Due to globalisation and the digital age, the adage that people are a business’s competitive edge has never been more relevant.
While much has been written about the value and positive impact of HR Management, and often business leaders are heard saying that people are their greatest asset, the reality is that entrepreneurs and management don’t always express this sentiment behind closed doors.
You often hear statements of “I don’t know what HR does”; “I hate dealing with people issues, HR must just sort it out”; “the labour laws are too strict”; “I don’t need HR, my payroll is outsourced”. This is due to two major underlying issues:
- The HR profession is still evolving from an administrative function to a strategic function and is not nearly as mature as other professions that have had a seat at the boardroom table a lot longer.
- There is little to no uniformity in the education, training and development of HR practitioners.
As a result most businesses and entrepreneurs face the risk of, firstly, not knowing what HR practices are required to support their business strategy and, secondly, what calibre of HR practitioner is required to get the job done.
The consequence is that business either does the bare minimum or nothing at all creating human resource management related risk exposure.
A multi-dimensional approach
Human resources is multidimensional. It involves strategy, the law, finance, marketing, psychology, technology and customer service. Expecting junior HR practitioners or specialists to offer a total solution is often met with disappointment.
This reality is often difficult to understand by the rest of the business. HR practitioners are educated either in industrial psychology, legal or human resource administration.
HR practitioners that are true generalists are rare and the cost of having an individual of this calibre is often out of reach of most Entrepreneurs and small businesses. The practical solution is to either over time assemble a team of HR professionals or partner with a company that specialises in Human Resource Management.
The right framework
Since 2012 the South African Board for People Practice has been consulting with business and has launched the National Human Resource Management Standards.
These standards have since been adopted by numerous companies who have undergone certification audits since last year.
These standards apply to companies large and small. The benefit to business is that companies now have a framework to build and guide their HR practices.
Business leaders empowered by an understanding of the National Human Resource Standards and supported by appropriate HR practitioners are better able to translate their business strategy into a human resource management strategy.