It’s hard to believe that Q1 is done. The Budget always seems to be an anchor and set the tone for business but right now there is a lot of fist shaking at Eskom and that’s setting an altogether different kind of tone! And, from an HR standpoint, it has to be managed too. Not everyone can run to generators so it comes down to getting Eskom-smart and doing things like moving meeting times and venues, changing workers’ shifts, lunch and tea breaks, re-thinking when and where to perform system backups, allowing ‘work from home’ days and so on. The knock on effect on the industry in just the last few weeks has been quite phenomenal and unfortunately, I think the problem is a long way off resolution. As HR professionals, it is just another South African’ism we have to adapt to and I would love to hear from you about the HR changes you have made to combat loss of productivity when the lights go out?  Do you have a ‘loadshedding’ operational mode that the entire organisation follows? What hasn’t worked for you as an HR department or C-Suite in the dark?

Going back to the Budget, it was quite conservative in my opinion without any drastic changes. There was something for everyone in it and, if followed through, will certainly help rebuild or at least stabilise the platform from which we are all trying to do business. CRS has also released its annual Tax Guide booklet. As usual, there has been a lot of interest in this and we have printed guides too. Drop us a line to order a hard copy or scroll down to find a link to the digital version.

As part of our greater knowledge sharing and skills development vision, I am pleased to share that CRS is partnering with local educational institutes in building their HR syllabus and related components. Starting with Nelson Mandela University, we contribute the professional HR input and vast experience needed to build a solid course or syllabus, and we’re looking forward to rolling out with other tertiary institutes in a similar role. Still on education, I am also pleased to welcome our new interns to CRS who, over the next four to six months, will be gaining exposure to all aspects of the business.

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to the rise of something called social creditworthiness. This refers to accessing social media accounts/data as a means to profile or screen an individual for a variety of reasons including employment matters — and going far deeper than just a passive Facebook or LinkedIn search over lunch. If we thought we were uncomfortable in the current Big Brother society, this takes it to an all new level. Bad scores can even prevent one from buying things like airline or movie tickets. There are a number of areas of modern life that one can be locked out of if your social media activity is a bit sketchy. China is leading the world in this and, interestingly, the Chinese populous seems to be on board and welcome the accountability it creates. Here’s one article to read, Something to keep in mind for future talent searches.

Have a great month

Ian McAlister (

It’s a new year and we’re excited! Just a few weeks in and the buzz around CRS is hard not to notice. In short, we’ve hit the ground running this year and, without wanting to give too much away, we will be unveiling some new offerings soon. If last year was about process and consolidation, this year is all about the delivery, SLA value-adds and rolling out the new HR and Payroll tools that we’ve built to make your lives simpler.

I was recently asked what 2018 taught me and/or CRS as an HR brand. For me, there were two key lessons, or rather reminders as none of this is actually new. Firstly, human capital still needs to be viewed more holistically in Africa. Today, HR is just so much more than a department. It is an integral part of an ecosystem and a vital organ without which the rest of the business will stumble. Fail to integrate your human capital effectively and hang on to the old silo thinking, and soon all your other capital will reflect this. Because business is nothing without people and in a world where employees are more workplace ‘consumers’, I urge you to ask yourself, “Am I the employer that employees love? Would I want to work for me?” It’s a great starting point for re-developing your human ecosystem. We’re busy developing collateral/training material around this, so if you feel your colleagues and employees don’t quite love you enough, please drop me a line!

The second thing I bring into the new year is the fresh mindset that challenges can almost always be deconstructed and broken down into smaller parts, and in so doing, become more manageable. Plan plan plan. If you have invested in the right processes and have the right people, that is what will get you through choppy waters. A business need sails as well as anchor points.

Observing the current business sentiment and looking ahead, I expect ‘State Capture’ to be two words that will dominate media headlines this year, bringing some reassurance that there is still accountability in South Africa. Looking at things at a sectoral level, if you follow our regular news flashes (and you should!) you will have noticed that there are significant legislative changes happening on an almost constant basis in Africa. This can be a bit of a wild ride when you tackle this solo, but with a compliance partner such as CRS, we take the surprises out of the legislation that affects you.

