Annual SIOPSA Conference 2021, 21-23 July 2021


People at the center | From human capital to human workers



Thank you for all the abstracts we received. It is currently being reviewed by the Abstract Committee who will be in contact soon.

If you would still like to participate as a speaker at this year’s conference and would like to submit or require assistance please contact the conference team at phiona@siopsa.org.za or marissa@siopsa.org.za.  




Who would be the protagonist if a story about the world of work was to be written in 2021? Would it be technology, Covid19, artificial intelligence, big data, capitalism, bureaucracies or the humanity of people “affectionately” referred to as human capital? The 2021 SIOPSA conference seeks to re-introduce humanity and the people that form part of the workforce as the lead characters in the world of work. This is on the backdrop of the various elements that have taken precedence and overshadowed what Deloitte (2021) refers to as an organisation that is “distinctly human at the core”.

Dehumanising attitudes and behaviours frequently occur in organisational settings and are often viewed as an acceptable, and even necessary, strategy for pursuing personal and organisational goals. An example is “mechanistic” forms of dehumanisation where people are perceived as inert or instrumental, likened to objects or machines and denied qualities such as warmth, emotion, and individuality (Christoff, 2014). Employees, and workers not in formal employment, face a dehumanised workplace that is “depleting, dispiriting and stressful” resulting in draining people of the energy needed to fulfil their potential (SHRM Foundation, 2016). Gary Hamel refers to organisations that start with the employee as “humanocracies”, diverging from the worldview and belief that people are a “resource” (Hamel, 2020).

Being distinctly human at the core is not just a different way of thinking and acting for organisations, but a different way of being that approaches every question, every issue, and every decision from a human angle first (Deloitte, 2021). It is the fusion of profit-making and revenue growth anchored in a set of human principles such as purpose, meaning, ethics and fairness. This means integrating economic and social value by being “market-driven and purpose-led”, keeping in mind both employees and the network of stakeholders that the business has the ability to impact (Deloitte, 2021; Galera & Borzaga, 2009).

From a macro-perspective and at a whole job level, the world needs more and better jobs, especially in societies suffering from widespread poverty, and these jobs must have the quality of sustainability. Decent work is defined by the International Labour Organisation as productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security, and human dignity. Decent work involves opportunities for work that: is productive and delivers a fair income; provides security in the workplace and social protection for workers and their families; offers prospects for personal development and encourages social integration; gives people the freedom to express their concerns, to organise and to participate in decisions that affect their lives; and guarantees equal opportunities and equal treatment for all (International Labour Organisation, 2008).

Work psychologists, people practitioners, behavioural specialists, researchers, academics, business leaders and line managers play an important role in creating humane workplaces and positioning themselves as trusted guides for this process.  We, the organisers of the 23rd Annual Conference of SIOPSA, call upon interested stakeholders to set an agenda for re-humanising the workplace in South Africa and globally.

This topic will be explored through the following sub-themes.

  • Humane leadership in times of crisis (e.g., responsible, and attuned leadership)
  • Psychological well-being in a turbulent era (psychological safety and the role of the psychological contract)
  • Humane workplaces: role players and enablers of this process
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as a foundation of humane workplaces
  • Returning human dignity to the workforce (decent work, underemployment and psychological effects of job losses)