Businesses urged to implement new HR methodologies

By Honorine Kaze
November - December 2015
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Until recently, a large majority of the workforce in companies was composed of sit-in and permanent employees, but the technological evolution of businesses and demographic changes has had a major impact on the workforce and the role of human resources within a company.

A recent human capital trend survey titled ‘Leading the New World of Work’ carried out by Deloitte Namibia evaluated 39 businesses, and stressed that business leaders must adapt to a new world which requires a dramatic change in strategies for leadership and talent. This first-time human capital survey is a companion of the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trend 2015.

The survey looked at the Namibian market and rated six trends, namely workforce capabilities; leadership; learning and development; culture and engagement; reinventing human resources; and performance management.

Talking to Prime Focus Magazine, Deloitte Namibia Senior HR Manager Retuura Balloti said today’s workforce is not as simple as the traditional workforce was in that there is no longer a set of employees who come into the office or factory each morning or shift, and go home when the workday is finished.

“We now have to deal with open-source talent, and this consists of contingent employees working variable and often part-time hours or schedules, being compensated hourly, operating remotely or actually working for an external firm”, she says.

The on-demand workforce can offer companies the ability to tap into extensive networks of innovators, technical experts and seasoned professionals. Therefore, we have to consider all the factors which will be involved in managing employees who are not traditionally employed in order to tap into these markets.

It’s time for Human Resources (HR) to consider all workers in its talent strategy, regardless of their contingent or full-time status”, Balloti notes.

Workforce capabilities were rated a top trend in terms of importance on the Namibian market.

According to the Deloitte survey, 77% of the companies rated workforce capabilities as ‘important’, while only 23% of the companies stated that they were ready for the trend. Only 5% believed they have an excellent succession programme.

Organizations are also competing for increasingly scarce technical and professional skills. Ballotti stressed that the “The trend is that we are not able to acquire the workforce capabilities that the organization needs to function, and the trend itself also seems irreversible, driven by the networked nature of work, the multi-generational workforce, a desire for more flexible working conditions and the demands of businesses,” she states.

Following the need of educating critical skills within the country, the businesses surveyed rated learning and development as the third most-important trend in Namibia, with 69% rating the trend important while 31% did not. Only 34% of the businesses were ready for the trend.

Retuura notes that it is unfortunate that 63% are not ready to focus on transforming their learning and development strategies, and may be unprepared to meet this challenge.

“While the demands for technical and professional skills are a top priority, organizations are not meeting the demand for capability development.

“To meet the developments of the new world of work, learning and development is being transformed from an older, classroom-driven model to one which is on- demand, convenient for workers, mobile, flexible and tightlyintegrated with solving business problems.

“This trend will be able to accelerate skills’ development, but can also dramatically improve employee engagements and retention.

“In short, there is a need to re- energize learning and development and put the onus on the employee to take ownership for their learning, but ensure that the platforms are easily available”, Ballotti explains.

One of the most important trends touched on was the need to redefine the role of human resources within companies as it needs to move away from its traditional role of just being administrative to an enabling role which creates capabilities and aligns itself closer to business priorities.

“HR requires an extreme makeover. Instead of simply managing transactions, implementing policies and developing programmes, the new HR organization aims to focus on understanding the needs of the business and delivering value-added solutions”, she added.

According to the survey, 75% of Namibian respondents felt that HR was not being held accountable for providing innovative solutions and programmes to reinvent HR processes and systems.

It should be noted that 50% of HR teams are prepared to deliver programmes aligned with business needs.

Ballotti stresses that HR teams need to increase their awareness in order to align the skills and capabilities with the organization’s overall business goals, especially as 62% rate this as “very important”.

“As HR pursues its own makeover, its strategic role must also change to meet the intense pressures of today’s business environment. But in saying, so only 37% are ready for this trend”, she continues.

HR thus needs to be bold and apply innovative thinking, questioning longstanding practices and habits, and have a greater focus on culture as these attributes are key elements in driving both workplace change and business success.

Furthermore, the six trends surveyed reveal the need to broaden, deepen and accelerate leadership development at all levels; build workforce capabilities; re-energize corporate learning by putting employees in charge as well as fixing performance management approaches, thus compelling HR to evaluate itself in order to combat these trends.

“Today, companies have to manage people differently - creating an imperative to innovate, transform and re-engineer human capital practices. Work as we know it is changing faster than ever, and this survey reveals trends which assist with shaping the human capital agenda.

“One of the most important take-aways from this research is for us to understand what Namibian business and HR leaders deem as critical areas to focus resources, energy and efforts in order to implement dramatic changes in strategies for leadership, talent and HR”, Balloti says.