The strategic role of HR at WesBank : a business-related research problem

Cannel, Carol Julia (2014-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In an extremely competitive economic environment, WesBank’s differentiation strategy is focused on innovation and service excellence; both of which are dependent on people. The objective of the study therefore was to articulate the strategic role of human resources (HR) in WesBank to ensure alignment and integration of the human capital strategy with WesBank’s overall business strategy. WesBank continues to reinforce the importance of its people and has invested significant capital in a technology solution in order to facilitate the management of this important asset. However, after four HR restructures since 2009, the organisation continues to struggle to find the ideal structure and operating model for its HR function. Findings from the literature review confirm that this situation is not unique to WesBank because many organisations struggle to articulate and measure the effectiveness of their HR departments. There is a shift towards intangible assets in the new world of work such as brand recognition, knowledge, innovation and human capital. In this new era new business models are required. In this context, the human capital strategy is a prime source of competitive potential because it is intangible, difficult to see or quantify and therefore to copy. To test the impact of the current HR function in WesBank, two respondent groups were invited to take part in structured interviews. The respondents represented the viewpoints of business and the human resource communities. Both groups confirmed that the WesBank human capital strategy should have three focus areas, namely a transactional focus that measures service delivery on basic services, a transformational and strategic focus and a focus on measuring the impact of the strategy on organisational success. Both groups believed that at the time of the interviews, WesBank did not have a clearly defined human capital strategy, which manifested itself in HR’s value being experienced as convoluted, and the HR structure having changed four times since 2009. Research suggests that organisations can realise a 43 percent impact on performance if the HR function is freed up to focus on strategic contribution. WesBank’s recent investment in an HR system aimed to reduce the disproportionate amount of time HR allocated to administrative tasks. However if HR is unable to successfully leverage the opportunity provided by this investment to redirect efforts to strategic contribution the estimated impact of the new technology on organisational performance reduces to 5 percent. If WesBank is able to anchor HR in strategy implementation it will be easier to quantify HR’s impact on performance.

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