HR directors to direct people standards in business

hr future

The HR professional and quality assurance body of South Africa, the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) has launched a national human resource (HR) project to create the first set of national HR Standards at the HR Standards Development Summit on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 in Johannesburg.

Says Marius Meyer, SABPP Chief Executive Officer: “In extensive consultations with senior HR professionals throughout South Africa last year following the Marikana massacre, we concluded that the lack of national HR Standards is the single biggest obstacle to sound people practices at organisations. Now as we are entering strike season, once again we will waste time, resources and lives on the symptoms and not addressing the root causes.  A single set of HR standards is needed to improve people management in all organisations.”  The following problems were identified:

  • An absence, variance or lack of HR Standards at company, sector and national level;
  • Inconsistencies in the way in which HR is practised;
  • Concerns about the vastly different models consultants and “experts” suggest to organisations;
  • The absence of national HR benchmarks for the purpose of benchmarking and pursuing best practices;
  • The variance in standards has resulted in HR professionals generally being taken less seriously than other professionals at companies.

Meyer highlights the rational for the project:  “Subsequent world competitiveness reports have indicated the need for South Africa to improve its human capital.  The current skills crisis and talent shortages experienced by business can not be perpetuated, and a more systematic approach is needed in establishing a national framework for excellent people practices in business.  Sound labour relations will remain a pipedream if basic HR and people practices are not entrenched at South African companies.”

The benefits of a national set of HR standards are as follows:

  •  Promoting quality and consistency in HR practice
  • Creating integrated HR systems and frameworks
  • Providing a platform for HR benchmarks nationally
  • Reducing variation and eliminating HR errors and risks
  • Building HR teams and outputs based on clear standards and metrics
  • Enhancing the credibility of HR among other professionals
  • Developing a national framework for HR curriculum at HR academies, learning providers and universities

A set of 13 national HR standards titles has already been brainstormed by HR Directors and it is now time for HR executives to get together and generate the necessary standards. The standards are strategic HR management, HR risk management, talent management, workforce planning, learning and development, performance management, reward, employment relations, wellness, HR technology, organisation development, HR service delivery and HR measurement. These areas are critical in improving the quality of people practices in organisations.

The purpose of the national HR standards development initiative, therefore, is to formulate a consistent set of HR Standards for South Africa, including HR metrics to measure the bottom-line impact of HR on business. While still recognising unique operating contexts, industry and company differences, national standards will create a consistent framework for high quality HR work practised by true professionals throughout the country. All participating HR Directors, their companies and professional bodies will be acknowledged as the pioneers in setting HR standards for South Africa. Once the HR standards are in place, HR directors will direct the application of the standards in companies.  Meyer asserts: “SABPP wants to go as far as suggesting that we must come and audit workplaces to assess the prevalence of sound people practices.  Continuing with poor people management and outdated HR practices puts the sustainability of companies at risk.”

Siphiwe Moyo, Chairman of SABPP adds: “I trust that HR Directors will join this special project and share their excitement regarding the strategic significance of this project for South Africa.  Also, we are sure that CEOs will support their HR Directors in driving better people practices and standards at our companies.  National HR standards set the scene for a new era for HR Directors – it will provide them with a clear framework for executing their mandate as custodians of sound HR management and governance of the people function in companies.  In fact, proper HR standards can add significant value to the current focus on integrated reporting.”

Any enquiries about the project can be directed to the CEO of SABPP, Marius Meyer on  More information about SABPP is available on

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