Three trends that are shaping the HR industry

There are three aspects that will make a big impact on the industry this year: technology, corporate culture, and workplace diversity.
By: | April 4, 2019


About the Author

Rob Wells is President of Workday in Asia

While there are prevailing trends and themes that continue to shape the role of HR in 2019, there are three in particular that will cast a bigger impact on the industry this year: technology, redefining the corporate culture, and workplace diversity.


Reinventing HR with tech

Adoption of smart technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics have been on the rise as more businesses come to understand the value of them.

In 2019, we expect more businesses to incorporate technology into HR functions such as recruitment, employee management and admin, leaving the mundane work to machines.

AI and machine learning for example, will enable a smarter, faster and more responsive HR function, from recruitment to employee engagement and education. It will complement humans and make the process of sifting through resumes and video interviews a lot more effective.

AI can also help in multiple aspects of HR including the mining of data to identify hiring patterns, find the right candidate, engage employee, build better education programs and spot trends in turnover rate.

However, businesses should take on a balanced approach in using AI for recruitment as personal engagement remains critical to hiring the right candidate and reflecting a positive image of an organisation.

Both predictive and prescriptive analytics in HR will also be more widely adopted in 2019 as data-backed insights will allow HR to make more in-depth analysis and informed decisions that can benefit the organisations.

In the context of employee retention, predictive analytics can help HR predict which employees are likely to quit while prescriptive analytics would prescribe the course of action that is most likely to succeed in retaining these employees.

When applied together, businesses can predict in advance what might happen and allow them to identify actions that can be taken to address situations, retain, engage or motivate employees.

Instead of working on separate systems, more companies will also shift towards the use of a unified platform to manage HR functions and make HR more engaging, insightful and strategic to the whole business.

Travel services provider, for example, uses Workday’s Human Capital Management platform to improve HR operational efficiency and talent management, as well as to enhance team collaboration across different countries.

Having all employees on one platform also allows companies like Ctrip to engage better with employees and provide them support in career development. It makes HR functions such as staffing, talent management, performance management, learning more efficient.

The key to adopting technology for HR is to enable human employees to work more efficiently. Ultimately, this is so we are able to elevate our day-to-day jobs and focus on delivering those that require personal touch and face-to-face interactions.


Redefining the corporate culture

The key to adopting technology for HR is to enable human employees to work more efficiently.

In 2019, a data driven culture that embraces digital transformation will become essential and a competitive advantage.

HR departments today have a wealth of information such as data on employee performance and recruitment campaigns that can be used to understand HR performance, validate decisions and make smarter decisions.

Insights gained from a data driven culture will help businesses save vast percentages on their bottom line and uncover opportunities and patterns to improve efficiency and profitability.

In order to encourage decision makers to move away from opinion-based decisions to data-driven decisions, reports generated from data need to be easily understandable so that insights can be derived to make informed decisions.

Apart from a data driven culture, flexible working culture will also be embraced by more businesses in 2019. Some of these will include offering flexible time off and work from home policies.

A study by UK’s Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service showed that flexible work arrangements can actually improve the effectiveness of both individuals and teams with 91% of HR professionals reporting that employees were more engaged and satisfied.

Deloitte’s millennial survey in 2018 also found out that millennials are more likely to stay in a role for more than five years if their company is flexible about where and when they work.

Demographics of today’s workforce are shifting, and companies will need to adapt their offerings and policies to accommodate this diverse population by making sure that their corporate culture supports diversity and keep employees engaged.

However, companies who are looking to redefine their culture will need to develop a strategy that will help keep everyone in the organisation aligned, supported and engaged.

Building clear communication channels to keep flexible workers accountable and informed, a strong support network to prevent feelings of isolation and clear guidelines that is fair for everyone will be crucial to keeping tab on employees.


Investing in diversity

Gender diversity will continue to be a focus in the workplace in 2019 and there will be more investments in initiatives to recruit, retain and advance women in the workplace.

There are signs of progress in increasing gender diversity in companies as we see four Singapore firms making it onto the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index (GEI) released in January 2019.

DBS Bank, for example, made it to the GEI for the second year running for their commitment to drive an inclusive work environment with diversity policies to boost diversity of gender, nationality, skills and knowledge.

The proportion of women on the boards of Singapore’s top 100 listed companies has also doubled to 15 percent in four years.

However, there is still much more work that can be done to support gender diversity in the workplace. Embracing gender diversity can allow businesses to tap into a wider talent pool and ensure that an organisation have diverse perspectives that is helpful in promoting creative thinking and innovation.

Companies should also embrace generation diversity in the workplace this year. Asia is ageing at an unprecedented pace where a quarter of its population (about 1.3 billion people) will be over 60 by 2050.

With an ageing population leading to a tight labor force, more businesses should be open to hiring older employees based on their experience and merit, granting them a fair chance in employment.

There are many reasons for hiring older employees such as their invaluable work experience and deep industry knowledge. Older employees are usually also more willing to mentor younger and less-experienced employees.

In order to remain competitive, older employees should keep an open mindset and be constantly curious to learn new things. Through interactions with the younger generations and training programs, older employees can continue to acquire new skills and knowledge to strive in the digital economy.

Singapore’s SkillsFuture program is a great example and platform for the older generation to upskill or re-skill themselves so that they remain relevant to the workforce.

Human capital is the most important asset to an organisation. Holding the key to such an important asset, HR plays a crucial role in the success of an organisation.

2019 will be a year for companies to drive real change from within and commit to improving the workplace for the betterment of its employees and creating a happier workforce for all.