Workforce Management

Moving Into the Future

From analytics to AI, six leaders share their predictions for the key trends that will disrupt HR in the coming decade.

By Michael Switow

What do the 2020s have in store for the HR industry and HR practitioners?

The decade begins amidst a sense of both optimism and uncertainty. The U.S. and China have signed a “Phase 1” trade deal, yet tariffs remain in place and tensions between the two powers continue to play out in other ways. Protests continue to disrupt Hong Kong, while massive fires burn in Australia. Yet the region is home to nine of the world’s fastest growing economies (Bangladesh, India, China, Mongolia, and several southeast Asian countries). ASEAN is also the top destination in Asia for U.S. foreign direct investment and is one of the fastest growing regions for mobile internet adoption.

Advancements in artificial intelligence, big data, and financial technologies are already affecting businesses and governments alike.

In the first issue of the new decade, HRO Today APAC turns to six experts from across the region to address these issues and seek their insights and predictions on leadership, talent acquisition, areas where HR practitioners must focus if they are to excel, and ways in which the two largest countries in the region will be different 10 years from now in 2030.

Keys to Success

By Jacqueline Gwee, Director and Founder, aAdvantage Consulting

To be successful over the next 10 years, HR practitioners must focus on five areas.

  1. Analytics and data-driven decision-making. Understanding statistics is essential. HR leaders must become proficient in gathering, analysing, and interpreting quality data, and knowing how to present it to management, along with changes based on the numbers.
  1. Technology. HR leaders will need to become more tech-savvy and explore innovations that change the employee experience, especially for younger workers who are digital natives. Utilise just-in-time learning. Use technology to measure the impact of initiatives.
  1. Company culture. A company’s culture determines how it attracts and retains employees, especially millennials and Generation Z. HR practitioners need to play a larger role shaping corporate culture and making it an organisational priority.
  1. Communication. Effective communication requires connecting with individuals and being emotionally engaged. Business leaders need to be persuasive to drive change at all staff levels.
  1. Rethink working relationships. As outsourced staff becomes an increasingly large part of the workforce, HR professionals will need to find ways to engage them not as contractors and vendors, but as part of the main workforce.

How Data Will Drive HR

By Andrew Calvert, Senior Vice President of Global Solutions, Leadership, and Talent Development, Lee Hecht Harrison LLC

By 2030, HR will be leaner, more data-driven, and no longer the poor cousin to sales, operations, and IT.

Fewer HR professionals will be needed in 10 years as technology reinvents and redesigns outdated processes. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to spot trends and patterns in hiring and retention. Already, AI can spot a salesperson who is likely to leave the company, as they log into the CRM system less and input less data.

Here are three ways that data will drive HR.

  1. Today’s outdated and unintuitive recruitment user interfaces will become relics. HR leaders will develop better-qualified candidate pools for each role through automated processes that expand employee experience programmes into recruitment; leverage behavioural and cognitive assessments to ensure job and role fit; and cross-reference results with team dynamics to ensure a cultural fit. A face-to-face interview will cap off the process.
  1. One-size-fits-all training will become a thing of the past. Individualised learning journeys based on strategy-evolving competency requirements and employee motivations, passions, and purpose will rule. Coaching will be virtual and likely from an AI-generated persona.
  1. Ongoing employee engagement. Pulse surveys, or short check-ins with employees, will be more frequent and straight-forward. They will feature single questions and answers will be reviewed by artificial intelligence for trends. Leaders will receive automated notifications suggesting corrective actions. At the cutting edge, facial recognition may even be used to determine employee sentiment.

With data to tell the story and highlight the return on investment, HR leaders will be able to show how much they are able to move the needle on employee and team performance.

Some of these features can be found in the workplace today. In 2030, they will be ubiquitous.

India 2030

By Konika Chadha, Head of Professional Search in India, Korn Ferry

Business leaders will need to be aware of seven key trends for HR in India.

