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JASONGS JENNIN at it m S R H um sia A o p x &E

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JASON JENNINGS Price inc. GST $9.95

On speed, agility, and servant leadership


Special Report:


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3rd Annual

SERIES 2018 Driving the Business to Succeed and Shaping the Future of Work

11 July 2018 | Singapore

The role of the CHRO is becoming more important than ever as they become more of a partner to the CEO, drive strategy, prepare and drive the organisation towards the future and ultimately enhance business success. This exclusive one-day event has been researched and shaped around challenges faced in today’s fierce environment. The speaker panel has been handpicked by our team to deliver quality and a promising conference with tangible takeaways

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Patrick Tay Assistant SecretaryGeneral in the Labour Movement, Chairman Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Manpower

Jacob Jacob Group CHRO Columbia Asia Healthcare

Tanie Eio VP Human Resources UPS

Harpreet Singh Chhatwal HR Director Radisson Hotels

Priya Shahane Chief People Officer AXA

Ravi Bhogaraju Global Head HR Archroma

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The Future in Human Capital Management Changing Mindsets and Building Capacity to Drive a Workforce of the Future Building the Talent Pipeline Through an Employer Branding Strategy How HR Leaders can Influence Business Transformation and Culture Empowerment Building an Agile Culture to Drive us to the Workforce of the Future Enhancing the Employee Experience and Building Engagement

info@hrmasia.com.sg | www.chroseries.com

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HRM Asia Pte Ltd 60 Albert Street, Albert Complex #16-08 Singapore 189969 Tel: +65 6423 4631 Fax: +65 6423 4632 Email: info@hrmasia.com.sg

Dear HRM Magazine Asia readers,


elcome to another edition of HRM Magazine Asia. As many of you already know, HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018 is happening on the 9th and 10th of this month. For the first time, we’re introducing the HRM Asia Newsroom, a space where all things editorial will take place. Think interviews, filming sessions with speakers, and a whole lot of keyboard banging. Do come by our booth and say “hi” to us at any time over the course of the twoday event. The tagline of this year’s gathering is “HR 4.0 – Rethink the way you work”, a reflection of today’s evolving business environment. This year, top global HR transformation and technology thought leaders will take centre stage, as they share the newest and most innovative talent management approaches. One of them is Jason Jennings, the highly sought-after business management author and speaker, who has written eight bestsellers, including his landmark debut It’s Not the Big that Eat the Small, it’s the Fast that Eat the Slow. Through that and other writing, Jennings is credited as one of the first people to speak about the need for leadership and business agility, and, as he tells us in our interview on page 16, it’s a feat that he is particularly proud about.

Still staying on the theme of innovation is this month’s cover story (page 10), which takes on the trendy, but nebulous topic of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology, as we discover, is no longer just a buzzword, or an emerging novelty. The decentralisation of data sharing and storage offers businesses greater data security. Experts say this is likely to benefit the increasingly datadriven HR function. One area which is already experiencing the effects of blockchain’s potential is recruitment. Because a public blockchain could store a candidate’s career timeline as individual parts available only to select parties, recruiters are now able to cut through the white noise, and assess pertinent candidate information easily and securely. A recently-launched Indian job platform even claims it will be able to link employers directly to job-seekers. If this is true, what does this mean for recruitment agencies? Until next time,

KELVIN ONG Senior Journalist, HRM Asia

CONTACT US: Read something you like? Or something you don’t? Perhaps there’s some insight we haven’t considered? Have your say on HRM Asia’s news, features, and contributions by emailing: info@hrmasia.com.sg


©HRM Asia Pte Ltd, 2018. All rights reserved. Republication permitted only with the approval of the Editorial Director.


MCI(P) 028/07/2017 ISSN 0219-6883

Editorial Director paul.howell@hrmasia.com.sg


Senior Journalist kelvin.ong@hrmasia.com.sg

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YAMINI CHINNUSWAMY Journalist yamini.chinnuswamy @hrmasia.com.sg



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Author, consultant, and professional speaker Jason Jennings says the best companies today are both “high-speed” and incredibly humble in their responsibilities to staff, customers, and investors

“Great leaders at some point have asked themselves – ‘Is my life going to be more about me, or more about others?” – JASON JENNINGS,





Move over, cloud services and artificial intelligence – the latest entrant to the HR technology space is blockchain. With its potential impact on HR and business looming large, HRM Magazine Asia takes an in-depth look into the opportunities and challenges presented by this new paradigm



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Japanese Healthcare Group Takeda has recently consolidated its HR systems across the globe. The result is a far more modern organisation that still sits comfortably with the its 237 yearold legacy


With employees preferring contingent working, HRM Magazine Asia takes a look at the legal issues that underlie this new workforce model

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WANT TO GET CONNECTED? Get in touch with us here






REGULARS SPECIAL REPORT HR Transformation, Strategy, and Design 04 BEST OF HRMASIA.COM 06 NEWS UNCOVERING UNCONVENTIONAL STRUCTURES 09 HRM FIVE From “flatarchy” and “holocracy”, to matrix management, HRM Magazine Asia weighs in on the viability of these non-conforming 48 UPCOMING EVENTS organisational anatomies 55 TWO CENTS THE FIRST STEP TO EFFECTIVE HR TRANSFORMATION 56 NEXT MONTH

26 30

In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, it can be difficult to know how to even begin a transformation journey. Philippa Penfold, former senior HR manager, Infosys Consulting, talks about how HR can take those first steps into a larger world



Jason Averbook, founder of Knowledge Infusion LLC, says the opportunities that technology is now opening up for HR redefines the future of work


In advance of the inaugural HRXLR8 summit, Ross Sparkman, Facebook’s Head of Strategic Workforce Planning, talks about the challenges and benefits of becoming truly strategic workforce architecture


Kelvin Kong, Senior Vice President of Learning and Development at Lazada Group, talks about the power of volunteering for HR professionals

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What’s on

.com Watch - HR’s role in the gig economy

A recent survey found that younger workers across Asia-Pacific prefer contract roles. How can HR cater to the needs of these individuals? HRM Magazine Asia’s Paul Howell asks Dr. Lee Kwok Cheong, CEO, Singapore Institute of Management; and Helena Santos, HR Director, International Baccalaureate, for their views.


The lack of strong leadership in driving and supporting business transformation is truly staggering, two new studies have found. But just how deep does this lack of digital readiness run? HRM Magazine Asia’s Kelvin Ong finds out

Your Say

Last month, we asked: What is your policy on checking emails during after-work hours? This was your response.

We neither encourage nor discourage it Strongly discourage it. Work-life balance is a priority here



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32% 28%

With mobile 33% technology, it’s unavoidable that we work round the clock The nature of 7% our business means staff must be contactable at all times

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Your Say

Last month, we asked: Would you consider letting staff set their own salaries ? This was your response.



Yes - it will make them feel more empowered



No - that is a slippery slope



Maybe - for certain employees, with the right framework

T Connect

Don’t wait for the printed magazine each month – the best of HRM Asia’s news, features, and analysis are available both online and through the daily e-newsletters. Even this magazine issue can be read cover-to-cover in an electronic version from Monday, June 4. With fully-dynamic links to even more content, including video and archived materials, the HRM e-magazine is everything you know from the printed product, plus much, much more. Sign up at www.hrmasia.com/content/subscribe for daily email updates, and the first look at every story, opinion, guest post, and HRM TV episode. Remember to also stay updated throughout the working week by checking into www.hrmasia.com on mobile, tablet, or computer. And connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make your mark in the HR community in Asia-Pacific All combined, HRM Asia’s multiple platforms and huge variety of content give HR professionals and business leaders the world’s best view of the fastevolving HR universe, here in Asia.

Share - From the HRM Asia Forums

“Asian businesses still need to be educated on the value and importance of prevention in travel risk management—they need to be more proactive than reactive”

Nick Evered, Senior Vice President and General Manager Asia Pacific, SAP Concur, says companies have yet to grasp the importance of ensuring traveling employees are safe

heCEOwantsfuturereadydigital leaders,andcan’tfindenough talent–butHRisnotcomfortable operatinginthis‘future-ready digital’spaceandisperceivedas beingmorecomfortablefocused onadministrationandtraditional operationsandservices. Laurence Smith, Global Head of Talent and Learning at SmartUp.io, on why HR is still struggling to win hearts and minds in 2018

“EXPERIENCED TALENT POOLS TEND TO BE THIN IN EMERGING MARKETS, AS THEY HAVE YOUNG ECONOMIES. FINDING CANDIDATES WHO HAVE EQUIVALENT TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE TO CANDIDATES FROM MORE DEVELOPED MARKETS, WOULD BE DIFFICULT” Adele Png, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company’s Head of Talent Acquisition for Emerging Markets, explains why businesses have difficulty filling their talent pipelines in some countries M AY 2 0 1 8

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Southeast Asian operations to Grab has gone through. “Together with Uber, we are now in an even better position to fulfil our promise to ‘outserve’ our customers,” said Grab co-founder and CEO Anthony Tan. Uber will now have a 27.5% stake in Grab and its CEO Dara

Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board. This marks Uber’s second retreat from Asia, following the 2016 sale of its China business to Chinese ridesharing conglomerate Didi Chuxing – another of Grab’s big investors. Grab has said it is “committed to try and find suitable roles for” Uber’s 500-odd employees across Southeast Asia.


SEOUL’S GREAT SWITCH-OFF GOVERNMENT WORKERS in South Korea’s capital city will find their computers shutting down

at 8:00pm every Friday. The Seoul Metropolitan Government hopes the initiative will encourage employees to go home – a difficult task in a country with some of the longest working hours in the world and where overtime is embedded deeply into the office culture. More than two-thirds (67.1%) of affected employees have already asked to be excused from the forced shut-down. But such exemptions will reportedly only be provided in exceptional circumstances. The initiative follows a law passed by South Korea’s National Assembly mandating a reduction in maximum weekly hours – from 68 to 52. This amended legislation will take effect in July, starting with large companies before being rolled out to small organisations as well.



over President Emmanuel Macron’s labour reform agenda. At the start of the strike in early April, a day dubbed “Black Tuesday”, some 87% of high speed trains were cancelled, along with 80% of regional services. Eurostar, which operates services between London and Paris across the English Channel, also saw a quarter of its services cancelled. Millions of French workers were left



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stranded amidst chaotic scenes at stations around the country. The strikes will continue for the next three months, affecting two days out of every five. Driving the industrial action is a large battle over the French government’s proposed labour reform plans which include a potential privatisation of rail services. The energy and waste collection sectors may also be affected by strikes, with unions representing those industries also calling for industrial action.

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have made it easier than ever for office workers to be mobile. But with that has come an obligation to be constantly “on” – with workers checking e-mails even after they’ve gone home for the night, or during vacations. For workers in the US city of New York, however, this may become a thing of the past. Proposed legislation will enforce e-mail downtime and make it illegal for

employers to force workers to check and respond to e-mail during nonwork hours. The policy will impact businesses with more than 10 workers, and would not apply in the event of overtime or emergencies. Violators of the proposed bill will be fined US$500 for the first offense; with the amount increasing for subsequent violations during a two-year period.





STARBUCKS PROMISES GLOBAL PAY EQUALITY STARBUCKS, the international purveyors of coffee and ice-blended concoctions, has claimed to have achieved pay equality in the US – and is making a promise to do so across other companyoperated markets in the rest of the world. The company has already achieved “100% pay equity for women, men, and people of all races performing similar

work in the US, and is committed to maintaining it,” it said in April. In daily operations, this means that every worker -- from baristas to corporate staff -- are paid the same as their colleagues doing equivalent work. Job candidates are also not informed of the pay range of the positions they are applying to.

