a clear talent framework that informs talent decisions across the business. To compete in a rapidly changing sector, we offer a motivating and inclusive workplace that recognises, develops and retains talent, and promotes well-being.

Our group workforce profile

Our strategic workforce plan, according to which we allocate resources and manage the workforce, is reviewed and updated annually.

Indicator FY2018   FY2017  
Permanent employees 18 286   18 847  
Permanent employees – male (%) 68   68  
Permanent employees – female (%) 32   32  
Black South African (permanent employees) (%) 64   64  
White South African (permanent employees) (%) 34   34  
Non-South African (permanent employees) (%) 2   2  
Employee voluntary turnover (%) 6.47   5.97  

The 3 percent decrease in the permanent workforce of the group was primarily due to voluntary resignations and retirements.

Human capital management strategy

Our human capital management strategy guides our focus areas. Telkom ’s human resource management aligns with international best practice, upholding critical principles such as those in the United Nations (UN) Universal Declarations of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, which form part of our commitments as a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact. The manner in which we deliver on our strategy is guided by our capability and talent management.

Human capital management strategy
Talent and skills attraction

Talent and skills attraction

Over the past few years, Telkom has invested in attracting, developing and employing young talent. We now have a steady flow of young talent entering the group through a range of programmes, including the following:

Future Minds   This talent acquisition and development programme focuses on recruiting and developing young people (mainly graduates) for an accelerated one-year learning programme. Our executives and/or exco members mentor these youths to develop a pipeline of innovative and entrepreneurial future leaders to support, assist with and implement strategic initiatives in the group.

Six graduates from the initial programme, Bright Young Minds, are permanently employed; and six Future Minds graduates are being placed in permanent positions.

Investment in the programme thus far is R3.9 million (FY2017: R2.7 million).
Explore Data Science Academy   BCX was the founding sponsor of the Cape Town-based Explore Data Science Academy – believed to be the first institution in the country focused on data science. Its objective is to alleviate South Africa’s shortage of data scientists.

BCX has funded 100 learnerships (the entire initial student intake) for this SETA-accredited one-year Data Science programme. The curriculum covers the foundations of data science and equips students with practical, on-the-job training to solve a range of practical problems.
CiTi-X   BCX partnered with the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) to create CiTi-X – a bespoke programme similar to the Explore Data Science Academy. CiTi-X was designed to address BCX’s critical skills requirements. Graduates are equipped with technical and interpersonal skills.

As of March 2018, the initiative has enrolled 250 unemployed youth. They are receiving training in either software programming or infrastructure technical disciplines while being guided on specific critical skills including geomatics, artificial intelligence, operations technology, cybersecurity or financial technology.
BCX and National Libraries of South Africa (NLSA)   BCX and NLSA partnered to stimulate youth skills development at local and provincial levels. The NLSA is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation with $10 million for three years through the Mzansi online project. The funding is aimed at developing ICT infrastructure in over 600 rural libraries in South Africa. Training during the pilot included soft skills development and digital skills such as end-user computing, server infrastructure and software development.

All learners who successfully complete the programme will acquire a Microsoft systems engineer (MCSE) qualification. This programme will enlarge the pool of skilled and hands-on individuals from which BCX and the industry can source.
WeThinkCode (WTC)   Of the 200 Telkom -sponsored WTC students from the previous year, Telkom has employed 56 as interns across various business units. Interns gain software engineering-related workplace experience. In addition to the R20 million previously invested by Telkom , BCX has invested a further R20 million, which will fund 133 new students.
Talent and skills attraction

Talent development and retention

Talent management framework

We implemented a robust talent management framework two years ago. The framework enables Telkom to identify critical skills and key talent across the various business units. It reveals high-potential talent and talent risk areas across the group. This allows for proactive talent planning with proper and thoughtful investment in key and critical talent.

The talent framework was rolled out to all business unit leadership teams and their direct reports. As such, we gained a clear view of 807 executive leadership in the business. In total, 275 (34 percent) female leaders formed part of the talent mapping process, of whom 98 were identified as future leaders.

The framework has further assisted in mitigating of talent risk by:

  • safeguarding senior leadership roles through succession pipelines, including the identifying emergency replacements per role;
  • providing insight into risk and impact of loss of key talent;
  • identifying next-up development moves for identified successors and top talent;
  • ascertaining action plans for critical roles per business unit; and
  • industriously managing misaligned talent.

