Top employers are reinventing the role of HR

Working with Asia-Pacific's top organisations, Top Employers Institute is continuing to identify trends in HR strategies and workplace practices.
By: | January 29, 2021

As organisations continue to navigate a new world of work partially shaped by the pandemic, a key challenge is to create a culture of connection, collaboration and trust in a digital work environment, while making sure employees feel inspired to perform at their best.

With remote work remaining in place in many countries, organisations that are able to adapt to the needs of their employees are more likely to succeed. Being recognised as a caring employer with a strong sense of purpose, therefore, is an asset that top employers will increasingly try to leverage as they place a greater focus on values and behaviour, predicted Top Employers Institute, which examines the latest trends in HR strategies and practices emerging from leading organisations around the world.

In their HR Trends Report 2021, Top Employers Institute also highlighted how top employers are ranking change management as one of their biggest strategic priorities in 2021, as they tackle the twin challenges of responding to the rapidly evolving business environment, while ensuring their teams are ready to work together effectively.

“HR leaders need to communicate proactively with their people, explaining the future skills needs envisaged for employees to prepare for their future,” Top Employers Institute wrote, as the report looks ahead to how global developments in 2020 are likely to impact workforces in the new year.

Re-inventing the role of HR for the future of work

With organisations continuing to grapple with the health, economic and social repercussions brought about by the pandemic, HR professionals need to go beyond ‘functional excellence’ and find new ways to add value to their organisations.

For IT consultancy firm Infosys, while 2020 was filled with challenges for both individuals and organisations, it highlighted the importance of being resilient and embracing change.

Richard Lobo, Executive Vice President and Head of HR, Infosys, explained, “As an organisation, we believe 2020 accelerated our and our clients’ journey into the future with rapid adoption and embrace of digital transformation.

“If there is one silver lining, it was definitely our ability to reinvent ourselves to be a ‘digital native’ company and steer our clients through challenging times.”

Recognised by Top Employers Institute as a Top Employer in Asia Pacific for 2021, Infosys has participated in the Top Employer certification process for the past four years, a process that has allowed the company to review, validate and improve their HR practices and policies against Top Employers Institute’s framework.

“We have also leveraged our Top Employer status in our client interactions, reassuring them about our investment in talent management practices, with Top Employer certification being one of the differentiators in our talent building practice,” Lobo added.

Looking ahead, he highlighted how the global shift to remote work has created both opportunities and challenges for the future of work, the workforce and ways of working. “We are at a unique cusp of technology amplifying and disrupting our world, including the world of HR. I believe we will need to reinvent and acquire new skills and competencies to adapt to the rate of change in the business around us.”

2021 will see the intelligent use of data and technology in HR, predicted Lobo, where stakeholders will be steered through people analytics, and technology will be increasingly used in people practices to re-invent ways of working. As sentience in systems and processes grow, the workforce will also continue to be shaped by hyper personalisation and self-awareness brought forth through insights.

Lobo continued, “Instead of making long-term plans, drive small positive changes at work and improve them with feedback. Preserve positive experiences and engage your employees, because culture is the new currency of the workplace.

“As continuous learning becomes imperative, organisations also need to develop a continuous and boundary-less learning ecosystem that helps foster innovation. To create purpose and mission, they also need to unify employees through a common purpose that will drive the organisation’s direction.”

As an organisation, Infosys gained some key learnings from 2020, including the need to be resilient. Infosys’ leadership implemented a strategy to shape work transition, with a focus on business continuity, cybersecurity, cloud adoption and reskilling.

To improve agility, the company also realigned and restructured their workplace, reconfiguring the way they work and rewiring the workforce.  This includes an increased focus on employee safety and security, including the well-being of employees’ families, as a people-first strategy begins to emerge.

“We have a unique opportunity to help make our workplaces more human by addressing some of our challenges by using technology paired with human thought. As we navigate the next challenge in an unprecedented time, we can help every individual in the workplace to achieve more and build a better world at work,” Lobo said.

For PepsiCo APAC, another recipient of the Top Employer in Asia Pacific for 2021 accolade by Top Employers Institute, a people-first mindset continued to be embraced throughout 2020, despite the unprecedented challenges the company faced.

Michael Song, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Director, PepsiCo, APAC, highlighted, “This helped ensure we could respond quickly and support our associates, provide a safe and inclusive workplace, and continue to provide our customers and consumers with exceptional products and services.”

Observing that companies are becoming more open to implementing varying workplace strategies, Song predicted that the office will increasingly cease to be the default workplace for many. “The physical workplace will become a place for collaboration, creation and connection while we embrace increasingly flexible solutions. We can also expect to see a more rapid adoption of digital employee experiences to transform the way we connect and communicate with our associates,” he concluded.

As organisations continue to navigate a rapidly changing world of work, the role of HR will continue to be reinvented as new challenges and opportunities emerge.  To create a better world of work, organisations like PepsiCo and Infosys, working with key partners such as Top Employers Institute, will continue to respond and adapt as they look for new ways of working that will allow them to thrive well beyond the pandemic.

Established 30 years ago, Top Employers Institute has certified more than 1,691 organisations in 120 countries and regions. These certified Top Employers positively impact the lives of 7 million employees globally. Click here to find out more about Top Employers Institute’s certification process.