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How HR Can Make A Successful Shift Into

2021

NOVEMBERDECEMBER 2020

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CREATING A DIGITAL MANDATE FOR 2021 INNOVATION AT THE HEART OF DHL’S WORLD OF WORK


EDITOR’S NOTE SENIOR JOURNALIST

Shawn Liew GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Adrian Taylor adrian.taylor@mac.com SALES DIRECTOR

Luke Kasprzak SENIOR ACCOUNTS MANAGER

Edwin Lim MARKETING DIRECTOR

Yee Ling Chua MANAGING DIRECTOR AND PUBLISHER

Joanna Bush PHOTOGRAPHER

Tom White tomwhitephotography@gmail.com

Dear HRM Magazine Asia readers,

L

ike many of you, we at HRM Asia are looking forward to the new year after a challenging and disruptive 2020.

While a lingering sense of uncertainty will follow us into 2021, the new year also offers organisations the opportunity to reset business strategies so as to navigate successfully into a post-pandemic world. As HR and business leaders, there are many key strategic decisions that you need to make, and questions you need to ask. Will remote work stay, or is a mass return to the office on the cards? How can the digital transformation be expediated to gain more productivity improvements? What are the key technologies that will allow organisations to thrive in a new normal? To provide insights into these questions and more, we spoke to HR luminaries such as Josh Bersin, Tim Sackett and Brian Sommer, as they predict how the work place might look like in 2021, and how HR can ensure their organisations make a successful shift into 2021.

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One positive that has perhaps emerged as a result of the pandemic, is the acceleration of the digital transformation for many organisations. Also in this issue, Jason Averbook, Global Keynote Speaker, and CEO & Co-Founder, Leapgen, explains why every CHRO must have a digital mandate for 2021 and beyond, if they are to ensure true, sustained, perpetual transformation of workforce experience and the HR function itself. We also spoke with Declan J. Byrne, SVP, Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific, who provided some key insights into how DHL has been adapting to thrive in the future of work, with innovation at the heart of the company in terms of creating agility, upskilling their people and how they engage with their employees.

As both workers and employers adjust to the new world of work, adaptability and resilience skills are especially important to cope with the volatile and uncertain environment, says Jenaline Low, Director, Institute of Business Excellence and Healthcare Academy, NTUC LearningHub. Writing in this issue, she highlights how leaders must take the lead in order to make continuous learning habitual, and successful. Clearly, for 2021 to be a success, HR leaders must lead their organisations on a learning and rediscovery journey. While many organisations are now more prepared to begin their recovery from the pandemic, it is also undeniable that the world of work is unlikely to return to what it was prepandemic. As we welcome 2021, HR is likely to have a more pivotal role to play then ever in preparing and equipping the workforce for a new world of work. Here at HRM Asia, we will continue to be your trusted source of information and market-leading content for HR across Asia, and we wish you a very successful 2021 ahead!

SHAWN LIEW, 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

Shawn Liew

Senior Journalist shawn.liew@hrmasia.com.sg

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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CONTENTS

NOVEMBERDECEMBER 2020

ON THE COVER

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HOW HR CAN MAKE A SUCCESSFUL SHIFT INTO 2021

Josh Bersin, Global Industry Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy; Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources; and Brian Sommer, Technology Analyst, Strategy Consultant and Writer, provide some key insights on how HR can make a successful shift into 2021. These include the shift from “HR Tech” to “Work Tech”, the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation, as well as the HR priorities for 2021 and beyond.

F E AT U R E S SCRATCHING THE 12 SURFACE OF HR TRANSFORMATION: A DIGITAL MANDATE FOR 2021

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Jason Averbook, Global Keynote Speaker, and CEO & Co-Founder, Leapgen, explains why every CHRO must have a digital mandate for 2021 and beyond, in order to ensure true, sustained, perpetual transformation of workforce experience and the HR function. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020


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PEOPLE-CENTRIC SIME DARBY PROPERTY 14 LEADS EMPLOYEES WITH MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS AT THE FOREFRONT Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sime Darby has made the mental health of their employees a priority, introducing various programmes that are tailored to ensure workplace wellbeing.

AT THE HEART 16 INNOVATION OF DHL’S WORLD OF WORK

Declan J Byrne, SVP, Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific, tells HRM Magazine Asia how the company has been adapting to thrive in the future of work.

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UPSKILLING IMPERATIVE: 20 THE LEADERS MUST WALK THE TALK

Jenaline Low, Director, Institute of Business Excellence and Healthcare Academy, NTUC LearningHub, explains why adaptability and resilience skills are especially important to cope with a volatile and uncertain environment.

HR PROFESSIONALS KEEPING 24 ARE UP WITH HR’S EVOLUTION?

Philippa Penfold, CEO and Co-Founder, People Collider, highlights how developing HR’s capability with technology requires a focus on both the role of technology in HR and business.

PRIORITIES IN A CHANGING 26 REDEFINING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT

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Peter Hadley, President, Asia Pacific, ADP, explains how organisations should approach people leadership, payroll and technology in order to be successful beyond the pandemic.

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REGULARS 04 06 28

ASIA NEWS INTERNATIONAL NEWS TWO CENTS NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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NEWS ASIA

SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE ENSURES WORKERS’ MENTAL WELL-BEING THE SINGAPORE GOVERNMENT has accepted the recommendations of an International Advisory Panel (IAP) to step up measures to provide mental health support and prevent workplace accidents. To improve employees’ mental health, the IAP has recommended that the government encourage businesses to include mental well-being in their management practices. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has also piloted iWorkHealth, an assessment tool to be launched and made available for free to employers next year. Employers are also encouraged to make their expectations for communications after office hours clear to their staff.

INDIA

INDIA EASING INTO REMOTE WORK THE INDIAN GOVERNMENT has announced simplified guidelines for industry players in the IT sector, aimed at positioning the country as a competitive technology hub among global players. Requirements that previously prevented employees from working remotely have also been removed, boosting the flexibility of business operations. This comes crucial in a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has forced employees to operate out of the office. The government also hopes that the new guidelines will allow the industry to focus on innovative new products and solutions.

AUSTRALIA

PROTECT WFH WORKERS, SAY AUSTRALIAN UNIONS UNIONS IN AUSTRALIA unions are evaluating if more protection would be needed so that work-from-home (WFH) workers do not face discrimination or loss of pay and benefits. The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) believes that a WFH charter should ensure that “the rights and benefits of those now working from home not be less favourable than what they were prior to the move to home-based work, and that working from home not be grounds for discrimination”. More than 80% of Australian workers want to continue to work from home in some capacity, according to a survey of 10,000 Australian employees conducted by unions.

