By Boitumelo Moselane, Human Resources Director for Eaton South Africa
The roles and responsibilities of human resource professionals are evolving at a rapid pace compared to just a few years ago, making HR an increasingly challenging environment to navigate for all stakeholders. Where the challenge of recruitment, performance management and training were once our main concerns, we now contend with a multitude of modern-day demands and considerations, all of which impact the future world of work.
The onset of COVID-19, and its impact on employees and the day-to-day running of businesses as well as meeting business objectives, has contributed greatly to the changing HR environment. Most importantly, we have had to shift our perspectives from overseeing workplace protocols to being at the forefront of unprecedented work-from-home and hybrid work models.
As a result of the lockdown, we needed to act and adapt quickly in the interest of employee wellness – that is, advocating for the wellbeing of employees in a holistic way, which includes looking after their physical, emotional and mental health needs.
Added to this, the face of recruitment has changed dramatically as companies compete for the best and brightest among the current generation of employees, with a strategic nod towards the hiring of 4IR-skilled workers. There is a high demand for people with technical skills in the industrial and energy sectors, which means that organisations are re-evaluating their approaches to recruitment to ensure they are able to better accommodate the needs of these new recruits – and more specifically, millennials.
The answer is not always in monetary rewards, although it does play a crucial role. Meaningful, challenging work that is engaging and provides opportunities for continuous learning and growth is key. Moreover, people want to be able to identify and align with a company’s values, to know that the place they work for values them as individuals, emphasises work-life balance and recognises and rewards accomplishments. Importantly, they want to know that the company they work for is committed to uplifting and empowering surrounding communities, has an authentic approach to environmental sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint.
Companies that don’t meet these criteria, especially the new generation of employees’ requirements on providing opportunities to engage in meaningful work and creating a positive work atmosphere, will typically experience high staff turnover rates – something we have seen during the pandemic during what was termed the ‘The Great Resignation’.
HR trends to keep an eye on
The employee experience is now a major part of business strategy. Understanding how employees feel about the workplace is assisting HR to be proactive in identifying problems, resolving issues before getting out of control and creating more ‘moments that matter’.
Furthermore, HR professionals are now required to be business partners and understand the business instead of playing the behind-the-scenes role they once assumed. As HR professionals use technology to make crucial decisions and free up their time from having to execute mundane administrative tasks, among other old practices, they will play a more vital consultancy role in businesses.
HR professionals must also be adaptable to change, drive the change in the organisation and make sure no one is left behind. They must be willing to unlearn old practices that are now irrelevant and learn new skills required for the future, such as digital skills and using analytics to make informed decisions. As such, the willingness among HR professionals to upskill themselves and learn a few new tricks is just as important.
Navigating this new ‘era’ of HR has been and continues to be a steep learning curve for many HR professionals and organisations. However, I believe these challenges and changes have created a more conducive and productive environment for HR to play a more central role in not only supporting the achievement of business objectives, but contributing meaningfully towards preparing organisations for the future world of work.
Boitumelo Moselane is the Human Resource Manager for Eaton South Africa. Boitumelo has more than 12 years’ experience in HR and has held positions at organisations such as Lafarge Holcim South Africa, Tsogo Sun, Anglo American and Gillette Group South Africa. She has a BA in Industrial Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand as well as an Honours Degree in Labour Relations from R.A.U.