THE JAPANESE culture of “matahara” – or “maternity harassment” – was thrown into the spotlight last month. Japanese newspaper The Mainichi reported that a childcare worker and her spouse had apologised for breaking the “unspoken rules” at her workplace, and getting pregnant before their “turn”. With the country facing severe shortages in child care options, the woman’s employer had established “shifts” to ensure that when workers took maternity leave, the timings would be staggered, and that the day care centre would remain sufficiently staffed. The Japan Times reports that Japan’s day care centres are severely wait-listed, with more than 47,000 children waiting for slots. The problem is not limited to the day care industry, however – another woman based at a cosmetics company in Tokyo also claims to have been provided with childbirth and child-rearing schedules. Such practices are illegal, but lawsuits are said to be ineffective due to long-standing cultural ideals in the country.

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4/24/2018 2:53:33 PM

This 9th and 10th May… Join like-minded C-level and business leaders at this once-a-year exclusive platform to talk Tech, Innovation, Next-gen Leadership, Agility, Digitalisation and much more, featuring: Exclusive Master Series

Shift – The Future of Work Dr. Lynda Gratton Thinkers50, Organisational Management Thought-Leader & Professor of Management Practice London Business School

The Tech Storm Interactive Workshop Nicklas Bergman Serial Entrepreneur, Tech Investor & Futurist

The High-Speed Company – Making Your Organisation Faster, More Nimble, Agile and Open to Change Jason Jennings Leadership, Growth, Culture and Innovation Expert & Author

Building a Disruptive Innovation Culture - Challenge The Status Quo Azran Osman-Rani Former CEO of AirAsia X & iflix Malaysia

Cultivating Next-Gen Leadership Joydeep Bose President & Global Head of HR Olam International

Are Your Leaders Asleep At The Wheel? - The Cost of Unconscious Culture in Times of Continuous Change Joanna Barclay Global Keynote Speaker & Author

Growth and Agility Through Digitisation of Learning @ Henkel Thomas Holenia President of Henkel Singapore & Managing Director of Henkel’s Global Supply Chain Hub in Singapore

Strategic Organisation Design for the Digital Future of Work Jon Ingham HR Influencer, Blogger & Author

The Future of Work – HR 4.0 Aileen Tan Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Singtel

Siemens HR Transformation: An Agile Operating Model to Match the Evolving Business Landscape Mike Bokina Vice President & Global Head, HR Organisational Effectiveness Siemens

Navigating the New Digital Workplace John Antos Vice President Strategy and Marketing, Asia Pacific ADP – Automatic Data Processing

Building a Disruptive Innovation Culture - Challenge The Status Quo Janet Young Managing Director & Head, Group Channels & Digitalisation United Overseas Bank

+ Access to 7 Conferences Inside Amazon’s Culture for Success Nick Walton Managing Director, ASEAN, Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Leadership 4.0 – Finding Your VOICE in the Age of Disruption Paul N Larsen Leadership Expert, Speaker & Author






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Unless action is taken, parts of Asia-Pacific are expected to be uninhabitable by the end of the century. Tropical storms, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels will ravage many places across the continent, and also in the rest of the world. Accordingly, Singapore has designated 2018 to be the Year of Climate Action, and will work with fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to reduce energy intensity and increase renewable energy use within the region. Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli noted that “the Government cannot do it alone”, and has encouraged organisations to also do their part to reduce human impact on the environment. Here are five sustainable, but practical, practices for HR to consider implementing in the office.

Raise the temperature

Air-conditioning might keep you cool in the moment but that heat has to go somewhere – namely outside, into the rest of the environment. It has been suggested that office buildings with centralised air-conditioning raise their set-temperatures by two degrees Celsius. Some developments, such as the Nucleos property in Singapore, have also implemented district cooling systems that are up to 40% more efficient than traditional air-conditioning.

Eliminate disposable plastic

Plastic water bottles are useful to distribute to guests during meetings, but they’re also wasteful – people frequently only take a sip or two before throwing them out. Consider giving out reusable cups during your next company event, while keeping a stock of extras for visitors to use. Likewise, smaller companies might want to consider French-press devices or filtered coffee pots over pod machines – many capsules are mixed plastic, which cannot be recycled.

Go hard on recycling

Companies that don’t already have a go-green or paperless initiative in place are now the outliers, but unless you make it harder for people to be wasteful, old habits will die hard. HR can consider ordering only chlorine-free recycled paper along with recycled toner; configuring printers to print in draft mode by default, giving colour printing access only to those who need it, and implementing departmental printing quotas.

Use energy-efficient lighting and appliances

Lighting makes up a large portion of the energy consumed by the average office building. LED lights aren’t just energy-efficient alternatives – they’re also longer-lasting and healthier for staff. They don’t emit any ultraviolet radiation, nor as much heat. Motion sensors can make sure lighting is only active when necessary – your archive room or supply closet is probably empty more often than not.

Encourage virtual working

Rather than having employees travel between worksites, consider pushing for workplace policies that prioritise virtual meetings. These are more time- and cost-efficient, and, in this digital age, there is no shortage of digital enterprise platforms for organisations to choose from. To further reduce the carbon footprint, employers can encourage workers to work from home occasionally. Some offices also charge a high premium for parking, so as to discourage workers from driving in.

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HAIN REACTION Bitcoin and cryptocurrency were 2017’s big buzzwords, but blockchain looks to inherit that mantle in 2018. HRM Magazine Asia delves into this bold new technology, and examines how it can potentially impact HR B Y YA M I N I C H I N N U S WA M Y

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ews headlines this year have been much ado about the rising and falling price of bitcoin – not least in Asia, where countries like South Korea have seen the craze for “crypto” reach a fever pitch. The East Asian nation has even birthed “bitcoin zombies”; workers who obsessively check the price of their coins around the clock. Certainly, that is one clear example of how bitcoin is relevant to HR’s interests. But amid questions of the long-term sustainability of bitcoin, it seems that the real paradigm-shifter – the catalyst driving change in HR and other business functions – is blockchain, the underlying concept and technology that powers cryptocurrencies. Essentially, every bitcoin transaction, anywhere in the world, is recorded in a digital ledger. This ledger is public, but transactional details can only be seen by the direct parties involved. The blockchain ledger is continuously growing, but each new block contains an algorithmic fingerprint, along with transaction data.

The blockchain is also decentralised, being distributed across peer-to-peer networks. As such, proponents argue, it is one of the best ways to secure transactions – with it in hand, one no longer has to rely on “trusted” third parties. Supply chain management companies have been some of the first movers in recognising blockchain’s potential beyond cryptocurrency. In a recent chat with HRM Magazine Asia, Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud, Global Chief Operating Officer of logistics giant Damco, explained its potential for the logistics business. “Blockchain provides a path towards ledger-based accounting. It basically says, ‘you and I have an agreement, you can see me pay you, and I can see you receive the goods’, in its basic format,” she says. That means that a logistics player like Damco can create an almost completely self-service freight forwarding business – and indeed, its parent Maersk, has tied up with IBM to explore how that can be made a reality. Educational institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have already leveraged this feature to create “BlockCerts”, which enable students to be “curators of their own credentials”. Through the blockchain, they are able to quickly retrieve permanent and tamper-proof copies of their records to show employers. Meanwhile, beverage titan The Coca-Cola Company, recently announced that it would be partnering with the US State Department to fight forced labour via blockchain




technology – one of multiple projects it has been digging into for the last few years. “We are partnering with the pilot of this project to further increase transparency and efficiency of the verification process related to labour policies within our supply chain,” said Brent Wilton, Coca-Cola’s director of global workplace rights. The food and beverage industry has been criticised for not doing enough to address forced labour conditions in countries where it collects sugar cane – the world’s largest

agricultural commodity. Almost 25 million workers around the world are in forced labour situations, with almost half located in the Asia-Pacific. Under the partnership, a secure registry will be created to log workers and their contracts, with blockchain’s digital ledger technology providing validation and digital notary facilities.

New kids on the blockchain HR, as much as finance or sales, oversees a tremendous amount of data. And that pool is only going to continue expand as more companies incorporate and streamline data analytics into their people management functions. Just as well, then, that much of blockchain’s potential in the HR space lays in its ability to provide data security, and mitigate fraud. And it starts all the way from the beginning of an employee journey. A public blockchain could potentially store a candidate’s entire employment history as a series of transactions – available only to the candidate and anyone they choose to share the information with, such as recruiters and potential employers. This would make

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it much easier and quicker for the talent acquisition function to source qualified recruits, looking through a central and secure database rather than sifting through mountains of CVs and applications all with different styles and formatting. It would also streamline the verification of a candidate’s identity, educational background, visa status, and maybe even salary history. It would be cheaper, since it would eliminate the need for onerous intermediary-managed background verification. Indeed, recent months have seen the launch of several digital jobs platforms claiming to leverage on this very potential of blockchain. These include Mintly, a start-up job portal based in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It claims to use blockchain to link employers with candidates. Job.com, an international jobs matching site with more than 60 million users, recently announced that it would be progressing to a blockchain-based platform “with the mission of eliminating recruiters’ roles in the permanent hiring process”. “Blockchain offers decentralisation and

peer-to-peer, which is the key to successful, time-saving recruitment, and will allow the industry to shift towards greater efficiencies, security, and trust throughout the supply chain,” Arran Stewart, Job.com co-founder, tells HRM Magazine Asia. He notes that the advantages of a blockchain-powered platform were in speed, trust, and security. “Allowing companies to deal directly with their next hires means that they can hire more effectively and quickly.” He adds. “Every day wasted on unsuccessful placement costs companies billions of dollars.” Talao is yet another blockchain-based job marketplace, although it is particularly dedicated to linking up freelancers with clients. “Blockchain decentralises the internet, enables peer-to-peer business relationships without middlemen or commissions, and gives users ownership of their data,” says Nicolas Muller, Talao’s CEO. Interestingly, Talao plans to self-finance by launching its own TALAO cryptocurrency token. “The TALAO token is required for talent to open and manage their ‘reputation vault’,

storing Blockcerts certificates certifying their skills on the blockchain,” Muller explains. Company clients can also use the token to access this information, along with other data.

Blue-sky blockchain Once an organisation has found the talent it wants to hire via the blockchain, smart contracts can be used to draw up instantlyvalidated agreements. Meanwhile, a “value passport”, which stores personal job history, can enable paperless on-boarding – making otherwise tedious processes far less laborious. The passport can even be continuously updated and managed to reflect pay rises and other pertinent information. Blockchain also offers an interesting payments solution for multinational companies, or even single-market companies that have contingent workers from around the world – a not-unlikely possibility as freelancing, project work, and employee mobility in general become more widespread. At present, sending payroll overseas is an expensive process fraught with various middlemen. Exchange rate fluctuations add an additional level of volatility. There is already a service that uses M AY 2 0 1 8

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Imagine a world where everything is truly digital – where contracts are stored in bits of code, and individuals and organisations use machines and algorithms to undertake and record every transaction. Some might find this to be a terrifying prospect, but it offers the tantalising possibilities of a truly paperless world, one in which middleman may no longer be necessary. But as a 2017 editorial in the Harvard Business Review notes, blockchain is not necessarily a disruptive technology, but more of a foundational one. And in this mode, “blockchain will allow [for a] shift towards greater efficiencies, security, and trust throughout the supply chain,” notes Arran Stewart, Job.com co-founder.

Core advantages of blockchain:

DECENTRALISATION no more need for third parties


maintains a clear audit trail of logged transactions

provides a service that helps employers pay out wages in the form of bitcoin. Bitwage even provides a clouds savings account that allows customers to store their pay in any one of 20 different currencies or four different commodities.

