Ingquza Hill Local Municipality leads local government with National HR Standards alignment

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Ingquza Hill Local Municipality leads local government with National HR Standards alignment by Shirley Gumenge

The SA Board for People Practices (SABPP), a body dedicated to the promotion and professionalisation of the human resource (HR) profession, held a two day workshop aimed at developing, strengthening and upholding a culture of ethics, norms and HR standards at Ingquza Hill Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape. This workshop, facilitated by Mr Marius Meyer, the CEO of SABPP took place on Monday, 31 August to Tuesday 01 September 2015 at Cosy Posy B&B in Lusikisiki. This means that Ingquza Local Municipality has taken a leadership role among rural municipalities in adopting the National HR Standards of SABPP in improving HR practice in the workplace.

The initiative started when Ingquza won a free mentoring programme from SABPP at the annual conference of the Institute of Municipal HR Practitioners (IMPSA) in 2014.  SABPP is a strategic alliance partner of IMPSA.  This programme was offered by SABPP in order to empower the Human Resource Practitioners to develop and improve the HR strategy of the municipality in line with the National HR Standards.

Ingquza Hill Local Municipality is the first Municipality from the Eastern Cape to formally conduct self-assessment of its HR practices using the National HR Standards developed by SABPP. This is a step forward in making sure the municipality is run professionally. As one of the municipalities that continue to do well in so far as audit outcomes are concerned, it is essential to keep up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in Human Resources.

The two day workshop was attended by corporate services team led by Mr Mphako (Director) and Mr Mvunelo (Manager) Ms S Gumenge HR Admin Officer, Ms Mjoli HRD Officer, Mr Mkhize OD Officer, Ms Bam EAP Officer. Mr Msumza Labour Relations Officer and Mr Mtshengu Health and Safety Officer. Interns and Trainees of these sections also formed part of the workshop in an effort to empower them on their journey to becoming HR Professionals.

At the heart of the HR standards initiative is the notion of HR professionalism.  Good HR practice depends on HR professionalism, ethics and competence.  SABPP is on a national drive to professionalise HR in accordance with the South African HR competence model developed by SABPP.  Thus, like chartered accountants register with SAICA, HR professionals are encouraged to register with SABPP.  A combination of the three criteria of qualifications, level of work and experience are used to register HR professionals in accordance with the NQF Act.  Once registered, SABPP keeps HR professionals up to date with the latest developments and best practices in the field, in addition to a formal programme of continuous professional development (CPD).  This is the reason why the HR professionals of Ingquza Hill Municipality have now all been registered with SABPP. The photo below depicts the whole HR team with their professional registration certificates together with SABPP CEO, Marius Meyer who is not only a mentor, but also a strategic partner of the municipality.

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The HR Standards workshop at the municipality consisted of three main objectives:

  • Ensuring a proper understanding of all the 13 National HR Standards;
  • Doing a self-assessment on the 13 HR Standards;
  • Brainstorming action plans to improve HR at the municipality in line with the HR standards.

The 13 National HR Standards range from three strategic HR Standards at the top of the model, followed by 7 standards at the HR functional architecture level (from workforce planning to organisation development).  Next, irrespective of their area of functional expertise, all HR professionals are engaged in the process of HR service delivery, and to ensure that this standard element is effectively implemented, clear guidelines on quality service delivery are provided.  The HR service delivery standard is particularly important for municipalities to drive service delivery both internally within an organisation, and then externally to the community in which the municipality has to offer services.

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But what are the advantages for municipalities to align with the HR standards?

  • It ensures that the quality of HR work is improved to the level of the national HR standards, thereby promoting good practice, quality improvement, service delivery and professionalism;
  • The HR Standards will over time ensure that the quality of HR work at municipalities and the public sector at large will be able to be benchmark against the private sector (many South African private companies have already achieved world-class status in their HR practices);
  • Municipalities embarking on the HR Standards will get access to SABPP support and resources to build capacity until there are ready to meet the HR standards;
  • HR Professionals from municipalities who commit to show leadership in HR professionalism, competence, ethics and standards will not only drive excellence within their own municipalities, they could also become provincial HR leaders driving HR professionalism in their provinces, even by influencing other organisations, including the private sector. For instance, the Chairperson of SABPP Gauteng Province is Mr Monamodi Matsapola, the Head of HR at Mogale City Local Municipality, while Mr Fritz le Roes of the City of Cape Town in on the SABPP Western Cape Committee and I am now a member of the SABPP Eastern Cape Committee;
  • A full audit framework has now been developed against the National HR Standards, this means that municipalities can benefit either directly from these audits, or alternatively if they use their improved HR practices as evidence for Auditor-General Audits.

In addition to the pioneering work being done at Ingquza Hill Municipality, SABPP has been actively involved in sharing the National HR Standards with local government.  Presentations were done at City of Ekurhuleni, Mogale City Local Municipality, Ethekwini Municipality, City of Cape Town, City of Polokwane, West Coast District Municipality, Musina Municipality, Sekhukhune Municipality, Gauteng COGTA and SALGA.

Mr Meyer stressed the importance of HR standards alignment workshops in every organisation that aims for improved HR professionalism. He said: “…we need to constantly look for better ways or strategies to make sure professionalism is maintained throughout the organisation.” He demonstrated many ways in which an organisation can organise and improve its daily operations. He concludes: “If a municipality get its HR right, service delivery to the community will also improve when employees are more motivated to deliver their best. I want to congratulate Ingquza Hill Local Municipality for leading municipalities in the Eastern Cape (and indeed South Africa) for applying the National HR Standards. After today, you are not only leaders in the province, you are also national leaders.  SABPP is proud to be associated with you.”

In conclusion, Ingquza Hill Local Municipality has embarked on the National HR Standards Journey.  We want to thank SABPP and IMPSA for their support in enabling us to raise the standard of HR work at our municipality.  It is an honour to be part of this exciting journey in building professionalism in all areas of specialisation within the HR function – from recruitment, to training to sound employment relations.  Moreover, the real challenge is to ensure that your overall HR system works in an integrated and synergistic manner.  Aligning our HR work to the National HR Standards will ensure that our municipality not only gets its own house in order, it also positions us as a leader provincially and nationally in driving HR service delivery and excellence.

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Shirley Gumenge is an HR Officer at Ingquza Hill Local Municipality in Lusikisiki and Provincial Committee Member of SABPP in the Eastern Cape.  She will deliver a paper on the full case study at the Annual IMPSA Conference on 21 October 2015 in Cape Town.

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