Significant variations in the priorities of organisations, perceptions of hybrid working, and sentiments regarding career prospects and well-being have been found across the Asia-Pacific region. The findings of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) "People Profession 2023: Asia-Pacific Survey", signal that people professionals are needed to play a proactive role in reshaping the future of work, navigating the challenges posed by hybrid working and ensuring the well-being and success of the workforce in the region.
According to the findings of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), the professional body for HR and people development, finds that the impact of hybrid working varies across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and that workforce engagement is a critical priority for people professionals across all markets surveyed.
While Australia is most positive about the impact of hybrid working, Singapore respondents more commonly said that it has made HR delivery more difficult, including when it comes to employees’ mental health and wellbeing, and attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent.
Key drivers of change for organisations in APAC
Digital transformation was ranked as the top trend in Australia, higher than the global sample (37% as compared to 28%), followed by economic change and rising costs.
For people in Hong Kong, flexible ways of working, industrial change, and organisational agility, changing employment relationships, responsible business and social impact, and globalisation are key drivers of change.
Economic change and rising costs were ranked as the top drivers for change in Malaysia, followed by digital transformation. Social media and content consumption were also ranked amongst the top five changes in Malaysia, the only market in the region to say this.
Compared with the global counterparts, practitioners from Singapore were most likely to rank the impact of digital technology platforms and changing workforce demographics as the top trends influencing change.
Top workforce priorities
Evidence suggests that recruitment remains a challenge. Despite opting to hire remote workers, recruitment remains a challenge for many employers in APAC.
To plug resource and skills gaps, organisations in APAC are turning to their current workforce to grow and sustain the business, with upskilling, reskilling, and building capability being identified as the top workforce priority in Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore. In contrast, people professionals in Hong Kong said workforce planning and management was their top workforce priority.
Across APAC countries, engaging with the workforce is a unanimous priority area, especially as hybrid working models are here to stay. This suggests that a cultural reset is needed to focus on employee experience, engagement, and culture in a post-pandemic workplace.
Perceptions and approaches around hybrid working
Australian people professionals were most positive about the impact of hybrid working. Around half of them said they find it easier to support line managers (49%), that talent management is more manageable (48%), and employee performance management is easier (45%).
Singapore respondents were more likely to say that it made HR delivery more difficult, with attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent and supporting employees’ wellbeing perceived as most challenging.
APAC saw big differences in perceptions of hybrid working amongst younger practitioners, compared to older people professionals. Around 45% of people professionals aged between 18 and 34 believed that hybrid working made attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent easier, compared to just 18% of practitioners over the age of 45.
Sentiments around career prospects and wellbeing in the people profession
Australian people professionals are the most positive about how work affects their mental and physical health (67% and 64% respectively), while sentiments in Singapore were the least positive (34% and 33% respectively).
Responses received from respondents in Hong Kong indicate that suggest that wellbeing at work might be considered a taboo subject or a topic on which practitioners feel less comfortable expressing an opinion on. Interestingly, 15% of participants from Hong Kong opted for "prefer not to say", this is the highest proportion of respondents who selected this response across the region.
Given health and wellbeing affect many work-related outcomes, leaders should consider a holistic approach of flexible working options, progression opportunities, and setting clear boundaries between supporting the business and looking after their personal needs.
“Given the diversity of each market in APAC, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work region-wide. As we navigate these complexities, the survey acts as a compass, guiding us and people professionals to understand and address the intricacies shaping the future of work,” said May Leng Kwok, Head of Market Development – Global, for CIPD.
“Hybrid and flexible work models are reshaping the way we work, and people teams and managers must recognise the profound implications for both individuals and business strategies. As organisations in APAC embrace this transformative era, they need to adopt a data-driven mindset, and thoroughly analyse how hybrid working uniquely impacts their market, employee segments, and internal and external stakeholders. To adapt and thrive, organisations will need to explore creative solutions to enhance the employee experience, whether through dynamic career and skills development via job rotations, secondments, or robust support for professional qualifications and certifications,” added May Leng Kwok.
As part of a global series the CIPD’s "People Profession 2023: Asia-Pacific Survey", surveyed over 800 people professionals across Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore to provide insights into the talent management landscape, workforce priorities, and the nuances of hybrid working.