The strategic role of the Human Capital Management Function in the Disaster Risk Reduction Discourse in the 21st century work environment: The Zimbabwean context

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The strategic role of the Human Capital Management Function in the Disaster Risk Reduction Discourse in the 21st century work environment: The Zimbabwean context

Sazane Jethro Ngwenya1, Sifelani Ngwenya2, Lulamani Ngwenya
1Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Human Resource Management, Midlands State University, Zimbabwe
2Centre for Evaluation Science, Lupane State University, Zimbabwe
Received: 21 February 2023; Revised: 06 March 2023; Accepted: 09 March 2023; Published: 11 April 2023

Abstract: – Disasters of varying magnitudes have left memorable historical catastrophic footprints, world over and workplaces are not exempt from these phenomena. As such, various initiatives and legislations have been put in place to curtail the impact of disasters. This study explores the strategic role of the Human Capital Management Function (HCM) in building Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) management capability at workplaces in the backdrop of escalating disasters that threaten business continuity and livelihoods of employees globally. The study adopted a qualitative method approach, which influenced the subsequent usage of desktop review, and semi-structured questionnaires to collect qualitative data from a randomly selected sample of thirty one (31) participants (Human Resource Practitioners, Lecturers, Human Resource Management university students and Disaster Management experts). Study participants were drawn from Bulawayo, Midlands, and Matabeleland South provinces of Zimbabwe. Gathered data were thematically analysed and reported. The study found that both HCM and DRR practitioners concurred that DRR is key for ensuring the general Health and Safety of employees. The study observed that the DRR legislation of Zimbabwe (the Civil Protection Act [Chapter 10:06] of 1989) pays little or no attention to the HCM’s function in DRR. However, despite this drawback, HCM was found to be key in building and promoting DRR capacities and capabilities at the workplace. This paper unravels the need to legislate the DRR process at workplace level so as to empower HCM practitioners in the same manner as other legislated HCM functions.

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Key words: Disaster Risk Reduction, Human Capital Management, Sustainable Development Goals, Sendai Framework of DRR.

I. Introduction

The occurrence and frequency of disasters continue to rise unabated in unprecedented levels. This increase in the number of disasters has negatively affected the economies and livelihoods of people world over and has aroused keener interest amongst the general public and policy makers [17], at various levels of governance. Hence, the crafting of the Civil Protection Act [Chapter 10:06] of 1989 and the Disaster Management Act of Zimbabwe among others, to manage disaster phenomena. Meanwhile, international effort to manage disasters has given birth to renowned instruments such as, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030) among others. The continued presence of disasters harm and devastate millions of people world over [33]; [14]. The imminent threat of disasters to derail the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, cannot be overlooked. Disasters have the propensity to physically devastate companies, and ruin their financial stability and aspirations [9]. Thus, the need to make Disaster Risk Reduction central to Human Capital Management Function is critical. There is a need for strategic agility to cope with negative impacts of disasters on human capital, and Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM) is well positioned to provide it [18]. [1] explain that SHRM is the horizontal coherence of the HRM functions and the vertical relationship between HRM functions and the company strategy. Conversely, the SHRM efficiently utilises human resources to serve the strategic needs of the organisation which include surviving turbulent times [4]. Therefore, organizations can come up with clearly tabulated plans for coordinating and distributing their resources to manage disasters. For example, Human Capital, infrastructure and finance among others. In this instance, the Human Capital Management Function is strategic in executing DRR in the workplace, and offers the first line defence to disasters, through the auspices of the Human Capital Management office. Conversely, this office can positively contribute to DRR in workplaces in the face of imminent disasters. For example, the 1926 Durban Navigation No. 2 Colliery (DNC) in the Republic of South Africa near Dannhauser in northern Natal and the 1972 the Wankie No. 2 Colliery disasters in the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe which resulted in serious injuries and loss of life [9].