By Anja van Beek, HR Director for Sage VIP and Chief People Officer for Sage AAMEA (Australia, Asia, Middle East and Africa)
After years of strong economic growth across the continent, African organisations face an enormous demand for skills to keep expanding their businesses. A recent survey from EY shows that 70% of African firms are recruiting - yet many report that they are taking longer to fill vacancies and experiencing higher staff turnover. Technical and professional skills are in particularly high demand as African countries race to build out their infrastructure.
Many HR departments in South Africa and other parts of Africa are not well prepared for an escalating war for talent that sees people with key skills and expertise able to pick and choose between employers. All too many HR directors are tied up in red tape rather than spending their time on strategic talent management, skills development and performance management.
That puts their businesses in a weak position to respond to a changing workplace and workforce. Today's employees are ambitious, connected, and demanding global thinkers. They're more mobile within the borders of their own countries and industries than ever, and they're also increasingly open to global opportunities. These factors demand that HR departments become more flexible and focused.
It's not just about the money
Research from the likes of EY indicates that competitive remuneration is important, but it is not the sole factor in securing the best talent. It's as important to provide a quality workplace and a good employee experience - thus, companies that have a strong employer brand are best placed to attract and retain high-calibre employees.
Employees seem to value learning and development opportunities, job security, benefits, and good management nearly as much as they do pay. And that means companies need to rethink their approach to talent management.
They need to take an integrated approach that spans better recruitment processes, develop more thoughtful approaches to performance management and rewards, and have a tighter focus on employee engagement, career path and succession planning.
Getting all of these right demands that HR departments transform themselves - they need to change by focusing on the employee experience and building the employer brand. They need to automate routine processes (so they're spending less time on paperwork and compliance) and gain better access to data to improve strategic decision-making.
Weapons in the war for talent
Organisations can turn around the war for talent by making the right strategic choices and making use of today's technologies to streamline operations. Cloud-based solutions give companies the perfect opportunity to automate manual processes, replace legacy platforms with more efficient solutions, and achieve higher levels of integration across their processes from recruitment to an employee's exit from the organisation.
One first step is to look closely at recruitment processes and ensure they're as smooth and automated as they should be. Is the organisation making optimal use of online recruitment platforms to attract skills?
Another important step is to look at how effectively the company is using technology to engage employees. Tools such as employee self-service can reduce paperwork for the HR department while delivering better service to the workforce. When people can apply for leave, fill in expense claims and pick up pay slips online, everyone wins from the gains in efficiency and convenience.
Better talent management
On the talent management side, HR systems can help organisations to automate processes like performance management reviews and consolidation of performance related data. This frees up the HR department's resources and time for more strategic matters.
What's more, capturing data in a HR system opens the way for HR leaders to use talent analytics to boost performance. They can get better insight into trends such as staff churn, the costs of training and development, and the skills they may need to attract and develop to support the business's future growth.