Day of Firsts at Leaderex – 17 September: HR Standards, Audits, Metrics
by Cara Bouwer
An HR world first. A local entrepreneurship first. A South African industry first.
These are some of the groundbreaking events taking place at Leaderex.
From masterclasses to networking opportunities, special events and coaching sessions to installations showing off the “office of the future”, Leaderex has something for entrepreneurs, managers, leaders, students and professionals alike. But three events in particular are making waves due to their innovative approach to business and leadership.
Top of the list is a full-day event, running from 08h00 to 16h30 and hosted by the SA Board for People Practice (SABPP) and HR Future, which showcases the theory and practice behind the new National HR Standards.
According to Marius Meyer, CEO of the SABPP, Leaderex is well placed to expose leaders to the latest in human resource (HR) thinking and standards. HR plays a central role in any business’s organisational efficiency and functioning, and Meyer believes Leaderex is the ideal platform for sharing the SABPP standards with a range of leaders.
He explains: “The HR director is almost the centrepiece of a company. They are between the workers and the CEO of the company. They are almost the conscience of the company. The HR director can help to make sure that companies are more people-oriented. So the HR standards have been positioned to help companies get their strategy in line with this.”
In 2011, when Meyer took up his role at the SABPP, he began the process of engaging with HR professionals around South Africa to determine their needs. In 2013, this culminated in a gathering in Johannesburg of 108 HR directors and eight HR professional bodies and associations under the leadership of SABPP, to set national HR standards for South Africa. The resulting standards cover areas such as talent management, workforce planning, employment relations and organisation development.
Like the King III code, the standards are based on voluntary uptake by the industry, with the notion of best practice firmly at their core. “We are challenging companies to get that side of their companies right. That’s why we’ve developed the standards” states Meyer. “Good governance requires time and effort to make it happen. But we don’t want to force companies. We are saying these are the practices that will make your company better. If you leave it, then you will put your company at risk and you will underperform your competitors. That’s the risk you take if you don’t take this up.”
Stressing the need to make the standards user-friendly, Meyer likens the approach to talent management. “Nobody can force you to look after you talent, but it’s silly not to,” he says.
In a world where skills are in high demand and talent should be nurtured, Meyer notes that the reaction from the market – both across Africa and internationally – has been extremely positive. Already fellow SADC countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe have expressed an interest in the standards. “The US and UK are also fascinated by this, and for them it’s a bit of a surprise to see people in Africa coming up with a strong HR model,” admits Meyer.
The process of creating and rolling out the standards has global significance, believes Meyer. “The people evolution in companies is starting in Africa,” enthuses Meyer. “Look at your typical aggressive line management in companies in, say, the US and the West. What we are putting on the table is the idea, that yes, business principles need to be clear, but you need to get the human side right in order to be more profitable. So the more human approach to human standards is staring here in Africa.”
Delegates attending the all-day SABPP and HR Future event at Leaderex have a lot to cover, not least at which is the keynote presentation by Australia’s Dr Chris Andrews, believed to be the first person in the world to complete a PhD on HR audits. Andrews’s insights will be especially significant given the SABPP’s development of an audit framework. Already, says Meyer, 126 auditors have been trained to go into companies and audit the current system against the HR standards. Companies are scored out of 100, giving them a benchmark against which they can be measure their practices. The first 11 results from these audits will be presented at Leaderex.
The interactive, collaborative and participative nature of the SABPP standards and audit is a perfect fit with Leaderex, believes Meyer. “The success of this project is that it’s been developed by some 500 professionals around the country. It’s very interactive. It’s come from the field. Leaderex will also be highly interactive.” The highlight of the day will be the launch of the first set of HR Metrics for South Africa – the framework for measuring the bottom-line of HR on the organisation, as well as its socio-economic impact. Engage with the SABPP at stand G21 and HR Future at stand G2 at Leaderex.
Cara Bouwer writes for Sunday Times. This article was first published in Sunday Times. You can download the HR Standards programme and booking form for 17 September from www.sabpp.co.za