I also start the year with an incredible team of legislative geniuses, Payroll and HR gurus and tech wizards that I really am proud of and have the utmost respect for. Our team has never been in better shape and there is something in the air at CRS – an unparalleled sense of excitement – which we are, in turn, excited to share with you. Hop on. Let’s do 2019!

Have a great month

Ian McAlister (

The CRS vision in 2018 was simple. To be the best HR and Payroll specialist in SA and the region. As such, I came into 2018 knowing that successful delivery first meant an assessment of our 2017 consolidation strategy and to ensure that our foundations were still geared to support new, longer-term development plans. In short, we put our heads down and we cracked on. I’ve never known the CRS team to be more focused than in the last year and, with every offering and area of CRS having been under detailed review, we enter 2019 as a stronger, more organised team of consultants and tech gurus who recognise consolidation as growth itself and are able to develop and deliver on sharp SLAs that are aligned to the client’s business, not ours.

Team aside, looking at the sector, I have also never known a time when HR has been so dynamic and, well, so downright interesting. The tech backbone of HR and the wider application of AR and VR is going to leave us speechless in the not too distant future. Social media is still impacting HR. Millennials will continue to re-design our sector whether we like it or not, keeping us veterans on our toes as we onboard them and their fresh thinking around employee and user experience and far more fluid work environments. Skills development remains a must in South Africa and I urge you to invest wisely and not overlook its impact on your business. From a local sector standpoint, HR and Payroll in South Africa has also had a great year. There is so much dedication and passion out there for the standardisation of HR in South Africa. At the recent SABPP HR Standards Summit, Jonathan Hall presented CRS Technologies and was amazing. His presentation, “The Impact of NeuroScience, Social Media & employees, employee engagement & systems in the workplace” was so well received that it is being converted by CRS as training and media material, so look out for more news on this in January.

Without giving too much away about all the HR, Payroll and tech-related global trends that CRS is aligned to, nor our new offerings that are right now getting their final tweaks ahead of their Q1/Q2 2019 rollouts, all I can say is next year is going to be a big one. You have shared your HR and Payroll problems and pain points, and we have listened.

To our clients, our immense thanks for being part of our valued collective and the cornerstone of much of what we did in 2018. We wish you a blessed holiday season and look forward to engaging with you in January.  Please note that we close on 14 December and re-open on 7 January but for urgent matters, we will have consultants/support if needed.

To the national CRS team — you are such an asset to our clients and you all inspire me in your own unique way. And I am sure our clients will agree that it is never dull when CRS is in the room. Have a safe and restful holiday period too, because we’re hitting the ground running in 2019…. ho ho ho!

Ian McAlister



We all know that silo thinking is the death of any organisation hence CRS always approaches its new product development as well as upgrades and refinements with a broad stroke. Embracing the concept of industry-based feedback and UX learning, over the next few months CRS will be introducing a series of top-level User Group Roundtable Discussions in which we are inviting our clients to have frank group discussions about a) their overall requirements, b) where CRS systems can be improved or new services integrated, and c) any trends coming down the line that we should be planning for as your HR and related IT partner. Specific roundtables will be dedicated to specific departments, e.g one for IT managers, one for Payroll, another for HR, etc. I’m really looking forward
to these sessions and openly engaging our clients in the development aspect of our business. We like to think we already have a good handle on your, the client’s, requirements and a real-time and long-term view of how our systems need to support your business, however this initiative is going to take our UX strategy to a new level. By getting closer to our clients, this opens up a number of opportunities to add further value and the roundtables also offer a more balanced platform for dialogue than the annual CRS conferences held in the past. If you would like to be invited, please drop me a line and I will try to include you in the relevant roundtable once we have the finer details in
place. You are also welcome to send me comments on mail which I can table for discussion in the relevant session.