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SOUTH KOREA

ARE SOUTH KOREAN WORKERS OVERWORKED? ONLY 45.2% OF WORKERS n South Korea can take off days whenever they wish to, reveals a nationwide survey of 1,000 workers. The survey also highlights that the ratio for workers who can go on leave flexibly was lower among female, non-regular, and low-income workers. The survey, comprising workers aged between 19 and 55, found that 811 respondents, or 81.1%, said that they stay at work over eight hours each weekday. Out of those, 54.7% highlighted that it was due to excessive workload. Another 30% said that they work longer than eight hours a day to earn more, while 15.3% said that they were forced by employers to work overtime.

MALAYSIA

JOBS CREATION TOPS AGENDA FOR MALAYSIA’S BUDGET 2021

TAIWAN

TAIWAN SEES FALL IN NUMBER OF FURLOUGHED WORKERS THE NUMBER OF FURLOUGHED staff in Taiwan has continued to fall in the second week of November to 11,317, marking a decline of 380 from the week prior, highlights its Ministry of Labor (MOL). At its peak, the number of furloughed workers in Taiwan totaled about 31,000 as at end-June, but this has dropped as the economic impact of the pandemic has waned, said Huang Wei-chen, deputy director of the Department of Labor Standards and Equal Employment at MOL. The fall in furloughed numbers was attributed to two manufacturing firms allowing its workers to return fulltime. A metal and machinery company allowed some 100 staff to resume employment, while a consumer goods manufacturer brought some 200 workers back to work.

AS PART OF THE COUNTRY’S budget 2021, the Malaysian government plans to create 500,000 new job opportunities in the new year. At a cost of RM$3.7 billion (US$897 million), this will include skills development and retraining programmes. Malaysia will also be continuing its hiring incentive programme, with an allocation of RM$2 billion (US$582 million), expected to increase employment opportunities for 200,000 jobseekers. Starting from January 2021, the government will offer 50,000 contract job opportunities within the public sector and government-linked companies. Of these, 35,000 jobs will be offered in the public sector, and 15,000 in government-linked companies in the technical and financial fields.

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N E W S I N T E R N AT I O N A L

US

US BUSINESS SENTIMENT UPBEAT AS COVID-19 VACCINE EMERGES WITH PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES such as Pfizer and Moderna pushing ahead to release vaccines for the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners in the US are feeling more confident about their recovery plans. While any vaccine will still require approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, some business owners are now holding off on staff cuts, while others say they are more likely to renew their office leases even as employees still work from home. At the time of writing, British regulators were considering giving regulatory approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, ahead of authorisation in the US.

US

US COMPANIES WANT TO STRENGTHEN BUSINESS TIES WITH CHINA MORE THAN HALF (54.8%) of US companies said they are “more optimistic” about doing business in China following Joe Biden’s victory in the recent presidential election. According to a new survey by the American Chamber of Commerce, 8.1% of the 124 company leaders surveyed this November also indicated that they are “much more optimistic” about doing business in China. However, uncertainty remains as only 13.7% respondents plan to increase investment in China, with the majority sitting tight or undecided on their local development plans. 54.8%) of US companies said they are “more optimistic” about doing business in China following Joe Biden’s victory in the recent presidential election. According to a new survey by the American Chamber of Commerce, 8.1% of the 124 company leaders surveyed this November also indicated that they are “much more optimistic” about doing business in China. However, uncertainty remains as only 13.7% respondents plan to increase investment in China, with the majority sitting tight or undecided on their local development plans.

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GLOBAL

MORE JOB CUTS EXPECTED AT GE US CONGLOMERATE GENERAL ELECTRIC has warned of more job cuts at its aviation unit. “As we continue to closely monitor market conditions, we are examining a range of options to appropriately scale our business to match the realities of the global airline industry recovery from the severe impacts of COVID-19,” the company said in a statement. GE had announced in May plans to cut its global workforce at its aviation unit by as much as 25% in 2020, or up to 13,000 jobs, citing prolonged aircraft reduction schedules. Through the quarter to end-September, GE had reduced about 20% of its aviation workforce.


GERMANY

EQUALITY FOR WOMEN IN GERMANY’S WORKFORCE GERMANY IS SET TO INTRODUCE a mandatory quota for women in the senior management of listed German companies. Franziska Giffey, Germany’s minister for families and women, said, “We are putting an end to women-free C-suites in big companies. Management boards of German companies with more than three members must in future include at least one woman, with women currently making up only 12.8% of the management boards of German companies listed on the blue-chip Dax index. In comparison, the proportion of women in leadership roles ins 28.6% in the US, 24.9% in Sweden and 24.5% in the UK. The move by the German government came about after failure to encourage firms to hire more female executives on a voluntary basis.

UK

WFH, WORKERS IN ENGLAND TOLD AS PART OF A STRICTER TIER SYSTEM, workers in England have been told to work from home (WFH) whenever possible, until at least April 2021. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that under every tier of new pandemic restrictions, workers in England who can work from home should continue to do so. The rules under the new three-tier system will last until at least the end of March if voted through by parliament. Other policies being considered include closing pubs that do not serve food in tier 2 areas and closing all hospitality venues in tier 3 areas.

CANADA

MORE HELP FOR CANADIAN WOMEN THE CANADIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE has called on the government to deliver immediate help to women struggling to return to work. To allow more women to be brought back to the labour force, the chamber recommended two measures: increased rapid testing for the virus and more money for childcare to be sent directly to families and providers. Leah Nord, senior director of workforce strategies at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said, “The reality on the ground is daycare and schools need to remain open to keep women in the workforce. All daycare is local, as are schools, and that’s where the federal government must deliver the help it has promised for working women.”

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F E AT U R E

THOUGHT LEADERS

HOW HR CAN MAKE A SUCCESSFUL SHIFT INTO 2021 The end of 2020 cannot come quickly enough for many, with the hope that 2021 will usher in a sustained period of stability and recovery from the disruption and uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

F

From HR Tech to Work Tech or HR and business leaders, There are many technology trends in HR, but there are many key strategic the biggest is the shift from “HR Tech” to “Work decisions to be made as Tech”, suggests Josh Bersin, Global Industry they prepare to welcome a Analyst and Dean of the Josh Bersin Academy. He tells HRM Asia Magazine, “While new year. Will remote work companies desperately need reliable HR stay, or is a mass return to the office systems for pay, recruitment, learning, feedback on the cards? How can the digital and more, none of these systems are useful if transformation be expediated to gain they are not easy to use and embedded into people’s work lives. more productivity improvements? “This means the new world of HR tech is What are the key technologies that will not only focused on ‘experience design,’ but allow organisations to thrive in a new actually integrated into the tools we use at normal post-pandemic? work.”

