The State of HR in SA: Looking forward to 2020


This Metaco report identifies seven key trends that HR leaders are paying attention to. 

Whilst change has long been a constant consideration in business, today’s organisations face an ever-evolving exponential rate of change that is increasingly complex in nature. Volatile markets, complicated political environments, increasing global competition and the changing nature of work are just some of the factors that affect organisations. In addition, customer expectations are constantly rising. This is the VUCA world.

It’s no new concept; we know enterprises are fundamentally shifting with new business models, new technologies, and changing expectations. Often, HR teams are left straddling the needs of the legacy organisation while planning for the needs of the future.

Having seen the shift in our own business and within clients, we wanted to better understand the South African HR landscape to better assist clients to meet the needs of tomorrow.

In a world of disruptive technology, environmental and political upheaval and constantly changing contexts, a siloed approach to leadership in a systemically connected world, no longer fits. Organisations and leaders need a new approach in the face of old paradigms. 

In the report, we were excited to see that many HR executives are taking on the New World challenge in their approach to recruitment, learning, leadership and strategy of the organisation.

The report surveyed over a hundred South African Senior HR managers and executives asking questions around the alignment of HR to business, how the current climate is affecting their role and challenges they faced as a result. It also enquired as to leadership development practice, recruitment of top talent and learning. 

It was unanimous amongst participants that not only is the organisation changing and would continue to do so but as a result so too is the word of work which impacts every part of the function. Professionals are recognising the need to both transform their own skills as well as to facilitate change in the organisation. The Deloitte study on the Future of Work details how the future of HR requires exponential HR professionals who drive value creation, workforce solutions, optimised rewards, diversity and change. The challenge for most professionals is how?

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Given the complexity of organisations this is no simple checklist. Through the study however there are a few trends to guide HR professionals into 2020 and beyond. These include;

  1. Massive transformative process. Organisations are realising the need for a strong purpose (Massive Transformative Purpose) which acts as both employee value proposition and driver of business growth.
  2. The changing world of work. There’s a strong understanding how the world of work has changed and now it’s a matter of accommodating such practices including remote working, agile working and technology enabled collaboration.
  3. Change agillity. Change Management becomes a thing of the past as organisations gear themselves to becoming Change-Agile with the ability to constantly shift and adapt, take unexpected situations in their stride and smoothly manage the black swan events that are becoming more prevalent in today’s world
  4. Partnership. HR and associated elements will begin to make themselves indispensable to business through a strategic offering.
  5. Employee experience. Employee experience becomes as essential as customer experience in attracting talent and marketing the organisation. 
  6. Getting personal. Personal development plans and personal growth are strong in focus. Purpose driven organisations are driven by purposeful individuals. 
  7. Analytics. Forget employee numbers and even predictive analytics; HR analytics are going to shift a gear to include prescriptive analytics.

HR is adopting co-ownership of the brand and viewing employee experience through a customer lens. Organisations of the future are going to be a lot more cross functional and collaborative in nature with a view to project. results as opposed to function. It’s really exciting to see HR professionals in SA adopting new mindsets and practices. Our history has provided us with many opportunities to adapt and to transform challenges into opportunities for progression. We believe that 2020 is going to present an exciting year for continued disruption and progression.

To download The State of HR in SA Report, click here.


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