HR: The New Agenda

Edited by Paul Norman

ISBN: 9781869229191
eISBN: 9781869229207
Published: November 2021

The world has changed irrevocably and a new way of life and work in every aspect is now a reality. This requires HR to review its priorities and place renewed emphasis on being human and building effective human systems and human organisations.

About the Book

“Being Human is now at the Centre”

The world has changed irrevocably and a new way of life and work in every aspect is now a reality. This requires HR to review its priorities and place renewed emphasis on being human and building effective human systems and human organisations.

The old ways of “doing HR” will no longer be relevant and it is time for HR to reimagine itself in a post-Covid world. This new role will demand a “new style” of HR professional. That is exactly what Paul Norman and sixteen HR leaders are addressing in HR: The New Agenda.

The contributors in this book address the most pertinent aspects of the New HR Agenda. New pathways are suggested and case studies where new thinking and ideas have successfully been implemented are also shared. At the same time, new questions are raised and it is clear that the road ahead will be uncertain and challenging, whilst at the same time exciting. The opportunities are legion, however the opportunity to make a lasting positive impact on the people they are stewards of should not be wasted.

Among the companies featured are: Accenture; Discovery; Exxaro; Food Lovers Market; Media24; MTN; Microsoft; Momentum and Spar.


This book is a much-needed, cutting-edge, timely and compelling must-read for all current and future HR professionals. It is a comprehensive blueprint and call to action for the Human Resources profession, especially now as we navigate our way through the Covid pandemic, digitisation and new ways of work. It succinctly and convincingly resets the purpose of HR and calls upon HR to step up to the “New Agenda”, so that we have HR that is impactful, relevant, responsive and leading business sustainability with a renewed emphasis on humans being at the centre of our organisations. This read is a not-to-be-missed opportunity for every HR professional.
Thanks to the Editor for his extraordinary vision, and the stellar professionals who contributed to this ground-breaking publication on the hottest topics on the New HR Agenda. Thank you for sharing your insights based on deep experience and research, and for helpful guidance and actionable takeaways.

This is a definitive publication that will propel the HR profession forward; it should be compulsory reading for every HR professional and leadership more broadly. Dr Shirley Zinn, Chair and Independent Non-Executive Director of Boards

Paul and his colleagues place humans at the centre and call for a new HR agenda. What I particularly enjoyed was that they are not calling for a complete reinvention; rather they are a reimagining organisations’ priorities and adjusting the lens for our future.

The authors, all seasoned HR professionals, consider the ecosystem as opposed to just employees and leaders, as well as the responsibility of business to focus on the greater good. I love the ideas of a fluid talent economy and Black and White fatigue, although we just cannot afford to get tired now. The book closes with outlining the future-fit HR profession. A must read for anyone close to people in the context of work! Natasha Winkler-Titus [PhD], Organisational Psychologist (HPCSA) and Past President (SIOPSA), Senior Lecturer/Program Head/Researcher at Stellenbosch University Business School, Founder of SigniFYER

The pandemic has reaffirmed the centrality of people, especially in our organisations, as the most important asset!

HR: The New Agenda stresses the inequality of people in organisations; a company that is inappropriately located can always change its location, but the one that is poor on people, is a dead company.

In HR: The New Agenda the authors provide a road map for creating human-centric organisations and therefore ensure the longevity of the organisation. Bonang Mohale, President of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), Chancellor University of the Free State, Professor of Practice, Johannesburg Business School (JBS) College of Business and Economics, Chairman The Bidvest Group Limited and SBV Services. Author of the bestselling book, “Lift as You Rise “and “Behold the Turtle”!

This most timely book offers a comprehensive, challenging and thoughtful travel guide to People Professionals on how to re-imagine and re-invent their future role(s) and contributions in engaging in value-adding ways with the daunting, threatening, but also exciting, new order. Because people will be centre stage in the future success of organisations, communities and society in this new world, People Professionals will have to be at the forefront of the transformation journey into the future. This handy book is a ‘must read’ for those who want to become ‘roadworthy’ to undertake this inevitable journey. Theo H Veldsman, Work Psychologist, Professor in Work Psychology, Strategic People Effectiveness Consultant

We are traversing a challenging time in human history – having to manage the disastrous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, navigating and making sense of the fourth industrial revolution, and getting back to placing people at the centre of all we do. This is a timely book with so many diverse contributors addressing relevant, critical topics for HR practitioners. It is a good reflection on the key challenges and the significant role that People Management Practitioners can and do play in contributing towards the sustainability of our businesses. Most importantly, it places people right at the centre of how we manage our businesses, and shares some great insights about varied people solutions to enable us to navigate these challenging, yet exciting, times. I strongly recommend this book to any People Management Practitioner who is keen to reposition their role within their organisation and ensure that they elevate their game! Abey Kgotle, Executive Director Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Mercedes Benz South Africa Ltd, Chairman of Board of Directors, Mercedes Benz Financial Services Pty Ltd

With the pandemic we are adjusting to hybrid workplaces, and this culminates two decades of evolution in people management since the turn of the century – massive changes around diversity and inclusion, the accelerating impact of digitalization and technology on work and skills, the continued growth of the gig economy of informal work. Bigger changes to preserve the planet and cope with spiraling inequalities lie around the corner.