The future today

blockchain to facilitate cross-border wage payments, albeit using bitcoin. Bitwage, which was founded in 2013, performs more than $1 million in payroll transactions for businesses and their workers all over the world. Bitwage allows both sides to send and receive funds in their own currency, merely using bitcoin as a mule, although it also



At its core, blockchain is not much different from artificial intelligence or other rising stars of technology, in that it provides opportunities to remove low-hanging fruits from a HR professional’s to-do list. By taking on these lesser tasks, time is freed up to delve into the value-adding skills that no technology can replace: that face time with workers on the ground, allowing HR to truly understand the business, and act as advisors and consultants. There’s also the cost element, of course, that comes about from r emoving third-parties, whether they are recruiters or wire transfer services. Being an emerging technology, much of the discussion around blockchain’s future is still very much blue-sky in nature. Its muchvaunted “iron-clad” security is still under some debate. As security analyst Steve Wilson notes, “once committed to the blockchain, transactions are indeed immutable, but the veracity of each entry rests on who controls the private key of each account”. Nevertheless, employees themselves are


difficult to change or tamper with data


only authorised parties can read relevant data

certainly interested in blockchain, and its potential implications on their workscopes. In a recent ComtelPro employee sentiment survey, close to 70% of respondents were interested in receiving blockchain training, while 65% believed the technology could lead to job displacement within the next five years. On top of that, almost half of Singaporean employees (48%) believed that they needed to adapt their current skills and experience in order to embrace digital and technological change over the next five years. “While the potential job displacements may create uncertainty in the workforce, this can also lead to the upskilling of employees,” says Satish Kosaraju, Director of ComtelPro. “Upskilling is obviously one of the key contributors to staying competitive, and both employers and employees can better evolve themselves to fully embrace the digital economy.” After all, it’s very possible that in 10 years, blockchain is no longer the new kid on the block, but rather, something just as ubiquitous as the internet or social media. As HR – and every profession – grapples with blockchain and all the many other disruptors that characterise HR 4.0, history is watching. Now is the time for the innovators of HR to take their shot, and get ahead of the game. yamini.chinnuswamy@hrmasia.com.sg

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The identity problem in leadership training “What I can do depends on who I have decided I am. What we can do depends on who we believe ourselves to be.” MARCUS MARSDEN, Managing Partner of Newfield Asia, says many leadership coaching programmes avoid a difficult, but crucial question in their approach


MARCUS MARSDEN is an executive coach and trainer based in Singapore, and with clients throughout Asia and the UK. In addition to his coaching work, Marsden is also the Managing Partner of Newfield Asia

he challenge for many working in the field of leadership development and coaching is that we only have tools to address what people do, not who they are. Ultimately this is a problem of identity. Who am I? Who are we? While some more superficial methodologies tend to skirt around this thorny issue – hiding behind competency frameworks and assessment tools – an ontological (study of being) approach to development goes straight to the heart of the matter. Why so? Because ultimately, whether a person is even open for development will depend on their

notion of their identity, who they have decided they are (or who they are not) in the present. More crucially for development even, is if they have decided who they can or cannot be in the future. This critical question is being grappled with at a macrolevel right now, as citizens of various nationalities argue about “nationalism”. “What does it mean to be British, American or Singaporean?” raises the same fundamental issues as “what does it mean to be me”? For an individual, the answer to these kinds of questions is often held at an unconscious level – much like a computer’s operating system


running in the background. Teams and companies are ultimately a combination of these systems. However, just as with that operating system whirring away unseen, these invisible systems run the whole show and create the context for everything. Most importantly, they set self-defined limits on a person’s development potential. “Where can I develop and still be me?” becomes the new question. An ontologically-trained practitioner; one who is familiar with working with “who a person is” as well as “what they do”, will work with their client in various domains. It is no longer just a matter of what a person thinks they can or cannot do, but also the emotional and physical range they see as available to them. How are they willing to be or not be? Other development approaches tend to work almost exclusively in the domain of thinking and logic, but questions regarding identity are usually not susceptible to factual investigation. The idea of identity is held not only in the mental domain, but also in the domains of emotion and physicality. The ontological process of coaching and leadership development is therefore a challenging one for manager, facilitator, coach, and client. The manager, facilitator or coach must be able to work across physical, emotional and mental domains while also creating an environment that is both safe for this exploration and still challenging. The client in an ontological process must be open to selfdiscovery and to uncovering their self-imposed limits that have become buried over time. Once these limits are visible, the possibility of genuine transformation emerges and, along with it, the prospect of genuinely sustainable change and a whole new level of results. Ultimately, leaders can only extend a boundary they know they have.

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A SERVANT THOUGHT LEADER The best companies today are “highspeed”, but also humble in their responsibilities to staff, customers, and investors. So says world-renowned management thinker JASON JENNINGS ahead of his exclusive presentation to HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018



9 th




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hen US-based author and professional speaker Jason Jennings delivers his keynote address at HR Summit & Expo 2018 this month, he’ll have some very real first-hand examples and case studies from this region to draw on. The C-Suite Symposium audience for his presentation: The High-Speed Company – Making your Organisation Faster, More Nimble, and Open to Change, will hear his unique take on corporate agility within a specificially AsiaPacific context. Jennings says this is a key part of his promise to audiences all over the world, and he has an important routine in the weeks before any event. “For every presentation, I will get the organisers to pick out a range of 10 people for me to speak with beforehand. It could be Heads of HR, entrepreneurs, or business leaders,” he tells HRM Magazine Asia. Jennings then sets aside time to speak with each of the individually, to hear about their stories and ask “what’s keeping you up at night?“ This helps him to pick up on the specific trends and themes affecting each particular audience or group, but is also a discipline that Jennings says is simply about “doing your homework”. It is also where he gets to connect with business leaders at the coalface, and really understand what is driving them, and what is holding them up. “I love writing books, I love doing speeches, but still these phone calls are my favourite parts of the job,” Jennings says.

From radio networks to best-seller lists Jennings does also have his own experiences to draw on. His business career started earlier than most, when he bought two radio stations in Michigan, where he had been attending college at age 22. He admits to not being the ideal student in the eyes of the

university administrators – “when I was in college, my motto was ‘find a protest, and get in front of it’!” – and he dropped out to concentrate on his bold investments. Two stations became three and then later four, and then a full network of radio and television broadcasters, to which Jennings added a management consultancy business where he offered industry colleagues advice But – even with all that by the age of 41 – Jennings felt there was something missing. “I had my mid-life crisis earlier than most people,” he says. “I asked myself, ‘is that all there is?’”

JASON JENNINGS AT HR SUMMIT & EXPO 2018 JOIN JASON JENNINGS, and over 100 other speakers and panel participants at the 16th anniversary HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018. You’ll be part of a jam-packed programme of ground-breaking HR thinking and best practice case studies. With multiple conference streams and a free Expo filled with the latest HR solutions and

innovations, the two-day event is a must for anyone in business and workforce management in this part of the world. The conference takes place

on May 9 and 10, at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre. For more information, head to: www.hrsummit.com.sg.

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JASON JENNINGS Author, consultant, and professional speaker

SE CLwO ith...

Based in: Tiburon, California (a small city of 5,000 opposite San Francisco on the other side of the Golden Gate bridge). Academic background: Took “many, many” years to complete a Bachelor’s Degree with Northern Michigan University. Was recently awarded an Honourary Doctorate from the same institution. Professional mantra: “Bad attitudes get bad results; good attitudes get good results; great attitudes get great results”. Social media of choice: Linked In (“I’m about to leave Facebook, which is now 80% fake news and negativity”). Most supported sports team: The Northern Michigan University Wildcats, who compete in the Northern Collegiate Athletic Association in the US. Your presentation is complete, and you’ve got 24 hours left in Singapore. What’s on the agenda? What could be better than rolling out of your hotel, and setting to walk Orchard Road from the top to the bottom, and back again? I’ve been to Singapore about 40 times over the years but it has been a year since my last visit. I know there be new things to see.



After considering a career change into the Catholic priesthood, Jennings eventually decided he wanted to write a book, and to identify the greatest companies and leaders in the world. “The next morning – the path was crystal clear. I set about getting a book contract.” As we all know, that is much easier said than done. And Jennings remembers being rejected over, and over, and over again, but that each time only steeled his resolve. “With each rejection, I just decided that I would be successful,” he says. It took around 18 months, but that determination, and some leverage from his broadcasting knowledge and some friends in high places, landed him a meeting with publisher Adrian Zackheim, then from Harper Collins. He left that with a tiny window of opportunity – and spent the night in a New York hotel putting together a more formal proposal. The rest is, in fact, quite recent history. Jennings did indeed get a book deal, and his debut It’s not the Big that Eat the Small.., It’s the Fast that Eat the Slow rocketed to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller list – not just in the business category, but across all books at that time. Since then, there have been seven more books, all of them based on extensive research and interviews with CEOs and business leaders from around the world.

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Jennings says his most recent book, The High Speed Company from 2015, was based on over 80,000 pages of interview transcripts. Add to that between 60 and 80 professional speaking engagements per year, and some specialist consulting services, and Jennings has been a busy man for the last 18 years.

The need for speed You will notice a similar theme between the first and most recent books, despite the 15 years between them. Indeed, Jennings says agility in both leaders and organisations is a proven must-have , not just in the current volatile business environment, but for every scenario. “It’s not situational at all,” he says. “In fact, there are about 10 traits (and only 10) that we look for.” Most important of these is a sense of purpose. “There is not one leader featured in one of our best-selling books who has ever had a ‘mission statement’ or ‘vision statement’,” he says. “They understand that these words have been relegated to a game of ‘buzzword bingo’ years ago!” “What they have is a purpose - built around doing well by doing something good.”

Servant leadership Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jennings is a fierce advocate for servant leadership and the concept of leaders being “stewards” of their organisations. “Truly great leaders have five constituencies: employees, customers, vendors and suppliers, shareholders; and Mother Earth,” he says. ”Their job is to improve the lot of life in all of them.” That’s a big ask, but Jennings is adamant that it provides a clear recipe for business success too. Nail that, he says, and the other factors – the growth, the revenue, the innovation, and the influence – will take care of themselves. “Great leaders at some point in their life have all looked in the mirror and asked themselves a question – because you can’t lie to yourself while looking in the mirror,” Jennings continues. “They’ve asked themselves: ‘Is my life going to be more about me or more about others?’”

He says that when they can answer “yes” to that question, they can claim to be true stewards of their organisations.

HR’s rapid rise One could question this further. After all, it’s all very good to be a servant leader when you’re in the highest of seats within the organisation, from the CEO’s or President’s office, but what about those in lower ranks, including the vast majority of HR professionals? But Jennings is confident it applies across the ranks, and says that HR professionals in particular are also gaining greater access to that coveted “seat at the table”. He recalls two presentations he made to the US-based Society for HR Managements annual conference, some 21 years apart. “At the end of my presentation in 1997, I asked the audience to let me know if they had a ‘seat at the table’,” he says today. “Out of 1,000 people in the auditorium, only 50 or 60 felt they truly had that level of influence with their organisation and CEO.” Fast forward to a new presentation Jennings made at last year’s event, and he saw the chance to make a stark comparison. He asked the same question to the similarly-

sized audience, and this time at least 900 hands went up. “That’s how remarkably fast things have changed in business and for HR in particular,” he says, noting that all have the opportunity to practice stewardship and servant leadership through the HR function.

