There is no better way to ensure that your business is competitive and sustainable than investing in your human resources (HR) in a targeted and strategic manner.
That’s according to Anja van Beek, HR director at Sage VIP/Sage AAMEA, who says that an engaged workforce with the right skills and competencies delivers a vast return on investment for any business. “An engaged and satisfied workforce is more productive and able to deliver the levels of innovation and customer service companies need to compete in today’s environment,” she adds.
“And organisations need to take a strategic approach to attracting, recruiting and developing the right employees to build this sort of skilled and passionate workforce. It takes time and patience, but this is a differentiator that really sets the best companies apart from the rest.”
Van Beek says that a good HR strategy will focus not only on people with the right qualifications, but also on developing and retaining people with competencies like agility, cross-functional collaboration and interpersonal skills to thrive in the business.
Today’s CEOs are working closely with HR directors to strategise about how they invest in, optimise and protect their talent pool in a manner that enhances business performance, she adds. “One can no longer simply pay lip service to the nation, your people are your most important asset,” Van Beek says.
Forward-thinking HR departments do not only see employees but also leaders and shareholders as their customers. They focus on creating a sound employee value proposition in order to increase the loyalty levels of their employees, Van Beek says. They also do regular surveys to gauge their employee satisfaction and loyalty levels and identify drivers to increase these levels.HR should furthermore support and urge their business leaders to inspire, empower and invest in the next generation.
HR departments should also work closely with the business to assess how well the available skills in the organisation map to its business objectives, Van Beek adds. They should identify any gaps and address them through a combination of classroom and online learning, mentoring and on-the-job training.
Another aspect of the business where an HR department has an important role to play is in shaping the culture. This has an important role to play in how employees innovate, interact with customers and each other, and carry out their work, Van Beek says.
Unfortunately, many HR departments are too tasked on fighting fires and doing routine admin to focus as much on the strategic alignment of the workforce with the needs of the business as they’d like to, she says. For example, HR managers spend a significant portion of their time compiling employment equity reports and signing off leave requests.
This is where technology can help by automating HR functions such as managing leave applications, consolidating performance management data and identifying trends. That means less time spent filling in and filing paper. And electronic processes also produce a wealth of data that enables HR to make better decisions, van Beek says.
The most important benefit, however, is that technology allows the HR department to focus on strategic functions such as talent management, attracting and retaining employees, leadership development and performance management.
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