This book is incredibly timely as it starts to map out the new agenda for human resources, built around inclusion, teams and engagement, purpose, agility, skills and above all being human. South Africa has always paced the world on such issues, captured here by prominent contributors. It’s a roadmap for reskilling and upskilling our organizations, and for the leadership required from HR and senior management. Paul Evans, The Shell Chaired Professor of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Emeritus, at INSEAD (Fontainebleau, France & Singapore); co-founder of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI)

Chapters in the book include:

  • Chapter 1: HR at the Centre by Paul Normam
  • Chapter 2: The New World of Work by Paul Norman
  • Chapter 3: The Power of Purpose by Andrew Millson
  • Chapter 4: Radical New Talent Management Strategies for a Radical New Workplace by Selo Govender
  • Chapter 5: People Development for the New World of Work by Vanisha Balgobind
  • Chapter 6: Reinventing Remuneration, Benefits and Recognition for the New Reality by Dr Mark Bussin & Daniela Christos
  • Chapter 7: Multiple Perspectives on a Possible New IR/ER Dispensation for the Post Covid-19 World of Work
    • 7.1 Informal Workers and Flexible Organisation Seizing the Covid Moment by Prof Edward Webster
    • 7.2 A New IR Dispensation in the New World of Work by Gideon du Plessis
    • 7.3 Is it Time for a New IR Dispensation in the New World of Work? by Johan Botes
    • 7.4 Is it Time for a New Employee Relations Dispensation in the Future World of Work? by Akona Makoboka
  • Chapter 8: The New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Realities and Challenges by Prof Kurt April
  • Chapter 9: Increasing Social Capital Through Employee Engagement, Employee Experience and and Belonging: The Spar Ltd Story by
    Dr Thuli Tabudi
  • Chapter 10: Bringing the Human Back into the Workplace: Changing Perspectives on Employee Health and Well-being by Dr Dieter Veldsman & Ninette van Aarde
  • Chapter 11: The New Challenges for HR: The Governance of Ethics for the 2020s and Beyond by Penny Milner-Smyth
  • Chapter 12: Agility and Innovation – The Ultimate Organisational Coping Mechanism – The case of Media24 by Shelagh Goodwin
  • Chapter 13: Developing a Growth Mindset – The Route to Flourishing Organisations by Jasmin Pillay
  • Chapter 14: Preparing the HR Leader for the Future: Capabilities and Ongoing Development by Wilhelm Crous

About the Editor

Paul Norman serves as Group Chief Human Resources Officer at MTN Group. He is an experienced Group Executive of Human Resources with a demonstrated history of working in the telecommunications industry at a global level. Paul has been recognised for his HR contribution by the Institute of People Management as HR Practitioner of the year (2003), by the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP) with the Life Time Achievement Award (2012), and CHRO of the year 2019 by CHRO South Africa. He is an experienced Board member, serving on several MTN subsidiary country Boards. He is past Board Member of Advisory Boards of Industrial Psychology at the University of Johannesburg, the Graduate School of Business (GBS) Cape Town and Chartered Medical Aid Fund (CAMAF). Paul holds an M.A. degree from Rhodes University, South Africa and an executive MBA from IMD in Switzerland.

Foreword by Dr Hischam El-Agamy

Dr El-Agamy is charged by IMD Business School for their activities in Africa, Middle East Africa and South & Central Asia. On behalf of IMD he has worked with various companies to help them to align learning to their business strategies. His expertise and teaching experience includes scenario planning, entrepreneurship, family business transformation, private public partnership, and stakeholder engagement.

Hischam has contributed to several advisory assignments for a number of governments in the Gulf region and the government of South Africa in the area of competitiveness and human capital development. He was part of the South African Presidential Council for South Africa competitiveness, working closely with the President Marketing Council, between 2004 and 2009. He also co-directed the IMD MBA programmes in South Africa from 2009 to 2013, working with more than 140 companies to help them on their transformation journey. He is currently teaching on several programmes in IMD for the Abu Dhabi School of Government, Dubai Competitiveness, Absa bank in South Africa, and other companies in Middle East and Africa.

Hischam is the co-founder of Tharawat Family Business Forum, the leading network for family businesses in the MENA region. With his family he built Orbis Terra Media, a global content studio based in Switzerland, which also publishes Tharawat Magazine, an award-winning publication for family businesses and entrepreneurs worldwide.

The Contributors

ANDREW MILLSONFood Lover’s Market
BY DR MARK BUSSIN 21st Century
DANIELA CHRISTOS HR Practitioner, Industrial and Organisational Psychologist
PROF EDWARD WEBSTER University of the Witwatersrand
JOHAN BOTESBaker McKenzie’s Employment Practice Group
PROF KURT APRILUniversity of Cape Town
NINETTE VAN AARDEMomentum Metropolitan