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F E AT U R E

THOUGHT LEADERS

“THE NEW WORLD OF HR TECH IS NOT ONLY FOCUSED ON ‘EXPERIENCE DESIGN,’ BUT ACTUALLY INTEGRATED INTO THE TOOLS WE USE AT WORK.” – JOSH BERSIN Instead of creating a user ID to log into a recruiting website to apply for a job, can the recruiting system present a chatbot that ask the applicant questions about background, interests, location and pay? “You could upload your resume or point the chatbot to LinkedIn and apply without ever filling in a form,” Bersin explains. He continues, “As an employee or manager, why can’t we just ‘ask Microsoft Teams’ for help and find the right learning module, the right form for vacation, or our 401k balance, without leaving my work experience and logging into Workday or SuccessFactors? “And now that we are worried about office scheduling and work location, why can’t I just ‘chat’ with my collaboration tool and let it figure out my location and assign me a desk automatically?” For HR professionals who have to log into enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to run reports and find data about people issue, can this process be streamlined such that the survey platform sends the user alerts and updates when groups or teams are out of range, when If there is a harassment claim, or when a team is reporting high levels of turnover? Because HR business partners are just as busy as everyone else, “flow-of-work” solutions will grow in demand, Bersin says. “Every company we talk with is struggling to find better HR tools that are easier to use, easier to customise and easier to configure. This year, and into 2021, we do not have the time for three-year implementation projects, but we do need collaboration, communication, safe workplaces and flexibility in our platforms.”

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While acknowledging the increasingly importance and influence of AI and new systems such as talent marketplace tools, learning experience platforms and flexible workflow designers, Bersin highlights how the number one criteria now invariably centres around how easy the system is to use and will people actually use it. He adds, “I think 2021 will be a fantastic and important year in HR Tech. We will not see quite as many ‘brand new’ platforms as we have in the past, but everything will become more seamless, productive and easy to use – and this is what ‘employee experience’ and wellbeing is all about.”

AI and automation on the rise As organisations better accustomed and equipped to manage the disruptions brought forth by the pandemic, another item that is likely to be high on the priority

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list is the hiring process. Tim Sackett, President of HRU Technical Resources, predicts, “I believe one of the things we’ll see post-pandemic within the TA Technology stack will be organisations further diving into the use of AI in automating most of the high touch points in our hiring process.” From a technology standpoint, the components are already in place, but as organisations get back to hiring in a more robust way, decisions will have to be made. “Do we add back headcount in talent acquisition or do we add technology?” Sackett asks. “As we saw during the Great Recessions, world-class organisations will first turn to technology before they turn to headcount.” “So, we will see a disruption where it will become the norm for organisations to use technology for things like auto-sourcing candidates, matching candidates to jobs, the use of natural language processing to communicate and screen applicants, the continued use of video interviewing, but also video assessments and pre-hire insights to make higher quality selections.” Within the next 12-24 months, Sackett expects enterprise organisations hiring mass volumes of candidates in the “no to low-skill arenas” to stop using human interactions to make hiring decisions. From attracting to onboarding talent, all hiring can be automated and organisations can build a stack and a process that will run 24/7 and be more effective that what they have traditionally done, he described. “As you ramp up the skill level, the human component of recruiting will be in building relationships with great talent

“WE WILL SEE A DISRUPTION WHERE IT WILL BECOME THE NORM FOR ORGANISATIONS TO USE TECHNOLOGY FOR THINGS LIKE AUTO-SOURCING CANDIDATES.” – TIM SACKETT


“LET’S GIVE PEOPLE SOME CERTAINTY AND DECIDE WHERE WORK WILL OCCUR LONG-TERM WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE ‘WHEN’ ANSWER MAY LAG.”

Modern Living in the Heart of the City

– BRIAN SOMMER faster and stronger, developing an ondemand pipeline of talent for organisations to tap into when the time is needed,” Sackett adds.

HR priorities for 2021 and beyond While it is hoped that 2021 will herald a higher degree of normalcy to the workplace, clearly, ambiguity will continue to be prevalent. For HR and business leaders focusing on their priorities for 2021 and beyond, what should they be emphasising on? For starters, clarify the “where of work”, advises Brian Sommer, Technology Analyst, Strategy Consultant and Writer. He explains, “There are millions of employees globally wondering where they will be working next year. Will it be at home or in the office? People do not know if they need to get a bigger home for a permanent home office, or get a better car for their commute. “Let’s give people some certainty and decide where work will occur long-term while acknowledging that the ‘when’ answer may lag. Next, give them the confidence to know you are doing your best to make that the safest, best and most productive space of all. This uncertainty is stressful and stress does not make for an engaged and productive workforce.” Because of the pandemic, 2020 also saw many companies lay off workers, enforced pay and benefit cuts, or withdrew job offers. This, according to Sommer, did “massive damage” to recruiting and employment brands. He pointed out that only half of the workers laid off from a company return to

their old employer. After all, why should or will people come back to your company? “If your firm wants to be perceived as sincere re: its values and culture, then acknowledge these deeds, sincerely ask for a second chance and do your best to ensure that this remains a once-in-a-career event and not a pattern of callousness towards employees,” Sommer cautions. As HR continues to face serious challenges to the heart of its existence, organisations need to get in touch with the soul of HR. “The soul of HR will be affected by how well HR manages algorithms and AI tools that, if run unchecked, can subvert your D&I goals,” says Sommer. “Likewise, HR must be maniacal in rooting out all manner of unattended bias in hiring and promotions. HR needs to establish a new North Star and get all of its team, technologies and processes aligned to make this a reality.” Last, but certainly not least, improving productivity needs to become a priority. While many HR technology acquisitions were made to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of HR employees, new HR technologies must now drive productivity gains not just for HR, but also the entire organisation. Sommer observes, “The pandemic and its business closures and supply chain challenges have really hurt productivity. As companies fight to regain their competitive edge, they need a workforce with skills in new technologies and disciplines. “Can your HR group find and develop the people with the skills of tomorrow, instead of the skills of yesteryear? Help your organisation be a long-term success!”

