15 November 2021 | Story Leonie Bolleurs | Photo Supplied
Lyle Markham was recently elected as board member of the South African Board for People Practices.

Due to COVID-19, companies will go digital much faster. We will also see more employers embracing flexibility around working from home and having virtual teams.

These are the beliefs of Lyle Markham, Academic Head and Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Psychology at the University of the Free State (UFS).

Markham was recently elected as board member of the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP). 

This body, which envisions to be a world-respected HR professional body, is leading the way with people practice standards, professional competence, and active citizenry. It sees its role as professionalising the HR function to ensure that HR becomes an increasingly recognised and respected profession. Its tagline ‘setting HR standards’ talks to both its professional body and learning quality assurance roles. 

Bridging the gap

Over a period of time, Markham, who is professionally registered as a chartered HR practitioner with the SABPP, has had numerous positive encounters with the SABPP. He is currently serving as the Chairperson of the SABPP Free State Committee and is patron of the UFS SABPP student chapter.

In 2020, he received the CEO Recognition Award from the SABPP. He was also instrumental in launching the UFS SABPP student chapter, which won the Best Student Chapter award in 2020. 

Markham, referred to by his colleagues as a transformational leader, believes serving on the SABPP board will bring opportunities, both inside and outside the classroom. 

“I will have contact with industry professionals who can act as guest lecturers, sharing their industry knowledge with our students. This will bridge the gap between industry and higher education.”

“The SABPP research committee, of which I am also a member, is working towards creating opportunities for students to conduct their research at SABPP-linked organisations.”

Markham is also planning the first academic conference in the last term of 2022, to which both academics and industry experts will be invited to present their research in different sessions. 

Influencing policy 

“I feel honoured to be elected to the board, as it was members across the country who voted for me in recognition of the work that I have put in over the past six years. I now have an opportunity to influence policy and governance issues relating to our field at national level for both industry and the higher education space,” he says. 

Markham, who holds an MA Industrial Psychology degree, is busy with his PhD, specialising in Industrial Psychology. Besides his work in the department, he also lectures the MBA and Bachelor of Management Leadership programmes in the Business School. He has presented numerous research papers at local and international conferences and has co-authored five human resource management textbooks. Markham is also the editor of an HR textbook that will be published in 2022. 

He believes one of the biggest challenges in South African workplaces today is uncertainty about the future. “It can impact our mental well-being and decision-making.”

According to him, the best way to deal with uncertainty – which has become more of a reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic – is to embrace the fact that it is here to stay. “As leaders, we should incorporate scenario planning into our strategic approach. If you start planning for future scenarios now, you’ll be better equipped to deal with them when they arrive. We can’t predict the future, but we can make ourselves future proof,” he says. 

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