  1. Most ASEAN countries, as well as Japan, the United Kingdom, and United States, will face a huge talent crunch in 2030. India, on the other hand, will have a talent surplus and a large pool of educated people. The challenge will be to improve candidates’ employability.
  1. As the workforce becomes increasingly oriented towards a gig economy, the entire workplace design and policies will need to be aligned. Organisations will have to create robust talent development programmes to reskill and upskill workers so they can address changes in the business and economic environment.
  1. Efficiency and specialisation will be required for both high-volume and niche hires.
  1. Companies and communities will be forced to give learning and development a total facelift to bridge a growing skills gap.
  1. Talent retention will only get tougher. Job flexibility will be key, particularly as remote working becomes increasingly commonplace.
  1. Holistic workplaces where employees find their jobs to be fulfilling and joyous will be a reality.
  1. Organisations will need to be more agile and lean to react quickly to change.

Managing Talent Across Borders

By Yvonne McNulty, Global HR Expert, Edith Cowan University, School of Business and Law

Global HR practitioners will be the “strategic staffing” glue that holds a regionally-growing company together.

Regional expansion demands synergy between talent and operations; global HR will be at the forefront of making this possible.

The major trend developing over the next 10 years that HR practitioners must address is not the competition to acquire talent -nor the competition to keep people -but rather how to manage them.

This will be due in large part to an increase in people living and working in different jurisdictions, a trend that will also create tax and migration issues for government agencies.

Picture a UK-born, British passport-holding, white, single man relocating to Singapore -a local-to-local move with an IT, banking, or consulting company. He travels frequently around the region for business and has a child with his Thai girlfriend. For immigration, financial, or educational reasons, they are unable to relocate to Singapore to live with him. As a result, he works in Singapore four days a week and works from home every Friday in Bangkok in order to spend the weekend with his family.

His employer may not be aware of the arrangement, simply thinking that the employee is working from home in Singapore rather than transiting an international border to complete his work in another tax jurisdiction. These scenarios, which are already occurring today, will be more widespread in 2030.

Companies need to know what their people are doing, especially when it involves stealthily working across international borders. That is the future of tomorrow’s work in Asia.

Talent Acquisition

By Kimberley Hubble, CEO of Asia Pacific, Hudson Global Inc.

TA professionals will be freed from repetitive screening and administrative tasks thanks to artificial intelligence, and sourcing tools will make it easier to identify both passive and active talent.

The key challenge, though, will be to entice passive candidates to participate in the recruitment process and, ultimately, to accept an offer. To do this, recruiters will require far stronger marketing skills and will need to act as “brand evangelists” for their companies.

Other trends, already evident, which will intensify include:

  1. Faced with talent shortages and an ageing population, companies will become more serious about finding ways to retain older workers.
  1. The widespread adoption of new candidate relationship management technologies will enable greater personalisation of the applicant experience, from talent pool to induction.
  1. Contracting and freelance gigs will grow faster than permanent roles.
  1. Part-time positions will continue to grow faster than full-time jobs.
  1. Internal mobility will increase in importance and will lead to a more concerted effort to reskill existing employees in readiness for their next role.
  1. There will be far greater global mobility.
  1. As employers realise that the first 90 days of a new employee’s work life are critical to their decision to remain with the company, firms will invest more in resources, processes, and tools to optimise this experience.

As these trends become business as usual, the companies that will see the most success in 2030 are those that greatly increase their investment in talent acquisition and view it not as a cost centre, but as a critical area that adds strategic value and drives competitive advantage.

China 2030

By Tim Ye, CEO, Nstarts Consultants

In 2030, as China experiences a new economic cycle, the country’s labour relations and HR industry will face an evolution. These are 10 key elements.

  1. China will update the labour law to make it more friendly to enterprises. Companies will be fully compliant with the new law.
  1. Flexible labour practices, which are currently applied in only a small number of companies for specific jobs, will be widespread.
  1. HR management of state-owned enterprises will be fully market-oriented.
  1. Labour costs will double and so will labour efficiency.
  1. Manual labourers, like those in maintenance, construction, and sanitation, will be paid more than the average white collar administrator.
  1. To attract talent, companies will be forced to increasingly focus on their brands.
  1. Whoever has the talent will own the market.
  1. HR products based on artificial intelligence and big data will be commonplace.
  1. Background checks will leverage blockchain technologies and include personal credit investigations.
  1. The HR systems market will be booming and China’s internet giants will be the biggest beneficiaries.


Tags: APAC, APAC January February 2020, Magazine Article

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