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F E AT U R E

THOUGHT LEADERS

Scratching the surface of HR transformation:

A digital mandate for 2021 I f 2020 was the year of creation, which I think it was, 2021 will be a year of REBIRTH. This year was indelibly marked by global pandemic, social justice, soaring unemployment, social distancing, and a complete upheaval of work, workers and business. With perspective, you might look at all of these as activation levers. Called upon to (re-)act, we created new work models and social routines, we found new ways to learn and educate, we embraced digital transformation and the power of technology, entrepreneurs birthed new projects, and massive enterprises shifted more in months than they had planned to in the next decade. In chemistry, activation energy is the minimum amount of energy required to activate atoms or molecules to a condition in which they can undergo chemical transformation or physical transport. In the same way, 2020 was chock full of ingredients to activate transformation. Spearheading much of the dramatic change were CHROs and other HR leaders responsible for how, where, when, and with what resources the workforce could get support, continue to work productively, stay physically safe and mentally well, and

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remain connected to the organisation. Not the catalyst we expected, but a catalyst we needed. Human Resources was snapped out of its traditional mindset and role, assuming their rightful position as nimble and strategic innovators shaping the Now of Work. HR became drivers of powerful and dynamic enterprise transformation, no longer the function just keeping up with the rest of the company, but the other way around. Historically perceived as a department of administrators, compliance-drivers, handbook-taskmasters, payroll processors and the personnel department, HR took on elevated importance as digital-savvy, datadriven experience designers, guardians of employee wellbeing, and strategic advisors to the business.

BUT DID YOU TRANSFORM? Certainly, this moment we have been waiting for was a very good start. Activation energy is the minimum amount of energy needed to initiate transformation, but it cannot stop there. We innovated, no doubt, we transformed so many things, we created new programmes and policies and communicated change up and down within the organisation. All of that is true. But the work is not complete; broad, sweeping digital transformation of HR and the workforce is such that your new reality looks almost unrecognisable next to the old. To get the end result you truly want and not a false sense of

“TO ENSURE TRUE, SUSTAINED, PERPETUAL TRANSFORMATION OF WORKFORCE EXPERIENCE AND THE HR FUNCTION ITSELF, EVERY CHRO MUST HAVE A DIGITAL MANDATE FOR 2021 AND BEYOND.”

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– JASON AVERBOOK


accomplishment at how far you have come, you need to accept that this was just the beginning. A catalyst, not the conclusion. Even more than that, you need to accept transformation work is never done. To ensure true, sustained, perpetual transformation of workforce experience and the HR function itself, every CHRO must have a DIGITAL MANDATE for 2021 and beyond. That mandate must include a clear and compelling WHY (MINDSET). A digital mindset, clearly articulated vision, and alignment around what success will look like is much more important than HOW you will execute the work (PEOPLE, PROCESS, TECHNOLOGY). The entire Digital Equation for Success, encompassing all four elements, will be unique to your organisational goals and unique challenges, although some themes are universal and must be addressed. Work will never look the way it used to; gone are the days of the 9-5 workplace; people expect a seamless, easy, modern experience of workforce solutions that feel personalised and relevant to them; and we desperately need digital culture to be defined and extended to where and how

we work now. Again, aligning around a vision for what digital success looks like in your organisation is mandatory before you spend an ounce or energy or resources on persona development, journey mapping, or technology selection to bring that vision to life.

THE YEAR OF REThese are the reasons I am calling 2021 the Year of RE-. Whatever changes you made, whatever transformation work you initiated, even if you had previously made significant gains to elevate, modernise, and reposition HR to better support the business and meet the needs of the workforce, your work will be wasted without a digital mandate for 2021 to both secure your foundation and serve as a guiding North Star for continued transformation. Approached with RENEWAL and optimism, the next chapter is one of REBIRTH. Our callings are to RESET our strategies, REFRESH our mindset, REFRAME work, REMIND ourselves why, REORGANIZE our function and REIMAGINE the right future for the Now of Work.

As part of preparing for RE, we are offering a complimentary Mindset for Success workshop for any HR leadership team to articulate a Digital Mandate for your business, align around a shared vision of success, and embrace a digital mindset for the Now of Work. Email hello@leapgen. com to get started.

About the Author JASON AVERBOOK, Global Keynote Speaker, and CEO & CoFounder, Leapgen

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SIME DARBY PROPERT Y

PA R T N E R CO N T E N T

People-centric Sime Darby Property leads employees with mental health awareness at the forefront

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ENTAL health in the workplace has long been a taboo subject despite its increased impact to performance and organisational culture. Recognising the importance of creating a balanced and positive workplace that emphasises on mental health awareness, Malaysia’s leading property developer Sime Darby Property Berhad (the Group) has embarked on a journey to address this topic for the overall betterment of its employees and the Group as a whole. Undoubtedly, the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic had only accelerated the need to implement initiatives regarding this subject, and this year Sime Darby Property has launched several programmes. In March, when Malaysia was almost completely shut down from the various stages of the Movement Control Order (MCO), Sime Darby Property’s Human Resources Team (HR Team) stepped up and introduced the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to help mitigate its employees’ concerns and to address their mental and psychological, physical and financial issues in a structured and holistic manner. “We are taking lessons from the many reported cases of how the MCO has taken a toll on Malaysian’s mental health. Many are finding it hard to cope with the movement restriction and economic hardship related to the COVID-19 outbreak. As an employer, it is our responsibility to provide support to employees who now on top of managing their existing stressors, must take into account job security, financial stability and other factors while working from home,” says Sime Darby Property Chief People Officer Nurashikhin Md Sharif. “Mental health is a subject that is generally avoided, and many affected people have continued to suffer in silence due to the lack of exposure to available help

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and support platforms. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit us hard, we at Sime Darby Property stepped up to fill the void,” she adds.

Jalinan Nurani: Ensuring Workplace Well-being Sime Darby Property’s HR Team had rolled-out several timely initiatives to mitigate employees’ many concerns. This includes Jalinan Nurani, a digital well-being programme that provides an extensive support circle which caters to the emotional and psychological needs of its over 1,500 employees. A joint-effort with Naluri Hidup, a healthcare software solutions provider, Jalinan Nurani is Sime Darby Property’s first venture into providing a digital assistance programme for employees to raise awareness of mental and physical health issues, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Jalinan Nurani is a digital service platform from which participants can learn and improve their mental, physical and even financial well-being. This digital programme is extended to all our employees and their respective immediate family members at no charge,” explains Nurashikhin, who has over 25 years of experience in the human resources field. The programme allows employees access to various health coaches namely psychologists, medical advisors, physical coaches, pharmacists, as

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well as tools like food and thought journals, and digital modules to help them on their journey towards mental health and selfbetterment. The platform provides self-assessment and on-site screening for users, and even gives proactive identification of at-risk employees. It also has a crisis hotline, digital coaching platform, remote therapy, on-site face-to-face therapy, and critical incident crisis management. Participants may choose to embark on a four-month Digital Coaching journey which connects them to a team of certified professionals, as well as digital behavioural tools. Using the programme, the participants can assess and better understand their stress and anxiety levels, as well as stay committed to their newly formed positive habits.

