The challenges of an ever-evolving world of work present the need to look closely at trends that are reshaping the ecosystem and take timely measures. Asian markets today are diverse, with both regional and global trends interplaying to create market conditions that require a closer analysis.
In efforts to provide HR leaders across Asia, People Matters and Darwinbox set out to conduct the largest HR study in the region. The result: HR Evolution Perspectives 2023: Empower and Evolve.
This landmark report gathered responses from over 1,200 HR practitioners, 350 CXOs and around 1,500 employees, bringing together important voices to showcase evolving priorities and enable strategic change across Asia. What Ester Martinez, CEO and Editor-in-chief, of People Matters described as, 'a roadmap to accelerate transformation in your organization. The report provides different lenses to tackle the different challenges that you face in your organization’
To deliberate further and understand how the report highlights important trends and lessons for HR leaders across Asia, she was joined by Nerissa (Carbonell) Berba, EVP/ Chief People Officer, Security Bank Corporation and Vikrant Khanna, Global Head - Value Management, Advisory & Solutions, Darwinbox.
Delivering on business growth
The report helps articulate business expectations. According to the report, business leaders predict growth and profitability in the times ahead.' Additionally, ESG and expansion through both organic means and M&A are bound to rise.
Vikrant noted that for, ‘HR leaders, it is important to look at how they support organizations across these strategic pivots. But doing this means rising to the occasion and overcoming key talent risks.'
Top risks that the report identified were:
- Developing capabilities for critical roles
- Adapting to new digital ways of working
- Inadequate leadership pipeline
- Consistent employee Experience
For Vikrant, delivering on business expectations for 2024 would mean delivering on these parameters and being ready to face these talent risks. 'These challenges today are pushing HR leaders to think differently and are creating an ecosystem of change,' he added.
Evolving expectations from HR tech and Transformation
To enable this shift, HR tech and digitization have begun playing an important role. 'Outliers,' noted Vikrant, 'are raising their investments into HR tech and are in-turn delivering better people results.' While this growing importance of HR tech is not surprising, what is important to note is the shifting expectations on which technology and transformation need to be delivered.
Employee experience, for example, has grown as a vital concern and, in the new paradigm of rapid transformations, is a top expectation. Digitization needs to enhance employee experience as a core impact area.
Rather than being limited today to simply adopting new technologies, transformation is crucial to the larger evolution of HR's strategic impact. 'Transformation now is the coming together of changes in people's behavior, changes in processes and how technology is empowering leaders to make better decisions and execute flawlessly,' Vikrant added.
'When it comes to business alignment,' Vikrant noted, 'HR leaders have been able to satisfy concerns, but the real cracks appear when it comes to questions around tailoring programs for different segments, meeting diverse expectations, and finally measuring ROI of investments into building capabilities and preparing for the future. Those are areas where the report found a gap across different Asian economies.
While the intent for HR leaders to deliver on strategic promise is there, when it comes to execution there is a lag.
Echoing the sentiment of focusing on execution as an important parameter of success, Nerrisa added that one of the first things she did when she joined Security back was create separate, specialized HR profiles that streamlined execution. From creating business partner roles in HR to building HR profiles that improved Total rewards, the focus was to improve HR service delivery.
'This meant bringing in talent from outside and repurposing talent we had in the company and encouraging internal mobility.'
The second part of this journey was to bring in the right technology that would make this shift successful. For example, a key area of change that Nerissa noted was developing leaders to perform better and enable change. 'For that we had to go out and get the right L&D platform in a digital format that was impactful.'
Ensuring employees were satisfied and future-proofing the organization, Nerissa again sought tech solutions that could help make her vision of HR success a reality. With a focus on employees remaining vital for success, EX grew in importance and for Nerrisa, Darwinbox was a successful partner that helped them raise employee engagement and create a positive work environment.
While businesses remain hopeful for raising profitability and growth in 2024 across Asia, the role of HR leaders is bound to become more strategic. How they think differently and can overcome key talent risks would prove critical in enabling organizational success.
The report and the discussion also explained that while HR across the region can deliver on expectations of business alignment and building OKRs for employee productivity, executing strategic plans around EX, agility, leadership development etc require a shift.
To get further insights and trends, download your copy of the report here.