Asia’s HR community rethinks workforce and workplace strategies

The in-person HR Tech Festival Live saw Asia's HR community come together to discuss the role of HR in today’s world of work.
By: | May 11, 2022

As organisations step out from the pandemic, there is no better time to refresh and reimagine HR strategies as employees return to a redefined workplace, said Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State (SMS), Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Defence, Singapore.

Speaking as he welcomed attendees to HR Tech Festival Live, SMS Zaqy added, “As firms rehire in tandem with the economic recovery, this is also a time to strategise and reimagine the talent and skills needed to meet new business demands in the immediate term and for the future.”

With flexible work arrangements such as remote and hybrid work, staggered hours or flexi-load accelerating over the past two years due to the pandemic, SMS Zaqy called on HR leaders to sustain progressive work practices that can balance employees’ new needs and expectations while achieving business goals.

HR Tech Festival Asia 2022’s theme of Return. Refresh. Reimagine, he added, has prompted organisations to think about HR’s role in the current economic landscape, and where HR can make a difference as human capital strategists in their organisations.

“In this journey of change, the role of HR will itself be reimagined, transformed, and elevated. I urge HR leaders and professionals to embrace the opportunities and challenges as you refresh and rethink workforce and workplace strategies to better support your businesses,” SMS Zaqy concluded.

The first in-person event to be held in Singapore as part of HR Tech Festival Asia 2022, HR Tech Festival Live saw a sold-out crowd of delegates and attendees pack Hall 403 of the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore.

While relishing the opportunity to reconnect with fellow members of Asia’s HR community, attendees also took the opportunity to check out some of the leading HR solutions offered by more than 30 exhibitors who were present at the show,

Ideas and thoughts on how to navigate a new world of work were also exchanged as attendees actively participated in the engaging and thought-provoking sessions presented on the two live conference stages, which featured a distinguished line-up of global influencers, industry experts, and policy makers, including Patrick Tay, Assistant Secretary-General of NTUC and Member of the Parliament of Singapore.

In discussing the future of human development in ASEAN with Dr Bob Aubrey, Founder and Chair of the Advisory Board, ASEAN Human Development Organisation (AHDO), Tay observed how HR in the human capital function has been brought to the fore because of the plethora of changes brought forth by the pandemic.

While cautioning organisations to expect the unexpected as more challenges arise, Tay urged organisations to maximise every human capital by leveraging technology to improve employee engagement and, learning and development (L&D).

Describing how the workforce has changed fundamentally, Dr Aubrey added that having a sustainable workforce is not only about having the right people. “You also need to think about managing an ageing workforce and people who don’t want to return to the office.”

To help leaders prepare for the future, Ritu Mehrish, Executive Coach, Global Speaker and Author, The Leadership Troubleshooter, shared how organisations need to unlearn and relearn to succeed in the future. As leaders continue to adjust their pace and mindset to suit a new world of work, she also highlighted the importance of nurturing ecosystems that allow them to tap into new opportunities that arise.

Leaders today need to have a clear strategy to diversify, strengthen, and retain teams in today’s employee-centric workplace. They also need to reinvent themselves to cater to the needs and interests of employees, said Charles Ferguson, General Manager, Asia-Pacific, Globalization Partners.

He added, “Employees want a work environment and company vision that reflect their own values, so organisations need to redefine their mission and values. The technology that you choose to use will also be critical. Valuable and impactful technology can help to bring the business forward and help to attract and train talent.”

Ferguson was speaking with Peter Hadley, President, ADP Asia-Pacific, who reminded organisations that the way we work will not go back to where it was pre-pandemic and urged employers and employees to come together to find mutually beneficial solutions.

How can organisations reimagine a connected employee experience (EX) that will succeed in a hybrid world of work?

Explaining that great EX comes from how employers value employees’ wellbeing by creating an environment that meets the current needs of their lives, Becky Chua, Senior Solution Consultant, Employee Workflow, Asia, ServiceNow, advised organisations to be proactive in reimagining the next-generation workplace, and how it can support their new hybrid workforce and solutions, and redefine modern digital experiences.

In a tightening talent market, top notch recruitment is key because if you are bringing in people with the wrong fit into your organisation, they are not likely to stay, suggested Jeff Blake, Chief Operating Officer, Satellite Office.

The next step, he continued, is to look internally to understand the shifts in employee preferences. This includes offering flexibility in how employees work, be it a return to the office, permanent remote work, or a hybrid work arrangement.

Mental health should also be a priority, while organisations need to understand that traditional engagement activities have changed because of remote work. “The key to engagement is to make sure that people don’t feel left out,” said Blake.

Lastly, find the right partner to create a clear path for L&D and succession planning, Blake added, as he highlighted how Satellite Office has worked with SumTotal Systems to address employees’ L&D needs.

Digital transformation, upskilling, reskilling, and career pivots have all become a common part of the dialogue for organisations globally. In sharing the digital transformation that Standard Chartered has embarked on, Casey Mee, Head of Learning Technology, Standard Chartered Bank, emphasised that it is the voice of their employees that has drove the bank’s digital transformation.

During a fireside chat with David Lovell, Director, Marketing APAC, Skillsoft, Mee shared, “Consider how you can make the learning experience better and make people keep coming back for more. You also need to make sure that people know what is available, where to get that knowledge, and make sure they constantly communicate with you.

We are living in a completely different world of work characterised by a marketplace of perishable skills, work from anywhere, a relentless pace of change, multiple pathways to growth and success, and ecosystems of expertise, said Indranil Roy, Executive Director, Consulting Human Capital Leadership, Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia.

Describing this world as Modern Work, Indro recommended ten rules that will allow people to thrive:

  • Bring your own motivation.
  • Set goals for the long-term and short-term.
  • Shape your next job because modern jobs disappear in four years or less.
  • Your users will judge your work in an open talent market.
  • Work in sprints because things change quickly.
  • Work from anywhere but work out loud.
  • Turn your workflow into a learn flow because you must plan your learning just like you plan your work.
  • Skill across and scale up because modern careers are not unidimensional.
  • Master differences because complexity need diversity.

As for the last rule, Indro called it “the golden rule” of always running a side hustle, because the best ideas exist outside of comfort zones. He called on people to work on something that drives their passion and motivation, allows them to build new skills and self-confidence, meet new people to create new perspectives, and to ensure ownership through the investment of resources and capital.

READ: HR Tech Festival Asia 2022: What’s happening on Day 2

HR Tech Festival Asia 2022 continues from May 11-13. Click here to register for Asia’s largest HR tech event and learn how you can power up your HR teams for a successful year ahead!