“As an employer, it is our responsibility to provide support to employees who now on top of managing their existing stressors, must take into account job security, financial stability and other factors while working from home”

– NURASHIKHIN MD SHARIF, SIME DARBY PROPERTY’S CHIEF PEOPLE OFFICER.


“We believe that the privacy and confidentiality offered by this programme allow our employees to be more open with their mental health status and seek the help and treatment they require,” says Nurashikhin, adding more Sime Darby Property employees are beginning to acknowledge and be aware of their mental, emotional and psychological health status. “Our employees are now more open discuss these topics and most importantly, know that there is help and support available for them and their family members as and when they need it,” she says.

Embracing the New Norm and Going Digital Even before the launch of the digital platform, the Sime Darby Property’s Group Human Resources and Corporate Communications departments have organised yearly wellness programmes for its employees. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and MCO have redirected the company to digitalise its plans to further focus on its employees’ mental health well-being this year. As part of its efforts to improve operational efficiency, Sime Darby Property had recently also launched the first phase of HR On-Cloud (HROC), an integrated cloud-based solution to implement HR management system. This new platform has without a doubt improved the level of efficiency of not just the HR Team but all employees as well. “We wanted to digitally transform our HR capabilities to carry out comprehensive

HR work processes as well as employee empowerment activities. The new cloudbased platform allows our people to adopt a digital approach in their day-to-day activities relating to human resources as all information is available at their fingertips, on mobile and desktop applications,” explains Nurashikhin. The HROC focuses on areas such as HR Service Delivery, Talent Management, Workforce Management, HR Administration and more. There was also an instant RM$1.9million (US$466, 258) benefit realisation of shared services fee on the first year of implementation due to the termination of outsourced services, and the return of HR capabilities to in-house by maintaining the existing manpower. “In summary, the new digital transformation has enabled us to reduce time for key HR transaction processes, improve productivity, availability of management information and ultimately to deliver value-added services and improve overall employee experience,” shares Nurashikhin. As Sime Darby Property navigates through these challenging and unprecedented times, Nurashikhin believes that the employees must be ready to embrace the “new realities” fast and be accepting of digitalisation. “It is a paradigm shift of mindsets and we have found creative ways of doing things effectively. What worked in the past may no longer be relevant now, and we encouraged our employees to accept the new reality,” she shares.

About Sime Darby Property

Sime Darby Property is a leading property developer with a longstanding track record of developing sustainable communities for over 47 years. With 24 active townships and developments, Sime Darby Property has a wide reach that encompasses assets and operations across the country as well as in the United Kingdom. Its presence in the UK is known through the iconic Battersea Power Station Project in central London which is being developed jointly by a Malaysian consortium of which includes Sime Darby Property as a party. As a responsible corporate player, Sime Darby Property and its philanthropic arm Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) actively roll out various initiatives to assist the underprivileged communities living within and nearby its townships across Malaysia. A multi award-winning property group with numerous international and local accolades, Sime Darby Property is the only Malaysian property developer to be selected as an index component of Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019. For more information, visit www.simedarbyproperty.com.

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DHL

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INNOVATION AT THE HEART OF DHL’S WORLD OF WORK NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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DHL

Declan J. Byrne, SVP, Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain Asia Pacific, tells HRM Magazine Asia how the company has been adapting to thrive in the future of work.

The pandemic has forced organisations around the world to adapt and restructure. What is DHL doing to ensure that the workforce is agile enough to adapt to the current crisis and beyond? Byrne: Ten months ago, I remember there were much discussions among HR professionals weighing the pros and cons about remote and flexible work arrangements but look at where we are now – working from home is now the norm and we have all adapted well. In APAC , we have taken these challenges in our stride and today, about 50% of our employees continue to work from home, and for those working in the operations’ frontline, they are well taken care of with our stringent universal precautions and health and safety measures. We formed a regional COVID-19 steering committee in early February, to establish important policies and ensure consistent flow of information, for the safety and well-being of our employees, business and community. Communications has been absolutely critical in this climate – frequent, clear, concise and transparent messaging to keep employees well-informed at all times leaves little doubt in their minds on how they should go about having their best day every day at work. Apart from informal chats and leveraging digital employee engagement tools and apps to share and inspire stories from around the region,

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“The pandemic has provided new opportunities to review existing training tools and platforms, and accelerate improvements to reflect the new reality.”

– DECLAN J. BYRNE,

SVP, HUMAN RESOURCES, DHL SUPPLY CHAIN ASIA PACIFIC

we have frequent regional town halls to discuss operational, HR, COVID-related and business updates. These highlight the resilience of the business in continuing to serve our customers, and equally encourage our employees to discuss their concerns and pose questions to senior management. We are living our lives digitally more than ever before and to me, the future of work is now. We will continue to work with our employees to strike an effective balance from working at home, in the office and doing our part for the community.

How is DHL equipping and upskilling your people in digital skills to prepare them for the new digital world? Byrne: In APAC, I think we have over 300 digitalisation projects running at the moment. Warehouse automation is a big one for us, as are customer digital tools that provide a one-stop platform for their

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warehousing and transportation needs such as DHL’s MySupplyChain. Whether it’s training our workers to run robots in the warehouse, drivers to adopt route optimisation or our sales force to go digital in maintaining customer relationships, we have comprehensive programmes in place to train and upskill. The use of conferencing and chat platforms is now ubiquitous, as are employee engagement tools and apps that work like common social media platforms from brainstorming ideas on a virtual whiteboard to newsfeed, messaging, broadcasting functionalities on our internal Connect App or Yammer groups. It is amazing that most of what I had considered to be “analogue” experiences in the past are readily available and manifested in some app or other. The great thing about these digital solutions is that they are relatively easy to navigate, enabling a “dinosaur-era” person like me to swiftly adopt them.


The pandemic has amplified the importance of being agile in learning and adapting to changes. What is DHL doing to improve the learning agility of your people? Byrne:The pandemic has provided new opportunities to review existing training tools and platforms, and accelerate improvements to reflect the new reality. For example, we have an internal portal that caters to receiving feedback as well as provide training and resources for employees to access anytime, anywhere. We try to inculcate learning as a lifelong journey by offering courses from studying a new language to getting themselves certified as a “green specialist”. We are continually updating the content and functionalities to maintain their relevance and retain employee interest. Our internal certified training programme – Certified Supply Chain Specialist (CSCS) – is a comprehensive training programme to on-board new joiners. We have since migrated that online and included interactive elements to retain that same personal and fun element available in the physical modules that we used to run. These sessions are great as they instil a sense of our culture, provide a purpose and equip our staff with the knowledge to perform their tasks.

