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Leonora Chetty | Human Resources Director | Tiber Construction

Leonora Chetty: Cultivating a Healthier Workplace Environment with Unparalleled HR Strategies

Employees are the pillars of an organization. Their skills, dedication, and collective efforts drive success, innovation, and sustained competitiveness.

Recognizing and prioritizing the well-being, development, and satisfaction of employees contribute to the overall success and sustainability of a company. To make this possible, every organization needs effective HR Strategies. The alignment of HR strategies with the broader business strategy ensures that the workforce is effectively managed and leveraged as a key driver of organizational success. Leonora Chetty, a renowned leader in this field, has demonstrated an inspiring model of HR strategies.

Leonora is the Human Resources Director of Tiber Construction, a long-standing, privately-owned construction company based in Sandton, Johannesburg. With approximately 20 years of HR generalist experience in diverse companies and industries, she holds qualifications in Human Resources Management, Labor Relations, and Coaching. In her role as HR Director at Tiber Construction, Leonora Chetty oversees the company’s human capital management and organizational development, demonstrating her expertise in the field of human resources.

Promoting High Ethical Standards

In her capacity as the Human Resources Director, Leonora oversees, directs, and coordinates all facets of the organization’s human resources functions. She is adept at cultivating professional relationships with relevant stakeholders while upholding and promoting high ethical standards within the organization. This includes managing recruitment, selection, compliance, and employee-related initiatives, in line with her extensive expertise and qualifications in the field of human resources.

Leonora is actively involved in overseeing and managing the organization’s performance management system, conflict resolution, and the establishment of strong stakeholder relationships through effective coaching and communication strategies. She is also engaged in the implementation of onboarding and work-readiness programs, as well as the facilitation and conduct of training sessions, among other duties.

Incorporating Positive Workplace Culture

Her primary objective is to consistently synchronize HR and business strategies by spearheading communication strategies such as coaching, counseling, mentoring, conflict resolution, dispute mediation, and the facilitation of challenging situations. Leonora derives great satisfaction from inspiring personal growth, cultivating positive habits and behavior in individuals, and collaborating with executives to align their management and communication strategies with the organization’s strategic priorities and mission statement. Her extensive experience and qualifications in Human Resources Management, Labor Relations, and Coaching equip her with the expertise needed to fulfill these responsibilities effectively.

After the ‘Great Resignation’ trend in 2022, the retention of top talent has remained a significant risk factor for most businesses, including Tiber Construction. The company has sourced external assistance to refresh and flesh out its succession plan with a focus on Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training, development of management and leadership skills, enforcing recruitment processes based on the company values, and advocating for work-life balance for all employees including promotion of wellness initiatives.

Leonora’s strategic vision centers on the recruitment and retention of top talent through the implementation of holistic and flexible working arrangements in a positive, office working environment, accompanied by the provision of market-related compensation and benefits, amongst other advantages.

Integration of Technology to Enhance Performances

Tiber Construction is increasingly leveraging digital technologies for enhanced productivity and efficiency by integrating automation, AI, and data analytics into various business processes, leading to a demand for digital skills among our employees.

An area where AI has impacted her daily work as an HR professional is the use of employee engagement surveys. Monthly engagement surveys, life-cycle surveys, and annual engagement questionnaires are tools to assist in drafting employee surveys quickly, analyzing responses to open-ended questions faster and more accurately, and better-protecting employee confidentiality, thereby increasing survey response rates.

Maintaining Effective Communication

As part of the communication strategy, these survey tools easily generate a summary of feedback from identified groups so top management can better understand how these employees are feeling in those areas and respond accordingly.

The use of WhatsApp groups on construction sites has tremendously improved and increased communication and production and has certainly enhanced collaboration among employees and management. Leonora says it is amazing to witness the transformational growth in the workforce, embracing the use of digital tools and applications to enhance site productivity.

In a world of constant change and technological innovation, where volatility and response time are critical factors, a construction company like Tiber is constantly looking for new ways to respond to these changes.

Tiber is offering competitive salaries and benefits to top talent whose skills and experience are valued.

Enhancing Job Satisfaction

Leonora believes that providing opportunities for continuous learning and professional growth (CPD), which includes training programs, workshops, and support for further education, is essential. She also prioritizes promoting a healthy work-life balance, flexible working hours, and generous vacation policies to contribute to employee satisfaction.

Leonora is also building a positive and inclusive company culture, fostering a collaborative environment, promoting diversity and inclusion, and having a strong set of values. She aims to offer clear paths for career advancement. She understands that promotions are crucial, and employees want to know whether their hard work will be recognized and rewarded or not.

Keeping open and transparent communication channels helps build trust with Tiber Construction employees as they want to be informed about the company’s goals, performance, and future plans.

