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9 Sep 2019

The future is now! | Peritum Agri-HR Summit 2019

Approximately 125 HR specialists from all over South Africa were seated and ready to define the future agri-workforce when Graeme Codrington, internationally acclaimed speaker, set the tone for what turned out to be an incredibly successful summit.

The Peritum Agri-HR Summit offered a full two-day programme for attendees on 21 and 22 August, with local and international experts elaborating on this year’s theme, The future is now! By bringing together great business minds and agri-HR practitioners, Peritum created a space where HR challenges were discussed, anticipated future trends were pointed out and solutions were provided.

Millennials and the future of work (Graeme Codrington)

There is no denying that millennials are the future workforce of companies all over the world. This means that companies should be prepared to accept them and accommodate their unique needs, which are very different to those of the current workforce.

Graeme dived into this topic, giving guests insight into the millennial approach to work and life. He discussed the first, second, third and fourth (current) industrial revolutions, mentioning that people often see these revolutions as ways to do things cheaper and faster.

“But,” he said, “industrial revolutions are all about reimagining the way. No one here is going to tell you how to do HR cheaper, better, faster. But all the speakers will help you reimagine your approach. You are entering an era that invites you to completely reimagine. If you’re here to learn how to do what you do better, you’re at the wrong conference.”

According to Graeme it is all about disruption and shaking things up – it is all about the people.

“Today’s young people are not just a younger version of us,” said Graeme. “They are disruptive, so we can’t just do what we’ve always been doing.”

He went on to explain the necessary big shift HR practitioners need to make. Millennials are different in the way they interact with authority, the way they were raised and the way they are skilled digitally. He spoke about a new psychological phenomenon, the quarter-life crisis, during which millennials lose faith in their dreams.

“They had dreams of climbing Everest and ending world hunger. They completed their studies and now they are working for you and they’re asking the question: Is this it?

Graeme believes in the importance of knowing what millennials want and how to get it from them. “Today’s young people are difficult to manage, but it’s not their fault. They have been moulded to be a certain type of person and the world of work isn’t ready for that type of person. We expect loyalty, but we started the whole thing of ‘no loyalty’. When the company is in trouble, employees are the first to be retrenched, instead of finding other ways to improve the situation.”

What do we have to do?

“Change our mindset. See millennials differently. Look at their ideals positively. Be amazed by their ambition. Let’s not ask what our millennials can do for us, let’s ask what we can do for them.”

paySMART: Remuneration for the future (Jahni de Villiers)

Jahni has in-depth knowledge of South African labour law and remuneration challenges, having to represent Agri SA as their policy head of labour and development. She shared her expertise by talking about topics like understanding remuneration from an employer and employee perspective, the concept of remuneration, and the ‘dreaded’ minimum wage.

“We have very little room to play with when it comes to remuneration in South Africa,” she said. “We have to be very creative. There are challenges and opportunities.”

Attract, grow, retain. Be talent irresistible. (Aamir Suleman)

Aamir’s lively presentation got our guests thinking and interacting. He started out with a physical exercise to prove his statement are we really speaking the same language?

“We’ve been sensitised to think in a certain way. Do we see the way other people communicate?” he asked. “We need to understand that what works for us and what has been working for us, will not necessarily work for the future world of work. We need to understand what ‘employment’, ‘manager’ and ‘stability’ mean to the new generation.”

According to Aamir, youth entering the workplace may see these terms differently. To them ‘employment’ means ‘purpose’, ‘manager’ means ‘inspiration’ and ‘stability’ means ‘opportunity’.

“The world of work is changing, and we have to adapt. Employers must now convince employees why they should work for them.” He believes the next global war will not be politically motivated, but will be, and already is, the war for talent and predicts a shortage of talent by 2020.

His message can be summed up as follows:

Attract: What we do in retaining and growing, will determine how you attract. Your employer brand is not limited to the ad on a website. Everything you are, the conversations about company, what people feel is how you attract talent.

Grow: Creating a learning environment can sometimes be inexpensive. New people look for more from employment, they look for purpose. We need to inspire.

Retain: Invest in employee experience. This investment includes company culture, working space, technology and flexible working hours.

Other speakers at the summit included:

Warwick Bloom (Hollard):
– “You have to ensure that company culture keeps being a competitive advantage.” (Topic: @home@work)

Tim Menger (Aeres University):
– “Think globally, act locally. It is actually very simple.” (Topic: Trends-to-train – At the forefront of global training)

Dr Adri Drotskie (Henley Business School):
– “Smart thinking is the future focus for agri.” (Topic: DevelopSMART – Involve and grow)

Wandile Sihlobo (Agbiz):
– “The average age of a South African farmer is 62. How do we get young people to join in?” (Topic: Reflections on South Africa’s agricultural economy)

Nicky Sheridan (EY):
– “The best digital strategy is a HUMAN one.” (Topic: The future is NOW)

Based on the success of the Peritum Agri-HR Summit 2019, we predict that this annual event will become a highlight on every HR specialist’s calendar. We are planning to go bigger and better next year, and we look forward to seeing you there.