In total, 94 percent of all senior roles have succession plans with, at a minimum, emergency cover along with successors who range in readiness levels (from ready now to long-term successors). Our succession plans are reviewed and updated bi-annually to remain relevant. This process has highlighted that, although we have sufficient emergency cover and long-term successors, we lack sufficient successors who are ready now. In the new financial year, we will invest in the development of our long-term successors to fast-track their readiness for progression.

The talent management framework enables actionable career development plans aligned to personal aspirations and business needs. Authentic talent conversations between leaders and their direct managers inform the individual’s career and development plans, forming an integral part of investing in, and retaining our key talent.

To develop and retain the best talent, we have established:

  • a clear talent rhythm across the business – ensuring regular talent review discussions in a coordinated manner, rolling up to the group exco;
  • a commitment to invest in high-potential, diverse talent to develop and prepare talent for their future leadership roles; and
  • a centralised view of talent to drive its mobility within the group – with the aim of ensuring the best deployment of talent across the group and fast-tracking individual development in line with business needs.

Employee training and development

We invested R342 million on employee training and development, with each employee receiving an average of 17 hours of training. The increase in training and development spend followed BCX taking a far more strategic approach to stimulate digital skills in the economy, not only for our own growth, but also for customers and suppliers. To this extent, investments were made towards a portfolio of critical ICT skills which the industry will require over the medium to long-term. In particular, the investment focused on coding and data science skills, as well as building new skill streams in the following five technologies: geomatics, artificial intelligence, operations technology, cybersecurity and fintech.

Training and development spend

Training and development spend
Training and development spend

Internships and learnerships

Our internship and learnership programmes develop skills in critical areas of the ICT industry and give learners valuable work experience. In total, 703 black learners (56 percent females and 44 percent males), of whom 91 were learners with disability, were enrolled in various internship and learnership programmes. Our learners work closely with our employees. We provide them with a monthly stipend and valuable experiences, such as professional networking opportunities and career development guidance.

We commenced a pilot project in partnership with Cape University of Technology (CPUT), involving nine learners. As part of their Work Integrated Learning programme for engineering students, Telkom group provides students with opportunities to apply their skills. CPUT pays the monthly allowance and ensures that learners’ tasks performed are aligned to the subjects pursued. Upon completion of this programme, learners would have complied with the requirements of the qualification and will be awarded the qualification in accordance with the institution’s qualification rules.

Female Leadership Development programme (FLDP)

Telkom group strives to make a difference by identifying and developing high-potential female leaders. The FLDP continues to yield results in this regard. The two-year programme identifies, grows and develops high-potential female leaders across the business, to build an internal female leadership pipeline.

The first FLDP started in 2015 and was completed in June 2017 with 50 females participating. The second FLDP programme commenced in May 2017, and will run to April 2019. A total of 275 applications were received from across the group. The selection process included psychometric assessments and video submissions. There were 33 females that entered the FLDP 2017 programme.

The objectives of the programme are to:

  • build business knowledge by creating trans-disciplinary/multi-skilled leaders;
  • create talent pools by identifying and growing high-potential talent in middle management as an input into the succession pipeline;
  • develop socially intelligent and accountable brand ambassadors through mentoring and coaching to foster self-confidence;
  • accelerate development through skills transfer and creating pockets of excellence; and
  • motivate, engage and retain key talent by enabling work-life integration, and exposing them to alternative career paths.

The programme has pushed delegates to apply for more senior positions and, as a by-product, has seen the development of Telkom brand ambassadors who are confident in promoting themselves, their work and their divisions and who strive to put the customer first.

The programme has been successful with the following highlights, but not limited to:

  • 42 percent of participants from the first group have been promoted (FY2015 – FY2017);
  • Six promotions (18 percent) within eight months of the FLDP 2017 (FY2017 – FY2019);
  • Significant personal growth – receiving feedback that the programme has been “life changing”; and
  • “Pay it forward” concept has been implemented – the FLDP alumni are now mentoring the FLDP 2017 group.


Telkom group is committed to transforming its workforce to reflect the diversity of the country; the annual external recruitment figures attest to this. In total over the past year, 72 percent of the 911 externally recruited employees, and 70 percent of internal promotions are black. At senior management level (executive and group/managing executive leadership levels), 78 percent of external hires are black.