Encouraging feedback and involving employees in decision-making processes makes them feel valued and engaged in the company’s success. The key, according to Leonora, is to create an environment where employees feel valued, supported, and challenged, leading to increased job satisfaction and retention of top talent.

Matching Employee Expectations

After Tiber only worked remotely for two months during the hard lockdown period, it was a requirement for all employees to report back to their workstations immediately and indefinitely thereafter.

The brief Hybrid working period certainly did not solicit empowerment, authorization, and trust from management toward the admin/office staff. After conducting a few online surveys, these were some of the results:

  • 80% of all office staff wanted flexibility in where they work.
  • 90% of employees wanted flexibility in when they work.
  • 50% of employees were open to looking for new job opportunities, especially those who were dissatisfied with their level of flexibility.

Leonora says It was and still is challenging to manage and maintain staff retention, especially since the construction industry is not amenable to embracing remote work options on site and involves long site working hours. The company had to focus on clear communication and transparency of expectations, goals, and priorities to all employees, building trusting relationships and embedding a culture of collaboration and involvement amongst everyone.

Its employees are provided with the necessary resources, such as training courses, internal workshops, training materials, books, and software tools required for our employees to be productive and thrive in a changing environment. The company’s skills development and training budget is constantly being reviewed as a priority for employee retention.

Fostering Professional Growth

Tiber Construction is exposing and involving its employees to technical programs on-site, providing access to industry- specific certifications to keep them up to date with relevant knowledge. The company is also investing and budgeting in Learning Management Systems (LMS) for easy access to educational resources that track and report on employees’ online learning progress.

The company drives its internal performance management system and mentorship program to track employee training needs, goals, and career growth requirements. Its internal mentorship program successfully fosters professional growth and skills transfer between employees and management.

Tiber Construction has identified specific KPIs related to its organizational success and employee satisfaction, which assists in promoting and reporting on the company’s operations, employees, and financial performance.

Leonora makes use of monthly engagement surveys to keep track of engagement levels and retention rates as well as to track employee expectations and growth requirements in a rapidly changing working environment.

Communication and employee engagement have increased by more than 60% over the past year. To negate the historical lack of engagement, low staff morale, lack of understanding of company strategies and concerns, poor work performance, and lack of teamwork, the company has implemented more effective communication strategies and team-building initiatives, as well as celebrating employee achievements more often.

Maintaining Two-way Communication

Monitoring lower employee turnover rates over the past year indicates higher employee satisfaction and organizational stability. Conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the financial impact of HR initiatives has shown increased productivity, reduced turnover costs, and overall organizational performance.

Collecting qualitative feedback from employees via open- ended surveys has given the company insights into their perceptions, ascertaining their alignment with the company’s values, mission, and culture.

Leonora Chetty is a dedicated member of the South African Board of People Practices (SABPP), a body that upholds the highest ethical and HR standards in South Africa. She remains committed to staying updated with evolving HR regulations and ensuring compliance by actively engaging in continuous professional development.

Leonora’s proactive approach to compliance includes attending CPD courses and workshops, subscribing to newsletters, leveraging HR software, receiving alerts from relevant government agencies, and networking with like- minded professionals and professional organizations. Her use of a compliance calendar reflects her meticulous attention to detail in managing regulatory filings, reporting requirements, and other compliance-related tasks. This commitment to ongoing learning and compliance underscores her dedication to upholding the highest standards in the field of human resources.

Nurturing Future Leaders

HR Technology has been an area of investment and priority, providing the required compliance, analytical reporting, and self-service for employees and management alike.

As an HR leader, Leonora offers the following advice to aspiring HR professionals aiming to make a positive impact on their organizations:

  • To be an effective HR professional, it’s crucial to have a deep understanding of the organization’s business operations, goals, and challenges. This knowledge will enable the alignment of HR strategies with overall business objectives.
  • Develop strong communication skills, actively listen to employees, and facilitate open and transparent communication within the organization.
  • Embrace cultural diversity in South Africa with various cultures, languages, and backgrounds, foster an inclusive workplace culture that values diversity, and promotes equal opportunities for all.
  • Stay informed about employment legislation and regulations in South Africa, as they can impact HR practices.
  • Invest in employee development and training programs; a skilled and engaged workforce contributes significantly to the success of the organization.
  • Implement effective talent management strategies, including recruitment, onboarding, performance management, and succession planning, to ensure that the organization attracts, retains, and develops top talent.
  • Promote employee well-being by recognizing the importance of employee well-being and work-life balance. Implement programs and initiatives that support mental and physical health, creating a positive and healthy work environment.
  • Finally, build strong relationships, utilize technology, and demonstrate ethical leadership. By focusing on these aspects, aspiring HR professionals can contribute significantly to the success and positive culture of their organizations in South Africa.