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Human resources. Need we say more? It’s basically the art of juggling an apple, a plate, and a refrigerator. They’re all in the same area of the house, but each has a different function, and you need to accommodate all three at the same time.

Yes, balancing an entire company’s needs can be complex, but it’s also extremely rewarding to know you’ve made an impact. After all, you’re the pillar keeping the entire operation together.

From HR and payroll to people management, and a whole lot of juggling in between – what makes it all worthwhile? And what should a novice keep in mind?

We’ve decided to share a little insight to spread the love, and relatability, of working in HR and payroll and how people management can be so rewarding.

Sarah Rice, Chief People Officer at Skynamo, says HR offers a balance of strategy, culture, people, and technology

“I love working in PeopleOps because it never fails to offer up chunky, complex challenges that force me out of my comfort zone. It offers a balance of strategy, culture, people, and technology.”

She adds: “No challenge is ever one-sided, and I need to think about all aspects of a problem, from how it will impact people directly, to how it will impact the greater culture of the business, and how it might support or detract from the strategic path.”

Her advice: “The word ‘HR’ is so heavy with baggage, that it traps its practitioners in a world of policies, processes, and endless, awful admin. Those of us working in this field know the full potential of what we offer is really about growth, strategy and design. I call what we do ‘PeopleOps’ because it frees me and my team up from the stigma of HR to operate at a strategically relevant level in the minds of all the people we work with.”

Sally Acton, Employee Experience Consultant at Torque Solutions, says it’s an honour and a privilege to spend the day with people you’ve handpicked

“Getting to spend most of the day with people that you have handpicked to drive your company forward is an honour and a privilege.”

Sally’s advice to other HR professionals is to remember that an entire person goes to work – the parent, the partner, the child, the athlete, and the writer. “They all make up the person across the desk – or Zoom screen – in front of you. When you recognise and appreciate that, everything shifts!”

I love empowering people, says Faheem Cajee from Crown

“I think every aspect of HR has its own appeal, but if I were to pick one, it would be Employee Relations. I love empowering people, and the opportunity to impart essential knowledge. Assisting in building others drives me.”

Faheem’s word of advice to other HR professionals is this: “Be resilient. HR is much more involved than what you see at face value. One deals with sensitive and confidential matters. So, be resilient knowing your skills will be needed, and you will need to reflect strength in order to motivate others.”

Human Resources Director at EOH, Malisha Awunor, says every interaction is an opportunity to learn or teach

“Every interaction is an opportunity to learn or teach. HR gives you the privilege of being a confidante, mediator, change agent, facilitator – the options are endless, and it’s driven by your approach.”

She adds, “I have a high need to serve and make a difference. I want people to know they matter and, most importantly, to understand that you can be anything you choose to be.  As much as it may be challenging, it is equally, if not more so, rewarding.”

Malisha’s advice is not to fall into the stigma trap. She says: “Understand your business and understand business in general – don’t box yourself into the old paradigm of what HR is thought to be. You are in charge of your career – don’t be limited by structural paradigms. Instead, challenge them and change them.”

Head of HR South Africa at Hogarth Worldwide, Kelly Smith, says she loves being a part of the action

“I find myself in an exciting and fortunate position where I have insights into the goals, strategies, and challenges of my organisation. This gives me the opportunity to partner with the business and influence impactful, positive change, and to align the business goals and its most important assets – people.”

“I enjoy aligning people and business needs and seeing the achievement it brings to both. I love seeing key employees who are passionate, committed, and hungry to grow and flourish within the workplace. To be a part of their growth and development journey brings me tremendous satisfaction, especially when these employees meet their personal and professional goals, while at the same time adding value to the business.”

Kelly’s advice is not to allow day-to-day challenges to dim the love you have for what you do. She explains: “HR is about having a passion for people. As much as policies, procedures, data, systems, etc., are needed and important, don’t forget to make the human factor a high priority. We deal with human beings first before we deal with an employee or title – whatever that title might be.”

Candice de Goede, Head of People and Culture at Bolt, says it’s super rewarding to see the results of her work

“I enjoy seeing the results of my work in the performance of well-organised, high-functioning teams. HR is often seen as the “feeling” function, but I believe it’s a key business driver that directly impacts productivity, and as a result, business growth.”

Candice has two pearls of wisdom. First: “Keep an open mind; listen to what you’re being told or asked. We often jump to decisions or conclusions without truly understanding what’s being asked and why it’s being asked.”

Second: “Be respectful. Views may differ but focussing and then possibly refocusing individual goals and business objectives is key to successful HR projects.”

Primedia Group’s Head of People, Lulama Mafisa, is intrigued by human potential

“I am intrigued by human potential and passionate about assisting others in discovering and reaching their potential. As an HR professional, I get to assist organisations and employees to tap into that potential.”

She adds: “When these employees feel empowered, they tend to empower others and the impact is exponential!”

Lulama’s advice to other HR professionals is to break through the stigma barrier and remember the “why”. She says: “Understand your ‘why’. At times it feels as though our contribution is not valued or appreciated but having clarity on why we do this and our value to businesses as strategic business partners makes it easy to navigate our journey as HR professionals.

Rolien Erasmus, HR Consultant at Tirolean Meats, says every day has something different in store

“Every day is different. Working in the meat trade with 250 people on the daily is challenging, but the work gets done and rules and policies are followed. The law and our policies are very specific and important for all departments.”

Her advice for other professionals is: “Be fair, don’t discriminate, and do your work as best as you can.”

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