How has the pandemic changed DHL’s employee engagement strategy? Byrne: We have always prided ourselves as an Employer of Choice so employee engagement is always a top priority. In fact, one of our strategic pillars revolves around forming a team of Connected People – ensuring we keep one another safe and engaged, collaborate as a diverse team to deliver high performance and strive to be certified and passionate experts in our tasks. Over the last few months, we have been creative in engaging our workforce such as virtual get-togethers and team-building exercises. In fact, just recently during our Global Volunteer Day in September, we had about 1,400 employees across the region participating in different community initiatives such as beach cleaning, meal preparation and food delivery to underserved communities – all while maintaining strict social distancing. For our annual Employee Opinion Survey (EOS) where employees submit responses anonymously, we have further sharpened our focus on team collaboration and people engagement to ensure we are getting timely feedback from employees. This year, we achieved a 95% response rate from employees.

What is an increasingly diverse workforce looking for in leadership today, and can leaders change and adapt in this new world of work? Byrne: Having been in this function for the last few decades across different regions, I have witnessed major disruptions but not at the scale we are seeing today. Today, digital transformation is a pre-requisite for any organisation to remain relevant and I’m proud to say that DHL is ahead of the curve in this regard. Our leaders are encouraged to put into practice what we term “leadership attributes” every day. This includes leading with Head (being results oriented and leveraging strengths of the team), Heart (providing purpose and having and creating trust) and Guts (focusing on clear priorities and being positive about challenges, uncertainty and change). This defines what great leadership means to us as a Group and ensures that every single employee is living them to contribute to delivering on our Strategy. I believe that the new generation of job-seekers would look out for a powerful brand that has a purpose (beyond profits) and an organisation that thrives on excellence, is digitally engaged and yet very nimble and agile in adapting to changes.

What is the organisation’s biggest challenge in the next 6-12 months? Byrne: As more countries start to see a decline in infections and we start to regain some form of normalcy, we will be seeing more people going back to the office. We will adhere to the authorities’ guidelines and only do so when it is permitted because we want to protect our employees, who needs to be assured that it is safe for them to go to work. Peak season is also upon us – global supply chains rush to meet expected spike in demand for goods and products and as an essential part of everyday life, we remain confident in our global network and resilient set of solutions. We will also ensure that safety is not compromised as a result. NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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NTUC LEARNING HUB

THE UPSKILLING IMPERATIVE: LEADERS MUST WALK THE TALK

B Y J E N A L I N E LOW

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The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on the way we live and work. As the economy reopens in this uncertain environment, businesses and employees alike must be well-equipped to navigate the new world order and even seize opportunities where possible. In order to do that, business leaders need to ensure that their organisations have built up the right skills to respond and adapt to any impending change brought about by today’s business climate.

Navigating a new norm to seize opportunities through skills upgrading As the business environment transforms, there will inevitably be shifts in which skills are in demand. At NTUC LearningHub, we have observed that learners are particularly eager to acquire news skills and knowledge to boost their employability and keep pace with industry demands. Many are seeking opportunities in areas which may be totally unrelated to their current job roles. By way of illustration, in the recent NTUC LearningHub How Singaporeans Learn report, we have uncovered that two in three learners (66%) are reskilling themselves to find new career opportunities.

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NTUC LEARNING HUB

The new normal has also elevated the importance of digital transformation. According to our recent Employers Skills report, we see digital marketing (44%), project management skills (43%), data analysis (40%), basic IT support (33%) and data-driven decision-making skills (32%) as the top five digital skills coveted by employers. With social distancing being the new norm, the digital marketing capabilities of an organisation become central to its ability to survive and thrive. Data analytics will enable organisations to make informed decisions in a world where change is accelerating. Furthermore, to implement the next course of action in a COVID-19 era, project management skills are in greater demand to respond to the complexity and fluidity of constant changes, in order to successfully deliver projects outcome for the organisations and their clients. Apart from digital skills, adaptive skills are also important for both workers and businesses to overcome the current crisis and be prepared for the future. Adaptability and resilience (56%), teamwork and collaboration (52%), innovation (49%), effective communication (48%) and service excellence (46%) are the top five adaptive skills coveted by employers in our Employer Skills report. As both workers and employers adjust to the new world of work, skills in adaptability and resilience are especially important to cope with the volatile and uncertain environment. Teamwork and collaboration skills are also important in ensuring smooth business operations amidst the remote working arrangements. Lastly, as digital adoption and transformation accelerates in Singapore, innovation is essential for businesses to evolve into new business models and go-tomarket strategies in order to thrive.

Continuous Learning must become habitual - and it must start from the top While upskilling and reskilling have been prominent on the nationwide agenda, more can be done in this area. In this new normal where new information and technologies are being fielded at an exponential rate, business leaders must continue to learn to keep abreast with the times. However, the How Singaporeans Learn report, we have also uncovered that those who are senior leaders in their

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“AS BOTH WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS ADJUST TO THE NEW WORLD OF WORK, ADAPTABILITY AND RESILIENCE SKILLS ARE ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT TO COPE WITH THE VOLATILE AND UNCERTAIN ENVIRONMENT.” organisations are the least likely to upskill or reskill virtually, compared to individuals at different career stages, such as entry-level executives. While senior leaders may prefer in-person learning, virtual learning is a good alternative for busy executives who have little time to learn. Virtually learning can be synchronous with an in-person facilitator or asynchronous where one can learn at their own time and own pace. In embracing learning, senior leaders would demonstrate the emphasis and importance given to nurturing a culture of habitual learning in the organisation. The higher up the corporate ladder you are, the more one would have to constantly refresh the skills to help navigate the rapidly changing times. According to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, approximately 40% of knowledge is retained after one hour from the point of learning. After one day, typically around 33% of the

D N EO CV EEM MBBEERR -2D0 E1 C8 E- JMABNEURA 2R 0Y 2200 1 9

knowledge is retained. By the end of the first week since the time of learning, only a quarter of the knowledge is retained. While nurturing a culture of habitual learning may be desirable and beneficial, the challenge is also to achieve a higher level of learning retention. In recent times, more attention has been given to blended learning and the desire to measure the impact of learning. At NTUC LearningHub, we are exploring the “70-20-10 Learning Model”, which advocates that 10% of the learning is formal in nature and 20% of learning is attained through peer and social learning, while 70% involves workplace learning with practices in job related scenarios. Lastly, habitual learning is about making learning a regular endeavour, just like we would develop a habit for exercise or any other hobbies and interests. Even though the pandemic has highlighted the need for upskilling, it should not stop here. By reassessing, reskilling, and repeating the process, organisations can build a ready, relevant, and resilient workforce that is positioned for growth even amid a global crisis.