Always do your homework For Jennings, this is where his books and presentations are able to add value to their audiences. While the broad message is similar, the examples and stories that he uses are tailored to the specific audience for that event. With that in mind, audiences to his plenary session at HR Summit & Expo Asia 2018 can expect a fresh, relevant, and highlyadaptable presentation, filled with takeaway concepts and ideas that can be quickly put into practice in the local Asia-Pacific context. That’s because of the thorough and broad research involved with every presentation he commits to. “It would be the height of arrogance and self-centeredness to speak to people without doing your homework,” he says. paul.howell@hrmasia.com.sg M AY 2 0 1 8

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MAY 2018

Special Report


t may be a well-used cliché, but there really is only constant in today’s volatile business environment: change. Across all industries, there is increasing pressure to transform whole organisations and teams – including HR – to adapt to each new set of drivers and risks as soon as they appear. HRM Magazine Asia’s Special Report into HR Transformation, Strategy, and Design explores this complex new imperative that HR leaders are now facing. With case studies and interviews from across the Asia-Pacific region, it considers the issues from all angles across the following 12 pages. The opening analysis examines the growing trend of non-hierarchical organisation structures, among both startups and some established businesses. It looks at the pros and cons of the “holocracy” structure, made famous by Zappos, and also the “Flatocracy” and “Matrix” organisational structures. (see: page 26 to 29). Guest Contributor Philippa Penfold delves into the factors that are typically driving HR transformations today (see: page 30 to 31), and we also speak with one of the gurus of modern business transformation Jason Averbook (see: page 32 to 34). Our regular Field Notes interview is with Ross Sparkman, the head of Strategic Workforce Planning for Facebook. He discusses how the social media giant built and is maintaining its elite workforce (see: page 35 to 37). The report offers a timely preview to HRM Asia’s upcoming HR XLR8 Summit 2018, taking place in Singapore over June 26 and 27. With more than 30 speakers sharing their insights on innovation and case studies on HR transformation, this two-day, multi-stream event will be jam-packed with content, centred on the theme: Navigating the Future of HR Transformation, Strategy, Workforce Analytics, and Organisational Development.



HRM Magazine Asia’s comprehensive report into the new world of HR, where a new holistic, approach to workforce management is required


From “flatarchy” and “holocracy”, to matrix management, HRM Magazine Asia considers the up and downsides to some more modern organisational structures


Philippa Penfold argues HR needs to understand the reason for change, before committing to any wholesale transformation of its team or the organisation


Jason Averbook has more than 20 years’ experience in transforming HR organisations into digitally-able, future-ready teams. He explains some of the most important steps to take


Ross Sparkman, the head of Strategic Workforce Planning for Facebook, shares his considerable experience in talent development for the volatile business environment and the age of disruption well-articulated corporate philosophy

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From “flatarchy” and “holocracy”, to matrix management, HRM Magazine Asia weighs in on the viability of these non-conforming organisational anatomies


ith technology and emerging innovations like blockchain disrupting industries at breakneck speed, the business world is no longer just about the survival of the fittest, but also survival of the most agile. Certainly, a lot has already been said about how agility can help companies stay ahead of the pack – a large part of the rhetoric is around the upskilling of people and strategic workforce planning – but new trends show there is also a growing focus on the actual organisational set-up itself. More and more companies are now trading the traditional hierarchy, the beloved organisational design that companies have employed for centuries, for other new-age models that can afford them the flexibility required for them to remain at the forefront during these disruptive times. Whether you call it the pyramid or a hierarchy, the classic top-down approach is now viewed as passé, overly restrictive, inefficient, and an enemy of innovation.

Several organisations, including the likes of the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) and Chinese manufacturer Haier, have adopted the alternative organisational structures of holocracy, flatarchy, and matrix organisations. These words sound familiar, but their workings remain a mystery for many. As HRM





Magazine Asia discovers, these structures can also possess their own sets of problems.

The real deal? When US online clothing retailer Zappos first embarked on a complete structure overhaul in 2013, favouring a “holocratic” arrangement over the traditional hierarchy, it seemed clear

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early on that the model looked much better on paper than in practice. Adopting holocracy – essentially a manager-less organisational structure that eliminates reporting lines, designations and sometimes entire job scopes – presented a series of challenges right from the outset, said John Bunch, technical advisor to Zappos’ CEO. Make no mistake, however. Holocracy is not the same as a flat structure. In fact, as Olivier Compagne, Partner at HolocracyOne, states, “flat organisations

with informal structures don’t eliminate hierarchy”, but holocracy provides a clear but flexible structure that takes away visible ranks. Developed specifically as an alternative to the traditional hierarchy, holocracy sees individuals organised into different groups or “circles”. This set-up allows employees to work on a variety of tasks throughout the day. An employee at Zappos might spend two hours doing a particular task, followed by five hours on another task, and could then be doing something completely different in the next hour. At the start, Bunch said Zappos’ biggest challenge was in helping its employees

understand that the new setup made sense for their work and the business. “When you make such a large change to the way you operate, a lot of the systems that you used to operate and that work also have to change,” said Bunch. “When we think about performance evaluation, compensation, recruitment; how do we do those things in an organisation that operates very differently than how most organisations operate? That’s been a challenge.”

The transition definitely took a toll on employees. In 2016, Zappos dropped off Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for the first time in eight years. Online publishing tool Medium also experimented with the system for a few years before abandoning it in early-2016. Its then head of operations Andy Doyle explained in a blog post that holocracy was simply too troublesome. “In the purest expression of Holacracy, every team has a goal and works autonomously to deliver the best path to serve that goal,” he wrote. “But for larger initiatives, which require coordination across functions, it can be timeconsuming and divisive to gain alignment.” Doyle wrote that the system had begun to exert “a small but persistent tax” on both effectiveness and the workforce’s sense of connection to each other. “It was getting in the way of the work,” he said. Today, Zappos is pressing on with holocracy, but most observers are already calling its “experiment” a failure. Only time will tell if this arrangement will remain practical over the long term.

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A mix of both worlds


quickly. That’s the benefit,” Venter told The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). This flat, yet somewhat complex structure is similar to the unrestrictive models employed by technology disruptors like Spotify and Netflix, which Elliott hopes to emulate. Netflix’s organisational design is based on its now famous “culture deck”, of which a key guiding principle is to give employees the “freedom and responsibility” to work, without being monitored or having to constantly report to a higher-up. But employees still have to update a team leader on their progress. That person is not necessarily the most experienced, but the leader who can transcend the most number of functions. Dubbed by organisational design practitioners as a “flatarchy”, this model aims to combine the strengths of the pyramid scale with the innovative freedom of a much flatter entity. Also following the Netflix plotline is Chinese electrical appliance manufacturing giant Haier. The move to such a system had stemmed from its chairman Zhang Ruimin’s

Another similar structure, which contains multi-function groups but retains some element of hierarchy, was adopted by ANZ in September last year. Instead of the cumbersome structures which most large financial organisations typically operate, ANZ decided to reorganise key departments of its Australian business, and turn them into 150 10-person start-ups. These teams, or “squads”, as General Manager of Technology and Digital Banking Christian Venter explains, are made up of individuals representing a wide range of functions, from sales and marketing, to legal and technology. They then form part of a greater division, otherwise known as “tribes”, of which there are 10 in total. Adopting this flatter, more “agile” multidisciplinary group approach, is meant to help the organisation streamline processes and remove bureaucracy, while providing more room for collaboration and innovation. “That’s 150 components of the organisation who all have autonomy and agility to adapt to customer needs very, very

goal of letting every employee “become their own CEO”. The company has over 40,000 employees, who are split up into 2,500 micro-business units, containing a maximum of 15 people each. Each respective team is responsible for their own profit-and-loss statements, and are assessed accordingly. Both ANZ and Haier are optimistic about the decentralisation, but some experts say the Netflix model is not universally-applicable. Dennis Passovoy, a lecturer at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, says the approach works at Netflix because it is in line with the overall company culture. “It’s a reflection of the community that exists within the company, and that’s unique to them,” he explained. Whether that level of conduciveness exists at ANZ remains to be seen, but Venter is positive of the efficiency and increased productivity that the restructure will bring. “What we do know ... is working in this way means you should need less people to achieve the outcome,” he told SMH.


Individuals take on dual functions, and have more than one reporting line. Pros: Cross-functional roles Some form of flexibility

Pros: Greater organisational agility Empowers employees

Cons: Opposing objectives Still hierarchical

Cons: Impersonal interactions Sense of instability

Organisations using this design: Starbucks, Takeda Pharmaceutical, P&G



There are no bosses, employees have no specific roles, and are divided into project-based “circles”.


Organisations using this design: Zappos, Airbnb




A combination of the flat structure and the traditional hierarchy. This approach is customisable.

Traditional hierarchy The classic top-down management approach. Also known as the pyramid.

Pros: Some element of agility Greater collaboration

Pros: Structured Division of labour

Cons: Impermanent teams Teams become isolated

Cons: Lack of transparency No sense of ownership

Organisations using this design: ANZ Bank, Haier, Tesla, Citibank Singapore

Organisations using this design: Too many to mention

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“There are some functions and capabilities that we have today which are necessary because of the complexity of the organisation; those roles effectively help navigate complexity. In the new world (after the reorganisation), we shouldn’t theoretically require those kinds of functions.” Another financial institution that has begun to flatten parts of its business is Citibank Singapore. As its Singapore Head of HR Grace Lee tells HRM Magazine Asia, the restructuring has come as a result of the digitisation of banking services and backend processes. “Structures will have to change as roles will change, and we are already seeing this in parts of the organisation,” she says, adding that this gives more room for innovation and allows the bank to focus on growth areas like cyber-security, robotics, and anti-money laundering. The downside of the transformation is that HR needs to approach the change management process sensitively, as some jobs will become obsolete, and more mature workers will be displaced. To this end, the organisation is committed to helping its workers transition into the new world of work and is doing so through a career development initiative called My Career Week, which first launched in 2017. During My Career Week, many talks and workshops take place to educate employees about job openings across the bank and even across the wider banking and finance industry. By providing this avenue, Lee says all employees, not only those affected, will get a fair chance at staying with the company.

Cross-functional split More conservative than the flatarchy is the matrix organisation, an older concept that dates back to the 1970s. In a matrix structure, an individual has more than one reporting line (usually two): a functional supervisor and a project supervisor. While this sounds like a reinforcement of rankings, it actually offers organisations the flexibility to share their human resources across different projects at any one time. The cross-functional nature of each role also means individuals can develop broader capabilities and have a greater impact on the business. US coffee chain Starbucks and Japanese




healthcare company Takeda Pharmaceutical Company are two organisations that currently employ a matrix structure. At Starbucks, which has been entrenched in the matrix format since 2008, employees are divided according to geography, products, and teams. This structure has helped the company to put a focus on customer experience, and as a result, has improved its financial performance steadily since implementation. But the matrix set-up requires ample employee training in order for it to work smoothly, says Takeda Pharmaceutical Vice President of HR for Emerging Markets (including Asia-Pacific) Ana Cardozo. “It’s working well now for us. At the beginning it was difficult because we were very decentralised; this structure requires a lot of alignment,” she says. For example, HR reports to the global business, but also has to balance the objectives of the Emerging Markets division. Cardozo says her team cannot implement strategies

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that are completely out of sync with the goals of the global headquarters. This lack of clarity can also confuse and frustrate employees, which could affect productivity in the long run. “It requires the ability to manage different stakeholders, which comes from lots of communication. But once the decision is taken, if it’s aligned, it becomes much easier to implement,” she adds. Ultimately, just as with other structures, Cardozo says the aim is to be as agile as possible, even if that is sometimes difficult to achieve in a matrix set-up. “If we can simplify the processes that we have, then we can avoid this back and forth conversation. So I think when you clarify the governance, who is responsible for what, who approves what, who is your go-to person; I think you can be much more agile because you know where to go,” she says. kelvin.ong@hrmasia.com.sg




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Thefirst steptoeffective HR Transformation In order to craft a sound transformation strategy, it is critical that HR first understands the triggers behind the change, writes PHILIPPA PENFOLD, former senior HR manager, Infosys Consulting





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hese days, there are a multitude of articles about HR transformation. In today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, many of us, if not all, have been affected by transformation of one type or another. HR is often the go-to department to support transformations in other parts of the business, as well as implementing their own functional transformations. It’s easy to get caught up in the details of what often becomes a very complex set of changes in the business, and too easy to forget why we are doing it. But not all HR transformations are the same. It is important to remain cognisant about what originally triggered the transformation, so that all the activities can remain in context and aligned. Many HR transformations in the past were about changing the HR function to Dave Ulrich’s well-renowned model of 1997, as outlined in his bestselling book Human Resource Champions. Such transformations often included the implementation of an HR Information System, which offered rudimentary (by today’s standards) online self-service for employees and managers. Today, HR transformation often means moving to cloud-based software and digitising HR processes. The market is awash with new HR technology companies, some offering terrific platforms upon which new and existing HR services can be offered. The key question HR needs to be asking for any transformation is: “Why?” If the answer cannot be linked to the objectives of the business, then HR should be focused on something else. Understanding the strategic rationale for a business transformation is critical if HR is to alter the function appropriately, as well as help the organisation to change. This is more than simply knowing the vision statement or the headline goal. It is about understanding the reasons driving the transformation, or the transformation “triggers”.

