Five things we learned at HRXLR8

Key takeaways from HRM Asia's inaugural HRXLR8 summit, focusing on HR transformation, strategy, and design.

The HRXLR8 Summit took place at the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre on June 26 and 27. With a packed schedule of programming across four different conference streams, delegates were spoiled for choice.

Whether you were there to learn more about HR strategy, transformation, workforce analytics, or organisation design an development, there was a little something for everyone. 

Here are just a few of the many lessons learned and insights imparted during the two-day event. 


Building allies

For HR to obtain and maintain its seat at the table, even as disruption transforms the workforce, networking internally and externally is absolutely crucial.

During a panel discussion about redefining the value of HR, HR leaders from across the region offered their tips on building allies.

“Participate in events like this, and reach out to people – ask for help, offer help. Listen and understand where you can add value,” said Cristina Istria, Regional Director in Asia-Pacific for Talent and Organisation Design at Amcor.

“It’s important to be connected to all your key stakeholder across the organisation – but also to people who aren’t necessarily stakeholders, but are gatekeepers. Invest the time to have proper conversations with people,” said Syed Ali Abbas, Group Human Resources Director at Global Fashion Group.


Mobile-ready HR

Employees talk about experiences, not departments – they will talk about how easy or difficult it was to apply for leave, not about their views on HR’s transformation strategies.

“Employees are expecting to experience innovative, creative change anytime, anywhere,” said Pallavi Srivastava, Asia Pacific and Greater China Talent Leader at IBM.

“They want to be able to go on a bus and claim their Grab receipt at the same time. Is that possible? Is it possible? Of course. If you were to leverage blockchain, and link Grab as one of the vendors, and then have a manager on the approval chain, through a cell phone, yes it’s very much possible,” she said.

“It’s really about design thinking, and looking at what is possible. Pretty much everything employees are asking for is possible because we’re so connected today,” she added.


Be clear on the “Y”

When it comes to data analytics, it’s the business goal that will always be the most important metric, and Fermin Diez, Deputy CEO of the Singapore National Council for Social Service, has a sure-fire rule for HR to keep that end result in its sights.

“Make the business goal the Y-Axis,” he told the Workforce Data and Analytics stream during a lively panel discussion on Day Two.  Whatever HR is measuring, it is only when it is plotted against a real business goal, such as recruitment costs, sales, or overall profits, that the success or failure of the programme becomes visible.


Respect the year

Keynote speaker Jason Averbook says there is a 20-year gap between companies and their employees when it comes to workplace technology: the always-mobile, always-connected lifestyle that most staff have outside of work becomes “printing emails” and “filling forms in triplicate” as soon as they walk into the office.

“Companies need to start respecting 2018,” he told the plenary audience on Day Two. “Instead, companies are treating their workforces like it is 1998.”


The future of HR isn’t all doom and gloom

“I think 60% of HR is likely to be replaced – but that doesn’t mean 60% of the people in HR,” said Fermin Diez, Deputy CEO of the Singapore National Council for Social Service.

“There’s a lot we do on a daily basis that is perfectly suitable to automation. You’re already beginning to see chatbots that do interviews, or automatic video interviews. HR will become much more about implementing strategy,” he said.

Benjamin Roberts, Vice-President of Talent Management, Asia-Pacific, at Essence, agreed that there is still a place for HR even as disruption and transformation take over the workforce.

After all, if there comes a day when HR is not needed, “that would mean that companies don’t have empathy anymore,” said Roberts. “You would lose the 'human' touch in 'human resources'. It would be a sad place to be in.”


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