About the Author JENALINE LOW is Director, Institute of Business Excellence and Healthcare Academy, NTUC LearningHub, the leading Continuing Education and Training provider in Singapore, which aims to transform the lifelong employability of working people. Since their corporatization in 2004, NTUC LearningHub has been working with employers and individual learners to provide learning solutions in multiple areas.


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Learn more at www.talenttap.io NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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HR E VOLUTION

A

s the meme says, it was not the CEO or CIO who led digital transformation this year, it was COVID. Digital transformation accelerated in 2020, and companies and functions who had delayed their transformation found themselves playing catch-up. There is no doubt that HR’s focus shifted in response to the pandemic. Expanding use of technology to support work from home, activities relating to employee mental health and wellbeing, remote workforce productivity and communications as well as a renewed focus on diversity and inclusion have all characterised HR for 2020. With the pandemic continuing, albeit under easing restrictions in many countries, the digital transformation of business continues apace. The expectation of HR to leverage technology and analytics continues to rise, testing the limits of understanding and capability that HR professionals have on the topics. Though technology and analytics are commonly found in today’s HR function, their effective application and performance has largely depended on the relevant capabilities of the HR professionals involved. As the HR function has changed, the knowledge and capabilities HR professionals need to possess to remain effective and high performing have also changed. From operating in an Agile way, solution creation through Design Thinking, producing visually appealing interactive Analytics and navigating the Ethics of AI in the workplace, all require HR professionals to draw upon relatively new capabilities. In response, many HR professionals have undertaken development activities as part of their personal transformative reskilling strategy. People Collider and Thrive HR Exchange partnered to conduct research into the skills HR professionals developed in 2020, and where they are focussing for 2021. The main research goal was to provide HR professionals with insights that would help them design effective development plans for themselves and their teams. The research yielded some interesting results, which were shared with senior HR Leaders at the recent HRM Asia CHRO Online Series 2020 event in Singapore. Unsurprisingly skills such as

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Are HR Professionals Keeping Up with HR’s Evolution? Operations, Administration and Payroll were cited by respondents as having decreased in importance for HR. Many of these areas have seen such processes automated, eliminating the need for humans to undertake many administration tasks and activities directly. Yet even with technology, automated processes should be monitored and managed by people. While technology is certainly performing many tasks and activities within Operations, Administration and Payroll, it is possible that the skills decreasing in importance are those required to perform the tasks rather than the skills required for the

management and governance of automated processes. Future research could explore how the skills have changed, rather than simply decreased. Similarly, the skills cited by respondents as increasing in importance are not surprising; Analytics, Technology and Business Acumen make up the top three. However, the importance of these skills does not displace the importance of other skills and knowledge, such as Leadership and Human Resources. With the evolving expectations of HR, the capabilities HR professionals are expected to possess continues to change and expand.

“I DON’T THINK YOU CAN PROPERLY UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY WITHOUT HAVING A REASONABLE UNDERSTANDING OF THE TECH ITSELF.”

NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

– RAHUL DASWANI, HEAD, PEOPLE AND CULTURE AT OPEN GOVERNMENT PRODUCTS, GOVTECH SINGAPORE


A significant portion of respondents dedicated time to development; 70% participated in personal development in the last 12 months with 77% of those involved in formal training, the majority spending more than 20 hours in formal development activities. Despite the upheaval of 2020, it is encouraging to see HR professionals investing their time in their personal development. With the changing nature of HR demanding a wider array of capabilities, particularly in 2020, it is surprising to see that the most common area HR professionals focussed their development activities on, was Human Resources. In fact, the top 3 areas where HR professionals focussed their development in the past 12 months were HR, Leadership and Soft Skills. As shown in Figure 1, 77% of HR professionals with less than 10 years’ experience in HR focussed their development on Human Resources. While professionals with less than 10 years’ experience in any function may benefit from developing deeper knowledge in pursuit of mastery, it is surprising to see that approximately half the respondents in both the other more experienced groups also focussed their development primarily on Human Resources. With limited resources, and the need for broader skills, is it wise for experienced HR professionals to focus their development within their functional expertise, rather than beyond it?

As the pressure on HR professionals continues and expectations surrounding Analytics and Technology are high, it is encouraging that the results show a shift in focus by many respondents to develop in areas beyond core HR expertise. For 2021 the most popular development areas are Analytics and Technology, respectively. However, there are some notable differences if we look across the responses by years of experience (see Figure 1). It is possible that 2020 highlighted the critical need for HR to use Analytics effectively, and many are playing catchup, having not prioritised their development in that area to date. More HR professionals are planning to focus their development on Technology in the next 12 months compared to the past 12 months. Developing HR’s capability with Technology requires a focus on both the role of technology in HR and business, as well as a solid understanding of the technology. This was highlighted during the CHRO Online Singapore event, by participant Rahul Daswani (Head, People and Culture at Open Government Products, GovTech Singapore) who said “I don’t think you can properly understand the ROLE of technology without having a reasonable understanding of the tech itself.” The evolution of HR as a function requires HR professionals to evolve. That will require HR to take a broader view of the development of their skills and capabilities beyond traditional core areas.

Looking beyond functional expertise, HR can develop a range of complementary skills that underpin Analytics and Technology. For example, storytelling, visualisation and statistics all enhance broader capability under Analytics; ecosystem design, vendor management and AI ethics all contribute to greater capability with Technology skills. The pressure on HR professionals to draw upon an increasing array of skills and capabilities in 2021 is unlikely to abate. HR’s continued commitment to our own development and that of our teams will ensure that we can continue to support the evolution of the human resources function, and the role we play in supporting the continued digital transformation of our businesses.

About the Author PHILIPPA PENFOLD, is CEO and Co-Founder, People Collider

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ADP

Redefining priorities in a changing business environment Peter Hadley, President, Asia Pacific, ADP, explains how organisations should approach people leadership, payroll and technology in order to be successful beyond the pandemic.

I

f there was ever a time where organisations should bring people leadership to the fore, it is now, suggested Peter Hadley, President, Asia Pacific, ADP.

Speaking with HRM Asia, he explained, “People leadership has never been more important than it is now, particularly the skills and empathy in understanding and caring for your employees as a leader.” “In an environment impacted by the pandemic, employees need to know first and foremost that, on their manager’s or employer’s mind, is their personal welfare and safety.” Decision-making in these circumstances, Hadley believes, also needs to adopt a more localised model. This is particularly pertinent in a remote work environment, where circumstances are vastly different and dictated location by location, and country-by-country. He added, “Never has it been more important for empowered, local, strong decision-making to be made and supported, versus driven, by central structures.”

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“Centralised and top management are responsible for supporting local leadership in their decisions on the ground, and for providing governance and resource allocation. The fundamental requirement to navigate through the situation successfully, is strong devolved local leadership, with respect to the situation people are in in that location.”

