New SABPP book on HR Risk Management: HR Risk Management: Managing People Risks and Leveraging Opportunities by Marius Meyer & Penny Abbott

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The authors of the book are clearly passionate about HR Management being the pioneers in the development of the first set of national HR standards wordwide in 2013.  Most impressive from an Institute of Risk Management of South Africa (IRMSA) point of view is that the third HR Standard Element, as part of the HR Management System Standard, is HR Risk Management.  This initiative provides South African organisations, of all types, with a formal approach to managing people risk.  Of significance, amongst many other advantages, is that this allows a demonstration to organisations’ boards and other stakeholders that a proactive approach to dealing with all people risks that could have a positive or negative impact on the realisation of business objectives, is part of the way the organisation operates.


As organisations’ leaders grapple with the myriad of risks that have transpired in recent years, often with disastrous financial, punitive and reputational consequences, sustainability, resilience and recovery, and the ability to handle the risks and disasters is essential.  Considering root causes for risk events and disasters must be understood.  Critical to all of this is an understanding of the people and HR risks underpinning these risks.


The book points out a reality about HR risk – if there is not a deliberate identification of HR risk in the organisation, it could be exposed externally.  All too often the many types of media, and of late with the highest impact – social media expose poor people practices with harmful reputational consequences.  Some compelling examples are provided in the book including discrimination (racial, gender, inequalities relating to appointments, pay and benefits); fraud and corruption culminating in corporate scandals; nepotism; perpetuation of poverty and poor socio-economic conditions (often the cause of long protracted and more recently violent strikes – resulting in serious injury, sometimes death and the knock on economic effects on whole towns, related industries etc).


The authors have a comprehensive understanding of good governance requirements, so much so that they compiled a paper on the HR implications of King III in 2009, followed up with a similar publication dealing with King IV in 2017.  SA Board for People Practices (SABPP) went on to identify HR risk management as one of the most important opportunities for HR adding value to the new governance dispensation in the country.


The importance of managing human capital risk has always been important but never as important as it is currently.  For this reason it needs a focus at the very highest levels in organisations and preferably it should be embedded in the way organisations function. At IRMSA we recognise the importance of Human Capital Risk Management, as one of the risks to be considered in an organisations risk universe, and for several years have included a component of it in our annual risk conference programmes.


There will be many stakeholders who will benefit from this book including, but not limited to, HR executives, HR professionals, line management and risk officers.  IRMSA will certainly be promoting it as a must read for members.

Sheralee Morland

President: Institute of Risk Management South Africa

The new book HR Risk Management (2017) published by SABPP was launched on 26 October 2017 at the 5th Annual HR Standards Conference in Kyalami, Johannesburg. The authors of the book are Marius Meyer, CEO of SABPP and Penny Abbott, Research and Policy Advisor at SABPP. The book can be ordered from the SABPP office or (011) 045 5400