The top talent challenges faced by HR in APAC in 2019
Finding, retaining and developing talent – this has been identified as a top business challenge of 2019 among APAC organisations. According to HireRight’s latest 2019 APAC Employment Screening Benchmark Report, more than one-third (34%) of HR professionals surveyed in APAC cited this as one of their top three challenges, while maintaining a competitive edge (21%) and growing revenues (19%) came in as second and third respectively.
From a talent acquisition point of view, the number one common challenge identified was creating an employment brand that attracts talent (25%), ahead of finding qualified job candidates (20%) and reducing employee turnover (19%).
This falls in line with rising sentiments that employee headcounts will increase in the next one year – in fact a majority of respondents (83%) do expect to see a growth in their workforce in the coming 12 months, with close to half estimating an increase by at least 6%.
How candidate discrepancies play out across Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and more
Apart from the above findings, the report also identified one key issue that is still a prevalent ‘headache’ for HR professionals – candidate discrepancies.
Although the majority of respondents (67%) felt that candidates rarely misrepresented information on their resumes (less than 10% of the time), two in three (61%) admitted that they had uncovered issues
through screening candidates that would otherwise have gone unnoticed.
Further, across the board, the most common discrepancies were uncovered during employment checks (86%), and education verifications (59%), an increase from 74% and 48% respectively the previous year.
Following an increase in background checks, APAC countries involved in the survey all observed a drop in candidate discrepancies.
Specifically in Malaysia, a drop from 2017 (18%) to 2018 (15%) was observed. Similarly, Singapore also saw a slight drop, from 20.1% in 2017 to 18.3% in 2018, while Hong Kong saw a drop from 21.4% in 2017, to 14.5% in 2018.
Looking ahead: HR investments to come
With the findings above, HR professionals are constantly kept on their feet and seeking new ways to adapt to the ever evolving digital landscape of today.
In fact, based on the HR professionals in APAC surveyed, the top initiative they planned to invest in for 2019 was to make HR processes more efficient (60%), as compared to global HR professionals who prioritised reducing turnover. Additionally, half of those in APAC (50%) are looking to invest in new HR technologies in the next six months, versus just 21% globally.
Why all HR professionals must be conversant in HR analytics
Fermin Diez, Adjunct Professor, Singapore Management University (SMU), on how the HR function will be delivered very differently than it is today, given the impact of digitalization artificial intelligence and robotics.
A 2018 survey by David Green and Ian Bailie at myHRfuture identified key skills HR professionals need to develop in order of their future importance:
Digital HR/HR technologies
Consulting and influencing
Strategic workforce planning
Ethics & data privacy
Diversity & inclusion
AI, robotics & future of work
“People analytics” came in as most important, along with “digital HR/HR technologies”. And yet, the next two were “soft” skills such as change management and consulting/influencing. It is clear HR professionals need to become more analytical, but it is equally clear the profession needs to also stay grounded on its human aspects.
In line with these results, we believe all HR professionals must be conversant in HR analytics, if the function is to be effective at improving individual performance, enhancing employee experience, and helping to achieve business goals.
HR professionals traditionally have shied away from gaining basic data literacy skills, including data visualisation, finance and statistics. HR practitioners need to become more analytical if they wish to keep pace with the new demands on the profession and be an integral part of a more data-driven, yet human-grounded, future of the HR profession.
A glimpse of the HR future
There are analytics capabilities built into most new and upcoming software offerings, which have increased our ability to collect and analyse data. This data holds the promise to help HR analytics teams understand how they can improve the employee experience.
Real-time sentiment and emotion recognition analysis is a fast-growing field, which is increasingly being used to measure how employees are feeling. There is technology to analyse a person’s facial nano expressions and gauge their emotions such as happiness, anger or sadness. It can also predict if the person is truthful or surprised. Similar technology for voice analysis is already available.
Biosensors and wearables are widely available for personal health and fitness, providing data for physiological metrics (heart rate, sleep patterns, blood pressure, etc.), as well as various environmental metrics (distance, altitude, etc.).
Similar devices are used in the workplace to help improve health & safety – for example, devices can be worn by truck drivers to alert them if they are falling asleep while driving. Other devices are being used in high-volume work settings to help improve productivity by alerting employees when they are not focused or when their stress levels are too high.
The handling of sensitive information on an employee’s health or feelings must be handled with extreme care.
However, future applications do not need to be so individualised. Improving any HR process is a good opportunity to apply a design-thinking mindset; get feedback from users, supervisors, vendors and other stakeholders; use the feedback to redesign the process; pilot the new approach; and collect data to see if it is better than the old process. Is it cheaper/faster/better and does it help to increase productivity/revenues/profits? Does it make the employee experience better?
Many questions remain about this ability to track and use data. We need to overcome the lack of skills to analyse the data. Technology, and the resulting data, must be validated, especially when it comes to interpreting feelings and thoughts.
The new technologies have access to sensitive areas, raising concerns about data storage and usage, and there may be some who want to hoard or misuse this data, which will lead to regulation at some point on how it can be used and interpreted.
Personal data protection legislation is already in place in many jurisdictions and will likely continue to evolve rapidly as technologies become more powerful and available.
There will also be many HR professionals and employees who will resist change. The handling of sensitive information on an employee’s health or feelings must be handled with extreme care.
The HR function will need to continuously monitor and update its policies and communicate these to employees – about what type of data is being collected, for what purpose, for how long, where it is stored, and the data protection mechanisms in place.