Business transformation Business transformations can be grouped into three different categories: Operations - Businesses may change their operations, triggered by the need to improve efficiency and reduce cost. Changes to business operations may also be triggered by changes in compliance, regulation and legislation, and the introduction of new technology. Business Model - Changes to the business model, fundamentally around how the business generates value, are becoming more frequent, and are usually quite complex transformations, affecting nearly every part of a business. Examples of transformation triggers can include competitors introducing a new service alongside an existing product, or reduced revenue triggering the need for the business to be more customer-centric so that it can speed up product or service improvement. Business model transformations can also be triggered by anything from new market entrants and opportunities, changes in key resource availability, and economic dynamics. Such changes tend to take a few years to complete. Strategic – These changes are rarer but significant. Commonly cited examples of strategic transformations include: Nokia’s move from a conglomerate producing products like paper and tyres, to a company focused on mobile handsets and telecommunications; and

Understanding the strategic rationale for a business transformation is critical if HR is to alter the function appropriately, as well as help the organisation to change Fujifilm’s move to apply their colour pigment nanotechnology to cosmetics. Common triggers of strategic change today are advances in technology.

Transforming HR Triggers for HR-specific transformations can also be grouped into the following categories: Operations – Key triggers can include new legislation or regulations (very familiar to those working in banking or insurance), and the bottom line need to reduce costs. Employees – Transformation triggers in businesses driven by knowledge workers often arise through increased employee expectations and the need for HR to deliver a positive employee experience to contribute to retention and performance increases. The expectations of employees around the use of technology is a strong trigger. Most of the time the technology we use in our personal lives is more advanced than what we use at work and HR is constantly trying to play catch up to ensure the employee experience is both comparable to the personal experience and competitive when compared to other organisations. Business Leaders - Some HR departments have also been transformed in response to different expectations from business leaders. Today many HR departments are expected to produce people analytics, which is driving a need to introduce new

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skill sets to the department. It is not uncommon to see a need for capabilities outside the traditional realm of HR. These could be a practicable understanding of agile methodology, the ability to apply an understanding of digital user interfaces to the employee experience, as well as the statistical and technological ability to develop quality people analytics. Understanding the triggers helps us understand the different types of transformations for both the business and the function. It’s rare that any will exist in isolation, as companies are often trying to transform in response to multiple triggers simultaneously. Remembering the triggers that gave rise to a transformation can help HR maintain focus and purpose, and ensure the changes and activities being implemented are appropriate to support the business and HR transform successfully.

About the Author PHILIPPA PENFOLD, former senior HR manager at Infosys Consulting, and start-up advisor.




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A new vision for work

JASON AVERBOOK, founder of LeapGen, says the opportunities that technology is now opening up for HR redefines the future of work





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hen it comes to technology, consumers have always been faster to adopt new ideas than their workplaces. But HR futurist and founder of the US-based LeapGen consultancy Jason Averbook says the gap is now growing at an alarming rate, and it is up to HR to bring their organisations into line with the expectations of their workforce. LinkedIn tends to know more about individual workers than their organisation’s HR departments, Averbook says as an example, noting that this is happening because many workers do not currently trust their HR teams with their qualitative data. Averbook says solutions are available, but they all involve HR getting out of its comfort zone and seizing the opportunities that technology and the digital landscape can now provide.

20 years of strategic thinking Averbook has been researching and developing solutions for these sorts of problems – essentially building the connections between HR and technology – for more than 20 years. As a senior marketing professional with plenty of business savvy and a specific interest in workforce development, he co-founded the Knowledge Infusion consultancy in 2005. This went on to be sold to Appiro in 2012. Averbook then served as the acquired company’s CEO and then Business Innovation Officer at the new parent. Averbook also led The Marcus Buckingham Company as CEO between 2014 and 2016, before leaving to concentrate on his thought leadership and consultancy work. That resulted in LeapGen, which he co-

founded with like-minded technologist Mike Brennan. Together, they offer a broad set of services to client organisations, from bigpicture strategy and change management, to education and ongoing sustainability. Averbook says it is all about helping to knock down some of the strongest silos between HR, IT, and the rest of the business.

Satisfying the “attention community” It is the millennial generation that is forcing many organisations to take that uncomfortable path, Averbook says. They have led the development of what he calls “the attention community” among workforces. “Attention is what drives engagement, and we always have to prepare for the nextgeneration.” he says. “(But) the millennials are here now and they’re expecting challenges as they enter the workforce.” That is a big responsibility for HR, which has traditionally been in charge of the employee experience. More and more, that experience is going to be built around or integrated with technology, and Averbook is concerned that only a handful of HR leaders are themselves ready for that change of focus. “We (HR) haven’t focused on the shift from HR technology to experience,” he says. “Most HR people think of three to five year windows as when they do upgrades. But as analysts, we’re talking about three to five years where technology comes, and is then extinct. “So we have to step on the gas and pick up the pace.” Instead, HR is often being caught napping when the senior leadership of an organisation wants to know what its plans

The new vision for work on show JASON AVERBOOK

will deliver a keynote presentation to HRM Asia’s highly-anticipated HR XLR8 Summit, taking place in Singapore on June 26 and 27. With four different conference streams across HR Strategy, HR Transformation,

Workforce and HR Analytics, and Organisational Development, delegates will hear from Averbook and a wide range of other international speakers, including Facebook’s Ross Sparkman (see: Page 35-37 of this issue), Google’s Nandini Jayaram, and

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many more. They will be sharing about the latest strategies and best tools to drive business results and take full advantage of the new world of work. Find out more at www.hrxlr8summit.com



4/25/2018 6:11:21 PM

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are for taking advantage of these new ways of working. “I think that’s the biggest threat – we’re building a technical debt that we will have a hard time digging ourselves out of.”

Technology options These technology aides that Averbook alludes to are many and varied. From new performance management systems that predict development demands, to artificial intelligence and bots that can execute much of HR’s traditional transactional work, to enterprise software solutions that can take whole teams and organisations mobile (and still connected to each other), there is a world of opportunity for HR, Averbook says. But the task is much more complex than simply adding on an exciting new platform to existing legacy systems. Averbook warns HR can often be tempted to “put frosting on a mouldy cake”. “I’m talking about organisations that are saying they are going to look at the ‘next big thing’,” he explains. “But all of those things require a foundation that’s got great processes, great governance, and great data – clean data,” he says. “What’s happening in this space right now is that we have a lot of people looking at that frosting, but not a lot of people realising that what they have underneath that is a mouldy cake.” Instead, he advises HR to “put the processes in the hands of the workforce” – allow workers to help build the solutions that they most want to work with. “That’s what is going to get us better data, and that’s what is going to help these new-age applications be successful in the enterprise.”

Four things to start doing today Averbook will be a key part of HRM Asia’s HR XLR8 Summit in June, where he plans to deep-dive into some of the strategies that HR leaders in Asia can use to avoid many of these workforce technology issues. But he does offer some basic advice that organisations can begin following immediately to start changing their organisational cultures with respect to technology applications. His four tips for making the transformational shift toward effective use of the opportunities available for digital HR are: “Focus on creating an amazing, solid data





“Attention is what drives engagement, and we always have to prepare for the next-generation” set, as well as effective data governance.” These firm foundations are crucial if companies want to take advantage of digital transformation and artificial intelligence, he says. “Focus on user experience.” This is much more than simply having a good user interface, Averbook says. It’s about reimagining how HR can deliver services to employees. “Make the mindset shift from ‘automation’ to ‘digitisation’.” HR needs to move away from simply automating

transactional work and thinking that is the end goal, Averbook says. It needs to be changing the way HR itself works. “Build new skills.” If HR is to take the lead on building the digital workplace, it needs to understand how the applications work, Averbook says. Averbook says that whether HR likes it or not, the role is set to change significantly in the next few years. “If 70 percent of the job today consists of finding the talent and 30 percent on keeping it, soon it’s going to be 50 percent at least on keeping the people.”

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H R T R A N S F O R M AT I O N , S T R AT E G Y, A N D D E S I G N

Creatingstrategic roadmapsforthefuture

ROSS SPARKMAN, Head of Strategic Workforce Planning, Facebook, talks to HRM Magazine Asia about how a formal strategic workforce planning framework can help HR and C-suite leaders shape the best possible future for both the organisation and its people

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ould you be able to give us a flavour of your day-to-day work as Facebook’s Head of Strategic Workforce Planning?

My day-to-day work at Facebook is equal parts strategic and is tactical. I balance broad strategic projects like crafting an enterprise-wide location strategy with supporting tactical day-to-day data requests needed to make optimal workforce-related decision making. Broadly speaking, I help the organisation scale the workforce at the same pace of growth as the external platform. My mandate is to help leaders make decisions that align the workforce strategy with the corporate strategy through data, tooling, and strategic thinking.

How did you first get your start in this area? I really got my start in workforce planning and analytics when I was in the US military. The US military is a massive and highlycomplex organisation that requires careful manpower planning to meet a high-tempo operating rhythm. At the time, I was also in graduate school pursuing degrees in business management and HR. This helped me see an opportunity to leverage what I was doing in the military in the private sector. I made the decision to take that knowledge and apply it to a career in consulting where I quickly learned about the challenges many organisations face when crafting and implementing human capital strategies.

How does the landscape look today in terms of enabling data-driven decision making? Technologically speaking, things have changed quite a bit from when I first started and will continue to evolve at a rapid pace moving into the future. There were few analytical tools available to practitioners that were both easy to use and that provided useful insights. Now, one of the biggest challenges practitioners face is deciding on which of the many great tools available to use. In addition to the advancement of external tools, the capabilities in some organisations have matured in the people analytics space to the point where building and creating internal tools that are as good as some of the off-theshelf solutions is now a very real possibility.



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HRXLR8: Navigating the future of HR ROSS SPARKMAN, Head of Strategic Workforce Planning, Facebook, is the keynote speaker for HRM Asia’s first-

ever HRXLR8 Summit, taking place on June 26 and 27. With four different conference streams in HR

Strategy, HR Transformation, Workforce and HR Analytics, and Organisational Development, delegates can hear from Sparkman and a wide range of other international speakers about the latest and best tools and strategies to drive business results and help you navigate the future. Find out more at www. hrxlr8summit.com

“Fundamentally, strategic workforce planning involves understanding the current state of the workforce and future state of what the workforce should look like based on the direction the business is heading.” – ROSS SPARKMAN , HEAD OF STRATEGIC WORKFORCE PLANNING, FACEBOOK The obvious advantage of having this option available in-house is the ‘customisation factor’, or the ability to develop more bespoke customised tools that are specific to helping solve the unique issues that these organisations face.

What are the key success factors that drive a strong Strategic Workplace Planning function? There are a significant number of factors that have the potential to impact the success of a Strategic Workforce Planning function. That said, there are four factors in-particular that standout as being critical in terms of establishing a strong foundation for the function.

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The first factor involves having a clear vision in place. This is because the vision will set the tone for the actions and goals the organisation will have to execute on to be successful. The second crucial factor involves the skills and composition of the team or individual that will be performing the day-to-day activities. It is important to have skills that align with the vision because if there is a misalignment between the two, the challenge of realising the vision becomes much more difficult. The third factor relates to the processes and systems the organisation has put in place for the Strategic Workforce Planning function. Once again, if these systems and

processes don’t support the previously established vision it will be difficult to scale, target and realise the full potential. Finally, it’s important to think about the data and technology the organisation will use to analyse and deliver strategic insights to the organisation. If the data and technology are not in a state that allows the function to deliver and share insights, it will be difficult for that function to gain much in the way of solid momentum.

