Hundreds of HR Management Professionals Network and Learn in Nairobi

Doris MwareyIt was a great opportunity for me to sit among hundreds of human resources professionals from Kenya and the East Africa region during the recent 16th National human resources management forum organized by the Kenya Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) in Nairobi. The forum was graced with highly experienced and resourceful facilitators from different sectors and it was very exciting to learn from their experiences, successes, and challenges.

A key highlight for me was hearing the direction that most successful institutions are now taking in managing their human resources—focusing more on the strategic function of human resources management (HRM) over the administrative components. They are placing an emphasis on talent management as a way to have the upper edge in a competitive environment, while acknowledging effective talent management processes begin with careful selection and deployment practices, or “getting it right from the start.”

As I sat through the forum, I kept asking myself, “How does all this benefit health workers?” If effective HRM works in the other sectors, it can surely be replicated in the health sector. For instance, I was fascinated by a presentation from a representative of Safaricom, a mobile phone service provider, who talked about the company’s experiences managing an increasingly younger workforce. I realized that there is a lot health care institutions can learn when it comes to managing a younger and more dynamic workforce (Generation Y).

Safaricom has succeeded in retaining its younger workforce by implementing some simple and affordable strategies such as flexi-time and flexible benefits packages based on age and needs, and improving the work environment and staff support. The company also applies supportive management styles that foster innovation and creativity, which they have found is appealing to the majority of their younger workers. In my interactions with human resource managers from the health sector, many have mentioned that the majority of health professionals serving in their institutions are less than 30 years old. Similar approaches need to be considered when it comes to the management of the younger workforce in the health sector.

It was also good to be reminded that despite the complexities in some contexts, there is always something that a human resources department in an institution can do to ensure it remains relevant and contributes to the overall organizational goals and strategies. This begins with the human resources practitioners “knowing the business,” and being able to effectively engage with technical staff, leadership, and management so that they too can make great contributions in their institutions that will eventually support and develop the most important resources—the human resources!

Doris Mwarey is the regional human resources technical advisor with the Africa Christian Health Associations Platform, a position supported by CapacityPlus. She is based in Kenya.

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Photo by Adam Buzzacco.