Five things we learned on Day Two of HR Festival Asia

With another 50+ presentations and the continuing exhibition, here are five big takeaways from the second and final day of HR Festival Asia.
By: | May 9, 2019
Topics: Asia-Pacific | News


The first-ever HR Festival Asia, brought to you by the combined experience of HR Technology Conference & Exposition (US) and HR Summit (Asia), takes over the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre on May 8 and 9.

With a line-up of more than 100 speakers across six dedicated streams, and an Expo Hall with more than 100 exhibitors, there’s a little something for everyone at the event.

Check out our HR Festival Asia tag for more coverage direct from the event.

“Hipster jeans” aren’t for every organisation

“Trying to apply the same tactics taken by a mature organisation like GE or Unilever, versus a fledgling startup, won’t work,” said Mahesh Muralidhar (pictured), Vice President of People Operations, Airtasker, during a session at the HR & Digital Transformation stream.

Indeed, on the flip side, mature organisations like GE or Boeing shouldn’t try to wear hipster jeans!

“They shouldn’t try to act young and cool. If they do, they need to set up a new structure. You have to be honest about the maturity of your organisation and landscape,” he said.

Likewise, HR leaders need to tailor thinking according to their organisation’s business model.

“Understand the business model and how you make money. Then you can form a strong opinion on how to set your talent up for success,” he added.


HR in Asia-Pacific has a complicated relationship with technology

Philippa (Pip) Penfold, Chairperson, HRM Asia Advisory Board, presented the results of a regional study that looked to investigate the relationship that HR in the region have with technology.

Some 28 industries were represented in the survey, with 38% of respondents hailing from organisations with more than 10,000 respondents.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest factors impacting respondent companies in the last two years were new technology (65%), and differing customer needs (63%).

Organisations are looking to HR technology to improve workflow, provide better user interface, and better capabilities, but they are struggling to get straightforward information about vendor products and services.

Penfold further highlighted that payroll (74%), core HR/HRIS (69%), and time/attendance (62%) were the most popular HR processes currently undertaken by technology. On the flipside, were people analytics (27%), selection/psychometrics (23%), and background screening (20%) .


The Southeast Asia HR community is in good hands

The ASEAN Human Development Organisation (AHDO) was founded in 2018 to promote human development in the workplace across the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). AHDO connects ASEAN’s national HR Associations in the region into a professional community and works with ASEAN institutions on policy and initiatives concerning human development at work.

The founders took to the Talent Management & Development stage at HR Festival Asia to participate in a panel discussion about the talent challenges and outlook in the region.

Le Hong Phuc, Vice-Chairman, AHDO and President of the Vietnam HR Association, shared that the labour pool in Vietnam was young, and rapidly growing – some 1 million workers are joining the workforce every year, with the current working population numbering 100 million.

“Their strength is that they are willing to learn and adapt,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the challenge in Indonesia – which represents nearly half of the ASEAN population – is in acquiring mid-level talent with the right skills and experience.

“But it is one of the most popular and highest-paying jobs,” said Pambudi Sunarsihanto, Founding Chairman, AHDO and Chairman, Indonesian Society of HR.

AHDO is currently undertaking its first research project to identify the advantages of cross-border internships for ASEAN stakeholders:  youth, education, companies and the ASEAN member countries. The resulting white paper will propose initiatives to facilitate the growth and quality of cross-border internships.

If you’re a HR manager in Southeast Asia whose company leverages on ASEAN cross-border internships (or plans to do so in the future), please do participate in the 6-minute survey by clicking on the following link:


It’s time for mobile recruitment 2.0

Being on mobile – namely, a website with responsive design – is not the same as “thinking mobile”, noted Frank Aernout, CEO of Nalantis, during a session on the HR Tech stage.

He called on HR and business leaders to disrupt their well-worn ideas of what it means to go digital.

“I’m very surprised that recruitment companies haven’t really picked up on how people communicate these days – on phone, with text messages, with voice calls,” he told HRM Magazine Asia.

WhatsApp, Google, Amazon, and their ilk have encouraged a desire for instant gratification – but employers have yet to leverage this.

“There is no job website that I’ve seen where you can apply simply by texting. Even though everyone in the world is texting all day, every day,” said Aernout. “People want to have quick ways to apply for jobs.


The disruption in HR technology is only just beginning

Across three sessions over the two days, industry analyst Josh Bersin offered a recurring theme for each different festival stream and audience.

HR technology is disrupting the HR profession – of that there is no doubt. But there is far more change yet to come, as different providers tackle different HR challenges.

These encompass the full employee lifecycle, but even here the disruption is affecting professional thinking. Bersin told the plenary audience this is much more complicated than many HR leaders have previously thought.

Much more than recruitment and onboarding, the employee lifecycle should now include phases such as goal setting, professional development, and promotion(s). It should also incorporate life stages, such as parental leave.

And at the end of the lifecycle, there are further phases to consider: offboarding, and then inclusion in the organisation’s alumni for example.

Expect more and more technology solutions covering each of these different phases, Bersin advised.


See also: Five things we learned on Day One of HR Festival Asia