Another exciting initiative in the pipeline is a new accredited online training academy. Initially this will cover training on the CRS modules but in time will expand into formalised blended training with full accreditation, offering certificates in areas such as HR and Payroll, much like any business school or learning institution. We’re still in the early planning stages and identifying the right education partner but suffice to say the CRS Academy will only reinforce our position as a total solution for all things HR and Payroll, and a skills development portal for those pursuing or considering it as a career. Food for thought if you are planning to further your education in 2019.

With regards to the Employment Tax Incentive (ETI), please note that the deadline has been extended to 28 February 2019. It was set to expire on 31 December 2016. While there is no certainty regarding the proposed five-year extension, it may still be worth your while to claim. CRS is one of the few Payroll providers that can calculate this correctly and has the resources and expertise to fulfil all requirements for employers. See below for more on this.

Lastly, I am pleased to announce that our website has just had a facelift. We hope you love the fresh look and easy navigation as much as we do! While you are admiring our website, please take note of our News Flash page too. We also email these news bites whenever there are important reporting dates or changes to note, or other things you need to know in the moment so they should be read, especially if they contain a Sars update. If you are not receiving these emails, please email Bernice Houston and she’ll add you to the list.

Have a great month
Ian McAlister

Over the years, ERP systems have evolved, becoming increasingly sophisticated with highly customised functionality available. There is a lot of disruption happening in this now very competitive space and machine learning is reducing some of the HR intervention but, in my opinion, one area that ERP has not been able to get right is a Payroll integration. Developers can talk for hours about multiple applications needing to co-exist and integrations having to be graceful but at the end of the day they need to work too and Payroll is not particularly graceful in many ERP systems, yet. The gumboot dancer among ballerinas. Here’s the good news— we’re changing that! If you are actually considering any kind of ERP-based Payroll integration, before you dive into any new investment, please just take a moment to chat to me first because you’re very likely to find your solution resides close to home within CRS. I won’t divulge any more but rest assured there’ll be lots of noise as rollout draws closer as this is set to be another one of CRS’ complete game changers.

I am also pleased to share that CRS can now assist with the execution of non-Payroll rewards.
Reward schemes are a cornerstone of successful employee motivation strategies and a tried and tested tactic to improve staff retention, so we’ve put a lot of time into really considering the
kind of rewards that will resonate with our clients’ employees. There are various types of rewards on offer, from funeral package vouchers to fast-food food coupons and the range will
grow based on needs. Drop me a line or chat to one of our consultants to find out more about this new CRS offering.

With end of year tax submissions opening in September, just a reminder that we are here to make tax season stress free! All the Sars changes and new requirements are updated in our systems and we are on track to handle every element of the submission process for you. Of course it is best to start early and get it behind you so please start your tax season planning now.

Lastly, with August being Women’s Month, a big thank you to the incredible ladies of CRS who, I admit, I’d be lost without! Doing a quick head count, men are definitely in the minority at CRS—consultants, developers and even our ExCo—the ladies have majority rule! This was never planned but to be honest, it works. I’d also like to acknowledge and thank the incredible ladies among our clients, suppliers and other stakeholders who also play such a vital role in CRS’ success.

Have a great (Women’s) month
Ian McAlister

I have been encouraged to see a bit more of an upbeat and optimistic attitude in the business sector lately. Reflecting a slower inflation rate last month, the economy seems a little more settled which is great news as, behind the scenes, CRS is embarking on some fairly aggressive business development plans. For now, the only titbit I can offer you is, “Watch this space…!” But focusing on the things we can talk about, by now you will have seen our new-look software which has been well received and, thankfully, launched without any problems. Many thanks for the great reviews! Should you need any assistance with the new interface please log a support request and a consultant will be in touch as soon as possible.