How can efficient workforce planning positively impact an organisation? Fundamentally, strategic workforce planning involves understanding the current state of the workforce and the future state of what

the workforce should look like, based on the direction the business is heading. The area inbetween the current and future state is where strategic workforce planners, business leaders, and HR leaders can make strategic decisions that lead to an optimal future state. If done properly, a good strategic workforce plan can help organisations improve productivity, increase engagement, and reduce cost. An example of this might be an organisation that discovers that a huge portion of the workforce is ready for retirement in the short-term. Let’s further assume that because of this information, a strategy was crafted to ensure that all the knowledge that might be lost through the retirements is captured in a knowledge management system. The end result in this case is significant training cost savings from the knowledge that was captured prior to the retirements.

How can C-suite and HR leaders get started in establishing their own strategic methodologies and frameworks to pull the workforce strategy together? I would recommend first understanding what the organisation has done to date in terms of establishing a workforce strategy. Is this something that is completely new to the organisation, or has it been attempted in the past? If it has been attempted in the past, what worked well and not so well? Celebrate and highlight the wins and focus on improving the areas that are more challenging. For leaders who are new to this space, network, research and read, read, read as much as possible on best practices. Attend conferences on the topic and reach out to thought leaders in the space. Start small and look for quick wins. Focus on gaining senior level support and ensure that a strong vision is in place. Be patient and realise that it is a marathon, and not a sprint.

Check out Part Two of our talk with Ross Sparkman on hrmasia.com, where he takes us on a deep-dive into the types of questions solid Strategic Workforce Planning can answer, along with some tips for overcoming the challenges of its implimentation.

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Area Head, HR, Asia-Pacific

CHRISTINA SHEN Regional HR Manager, Asia-Pacific



ANA CARDOSO Vice President, HR, Emerging Markets

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H THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW Japanese healthcare group Takeda Pharmaceutical Company’s decision to consolidate its HR systems has led to the modernisation of the 237-old-year organisation’s operations globally B Y K E LV I N O N G


Associate HR Manager, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore


Director, Talent Acquisition, Emerging Markets


HR Business Partner, Emerging Markets

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5/16/2018 2:18:46 PM




apanese drug and medical equipment manufacturer Takeda Pharmaceutical Company may be 237 years old, but its HR processes and systems are anything but aged. For starters, in the last three years, the company has undergone a massive business and HR transformation. Vice President of HR for Emerging Markets (including Asia-Pacific) Ana Cardoso says the transformation wheels started turning in 2013, the year she joined Takeda’s Zurich offices as the Talent Management Head of Emerging Markets. In that role, she was tasked with implementing a global talent management strategic framework that would standardise human capital processes across all offices.

The change, Cardoso says, had been a long time coming. There was some initial resistance to the idea, and her team had to work hard to convince organisation leaders that a global internal platform would be beneficial to the business. Then, in 2015, when the business had a complete review of its geographical divisions, a decision was made to move the regional office of the Emerging Markets unit from Zurich to Singapore, away from Europe. The shift, she recalls, was what really helped to speed up the move towards a global HR system. “We had nothing here. We had to build up the regional office from scratch. We transferred some people over to Singapore, and we hired many more,” she shares. Today, over 50 corporate employees in this office support all 37 countries that form the Emerging Markets group. “Three years ago, we didn’t have a global set-up, each unit was independent. I was fortunate enough to participate in the transformation and drive some of the decisions that we took,” says Cardoso. The regional presence was very much in line with the organisation’s governing

mission, which is “to be as global and as local as needed”, she adds.

One global analytical platform As part of the HR strategy consolidation, all of the numerous organisational systems and processes that were previously used have been streamlined into one global analytical platform. This consolidation has increased the efficiency of talent management processes and information accuracy across the board, by allowing offices on different parts of the planet to extract a wealth of data on one another, including promotions, gender diversity and, pay scales. “Before, if I had to get data from 37 countries where we operate in, I would have Excel files of information to consolidate, knowing that it was unlikely they would be reliable,” says Cardoso. Since analytics was introduced, internal promotion rates across all countries, for example, have risen substantially, from 40% in 2016 to 66% in 2018. HR and team managers are now able to forecast what capabilities will be needed in the future and where the talent gaps of each business division are, all of which

AT A GLANCE Number of employees (Emerging Markets)

9,000 150

Key HR Focus Areas

HR transformation Diversity and inclusion



Size of HR Team

Performance management Leadership development

Work-life balance Company culture

informs its leadership development, training, and succession planning strategies.

Culture change around diversity The greatest impact, however, has been felt in the area of gender diversity, says Cardoso. For the first time, the company started tracking the analytics on diversity, and it discovered that diversity figures were lower at the highest organisational levels (33% female representation). Gender diversity has become a big part of the conversation among senior leadership, and is now one of the key business performance indicators. “I never realised this was an issue, but I found out that it was something we had to work on,” Cardoso reveals. “It is something we need to do internally, but it’s really about changing the culture.” The culture change is well underway, with the most focus being spent on China, Russia, Brazil, and South Korea, all of which fall under Emerging Markets. The organisation has started to implement a number of work-life strategies that make it easier for women to balance their home life and careers in these countries. For instance, in Brazil, local labour laws require a minimum four months’ maternity leave. In Takeda, female employees are entitled to six months of leave. In South Korea, benefits for women include flexible working hours, an additional five days of childcare leave entitlement, as well as breastfeeding rooms so that new mothers are able to tend to their newborns while still at work. Female employees are also entitled to “reasonable” daily breaks, or a daily reduction of work hours to breastfeed, which are allowed as paid recess, at least twice per day for more than 30 minutes each. “We have seen from the positive results, that the more diverse an organisation is, the more successful it will be,” says Cardoso, adding that there is a significant amount of investment has gone into diversity programmes in China, Russia, and South Korea. In Japan, where the head offices are, female representation in senior leadership positions was especially problematic, at just 3%. Cardoso says the initial goal is to raise that number to 6%, which she admits is still very low. To improve that figure, four years ago,

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HR launched local group sharing sessions, where women leaders are invited to talk about the challenges they had to overcome on their way up. The emphasis on diversity has also influenced the succession planning process. Five years ago, HR and team managers would get together twice a year and have talent review sessions, where they discussed the individuals, their performance, and where they would be placed in the future. “We used to just place people and talk about their next roles. Now, we ask: ‘do you have any women on your team?’; and ‘how diverse is your management team now?’,” says Cardoso. “Now, it’s not enough just having successors, we need to talk about strong successor pipelines, and diversity helps.”

Becoming an employer of choice All these efforts have helped Takeda to improve employee engagement levels globally, and its standing as an attractive employer. When the first staff engagement survey for the Emerging Markets group was

ACHIEVING TOP EMPLOYER STATUS IN FEBRUARY THIS year, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company became part of a select group of 13 companies, and one of two pharmaceuticals to receive the global Top Employer status for 2018 from the Top Employers Institute. Established over 25 years ago, the award certification is given annually to companies that create optimal conditions for their employees to

develop professionally and personally, and that achieve the highest standards of excellence for their people. “Our focus on patients, combined with our values to act with integrity, fairness, honesty, and perseverance, create a dynamic environment that our people feel strongly about and in which they are empowered to shine,” said David Osborne, Takeda’s Global HR Officer.

conducted in 2013, it was already at an impressive score of 89%. This grew to 92% in 2017, and talent retention rates have also grown. The success of Takeda’s transformation efforts also prompted the company to apply for a global Top Employers Institute certification in 2016 (which it received). “When we start to see the good job we have done internally, we thought it was time to make things public too,” says Cardoso. The certification also gave the organisation a much-needed advertising boost to job-seekers. “Takeda is not very well-known as a company outside of Japan. So we are not a company that people want to join. When they apply for a job here, they don’t know us,” Cardoso admits. Following the certification, Takeda has been able to attract 12% more job applications than previously.

“We have seen from the positive results, that the more diverse an organisation is, the more successful it will be”



It has also allowed the organisation to benchmark its HR systems and processes against other top companies, and check out the best practices that it can learn from. Cardoso says the decision to get certified was particularly crucial for emerging markets, where she says the company is very much a specialist healthcare organisation. “If you don’t have these kinds of processes to show, and say, ‘look at us – you can have a very good time here’, then it’s difficult to attract the best,” she says. Through all the technological and cultural changes, the global HR team under Cardoso has stayed resolute and focused on the end goal – to position the business as a truly global powerhouse. As a result, Cardoso says the HR agenda is now firmly a part of the overall business agenda. “I don’t need to fight to talk about people here. Having a management team that supports my initiatives is priceless,” she says. And with a company mission statement as “better health, brighter future”, Takeda seems to have delivered this promise not just to customers, but employees too. “The better employees we have, the better services that we deliver to the patient,” she says. “Ultimately, the question is how do we match our business aspirations to our employee value proposition, because the people are really what makes a difference to our business.”. kelvin.ong@hrmasia.com.sg M AY 2 0 1 8

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“At Takeda, we are passionate about providing the right environment so our people can learn and progress their careers.” The Top Employers Institute assesses company offerings to their employees. It covers 600 HR practices across the following areas: talent strategy, workforce planning, onboarding, learning and development, performance management, and culture.



5/16/2018 2:18:50 PM




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12th Annual Asia Employment Law Congress Ensuring Compliance to Avoid Risk and Gain a Competitive Advantage 19-20 June 2018 | Singapore

If your organisation is, or is likely to be, involved with the employment of staff in Asia Pacific, then you need to ensure that you are updated with current local employment laws, as well as reliable information on employment conditions, policies and procedures. HRM Asia’s 12th Annual Asia Employment Law will provide you with the latest regional employment law updates on how to ensure your organization is fully compliant when employing foreign, independent, fixed-term contract or agency workers. Attend to discover effective means of making your organization free from unconscious bias and discriminatory practices.

Top Regional Employment Legal Experts:

Goh Seow Hui Partner, Head Singapore Employment Practice Bird & Bird

Akiko Yamakawa Partner Vanguard Lawyers Tokyo

Donovan Cheah Partner Donovan & Ho

Brendon Carr Senior Foreign Legal Consultant Hwang Hong & Co. PC

Shobha D’Sa Head of HR and Employee Relations Procter and Gamble

Snapshot of the Latest Regional Employment and Labour Laws to be Covered in Asia Employment Law 2018 Recent amendments to employment and labour laws

Chinese labour & employment law update

Changes in law related to fixed term employees

Employment regulations update: an insider’s guide for foreign employers

Hongkong’s labour protection and regulations highlights

Changes to maternity benefits

Revisions to Taiwan’s Labor Standards Act

Update on the amended Labour Protection Act

New changes to BIR and Tax Laws

Update on proposed amendments to the labour code

Recent trends on employee termination

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Latest update on Singapore Employment Act

To register or to find out more

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Enhance Your Learning Experience!

Attend the Country-Focused Employment Law Post Conference Workshops- covering Singapore, India, Indonesia, Korea, and China • 21 June 2018 – Singapore Employment Law • 18 July 2018 – India Employment Law • 16 August 2018 – Indonesia Employment Law • 13 September 2018 – Korea Employment Law • 8 October 2018 – China Employment Law

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THE LEGAL FACE OF THE CONTINGENT WORKFORCE As project-based, freelance, and gig work become increasingly de rigueur, the laws surrounding such arrangements have come under increasing scrutiny. HRM Magazine Asia takes a look at what employers need to watch out for B Y YA M I N I C H I N N U S WA M Y

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he contingent workforce has arrived, and it’s only going to get bigger. The idea of using freelancers or temporary staff is nothing new, but in the era of Uber, online tools like Upwork have gained immense traction. In fact, job seekers themselves seem to be deliberately seeking out ondemand positions as contractors or consultants. Persolkelly’s recent Asia-Pacific Workforce Insights survey – which involved almost 9,300 hiring managers and candidates across a wide range of industries and nine countries in the region –found that almost two-thirds of Generation Z respondents (born between 1995 and 2005) are actively seeking out short-term roles, far more so than any other age demographic. That survey also found that Hong Kong has most embraced the free agent trend in Asia-Pacific, with 55% of its workers agreeing that there is a preference for more flexible employment. Vietnam (50%), Thailand (48%), and Singapore (47%) are close behind.