Unfortunately, our 5 percent external recruitment rate means that our transformation efforts are yet to make a visible difference to overall EE across the group. We have recruited 347 females (38 percent of the total external recruitments) into the group, and 36 percent of promotions were females.

We recognise that we still have a long way to go to redress the gender imbalance, and are making every effort to do so in recruitment and development. The FLDP was specifically crafted to address the issue, and it assists in improving gender recruitment. For more information on the FLDP, see page 72.

Occupational level breakdown of physically challenged employees

Occupational level breakdown of physically challenged employees
Occupational level breakdown of physically challenged employees

The group employs 157 physically challenged people (FY2017: 100). The 57 percent increase is due to more employees declaring a disability, and the recruitment of more physically challenged people.

Organised labour

Telkom ’s employee relations division maintains strong relationships with organised labour. We have processes for open and effective communication with the unions, and had no labour-related strikes during the year. The rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining were upheld across the group.

The current collaborative partnership agreement that was signed between Telkom company, Solidarity and South African Communication Union (SACU) two years ago, has come to an end in June 2018. The agreement addressed wage increases, aligning salaries to 50th percentile and other terms and conditions of employment.

Telkom restructured its operations in line with the prevailing conditions, and deemed it necessary to visit the existing collective bergaining and organisational arrangements by proposing a uniform 30 percent recognition threshold.

With the newly proposed 30 percent recognition threshold, SACU and Solidarity failed to meet the requirement, while Communications Workers Union (CWU) met the required threshold. CWU and SACU subsequently formed an alliance, and Solidarity has since been derecognised within Telkom.

Permanent employees belonging to a union

Permanent employees belonging to a union
Permanent employees belonging to a union

Occupational health and safety (OHS)

Telkom is committed to providing a safe working environment and promoting the health and well-being of its employees. In managing health and safety, we comply with all legislation and strive to prevent foreseeable risks and hazards to our employees, customers and suppliers as a result of our work practices.

Health and wellness form part of our employee value proposition. We have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our contractors and customers.

To comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993, and other applicable laws, our OHS is guided by a health, safety and environment (HSE) strategy, as well as policies and a health and safety system. Management is supported by health and safety committees and representatives. The social and ethics committee oversees safety, health and wellness, but ultimate accountability rests with the board.

Telkom has developed an OHS reporting, classification and investigation matrix that applies across the group to standardise safety performance data, including alignment to international reporting standards, such as the GRI. Using the matrix, we systematically manage injury on duty, improve internal incident reporting and have root cause analysis for critical incidents. Improvements include working on an online system to report, track and monitor incidents, and we are planning the training and roll out of a new incident management system.

The group safety, health and environment (SHE) division strategically manages safety, health and wellness. The HSE strategy is implemented by operational-level SHE teams, supported by the group.

Occupational safety

Over the last year Telkom focused on reducing the number of safety incidents by facilitating early injury management and early return to work, as well as creating and improving safety awareness and mitigating prevalent causes of injury on duty.

Historically, Telkom’s focus on health and safety has been regarding compliance, audits and medical surveillance. While we succeeded in those areas, we have also begun a drive to move beyond compliance, and embed health and safety within our culture.

One of our key focus areas was to strengthen our relationships with our contractors by holding contractor safety stand-downs in all regions. As part of rolling out the improved safety awareness, Telkom kick-started the contractor stand-down in Gauteng central and north eastern region wherein 14 companies were represented. The engagement clarified the key safety performance indicators, operational safety standards and the contractor safety performance management, and aligned these to the group’s safety goals. The initiative will be rolled out to the other regions in FY2019.

The “Partnering for a safer tomorrow” contractor safety stand-down was implemented in November 2017, fostering safety partnerships with our contractors and promoting safe behaviour.

Telkom regularly monitors contractors on-site, to ensure that they are following the safe and orderly working methods and procedures. Safety spot-checks and safety audits for high-risk contractors were performed, and the outcomes were communicated with contractors to implement corrective action where required. To date, 3 109 audits have been conducted and there is continuous engagement with high-risk contractors. The OHS regional consultants and contractor representatives have been critical in continuous safety stakeholder engagement and contractor monitoring.