Whatever the future holds, it is an exciting time to be an HR professional!
Flexible workspace, decentralisation, and tech-driven measures are the latest workspace trends
In Hong Kong, flexible workspace is in limited supply in the core CBD areas of Central and Admiralty. However, there is a major concentration of flexible workspaces in Causeway Bay, which provides financial and other large occupiers with ample opportunity to locate staff outside their own offices. Only the larger and stronger flexible workspace operators can offer both adequate desk numbers and appropriate quality and security.
Sam Harvey-Jones, managing director of Occupier Services, Asia said: “Given the volatility of future headcount needs, not least in the financial sector, the use of flexible workspace makes good sense in enterprise real estate strategy. Flexible workspace now accounts for between 2-5% of total grade A office space in Asia’s four key financial centres of Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore and Shanghai, with secure and scalable corporate-level specifications.”
Decentralisation of back office or middle office operations has been a trend in the financial services sector in Hong Kong for several years. Hong Kong has also seen full relocation of operations to decentralised districts in other professional services sectors, notably legal.
The chief alternatives to the finance-dominated CBD are Tsim Sha Tsui and Kowloon East. Average rent in Kowloon East is only 28% of the average rent level in Central. Island East is also attractive to financial tenants. Both Kowloon East and Island East are positioned to benefit from new infrastructure development projects.
Embracing new technology will save costs. In the near term, adoption of cloud-based working models will reduce the space and resources that financial and other large occupiers need to run tech infrastructure. Over five years, fuelled by shifts to online services and further automation, Colliers believes large Asian banks with a consumer focus have the potential to cut branch and staff totals by 20-35%.
Cloud computing has opened a new era of real estate possibility for Asian companies and their staff. By allowing firms to store and process huge amounts of data remotely, the cloud is reducing the need for space and resources. In the banking and finance industry, for instance, physical branches might increasingly provide customer relationship management and transactions online.
“Cloud-based working is also enabling large enterprises to work more efficiently, and with more security, in decentralised models – driving the viability of flexible workspace to accommodate likely fluctuations and decrease real estate cost across organisations,” Jones said.
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According to new research from Mercer, more than three-quarters of top-level executives predict major disruption in the next three years – jumping from just 26% in 2018
However, 80% of chief human resources officers (CHROs) are of the belief their organisation can be a leader in embracing disruption in their respective industries. Preparation was seen as the key factor in managing change.
Here are the five takeaways from the report on how the world of work will be transformed in the coming years:
No.1 Talent migration is underway
The war for talent is fiercer than ever, with top employees leaving their company to work for organisations that boast better pay, have adapted to newer technology and promise better work experiences.
But only 33% of HR managers have confidence in their company’s ability to manage this talent migration risk as “very effective” – possibly due to the fact that HR teams don’t feel supported in their efforts to retain workers. Only 29% of HR managers agreed that those at the C-suite level prioritise human capital risks and give them the resources they need to retain the best.
No.2 It’s essential for employees to keep learning
Upskilling and reskilling are becoming increasingly important to CHROs, leaping from ninth to third position in significance in 2019.
To help reduce the skills gap created by the arrival of new technology, just over half the CHROs surveyed worked with their HR teams to develop a future-proofing people strategy, and 45% adjusted the workforce plan to close the skills gaps through a mix of employee-directed learning, formal reskilling programmes and more informal hands-on learning.
No.3 Employees want flexibility – hence the rise of the gig economy
In the research, 54% of employees said effectively managing their work-life balance is one of the top five things their organisation can do to help them excel in the workplace. A total of 82% of them said they would consider working on a freelance basis.
The takeaway here is that if you don’t want to lose your employees to the gig economy, it’s time to give them the flexibility they crave – this means offering negotiable hours and the choice of working remotely.
No.4 Action on diversity is lagging
The report found that delivering on diversity promises was a top workforce concern for companies, but that not enough action has been taken. Only 22% of employees give their organisation an “A” rating for ensuring equity in pay and promotion decisions across the board.
No.5 HR needs to transform the talent experience
As the team that interacts with and reaches every individual in the company, HR has a golden opportunity to shape organisational transformation efforts. But currently, only 40% of HR leaders are involved in the idea-generation stage of major change projects.
This is a missed chance given that 75% of companies stated that they are still in the process of providing an engaging, digital experience for employees, the report states.
The average age working seniors think they’ll retire? 72
A survey of 1,000 working seniors (age 65 or older) in the United States has revealed that many fear the consequences of aging in the workplace. One in three say they’ve experienced “ageism,” and an additional 36% are concerned about being laid off because of their age. More so, for 44% of working seniors, mental or physical limitations have prevented them from completing professional tasks. However, for many, working into their late sixties and seventies is a financial necessity, according to a new survey by Provision Living. In fact, the study explored the reasons for seniors to continue working in two categories – financial reasons and personal reasons.
Among the financial reasons, 37% said that they simply can’t afford retirement. Another 23% said that they are supporting a family, while just under one in five (19%) said they are paying off debt. Meanwhile, among the reasons on the personal front, a majority (45%) said they still enjoy working. Another 18% said they are working out of boredom, while 16% said they enjoy their job but prefer to work part-time.
So, what’s the outlook for seniors still in the workforce? Well, it appears they aren’t quite ready to leave their desks. According to respondents, the average age working seniors think they’ll retire won’t be until they’re 72.While this study was conducted in the US, the issue is pertinent to Asia, where workforces continue to move to the senior side of the spectrum.
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