By 22 November 2019 | Categories: feature articles


This week Microsoft was hailed by the Top Employer Institute, awarded Top Employer status for 2020 across all industries as well as ICT employer in South Africa at a gala dinner held in Johannesburg. 

Organisations certified as Top Employers dedicate themselves to providing the very best working environment for employees through their progressive ‘people-first’ HR practices.

“To become recognised as a Top Employer, an organisation will have to prove that the implementation of their people strategies enriches the world of work of their employees,” explained the CEO of Top Employers Institute David Plink.

“The certified participants are a shining example of a dedication to people practices as they continuously commit to empowering their employees for a better world of work,” he added.

The award though tells a deeper story – it is a testament to just how thoroughly a company can transform itself, its culture and its working environment. Indeed, it was three years ago during the Microsoft Underground Tour that we remarked that this was not the company we thought we knew, as the company detailed then how it was changing its culture away from the Ballmer years to adopt a collaborative, cooperative approach.

According to Lillian Barnard, the MD of Microsoft SA, the building of a positive culture, which has been a large part of the company’s success, has been people-centric, and built by its employees.

“People are at the core of our business. It starts with an amazing employee experience, ensuring that all employees have the opportunity to constantly learn, grow and develop, while providing an environment that fosters collaboration, innovation, diversity and inclusion. Our culture has evolved over time and we have adopted a growth mindset that allows for employees to experiment and innovate in an environment which is welcome of diverse people, cultures and ideas,” she elaborated.

While cultural shift and people-centricity were essential, these were not the only important factors.

Embracing of digital transformation and new technologies such as artificial intelligence, and leveraging these to empower employees across the business, has also been a key component of its success, noted Barnard.

“Advancements in technology are facilitating the shift to a digitally led workplace. For the first time ever, digital natives make up the bulk of the workforce and they are changing the way businesses function.  They want flexibility, they want the freedom to work anywhere and at any time on any device and across multiple platforms. At Microsoft we have embraced how digital transformation can empower the modern workforce,” she added. 

Microsoft HR Director Jasmin Pillay added that diversity and inclusion is another key part of Microsoft’s success.

“The definition of diversity has expanded, and human resource departments are adapting for an increasingly diverse employee base, which is critical to business success. The modern organization supports diverse workforces with inclusive digital technology solutions, redesigned processes, and updated workspaces that enable employees to collaborate more effectively in person or when working remotely,” she elaborated.

“Equally important to our success is our ability to retain great talent,” continued Pillay. “We continually invest in our employees, providing them with the opportunities to learn new digital and work-related skills, creating an environment in which they feel valued and the providing them with chance to live our mission of empowering every organisation and person on the planet,” she concluded.

While the award is certainly a feather in Microsoft’s  cap, it also offers an encouraging message for other large enterprises: Apparently, you are never too big to change course for a more positive destination after all.


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