The top 5 human resources priorities for Asia Pacific

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In 2018, we saw HR organizations face escalating challenges around digital transformation and social change. These will surely continue into this year, thus we have identified these five priority areas in which HR must thrive in 2019:

1. Commercial acumen — Tune in to market trends and proactively partner with your business leaders. There are massive socio-economic and political movements today causing rapid shifts to virtually every industry in every region. As these influence dynamics within the global labor market, it is crucial for HR actions to align with business strategy:

  • Understand how the future of work will impact long-term business goals, workforce planning and organizational growth.
  • Stay attuned to market trends and remain well-informed in the factors that are shaping them.
  • Develop an overall strategy for success in the new, but volatile, digital economy.
  • Collaborate and proactively partner with business leaders and managers in order to identify and mitigate talent risks.

2. Digital mind-set — Understand what digitalization means for your workforce. In the Asia Pacific region, only 6% of HR functions are fully prepared for digital transformation, according to our 2018 Artificial Intelligence and Digital Talent Survey. Their readiness depends on commercial acumen — a keen awareness of how different business lines operate within their organizations, including financial revenue drivers and targets, business plans and objectives, competitive landscape and the broader market outlook. HR should:

  • Understand how the business’ products, solutions or offerings work, and thus how digitalization might change these and the relationships that the business has with existing partners or customers.
  • Find out exactly where the business is heading in terms of technology, digitalization and the future.
  • Understand how digitalization will impact their workforces (and the broader market) in terms of the tools they use, job satisfaction and continuous development.
  • Assess emerging talent and skills requirements and how they will impact retention and hiring.
  • Undertake internal and external research, participate in learning and development programs and forge relationships with new business partners.
  • Reconfigure and align job leveling and the compensation matrix and policies with the digital strategy. Ultimately, HR needs to proactively work in partnership with the organization’s leadership and employees to cohesively drive the business from within. See more in this related article.

3.  Social activism — Drive long-term behavioral shifts within your organization. Traditional expectations of gender roles persist in many Asia Pacific markets. But urgent calls for gender neutrality, pay parity and inclusion and diversity (I&D) are growing louder and bolder every day. HR must also be bold and take the lead in driving long-term behavioral shifts within the organization:

  • Conduct a gender pay diagnostic and urgently address all discrepancies.
  • Establish a transparent communication policy around the processes that govern pay and career decisions.
  • Promote an inclusive and diverse culture by creating gender-neutral policies, especially in recruitment and promotion.
  • Review and strengthen employee relations policies to ensure appropriate responses to social issues.
  • Know the external social drivers and answer the following questions:
    1. How are these issues impacting our people?
    2. Are we leading by example?
    3. What does our organization believe in?

4. Inclusion, diversity and wellbeing — Develop a formal plan for cultural change. Another societal topic that is crucial for HR to think about is I&D. Less than a quarter of companies globally today have a formal program that focuses on I&D, according to our 2018 Modernizing Total Rewards Survey Report. To advance long-term organizational change around I&D, HR should:

  • Establish a strong internal value system and communication plan for I&D in the organization. Addressing this should be much more than a tick-box exercise. Leadership and the organization as a whole need to truly believe in and live their values.
  • Get buy-in from the C-suite by objectively presenting the positive effects of I&D on the business and developing a measurable and methodical plan for establishing cultural change.
  • Integrate I&D principles into rewards by creating policies and practices that will help every employee to feel safe and valued at work.
  • Ensure the firm’s belief system and culture clearly shine through in all HR campaigns, including external recruitment activities and internal communications.

5. Connected data — Harness your data through an integrated platform to better inform critical business decisions. Organizational agility in an ever-evolving business landscape is only possible through leveraging advanced technology. Through digital enablement, HR can be empowered to do more “human” work, such as focusing on pay parity, pay transparency, people development, upskilling and employer branding. To reach that stage, HR should:

  • Integrate their processes and data with an accurate and reliable platform that can more efficiently provide direction for talent strategies in the new economy.
  • Invest in an integrated, cloud-based HR software platform that has a globally consistent and intuitive set of functionalities for entering, sharing and using data.
  • Partner with IT in order to ensure cyber-hygiene practices remain top-of-mind.
  • Deliver a better experience for employees, as data analytics technology can easily help connect various data points in workforce insights.

What are your key priorities for 2019? We would love to hear your feedback.

About Sambhav Rakyan

Sam Rakyan leads the Willis Towers Watson Data Services business in Asia Pacific, and is also the Head of Talent &a…
Categories: Asia, Employee benefits, Employee Engagement, Employee rewards | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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