CHRO South Africa asks the HR community about the challenges they face and how best to address them.
The HR landscape in South Africa consistently faces a range of formidable challenges. CHRO South Africa asked leading HR executives what some of the biggest problems facing the industry are right now and how best to address them.
Phylla Jele, e4’s HR and transformation executive
Definitely culture re-engineering. I believe that the employee that went to work remotely in March 2020 is not the same employee that returned in 2022/2023. This employee has forever been changed: some of us lost loved ones, we lost colleagues, we had to be teachers while kids went online and will forever appreciate teachers because of this. So practices, systems, processes and values changed, and culture was impacted. Leadership now has to work to get staff morale, attrition etc. back on par.
Ross Pickford, head of people at Global Kinetic
With hybrid working, the biggest challenge we all face is keeping our cultures thriving. That is quite a blanket statement and has many parts to it. Any single person who doesn’t ‘feel’ what we perceive as our positive culture, is going to be an active detractor from that dream.
As a business that largely works in teams, we have some great ways to keep our culture, our ways of working, and our teamwork front of mind. However, it is really easy for that to slip and complacency to settle in. Simple things like remote meetings with all cameras off is often how it starts. When we lose physical sight of each other’s reactions and emotions, we easily become disconnected.
The solution? Firstly, get people together – return to human interactions. Secondly, talk to people. Use surveys, have AMA (ask me anything) sessions with your people; find out what is bothering them and what they enjoy. Lastly, provide tools for support. We are doing more in this arena, as it’s a changing landscape.
From reactive tools that offer support, counselling and advice, to proactive tools that encourage physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, we all need to do what we can to support and encourage each other.
Phil Tshikotshi, associate vice president, HR at Startek
While there are several challenges facing CHROs in the current ways of working, some of the key challenges include attracting and retaining top talent given the competitive current market.
The advent of COVID-19 has changed the scope of work for many organisations, leaving CHROs with challenges related to change management and digital dexterity. While CHROs face these challenges, not everything is within their control, so my advice would be that CHROs should focus on things they have control over.
As an example, if attracting and retaining talent is a challenge, CHRO’s could build an internal pipeline of key talent who could be upskilled and reskilled for roles for the future. In my opinion, there is also a need to review retention strategies because what we as CHROs may think is the right approach to retaining a key talent may not necessarily resonate with the employees.
Julia Modise Human Resources for BMW Group South Africa
The unpredictability of the work. The geopolitical issues that are taking place, and the instability globally requires HR to think differently. We cannot get into a situation where we make things up as we go along, but now, HR is required to look at the world and see what we can predict, plan for risks, and find answers to mitigate problems before they arise.
The world has also become so small that we now are not only fighting for talent among companies in the country. International companies or companies based elsewhere can hire South Africans to work for them remotely. So, HR needs to be agile and make sure that the people processes, benefits, and pay structures are flexible enough to attract talent and create a culture that people can be happy with.
Culture is crucial to employee and customer experience. What I am acutely aware of is that while technology is great, it can never completely replace human beings, so the human and social aspects will always remain necessary.