The National HR Standards, Audits and Metrics Journey


The National HR Standards, Audits and Metrics Journey
by Marius Meyer

This week the South African HR Standards Initiative is 100 weeks old.  While some commentators refer to this time of the year as “strike season,”  for the SA Board of People Practices (SABPP), the months of August and September are “standards season.”  We are entering the time to get ready for the 3rd Annual National HR Standards Roll-out, the largest HR Standards Conference in the world.  This year the roll-out event is part of the Leaderex exhibition, a collaborative exhibition of 200 exhibitors from different spheres of management and professionals. Hence, it gives the HR profession an opportunity to showcase the National HR Standards to a larger audience of decision-makers and influencers.  In essence, Leaderex ensures that the event becomes more significant by making line managers and company directors part of the solution.

However, despite the success of the National HR Standards Initiative from 2013 to 2015 we have noticed that there are still HR managers and line managers who are not fully aware of the HR Standards. From today we will launch a series of daily articles to update the HR professional community on progress with the project.   HR Managers who were involved previously will be updated, while newcomers will be orientated to ensure that all HR Leaders are fully aware of the progress and outcomes of the standards journey.  This process of updating will not only lead us into the conference on 17 September, but continue until the end of September.

Thus, for our HR Standards ambassadors, let us remind you of the journey, and to the newcomers, now is the time to catch up and become involved.  Over the past three years, South Africa has become a world-leader in the development, implementation and auditing of National HR Standards. The HR Standards journey started in 2013 with the development of the world’s first National HR Management System with 13 standard elements, namely Strategic HR Management, Talent Management, HR Risk Management, Workforce Planning, Learning and Development, Performance Management, Reward and Recognition, Employee Wellness, Employment Relations Management, HR Service Delivery, HR Technology and HR Measurement.  It is now clear to all HR Managers on how to implement these 13 standard elements, from Strategic HR Management to HR Measurement.  Newcomers can order the HR Standards files from the SABPP office, contact us on and we will gladly courier or deliver a file to you.


The purpose of the HR Standards initiative driven by SABPP in association with HR Future magazine was to reduce inconsistencies in HR practice and to provide a common and standardised framework for sound HR practice. The HR Standards project enabled the HR profession to improve its credibility, status and impact in the workplace. In 2014, an additional 19 HR Professional Practice Standards were created to support the HR Management System with clear professional practices being implemented by HR professionals in the workplace. These Professional Practice Standards range from absenteeism management and succession planning to career development.  Specific professional practice standards were also developed for skills development practitioners, i.e. learning needs analysis, learning design, facilitation, and learning evaluation.

In addition, 2014 saw the setting up of a National HR Audit Unit responsible for conducting HR Audits against the National HR Standards. Several companies have already been audited and the Boards of those companies audited now have full confidence in the quality of HR practice as verified by independent external auditors.

In 2015, the 3rd Annual HR Standards Roll-out takes the National HR Standards Journey to a new level of significance. Not only do we continue on this multiyear HR Standards journey, but we also, every year, step up and add new outputs to the achievements of the previous year as the HR Standards journey unfolds. This year we bring you the framework within which a National HR scorecard, Board and operational HR reporting will be developed, enabling you to measure the bottom-line impact of HR on your organisation.  This three year HR Standards journey has now reached a level of integration and alignment so much so that the three dimensions (standards, audits and metrics) now form a synergistic approach to raising the bar on HR excellence in the workplace that extends the impact of HR work beyond the realm of internal HR practices to national significance.

The National HR Standards Journey (2013-2015) has been an unprecedented success with many different milestones along this exciting journey. The 3rd Annual HR Standards Roll-out will now build on the successes achieved, and take the HR profession forward in the 2016 – 2020 era.

Key highlights on the National HR Standards Journey are as follows:

  • The South African HR Standards were the first set of its kind in the world and attracted interest from 18 countries. Several countries on the African continent have either adopted or slightly adapted the HR Standards for their purposes.
  • Top HR professional bodies and interest groups from the USA, UK and other countries have reacted favourably to the African HR Standards with some of them like SHRM and CIPD visiting SABPP to learn about the process and outcomes. Likewise, our HR professional body counterparts in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Swaziland have responded positively by considering the application of the standards in their countries.
  • A total of 21 universities have committed to adapt their curricula to the HR Standards and the first master’s degree on the HR Standards has been successfully completed by a senior HR Manager.
  • The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Advocate Michael Masutha approved HR professionals as Ex-officio Commissioners of Oaths when the Standards were submitted as part of the motivation to his office.
  • The word’s first HR audit framework was developed so that companies can be audited against the National HR Standards.  A total of 128 auditors have been trained to audit companies against the standards and nine companies have already been audited.

In the light of the above discussion it is clear that the National HR Standards have repositioned HR as a value-adding business function in South Africa.  Not only has it raised the bar for the HR profession, it also ensured that consistency and quality become two guiding principles of HR work.  Over the next two months we will continue to update you on progress with the National HR Standards.  However, the best way of getting to grips with the HR Standards is to attend the 3rd Annual National HR Standards Roll-out at Sandton Convention Centre on 17 September.  Download the brochure and booking form from   Daily updates and news is also available via twitter @SABPP1


Marius Meyer is CEO of SABPP.  He is a regular speaker at local and international conferences and together with his team at the SABPP office managed the process of developing the National HR Standards for South Africa. 


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