The future of HR is here and now – not tomorrow

By on August 3, 2015

By Sharon Shakung

Foresight, inspiration, skill and an unquestionable work ethic – some of the many qualities that were very clearly evident in the line-up of speakers at the inaugural Careers24 Future of HR Summit and Awards Dinner held in Johannesburg on 22 to 23 July.

Case studies and insights shared by consulting experts and executives in business strategy, operations management, talent recruitment and leadership development showcased some of the successes being achieved in South African organisations currently – with the anticipation of more good things to come.

With vision, courage, innovation and positioning of HR as a core, strategic influence in the organisation, these companies achieved what others fear to attempt; and they are enjoying results that are worth the risks taken and the effort put in.

I attended the event with great expectations of rekindling my love for what I do and I was not disappointed. I went away with a few precious gems that I would like to share through this post. Because there was so much value, I will share highlights from only those talks that left the greatest impression on me.

Online recruitment tactics, trends and challenges – highlights:

Research the profile of the online user; align to their user experience preferences; know that they research you too (e.g. glassdoor); be authentic and consistent in your branding/storytelling internally and externally; cater for people with disabilities; be mobile-friendly; have ways of verifying the legitimacy of claimed competencies; and engage, don’t be passive.

Taking HR into the cloud – highlights:

The cloud in not real, it does not exist; so back-up locally; hacking is always a threat, so security is key; be selective about what type and level of data you store and where (public cloud vs private cloud); maintain high data integrity; know what you need to do with it, when, how and why; have your own (reliable) system, or buy software as a service (SaaS); ensure tight access control and minimal human factor; keep it simple; and remember, garbage in, garbage out.

Staff retention – highlights:

People are much more than just assets, resources, or headcount; allow them to bring their whole selves into the workplace; be creative in how you contribute to the improvement of the quality of their lives; build their confidence, not just their competence; know what they value besides money; show respect and commitment in the way you treat them; employ the right people for your brand (values alignment); make sure they can see career progression potential in your organisation.

Empowering self to empower others – highlights:

You cannot do it if you are not passionate about people; have solution-focused conversations with them; ask the right questions to get the right answers; do not position yourself as the problem-solver/monkey manager; allow them to use their own inner wisdom to come up with solutions; help them to think more creatively/become more innovative; empower them to become more accountable.

HR in the post-amendment labour relations environment – highlights:

Not just a labour broker concern, but a company concern; HR should avoid knee-jerk reactions to the amendments; incorrect decisions with far-reaching implications cannot be undone; changes should be seen as an opportunity for HR to play a more proactive, strategic, influential role; consult broadly and wait for more substantive outcomes, such as from the labour court; do not rush to make contract employees permanent, or to retrench; review all contracts regularly, carefully and timeously; ensure proper job evaluation, grading and performance management; work well with (and educate) operations, the management team and trade unions; manage reputational risk closely.

Effective leadership – highlights:

Effective/true leaders work smarter, not harder; they lead themselves before they lead others; they don’t pretend to train; they don’t have all the answers; they are not always in the spotlight; they are not always charismatic; some are born, some are made; they are always fully engaged; they question assumptions, not conclusions; they set aside face time with their people; they have a strong reputation internally for cultivating talent throughout the organisation.

On effective hiring:

“Hire on culture fit and train skill. Avoid a culture disconnect by parachuting people in; rather take it slow, find the right people and induct/develop them further,”  said Ryan Harrison, Co-Founder and Director at SPARK Schools.

The event was very well attended by teams and individuals who take themselves, their professions and their companies very seriously, without forgetting to have a little fun too. Arrangements were without fault, thanks to Topco Media, leaving guests keen to attend the event again in 2016.

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