I’d like to draw your attention to the need for a solid understanding of the intricacies of the COID Act and the processes for workplace claims relating to occupational injuries. CRS recently held a
very successful workshop on workplace injury and compensation, with a good cross section of clients from a number of industries present. While there was a lot of extremely valuable crosssector
knowledge sharing, it did highlight an ongoing lack of general awareness about COID claims, specifically a lack of knowledge that there are different criteria for different sectors. And, as with all legislation, this is constantly changing so one needs to remain current on the Act throughout the year. Due to the success of the workshop, we are considering hosting similar events in the future. So if you are keen to attend, drop us a line and we’ll let you know as soon as we have dates in place.

Below is a very interesting interview with one of Deloitte’s HR leaders, delving into a few considerations of the modern work environment, including flexibility. As a leader at CRS, I myself strive to create a flexible work environment as I believe HR has become output-based rather than input-based. Employees are far more effective when they have a blended and balanced work / life scenario. If one needs to handle personal matters at the office or if work gets done from home or another remote location, as long as the output is there, does the ‘how’ and ‘where’ really matter? We’re going to see more and more flexibility coming into employment contracts so HR leaders need to get onboard with this now and formulate a company policy that is viable for the nature of the business.

As our peers overseas have been getting to grips with their new privacy laws and GDPR, the topic of privacy and security cropped up again closer to home. I cannot emphasise enough the need to instill in employees the need to take online security extremely seriously. One can invest in the most advanced anti virus systems and firewalls but the first line of defence is only as strong as the person deleting the dodgy email loaded with suspicious links and avoiding suspicious websites. Bear in mind that threats now also come in the form of phone calls with people urging you to perform certain steps online or asking for remote access of your system to ’fix’ problems, so all the more reason to kill those cold calls in the first few seconds! Spend some time on refresher training with your employees this month and make this a part of your onboarding training too. The risk is simply not worth it.

Lastly, with EMP501 madness behind us, here’s hoping you all made it through unscathed. Our consultants have been flat out with support requests in the last couple of weeks so we hope that we’ve been able to add value and the process has been a lot less painful for you! Do drop me a line if you’d like to share your feedback.

Have a great month
Ian McAlister

I am frequently asked what, in my opinion, will be The Next Big Thing in HR, and for years my answer has always been rooted in enabling technology of some variety. Be it the oh-so-poised disruptors, or established and trusted tech that just needed some fine-tuning, today’s HR departments can’t get far without digital ingenuity. But that requires long-term blue sky thinking
too and recognising that tech ingenuity is not a destination but a constant process. It is no coincidence that the CRS suite of tech-driven solutions is under almost continual development. Some of the tweaks are so small our clients aren’t always aware of them, and then some improvements and upgrades are really impressive and definitely worth shouting about. This month, it is the latter. I am delighted (my PR team says I can’t actually use CAPS so italics it is) to announce the first release of our new look CRS software which has been in progress for some months — the first of a roadmap of system advancements. Our long-term development roadmap includes a faster, better looking, more agile and more intuitive HR technology platform. A culmination of knowing what works and what our clients want and need to stay compliant within the local regulatory frameworks. We love it but I would greatly value your honest feedback once you have had a chance to take the new look software for a test drive. Feedback all goes towards fine-tuning other parts of the roadmap and the next phase which has me equally excited to unveil, soon.

I am confident that everyone is in the know about the VAT increase that has just come into effect. We’ve updated everything in the system where needed but with any new regulation comes an adjustment period so I urge you to double check all your invoicing and reporting. Below is an article with some useful information about Sars e-filing changes.

Please note that the WSP and ATR submission deadline is 30 April 2018. To summarise briefly, the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) documents the skills requirements of a company and describes the range of skills development interventions that the company will use to address these needs during the year. The ATR (Annual Training Report) goes hand in hand with the WSP and must be submitted at the same time, showing your progress against your last WSP and what has / hasn’t been implemented, thereby highlighting the successes and failures, and where more efforts should be focused in the coming year. Companies need to submit records of all education, training and development activities. Overall, this can be a particularly complex and daunting set of reporting but please use CRS’ expertise in this regard and enjoy peace of mind knowing that this has been submitted correctly.

Still on reporting, please note that the COIDA deadline has been extended. The Department of Labour has announced that the 2017 / 2018 submissions will open on 1 April 2018, until 31 May 2018.

