HR Standards Season 2016 Opens: 4th Annual HR Standards Summit by Marius Meyer


HR Standards Season 2016 Opens: 4th Annual HR Standards Summit 

by Marius Meyer

This week the South African HR Standards Initiative is 150 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 June, July and August are “standards season.” We are entering the time to get ready for the 4th Annual National HR Standards Summit, the largest HR Standards Conference in the world. This year we continue on the HR Standards journey as we reflect on challenges and successes over the last year. Moreover, we have reached a deep level of learning and reflective practice now that we have managed to audit a total of 17 companies against the National HR Standards.

However, despite the success of the National HR Standards Initiative from 2013 to 2016 we have noticed that there are still HR managers and line managers who are not fully aware of the HR Standards. To create more awareness and to formally open and celebrate HR Standards Season, 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 27 and 28 July, but continue until the end of August.

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 four 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 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. Alternatively, you can buy your copy when you join us for the conference on 27-28 July in Midrand, Johannesburg.


The purpose of the HR Standards initiative driven by SABPP 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.  This year we will launch three new professional practice standards developed in 2015, i.e. employer branding, change management and workplace learning.

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 auditors. While one of the top HR professional bodies in the world, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CPID) was our guest at the 2nd Annual HR Standards Conference in 2014, Dr Chris Andrews from Bond University in Australia was our keynote speaker during the 3rd Annual Conference in 2015.  Dr Andrews has since then become a great supporter of the SABPP work as they continue with HR standards development in Australia.   Furthermore, the CEO of CIPD invited me to join him at this annual conference, thereby furthering the relationship between CIPD and SABPP.

In 2016, the 4th Annual HR Standards Summit takes the National HR Standards Initiative 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 several new highlights:


The National HR Standards Journey (2013-2016) has been an unprecedented success with many different milestones along this exciting journey. The 4th 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 23 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 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 22 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 200 auditors have been trained to audit companies against the standards and 17 companies in five provinces 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 4th Annual National HR Standards Conference at Vodacom World in Midrand on 27-28 July.  For more information, contact our office on    Daily updates and news are also available via twitter @SABPP1.  In conclusion, I declare the 4th HR Standards Season open, and I look forward to see you again at this event.  Tomorrow I will share a full progress report on the growth and development of HR standards in different African countries.


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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