Strategic imperatives for 2015


The HR and payroll sector is moving at such a fast speed that it can be hard for the casual observer to keep up. As we begin a new year full of challenges and opportunities, let’s review some of the major trends unfolding in this space, writes Anton van Heerden, Managing Director for Sage HR & Payroll.

The tactical role of HR in the business

We all know that South Africa’s economy is facing some difficulties, thanks to a weak Rand, load shedding, and slow growth among the country’s major trading partners. Against this backdrop, HR departments must demonstrate their value to the business and go far beyond simply providing administrative support. They must align themselves closely to the business’s strategy and sharpen their tactics for recruiting, engaging and retaining the best talent. They must focus on how they can help drive productivity and growth for the business by building a skilled and motivated workforce.

Using IT as a strategic edge

HR departments have relied on IT to automate paperwork, but now they must also learn how to use technology to create a better employee experience as well as to access information that will help management make more informed strategic decisions. Today’s employees carry smartphones in their pockets and expect processes at work to be as smooth, user-friendly and intuitive as banking online or using Facebook. Savvy employers are looking to use online portals and mobile apps to interact with their employees - for example, allowing employees to download payslips and apply for leave online.

Is there a role for social media in the workplace? And what about the trend towards bring your own device? HR could certainly have a valuable role to play in these discussions, which every business needs to have in a world where the ways in which workers use technology is changing.

Also, HR and payroll systems contain a wealth of data about the business and its employees. HR managers should be putting this information to work to improve strategic decision-making. By using predictive analytics, for example, they can identify talent risks such as churn of employees or better plan their human resources needs for the future.

 Filling the talent pipeline

To win the war for talent, HR departments need to look at employee engagement in a holistic way, from career development and the work environment to recognition programmes and remuneration. This starts by ensuring the company has a great brand that helps to bring in high-quality CVs when they’re hiring.

HR departments must therefore be thinking about how to position themselves as employers of choice. It’s also vital for HR departments to reorient themselves as service providers - there to help facilitate employees’ needs - if they want to improve employee satisfaction and retention.

For more conservative companies, one challenge lies in supporting more flexible ways of working. For example, many top performers are now looking for their employers to give them flexibility to work virtually or to follow less rigid office hours. Today’s employees - especially Millennials - are looking for more work-life balance - how does the HR department accommodate them?



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