How does the law view contingent workers? The contingent workforce includes gig workers, but it also includes part-timers, freelancers, and contract employees. In the eyes of the law in Singapore, there are slight nuances differentiating each. “Gig workers can be employees or freelancers,” noted Lim Swee Say, Singapore’s Minister for Manpower, during a speech last year. “For example, if a private car driver joins a transport company with an employment contract and takes on jobs offered via apps, he is in the gig economy, but is still an employee protected by labour laws because there is an employment contract with the car rental company, even if he is on a shortterm employment contract with (it). There is no difference from other workers who are employed under what we call ‘contract of service’,” he explained. “But if he provides a service in return for a fee without entering into any employeremployee relationship with any party, and at the same time, he is not overly constrained by conditions imposed by the ‘platform’ owner or service buyer, then this is no different from any freelancer that we know today under ‘contract for service’.”

The legal minefield But even as the contingent of contingent workers becomes bigger, so too have calls become louder and more prevalent for existing labour laws to be updated. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has called for employees who have



“IN AN INCREASINGLY MOBILE WORLD, COMPANIES ALSO NEED TO BE MINDFUL OF THE GREY AREAS INVOLVED WHEN HIRING GIG WORKERS OR FREELANCERS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES” put in six months of regular work to be given the option of converting to a full-time, permanent position. However, Australia’s Fair Work Commission already rejected similar proposals last year – though it did grant casual workers in certain industries (including retail and hospitality) the right to request permanent employment if they work regular hours for 12 months. Employers are allowed to refuse to enact the conversion if they have one of a wide range

of “reasonable” grounds. “There have been too many loopholes; too many ways for employers to get around ensuring people have rights and security at work,” says ACTU secretary Sally McManus. In an increasingly mobile world, companies also need to be mindful of the grey areas involved when hiring gig workers or freelancers from different countries. As Mark Graham, a professor of internet geography at the Oxford Internet Institute told The Atlantic, “if you are an online worker in Kenya and the client who is giving you the work is based in the US, it’s not fully clear to either parties whose rules should be governing that relationship. Should you be following Kenyan labour laws?” “More needs to be done to enforce rules that are on the books in the first place. Then, more needs to be done to figure out how we make rules and guidelines and regulations that make sense in a world of digital work,” he added. “That’s obviously a difficult task that relies on regulators from all over the world asking, ‘How do we both encourage work but protect our workers?’ That’s a hard balancing act.” In Singapore, the matter of social security contributions has become a particular sticking point. “Can we have a new form of contribution? We may have to be one of the first few (in the world) to design something,” said Ang Hin Kee, the director of the Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit at Singapore’s National Trades Union Congress, during a conversation with local media.

Government actions so far The Singapore government has already started addressing the challenges posed by the rise of the contingent workforce – one step has been the establishment of a tripartite working group specifically dedicated to it. Established in March last year, the workgroup recently released a “firstwave” report of recommendations that address issues facing freelance and other self-employed workers. The Singapore government has reportedly already accepted these recommendations. They include the development of special insurance schemes to help compensate for short-term income loss during injury or

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illness, as well as a ‘contributeas-you-earn” Medisave model which mandates contributions to the health insurance fund that all regular workers compulsorily contribute to. Additionally, the workgroup has recommended the development of a Tripartite Standard to require written contracts when engaging freelancers. The contracts would cover payment timelines, amounts, the obligations of each party, and how disputes can be resolved.

Another recommendation calls for sector agencies to provide more mediatory support in the case of disputes – for instance, the Land Transport Authority and the Infocomm Media Development Authority presently provide such support. Over in the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a wave of labour reform – with millions of workers reportedly standing to benefit from so-

Getting up to speed with employment law HRM ASIA’S 12th Annual

Employment Law Asia Congress 2018 seeks to provide HR practitioners with the latest regional employment law updates.

Participants will also have the opportunity to hear from the region’s employment law experts about best practices to ensure your organisations

are free from unconscious bias and discriminatory practices, and also fully compliant when employing foreign, independent, fixedterm contract, or agency workers. Be sure to save the date: June 19 and 20, 2018.

called “day one” rights. The “Good Work Plan” reform package aims to ensure “[accountability] for good quality work as well as quantity of jobs,” May said. It includes holiday and sick pay entitlements, a right to payslips for all workers (including casual workers), and a right for all workers to request more stable working arrangements. “We recognise the world of work is changing and we have to make sure we have the right structures in place to reflect those changes,” said May. “We are proud to have record levels of employment in this country but we must also ensure that workers’ rights are always upheld.” A key case has also gone to the UK’s Supreme Court discussing the exact nuances of employment status and workers’ rights, and how these apply to gig workers and other members of the contingent workforce. It is likely that Singapore, and other countries in Asia, will take a page from the gig economy rulebooks laid out in the UK, as well as other established markets. In the meanwhile, organisations will likely need to proactively work with regulators and workers associations to ensure that the tenuous legalities around the contingent workforce don’t end up biting them in the back. yamini.chinnuswamy@hrmasia.com.sg M AY 2 0 1 8

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CALENDAR Second quarter of 2018

9 -10 MAY

13 JUN

Asia’s biggest workforce management show is back with a stellar line up of thought leaders, business heads, and senior HR practitioners. With eight conference streams and a huge HR-focused expo, this is a not-to-be missed event for anyone looking to get the most out of their workforce in this disruptive economy.

This new, monthly, invitationonly networking event is exclusive for the HR community in Asia. It is a deliberately social environment, where HR professionals can meet, exchange ideas and share advice, or even just a few stories. Other dates in Q2 are May 9 (Singapore). Register your interest at www.hrdrinks.com.


19-20 JUN


11 JUL


In these turbulent and disruptive times, employing organisations need to be fully aware and up to date with their rights and responsibilities toward their staff. The Asia Employment Law Congress 2018 will provide a comprehensive overview of the evolving employment law landscape in key Asian markets, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, and Taiwan.

26-27 JUN


Strategy, Analytics, Transformation, and Design: the new world of HR demands a new, holistic approach to workforce management utilising all four of these concepts. For the first time in Asia-Pacific, this multi-stream conference will provide a new perspective on the traditional HR function and inspire delegates to seize the many opportunities for innovation that abound.


The 2018 Learning and Development Conference will explore the latest learning trends for modern workplaces across four core areas: science and research, design and development, management and implementation, and tools and technologies. Delegates will gain critical insights from companies and thought leaders who are re-skilling and up-skilling their talent in this disruptive business environment.


The role of the Chief HR Officer is becoming more important than ever as these employee-focused leaders become a partner to the CEO, drive strategy, and ultimately enhance business success. CHRO Series 2018, taking place in Singapore on July 11, is themed “Driving the Business to Succeed and Shaping the Future of Work”. This exclusive one-day event is shaped around the unique HR challenges faced by businesses investing in today’s competitive workforce.

Do you have an upcoming event to share with the HR community in Singapore? Email paul.howell@hrmasia.com.sg with the details.



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“The HR profession is all about employee relations and connections, starting from the hiring phase all the way to an individual transiting out of the organisation”



Senior Vice President of Learning and Development, Lazada Group

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WHAT HR PROFESSIONALS CAN LEARN FROM VOLUNTEERING In the process of giving back, HR practitioners will pick up valuable lessons that will not only benefit their work, but also themselves as individuals



have been blessed to have spent a large part of my career as a commercial leader before becoming a HR professional. The transition was not simple, but the 13 years of exposure to the commercial side of business has also taught me so much about how I can be an effective talent partner to the business I serve, and deliver solutions to meet its needs. Likewise, in HR, you get to learn so much by exposing yourself to other aspects of life. In HR itself, I’ve learned various tips and tricks for successful communication, strategies on how to engage talent, and important approaches to streamline mundane operational tasks. But one interesting thing I’ve come to realise throughout all my working years is how important volunteer work is for HR practitioners. Now, you might ask yourself, why volunteering? And how does it help HR professionals, right? Well, please hear me out.

The power of volunteering Volunteering is the act of selflessly giving up your time to do something for others without expecting anything in return. Whether it’s serving at a homeless shelter, a school or some other organisation or charity of your choice, the act of giving your time to something bigger than yourself not only benefits your personal growth as a human being, but helps you truly understand the nature of your vocation.



The HR profession is all about employee relations and connections, starting from the hiring phase all the way to an individual transiting out of the organisation. While there are many benefits of HR engaging in volunteer work, here are three that really stand out for me.

1. Exposure to and learning from different types of people When you go out and volunteer, you naturally develop your HR skills. You learn how to communicate with different types of people on an emotional level (not just the professional ones you interact with daily at work) and feel more accomplished as a person since you’re doing something good. You’re stepping out of your comfort zone to experience various situations you would have never put yourself in otherwise, allowing you to gain new experiences you can apply at work. One way HR leaders can volunteer is to mentor young professionals. At Voices of Asia, a skills-based mentoring platform that sees HR leaders take time off their busy schedules to support, nurture and transform an upstart, many of our volunteers have come back again asking to do more. They want to mentor more people, train, speak, plan, finance, advise, and even help to pack goodie bags. These HR volunteers are driven by their desire to contribute to a greater good, rather than their own work performance indicators.

2. Building your talent development and programme design skills As a volunteer, you’ll also be able to learn from those who work for NGOs or social enterprises, many of whom have learned various tricks to help engage and motivate their volunteers. They’re always searching for the best people to volunteer for their organisations, creating flexible

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“WHEN YOU GO OUT AND VOLUNTEER, YOU NATURALLY DEVELOP YOUR HR SKILLS. YOU LEARN HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE ON AN EMOTIONAL LEVEL” HR professionals can learn from is that money isn’t the only motivator. Volunteers don’t get paid for their time or service, yet have the desire to still work hard to help achieve the organisation’s overall goals. What HR professionals can walk away with is how to create and foster a culture of gratitude, which can boost overall company morale and culture. Many of our mentors in Voices of Asia have also learned so much from their mentees during each of those 12-month journeys. Each “thank you” gives them an increased sense of purpose, happiness, and motivation to keep going. After all, giving is a big source of happiness for most people. No one said volunteering was easy, but our volunteers will tell you that it has transformed them tremoundously. Do you see the link? What if we can inspire HR professionals to give willingly, leveraging on their unique skill-sets, which are often so valuable when it comes to serving people? Individuals, teams and organisations can benefit from the great givers among us, but what’s even better is these givers themselves feel happier and better, and in turn, they want to give even more. We call this the “contentment cycle”. and innovative work designs and fostering a welcoming work environment, all while dealing with different personalities on a daily basis. This is similar to what HR handles and does day in and day out, allowing them to learn from very different functions, and apply those learnings back at work. As the founder of Voices of Asia, the first seven years were a big challenge for me. There has never been a day when I am not thinking

about how I can get the most credible volunteer mentors, create the best mentoring journeys, provide the best training needed, and get the required funding to sustain the quality of the programme.

