Human Resources seems to be ever changing. It has moved from providing a purely personnel function focusing mostly on administration to a more supportive functionacknowledging the value of employees as an organisational resource.

However, referring to employees as capital or resources suggests that people are valued mainly for their money making potential. It refers to “the productive capacities of human beings as income-producing agents in an economy” (Hornbeck & Salamon). If one were to analyse the discourse used, it would be easy to see that employees are viewed as an investment. When describing people in those terms, one can also describe people as liabilities or assets, which is dehumanising. Employees are no longer viewed as people, but commodities and money-making machines. “Income-producing agents” suggests that employees are simply there to produce a specific outcome, namely making money for the organisation, and have no other needs to be fulfilled in the working environment.

Google  now speaks of a People Operations division. As the narrative begins to change, so should the processes concerning the People Division.

In an ever-changing world, characterised by increasing globalisation, tougher competition, rapid technological changes and employees’ capabilities and priorities, there HR needs to move away from simply dealing with resources, to become a strategic business partner, whereby it plays a key role in assisting organisations to navigate through these transitions and view people as the driving force of the change.

The People Division requires a change of mindset. One way of achieving this is by having the People Division create an “agile workforce”. Agile principles change the focus from imposing controls and standards to empowering collaboration and innovation. These principles can be described as a from-to comparison, such as:

  • From a remedial approach to learning (training is prescribed for employees who are underperforming or who are preparing for a new role) to a continuous learning environment (employees are given many opportunities to learn and develop themselves independent of a specific, job-related goal).
  • From a “recruiting” mindset (as a vacancy appears, a person is found to fill it) to a continuous talent acquisition mindset (organisations invest in their employees and nurture talent within the organisation).
  • From opaque talent processes (talent management is owned by HR, and the processes by which talent is acquired, evaluated and developed are hidden and inaccessible) to transparent access to talent information (talent management is facilitated by HR, which empowers employees to take ownership of their own development. Employees understand and are active participants in talent acquisition, evaluation and development processes).
  • From a hierarchical structure (decision-making power centralised at the top) to empowering (employees are empowered to make decisions in their speciality).
  • From annual performance management (annual cascading performance objectives and reviews) to flexible performance management (performance objectives that can easily change based on quarterly targets or group objectives. Frequent, real-time performance feedback from multiple sources).
  • From HR as “system of record” (the HR function is focused on record-keeping and defensibility. HR success is measured in the completeness of documentation) to HR as a “system of engagement” (the HR function is focused on engaging employees to enhance self-motivation and encourage collaboration. HR success is measured in terms of retention, employee satisfaction and innovation levels).
  • From siloed objectives (jobs are discrete elements in a complex system. Job requirements are related to specific workplace tasks) to unified mission and values (all jobs directly support the mission and values of the organisation, and all employees understand how their performance supports the organisational culture).

Janko A. Kotzé
Organisational Psychologist
M: +27 (0)83 233 7147
E: janko@humaninterest.co.za

About the author

Janko is an Industrial and Organisational (IO) Psychologist and holds a Master’s Degree in IO Psychology at Unisa (Cum Laude). He has extensive consulting experience and has designed and delivered Talent Management solutions to over 30 clients across various industries.

He is the Founder and Director of Human Interest Consulting. A boutique talent management consulting firm that partners with organisations to create high-performing, integrated Talent Ecosystems that allow people to prosper. He is a skilled people strategist and facilitator and likes to embed new strategies through individual and group coaching engagements.

Janko has written numerous articles and is a sought after conference speaker. He has represented South Africa in the 110m hurdles at Youth, Junior and Senior National level and has aided international athletes and sport teams in the art of Mental Excellence.

Janko’s qualifications include a BCom Sport Management, BCom Hons Industrial Psychology, Certificate in Marketing & Customer Centricity (Cum Laude) and an Intensive Coaching Training Accreditation (Cum Laude). He is a member of Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA), Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychologists of South Africa (SIOPSA), Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP).

Lara Bloch
Intern Organisational Psychologist

About the author

Lara holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial/Organisational Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. Lara’s qualifications include a BA (Psychology & Linguistics) (Cum Laude), in which she received a University Council Member Scholarship, eight Certificates of First Class and two Certificates of Merit, a BA Honours Psychology (Cum Laude), in which she received the Postgraduate Honours Merit Award, a BA Honours Industrial/Organisational Psychology (Cum Laude), in which she received a Certificate of First Class for her Research titled “Absenteeism and presenteeism as proxies of productivity change pre and post-occupancy in a Green building in South Africa”. For her Master’s year in Industrial/Organisational Psychology she received the Postgraduate Masters Merit Award. She also received the National Research Foundation’s Innovation Masters Scholarship for her research titled “Impact of indoor plants on work engagement and well-being perceptions”, which is awarded to those at the frontier of knowledge in innovation areas, as well as for academic merit.

Lara is a qualified Psychometrist and registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa, after completing her degree at the University of Johannesburg. She is accredited in using the following psychometric assessments: 16PF, Giotto Integrity Test, the Work-related Risk and Integrity Scale (WRISc), MBTI and the Saville WAVE Assessment. Lara was inducted into the Golden Key International Honour Society in 2011, which recognises the Top 15% of students per field of study for outstanding academic performance. Lara holds the following certificates: Divorce and Family Mediation, Law for Mediators and Psychology for Lawyers. Lara is part of the Johannesburg’s Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa (SIOPSA) branch committee.

Lara prides herself in ensuring her work is completed efficiently with careful attention to detail, to produce the highest quality output. Lara is able to tackle complex situations with consistency and perseverance. She will take initiative, in order to learn and grow professionally. Lara lives by the following quote, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do”.

Sources:

Baptiste, I. (2001).  Educating lone wolves: Pedagogical implications of Human Capital Theory. Adult Education Quarterly, 51(3), 184-201.

Deloitte. (2017). Agile model of HR. Retrieved from http://www.bersin.com/Lexicon/details.aspx?id=15373

Gothelf, J. (2017). How HR can become agile (and why it needs to). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2017/06/how-hr-can-become-agile-and-why-it-needs-to

Hornbeck, D.W., & Salamon, L.M. (Eds.). (1991). Human capital and America’s future: An economic strategy for the nineties. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University.

Human Resources Systems Group. (2016). What is Agile HR? And is it right for you? Retrieved from http://resources.hrsg.ca/blog/what-is-agile-hr-and-is-it-right-for-you

May, K.E. (2016). Work in the 21st Century: The Changing Role of Human Resources. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.siop.org/tip/backissues/tipjan98/may.aspx

Mehta, N. (2016). Getting performance management right. Retrieved from https://www.trainingjournal.com/articles/feature/getting-performance-management-right

Muller, D. (2014). Perception vs. Reality: Employees, HR and the things we believe. Retrieved from https://hracuity.com/perception-vs-reality-employees-hr-things-believe/

O’Donnell, D., McGuire, D., & Cross, C. (2006). Critically challenging some assumptions in HRD. International Journal of Training and Development, 10(1), 4-16

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