Over the years, our clients have always raved about the CRS Annual Tax and Legislation seminar held in each major city / branch but we have been mulling over changing the format of this and presenting it as one webinar in 2018. Similar content and still with live Q&As and other speaker interactions, just delivered to you in the comfort of your own office / surrounds. That said, if you feel strongly that an old-school seminar is the better format, we’ll take that sentiment into consideration. We’ve launched a poll on our Facebook page, so please click here and cast your vote!

Lastly, we have received printed copies of the Tax Guides. Please let us know if you would like copies?

Have a great month
Ian McAlister

We’ve had a great start to the year at CRS, finding our groove and settling into our normal steady pace. We’ve already had new business enquiries and I am seeing the market being a little more bullish, so CRS is surging forth on an upward trajectory that is fresh, positive and our 2017 momentum has comfortably carried us into this first leg of the new year. Taking a wider view, the change of guard in the ruling party promises renewal after years of low economic growth and low confidence, and the political will to rectify past mistakes has started to reassure the corporates. I hope we really will see big infrastructural spends from the private sector picking up again now the political changes are being bedded down. Against this backdrop, the Budget was a mixed bag of ‘rebuild and restore’ with a few stings that will be felt by almost all South Africans but designed to fend off what feels like an ever present threat of ratings downgrades. The VAT increase will certainly impact those already on or near the poverty line but I guess time will tell if it does comfort the ratings agencies, which we are assured it will. Another interesting year ahead both politically and economically, that’s for sure!

What’s ahead in HR? Well, in 2018, the sector is predicting some interesting trends, most of them underpinned by technology in some form. The persistent debate about people versus platforms is, in my opinion, no debate at all because when you look at it in an HR value chain, a platform is nothing without people. The true skill is in being able to successfully merge the two in a holistic environment that a) drives operational efficiencies and b) gets the balance right between disruption and displacement. HR managers still tend to tremble at the mention of automation but it is not about taking jobs away, rather it is about making HR jobs easier. As our systems become more intuitive and scalable, and I include CRS systems in this, so HR departments will have more data than ever before at their fingertips. This is going to prove mission critical in so many areas, from using the data to improve employee engagement and also to future-proof your employees, to facilitating a more flexible workforce that can work remotely if needed, to real-time data that can drive decisions at Board level and reinforce the fact that HR is not just a cost centre but one with a real impact on revenue, to further streamlining monthly tasks like payroll and compliance, to processes for onboarding and managing millennials (who seem to have their own set of rules, but that’s ok!). In short, it is going to be a big year for HR technology but rest assured, we’re already ahead of the curve and busy with a few improvements to some of the CRS software components which we hope to unveil in the next month or two. As you know, if it is relevant and makes your life easier, we’ll build it!

Technology aside, another growing trend will be the need for employees to feel that their wellbeing in the workplace is important and they will openly favour employers who are pro-actively trying to reduce stress levels during working hours This may sound a bit ‘touchyfeely’ and new-age to some of the more seasoned HR professionals (like myself!), but move with the times we must and this is certainly something to be aware of when looking at your workplace culture this year. And don’t confuse employee experience with employee engagement. An easy way to understand it is to see employee engagement as a top-down view of the organisation and employee experience as a view from the bottom up. And both views are equally important. From a service point of view, I’d like to thank all our clients who have already noted the effects of our consolidation in 2017 and how it has benefitted delivery. However, I am a firm believer in agility as the client’s needs change so this is an area constantly under review. Please feel free to drop me a line at any time if you feel there are any gaps or if you feel we have room to improve. If I were to summarise where I think 2018 will take us as a sector, I believe that HR models in SA really have to become more evidencedriven. With CRS more than capable of providing that evidence using a number of different methodologies, we can play an integral part in optimising your HR department against the backdrop of new technologies and trends as well as the changing economic, political and regulatory environment in South Africa. All in all, it is already shaping up to be an interesting year so come with us, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Have a great month
Ian McAlister