The changing face of payroll Like many industries, payroll has changed dramatically because of the pandemic. For starters, the vast majority of people working in payroll are no longer working from their offices, Hadley noted. “They are working remotely, and they need tools, be that VPN connections and laptops, but also access to the materials that are needed to do their work.” In a bid to maintain employment levels, governments around the world have introduced a number of subsidies and programmes to keep people in jobs. While this should be welcomed, it also adds complexity to the payroll process, which can be further exacerbated when there are

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changes to legislation. Hadley said, “As an example, in China, in Q1 2020, there were over 200 regulatory changes, compared to 85 in the same quarter the previous year, a period during which the Chinese government had enacted wholesale individual income tax reform.” With the sheer increase in the volume of change and complexity, the payroll industry is facing more challenges, whether logistics-wise, the process of payroll, or the types of employees being employed. The value of payroll, however, will only grow, Hadley suggested, as the security people feel by knowing that their salaries will be delivered to them on time and accurately in such difficult economic circumstances, will be critical.

Technology, the great enabler Traditionally, payroll has involved a lot of paperwork, and salary payment in some countries continue to be delivered via cheque. Because of the pandemic, mail delivery systems, as well as transport


and courier systems, have been heavily overwhelmed. Delivery through traditional means, thus, has become complex and disruptive to a continuous business process. To mitigate this, technology has emerged as a “great enabler” to a seamless experience for payroll, said Hadley. “With things like electronic payslips, electronic reporting, transfer of funds instantaneously bank to bank without any need for paper instruction or paper checks or cash for that matter – we are moving towards a cashless society, and certainly, payroll is one of many industries that is benefitting significantly with respect to employees and workers enjoying an ontime, accurate and enjoyable experience of

getting their salary.”

Looking beyond the pandemic Understandably perhaps, more organisations are looking at the here and now, as they battle for survival or focus on the short-term in terms of making payroll or fulfilling debt repayments. However, it is vital that organisations do not lose sight of the medium and longterm plans they had put in place before the pandemic struck, which will become critical once the situation normalises, Hadley highlighted. He elaborated, “Talent planning, getting the skills, training and learning into your organisation, and D&I objectives, are all things that can easily slip by

the wayside, particularly in a changing employment environment where perhaps downsizing is happening, whether that’s temporary or more structured in nature.” All HR and business leaders need to keep an eye on the medium and long term, as Hadley reiterated. “Don’t throw those old plans and strategies out because they are going to be very critical to the success of the company in the medium and long term. Keep them at the front and centre of your mind, continue to execute on them and make sure they don’t slip, intentionally or unintentionally, by the wayside as a result of the disruptive period we are in right now.”

Click here to watch the full video.

“PEOPLE LEADERSHIP HAS NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN IT IS NOW, PARTICULARLY THE SKILLS AND EMPATHY IN UNDERSTANDING AND CARING FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES AS A LEADER.” NOVEMBER-DECEMBER 2020

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TWO CENTS

The emergence of the hybrid workforce

BY SHAWN LIEW

Whether organisations decide to return to the workplace or continue remote work in 2021, employees will be the key to success. As you are reading this column, it is likely that Singapore is edging ever closer to phase 3 of the country’s safe reopening. After the tumultuous year that was 2020, this will a welcome development for many Singaporeans who crave for a return to the ‘normalcy’ before COVID-19 became a sobering reality. However, while regulations regard to social activities will continue to be relaxed across the country, the workplace is unlikely, if at all, to return completely to pre-pandemic practices. Giving an update this October, Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s health minister, suggested as much when he said that to keep workplaces “safe” and to “minimise crowding”, employees should continue to work from home for at least half of their working time, and there should be no more than 50 percent of such employees at the workplace at any one time. Enter the hybrid workforce of 2021. While the decision to return to the workplace, and in what capacity, will be considerably dictated by government directives, organisations across Asia have critical decisions to make as they begin to plan their business strategies for 2021. HR leaders need to step up and make the right decisions when it comes to the pandemic and the workplace. For instance, when should employees come back into the office and how can you keep them safe? Have you listened to employees’ concerns before telling them to return to the office or stay at home mandatorily? What are the potential legal issues that organisations need to consider before implementing a full or partial return to the workplace? Conversely, will some organisations decide to permanently adopt work from home (WFH), which could conceivably become a relative term as mobility becomes key for those seeking to move away from the traditional, physical work office. Instead, work from anywhere (WFA) is poised to be synonymous with the concept of remote working. As the digital transformation continues to gain pace across Asia, any location with a conducive environment and stable Internet connection, may be well-served to be a workstation for remote workers.

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A five-star hotel in Penang’s Gurney Drive, for instance, has introduced co-working spaces in its establishment for people to work away from family, while another Penang hotel in the heart of George Town has transformed a whole floor of suites into meeting rooms for six to eight people each. With neither a full return to the workplace, nor a full transition to WFH/WFA likely to materalise in 2021, what are the key considerations business or HR leaders should consider before making any decisions? Start by placing employees at the heart of any decision-making process, is perhaps the most prudent approach moving forward. While employee safety will be a top priority as the world awaits a working vaccine for the pandemic, organisations also need to consider employees’ mental well-being, at a time when many are still feeling stressed or uncertain about what the future holds. After all, people are fragile, and living in agile times, remarked Jason Averbook, Global Keynote Speaker, CEO and Co-Founder, Leapgen. Speaking recently at HRM Asia’s CHRO Online Series virtual event, he highlighted that instead of just pushing out more processes or tools, HR leaders need to make employees feel that the organisation cares about them. While leaders need to develop strategies, deploy and measure them, they also need to ensure they have the right mindset and vision for success, and are able to effectively redeploy resources in an agile way, Averbook added. Essentially, the gist of the message is this: Without the support and commitment by employees, the best thought business strategy or plan is unlikely to be successfully implemented, regardless if employees return to the workplace or continue to work remotely. 2020 was a year where many organisations were caught unawares by the unprecedented level of disruption brought forth by the pandemic. While 2021 will begin with lingering uncertainty, organisations are in a stronger position to reinvent and reposition themselves as they begin their recovery from the pandemic – with a peoplefirst strategy leading the way.


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Profile for HRM Asia

HRM Magazine Asia - November-December 2020 Issue  

In this issue, we spoke to HR luminaries such as Josh Bersin, Tim Sackett and Brian Sommer, as they predict how the work place might look li...

HRM Magazine Asia - November-December 2020 Issue  

In this issue, we spoke to HR luminaries such as Josh Bersin, Tim Sackett and Brian Sommer, as they predict how the work place might look li...

Profile for hrmasia