3. Learn to motivate without breaking the bank Building on the previous point, another important aspect of volunteering which many

About the author Kelvin Kong is the Senior Vice President of Learning and Development at Lazada Group; and also the founder of Voices of Asia, which provides mentoring services to disadvantaged people throughout the region. M AY 2 0 1 8

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The art of strategic talent acquisition AT THE SINGAPORE Talent & Recruitment Show, which took place at Singapore’s Suntec Convention Centre on March 20 and 21, one key insight was that an effective talent acquisition manager should also act as a strategic guide to hiring managers. “Our job is to strategically source, and not blanket-source – the hiring managers are actually expected to have some names in mind when they come to us,” noted Ajit Iyer, Managing Director, HR, for Worldwide Operations at Applied Materials. “Because nobody knows better than them who will fit the profile. “Of course, the flipside is that the business will start to ask what talent acquisition professionals are getting paid for. So you have to become very good at diagnosing candidate fit, and work with HR business partners to make the on-boarding process as effective as possible,” he added. Adele Png, Head of Talent Acquisition for Emerging Materials at Takeda, noted that even as the art of talent acquisition evolves,



there is a role for HR in providing a broader perspective. “It’s very common for managers to hire in their own image. So your role in talent acquisition is to make sure you hold a mirror in front of them and say, ‘We want to be inclusive, we want to be diverse. Are you sure you want a 10th male in your accounting function?’ Having that kind of awareness is very important,” she said.

Five things we learned at the... SINGAPORE TALENT & RECRUITMENT SHOW


Keep it simple and seamless

Jonathan Wong, Head of Talent Management at BHS Kinetic, advised talent acquisition professionals to make it as easy as possible for candidates to submit themselves for consideration. “The shorter your application process is, the more likely that it will be completed accurately,” he said.


Respect your candidates

“A few years back, we introduced some interventions to ensure that candidates are met by somebody – maybe not even the HR leader or hiring manager, but at least a human being – within the first five minutes of their arrival,” said Krish Iyer, Regional Talent Director of



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Kantar Health. ”It has improved our feedback tremendously.”


Enable transparency through technology

Johnson & Johnson has “lifted the curtain” on the recruitment process through a platform dubbed “Shine” – a mobile-friendly tool that candidates can use to track every step of their application. “We can’t be there for every candidate due to the sheer volume of applications, but this especially adds value for people who do not progress past the résumésubmission stage,” said James Williams, Head of Talent Acquisition, Australia and New Zealand.


Partner educational institutions

“Establishing partnerships with schools has enabled organisations such as RollsRoyce to sustain a strong talent pipeline, shared Stephen Brown, the HR Director for Asia-Pacific at the engineering company. This is especially crucial in roles relating to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, where talent needs to be “caught” at the right age in order to ensure they develop the necessary skills and qualifications.


Transform into talent advisors

Natalie Tait, the Head of Acquisition for Asia-Pacific at the Bank of America MerrillLynch, advised that recruiters should be mindful of how disruption has necessitated their evolution into talent advisors. Talent advisors should prioritise business acumen, continuous rapid learning, and building a culture of hiring, she said.

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4/24/2018 4:34:17 PM


Stephanie Nash Chief People Officer Redmart


ho is Stephanie Nash, and how would you describe her?

I’m someone who cares a lot, and cares deeply about whatever it is I’m doing, and who I’m working with. Sometimes this can come across as intense, but it’s really coming from a genuine place of caring.

What do you do in your role as the Chief People Officer of Redmart? I listen a lot; I ask a lot of questions; and I try to solve problems.

Complete this sentence. HR is… Not just an enabler of the business, but is a people business.

What’s the best part of your job? Seeing other people become better leaders and better professionals.

What’s the worst part? Telling people they’ve lost their jobs.

Do you have to do this often? I’ve had to do it more often than I would have ever liked to.

What has been the highlight of your career so far? I’ve been very fortunate in my career so far, but the highlight has been around building high-performing teams.

How long have you been in HR, and why do you love it so much? I’ve been in HR for 25 years, and I love it because it’s really dynamic, and no two days are ever the same.



“Being curious, stretching yourself, and taking risks. For me that’s come from changing geographies, roles, industries and types of markets, even though I’ve been in the same function the whole time”

What would you be doing if you were not in HR? I would be a professional travel planner. I like doing the research, understanding what people enjoy doing, and creating experiences that they want to have.

The first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? I review in my head what I need to do for the day, and then I send an email to myself.

And how do you unwind after work? I focus my attention now with the American Association of Singapore, where I’m the President. It takes a lot of time, but it works for now.

What are your other passions in life? Travelling; being on, in, or near the water: snorkelling, scuba-diving; and also golf.

Are you a good golfer? No, but I just like it. M AY 2 0 1 8




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Is your HR career progressing as you’d planned? Obstacles and barriers come in all shapes and sizes, but seasoned advice is never far away. Email: readeradvice@hrmasia.com.sg to anonymously connect with HRM Asia’s team of career advisors.


I WAS RECENTLY promoted to a senior HR management role and now have a friend reporting to me who was formerly at the same level. I can feel he is upset about the changed circumstances, although I don’t think he will do anything to deliberately undermine me. I do worry that his engagement and focus are going to drop, and he may resent both me and the company. Have you encountered anything like this in your career, and is there anything I can do to help this friend accept the new hierarchy and thrive again? Asking for a friend, Singapore



This is always a difficult situation, and yes I have been in exactly this position. I have two key learnings to share. One is: No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, and no matter how sincere you are, that person’s true character will define whether you can continue to work together or not. In my situation, the incumbent whom I was hired over did indeed systematically sabotage me, and I had no choice but to remove them. However, his replacement, who was also my equal in position (and also more senior in years) was a delight to work with, He realised that we both had different strengths and that we could learn from each other. There was no way I could be successful without his support; and equally I could help him to achieve his future career goals. I’d ask you to think: what can you do to help your colleague be really successful, to grow and develop as a leader, to be the next person promoted. And how can you help them understand that you’re completely genuine in your desire to see them succeed. I’d recommend you taking them to tea, lunch, coffee, or beer – whichever is appropriate – and having a heart-to-heart. And if they are a person who has an open heart and open mind, they’ll appreciate your sincerity and support you. And if they intended to sabotage you, you’ll know about it much sooner. My second learning was that if the worst case scenario eventuates, and you have to make a tough people decision and remove somebody – do it sooner, not later.



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I AM THE assistant manager of a very small HR team covering a relatively large public organisation. Apart from me and my boss, we have had relatively high turnover of staff below us, I think because we don’t allocate any budget to training within the HR team. Now I feel like I am not getting the training I need to progress in my career. Can you recommend any free or low-cost development options that I can then suggest on behalf of my team? Untrained, Singapore


First of all, you suspect people are leaving because of a lack of training, but you don’t know that. My first action would be to implement exit interviews if you don’t have them. And if you do have them but you’re not confident in what they’re telling you, to even reach out to people who have left a second time. It may not be the lack of training. It may be the workload; it may be the leadership style; it may be the culture. You need to validate your assumptions. It is often a sad reality, that HR people are the cobbler’s children, and the last to receive training. The most progressive HR organisations and teams are good at ensuring that their people are also trained because they understand that it is a multiplier within the organisation. Better trained HR people lead to better workforce outcomes across the board. Also discuss with your boss – do they feel that this is a problem? You should note that the Singapore government’s focus is on future-skilling the economy, and that training workers in multiple industries are a national priority. HR should be a critical enabler in this in every company. Surely the government needs to be a role

model in this case. There are many good opportunities in Singapore, included many government-supported training programmes, and your Skills Future credit can help. You can also look to online options, including e-cornell, Coursera, and Udacity. Many of these have free programmes available. I also recommend you network broadly and join some form of HR community.


Is the Head of Asia to SmartUp. io. With 25 years of working experience in consulting and HR, his career has spanned across different industries and countries, including stints and projects with LG Electronics, GE Capital, McKinsey, the World Bank, and as Managing Director of Learning and Development for DBS Bank.

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Talk is not cheap EVERY ALTERNATE MONDAY, my editorial director and I will sit down for an hour of catchup. During these sessions, we discuss my pain points at work, the challenges I’ve been facing, any new ideas I have for our website and magazine, and even my career goals. Sometimes we will also talk about our lives outside of work, and what we have been up to when we’re not living and breathing HR. The goal of these conversations, really, is to keep each other in the loop of where each other is mentally and emotionally. Actually, I lie. It feels like I’m the only one sharing all the time. Some might think twice a month is an overkill, but I thoroughly enjoy these catch-up (or coaching) sessions. They’re like free therapy consultations, without the tears. But it seems I’m in the minority of people who view their performance management process positively. A new study suggests that there is a massive disconnect between how employers and employees feel about the way performance management and reviews are being carried out. It found that while nearly all bosses interviewed (94%) are confident that employees are satisfied with their company’s performance management and review processes, the reality is most employees feel the process is outdated (61%) – mostly because it’s often deemed


incomplete or too generic. Exacerbating the issue is the fact that most executives don’t make conducting performance reviews a high priority: more than half frequently reschedule or delay employee reviews because they didn’t have enough time to prepare, and end up spending an average of 15 hours of personal time preparing for a much bigger annual evaluation. It’s surprising that in these disruptive times, there are still so many firms out there that are not taking performance management more seriously. Keeping a finger on the pulse of everything that happens throughout your organisation is key to ensuring high productivity, but it is easier said than done. It requires a lot of communication and sharing between employees and leaders, and it requires leadership to lead by example in order for all team managers to follow suit. But most importantly, it requires HR to implement rules and processes, and enforce them across the board.

The other problem, as the survey found, was that employees found their feedback sessions outdated and ineffective. This is why even an organisation like General Electric, which for years swore by rating scales, decided to remove reviews altogether. At first, many thought the company was crazy for abolishing ratings. The question on most people’s minds was how the company would be able to pay bonuses and manage productivity if it did not dish out grades. To get around that problem, GE began using a performance system that combines regular feedback (through a mobile app) with an annual evaluation at the end of each year. Brocade Communications Singapore and Teledirect Telecommerce are two other organisations that have traded annual evaluations for regular coaching sessions. “Now, self-reflection and managerdriven feedback happens throughout the year, instead of just once at the end of the year,” Emily Draycott-Jones, HR Director, Asia-Pacific, Brocade Communications, previously told HRM Magazine Asia. One benefit of such a format is that staff feel like their feelings are being acknowledged, and that there is genuine interest in their professional growth. I can certainly attest to that. Having bi-weekly conversations with my boss has done wonders for my emotional wellbeing. Not only do I feel like I’m being heard, but I’ve also become more aware of where I might have dropped the ball that I was otherwise unaware of, and how I can improve to be better at my job. If companies truly want to get the best out of their people, simple chit-chat sessions are certainly a good place to start. kelvin.ong@hrmasia.com.sg M AY 2 0 1 8

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4/24/2018 6:45:19 PM


Next Month Coming Up

in the June 2018 issue

Leaders Talk HR HRM Magazine Asia sits down with Kam Shing Kwang, the CEO of JP Morgan in Asia, to discuss the finance firm’s internal culture and ambitious diversity goals.


See it online first at www.hrmasia.com from 56


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In Depth


HR Tech

HRM Magazine Asia takes a critical look at the regional economy and the sectors struggling to deal with the disruptive and volatile business landscape. We examine the impact of that uncertainty on both HR leaders and their staff.

Low-cost and DIY moves are becoming increasingly common as millennials take over the workforce. HRM Magazine Asia looks at how some organisations are implementing employeeinitiated international assignments.

With agile teams now a reality, organisations are under pressure to develop productivity solutions that will help smooth some extremely complex workflows. HRM Magazine Asia investigates this new space in the market.

Monday, June 4 4/24/2018 7:06:35 PM


4/24/2018 6:32:28 PM


4/24/2018 2:32:07 PM

Profile for HRM Asia

HRM May 2018 Jason Jennings - On speed, agility and servant leadership  

Jason Jennings on servant leadership, the HR advantages of blockchain tech, and more

HRM May 2018 Jason Jennings - On speed, agility and servant leadership  

Jason Jennings on servant leadership, the HR advantages of blockchain tech, and more

Profile for hrmasia