Regrettably, Telkom company had four fatalities (two third-party fatalities and two employee fatalities) due to motor vehicle accidents. Despite the unfortunate events, the group’s safety performance has improved, demonstrated by a 26 percent reduction in lost time/days away from work and a 29 percent reduction in total recordable injuries.

Telkom company     BCX  
Fatalities FY2018 2     0  
FY2017 0     0  
Total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) FY2018 1.39     0.22  
FY2017 1.68     0.22  
Lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) FY2018 1.18     0.08
FY2017 1.37     0.12  

Our LTIFR target for FY2018 was 1.10 and the TRIFR target was 1.34. This was based on a 20 percent reduction of incidents from the previous financial year. We intend to further improve this.

Due to the nature of BCX’s and Yellow Pages’ operations, we have identified no significant health and safety risks; and the business units recorded limited and no injuries, respectively. BCX’s injuries were due to lifting, carrying and motion incidents. Employees have been trained to address these risks.

Although Telkom company has made significant strides in reducing recordable injuries on duty, we need to better address the most prevalent causes. We analysed the root causes for the work-at-height incidents, and will enact measures to mitigate gravity incidents.

The health and wellness service provider analysed the baseline data in existing data sources, and Telkom company conducted OHS job simulation in various work environments to establish all significant health and safety hazards. We are reviewing the current controls to align with the recommendations. The exercise has strengthened medical surveillance, and improved medical battery assessment, to align to best practices. We rolled out a programme aimed at legislative compliance, across business units, where medical assessments are mandatory. This has improved the uptake of our Medical Surveillance programme.

Openserve endeavoured to improve vehicle safety by identifying highly exposed drivers and applying a vehicle tracking system to track driver behavior and coach them where required. An advanced driver training programme for technicians was also implemented.

Through our annual risk assessment, we have identified the high-risk areas as:

  • Gravity incidents – slips, trips and falls
  • Motion incidents – lifting and pushing
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Biological – bites, stings, etc
  • Robberies and assault

Of the 158 recordable injuries (medical treatment cases, lost time injuries and fatalities), 31 percent was due to gravity incidents, and 33 percent was due to motion incidents.

Occupational health

Occupational health is managed through the Industrial Hygiene Monitoring programme and a risk-based Medical Surveillance programme. As part of continual improvement, Telkom rolled out a national Occupational Medical Screening programme, and introduced active case management to effectively manage and rehabilitate all medically unfit employees for early return to work. This process enabled us to manage employees’ potential primary health risks before they culminate in ill-health and absences.


We adopted a holistic approach to wellness through an integrated, accessible and flexible Employee Wellness programme to manage workforce risks. ICAS, a health and wellness service provider, has been appointed. Telkom and ICAS have developed and implemented the following:

  • Employee Wellness programme: A series of preventative/ proactive interventions that promote a healthy lifestyle. It is aimed at improving the overall health and general well-being (work fitness) of employees.
  • Employee Assistance Services: This voluntary programme offers sponsored face-to-face and/or telephonic counselling, 24 hours a day in the employee’s language of choice. It is designed to assist employees in identifying and resolving psycho-social problems before they unduly impact their health, well-being and job performance.
  • Disease management (previously known as Thuso Wellness programme): This programme continues to offer employees and their families wellness screening, including HIV and TB, and enables subsequent counselling, support and treatment.
HIV statistics FY2018   FY2017  
Number of people who participated in HIV testing 876   365  
Number of people who tested positive for HIV 4   10  
Number of people who started antiretroviral treatment within the year 30   28  
Number of people on the Telkom Treatment programme 399   257  
HIV tested prevalence rate 0.46%   2.74%  

Note: The above demonstrates the HIV statistics for Telkom and includes ex-Telkom employees who now work for BCX, but excludes Yellow Pages and BCX employees.

Looking forward

Talent management

Talent management will continue to closely align with our business strategy, helping attract and develop the right talent to deliver on our objectives.


We will align employee wellness strategies, interventions and providers across the group, to ensure maximum benefit and value.

We will also implement an Executive Employee Wellness programme aligned with the broader Talent Management programme to grow resilience against and manage any wellness risks associated with our current and future leaders.


Telkom, its board and management strive towards achieving a safe working environment, and to have every employee, service provider, contractor, supplier and visitor to Telkom facilities believe that achieving zero safety incidents is possible. This vision requires a step-change in our safety culture and behaviour.