People are the lifeblood of any organisation and bearing this in mind, a change in focus on human resources management has come about. People are now being viewed more as assets to a company rather than just as workers.
Xolani Mhlaluka is a human capital consultant at First National Bank.
These consultants are commonly known as human resource (HR) managers and they are the individuals responsible for providing advice to line management about recruitment, training and exiting of staff from an organisation.
A human capital consultant's job varies from day to day. One day he might be involved with interviewing people to fill a vacant position, the next day he could be meeting with the company's executive committee discussing staff development or providing advice on a staff disciplinary matter.
"No two days are the same. It differs from day to day and that is the most exciting part of the job," says Mhlaluka.
Mhlaluka has been working as a human resources practitioner for the past eight years. He started out as an HR management trainee, a position he filled for two years after he graduated from university.
During this time he was exposed to all aspects of HR, spending four months in recruitment, brushing up on his interviewing and placement skills; six months in industrial relations, where he got practical training on handling disciplinary hearings and disputes between the company and employees.
Mhlaluka then spent seven months in training and development focused on empowering employees and three months in organisational development and HR administration.
After this on the job training the real work begins and so do the challenges that come with it.
For Mhlaluka the most challenging aspects of the job are trying to strike a balance between the company and the employee because the HR manager's job is to look after the needs of the employee and also cater to the company's interests.
He is the link between the employee and the employer and sometimes decisions that do not favour the employee have to be made.
"There are disciplinary issues where you find that a generally good employee was involved in some dishonest practice and the test is in balancing the rules. Do you dismiss the employee immediately, or do you consider that they have been a good employee all along? Juggling those questions can be very difficult," says Mhlaluka.
But there are also rewards. The prospect of being involved in human development and having an effect on an organisation through its people is what drew Mhlaluka to this career in the first place.
"To see an employee's career develop from what you have contributed into his work life is very rewarding," says Mhlaluka.
Those interested in becoming HR practitioners should be extroverts with a lot of patience because you interact with people on a daily basis.
According to Mhlaluka, an HR manager also needs to have some business acumen and understanding of what effect people have on the business.
Fairness and uniformity are the cornerstones of HR management and being able to apply rules across the business with no favouritism is extremely important.
"You almost act as a judge in most cases, where you try to ensure consistency in the application of company rules and procedures," says Mhlaluka.