While there is a need for organisations to involve People Management and in order to implement effective strategies to identify and control institutional risks, our human resources professionals still have a way to go in contributing effectively to this challenge. High absence rates, staff turnover and poor performance among others are just some of the problems that our institution can expect when people management and development issues are not on its risk agenda. Evidence of the involvement of Human Resources in strategic management presents a somewhat mixed picture. In many cases, Human Resources has been on the periphery, or not fully engaged, especially, in the risk agenda for our institution. However, a different and more positive picture has emerged in the last few months where the focus of discussion has switched to the People Management Agenda.
Competent employees committed to our institution are critical for minimising such people-driven risks as losing key employees, failing to attract talented individuals or not having the right range of skills for the present and the future. In the context of the foregoing, therefore, people management issues can best be addressed in a context where they feature high on the institution's risk management agenda. The incorporation of the Rhodes University's East London branch, for instance, called for management to take cognisance of the divergent cultures brought about by the convergence of the two groupings. Institutions under-perform, among others because of the employees' lack of commitment, or absence from work. Problems occur in senior management where succession planning has been not been effective. These are all people management issues and the way they are tackled - or neglected - and will inadvertently be reflected in the bottom line of the institution. They are also strategic in that their effects are likely to be felt mainly in the medium to long term, rather than in the short-term. A risk management approach to human resources will highlight the fact that these and other HR issues are fundamental to the long-term health of our institution.
It will be clear that adopting a strategic risk management approach requires people management issues to be placed squarely on the mainstream institutional agenda, in many cases with a high priority for attention and action. The risk agenda doesn't necessarily mean HR people adopting a wholly different agenda or dramatically changing policies and practices. Essentially, risk management provides a framework for linking HR policies and practices with wider institutional outcomes. This therefore, provides our Human Resources with an opportunity to show its understanding of the way the institution does its business and how human resource actions have repercussions on the rest of the institution.
The HR department, finally, needs to provide the competencies, skills and knowledge that will help the University of Fort Hare to identify those risks associated with people and gather the evidence necessary to create a balance between resources required and the benefits to the institution. They need to be fully involved in helping the institution to control people-related risks and thus improve service delivery.