New talent is transforming the field of HR into a digital-first work environment. Source: Shutterstock

New talent is transforming the field of HR into a digital-first work environment. Source: Shutterstock

HR has evolved into a strategic role thanks to technology says SHRI

ORGANIZATIONS rely on human resource (HR) professionals to provide the right kind of staff for all their projects, functions, and processes.

However, the scope of work that HR professionals deal with extends beyond just recruiting. It includes onboarding, training, appraising, managing leaves, and sometimes even requires maintaining the culture and policing inappropriate behavior.

The list of tasks above is as tedious as it sounds, which is why new technologies have really helped professionals in the HR field.

Business analytics, robotic process automation, and artificial intelligence are among the top technologies that are disrupting the field as well as elevating professionals to a more strategic role.

“According to a recent Sage study, Singapore businesses have collectively lost over SG$1 billion (US$740 million) worth of productive time due to time spent on administrative tasks just in the first 2 months of 2019. Of this, HR administrative activities make up around 32 percent,” revealed Sage Asia MD Arlene Wherrett.

In a recent interview with Tech Wire Asia, Singapore Human Resource Institute (SHRI) President Erman Tan discussed why technology is so key to this industry and argued that Southeast Asian professionals are ready to leverage digital solutions to do more for the businesses they support.

“We think that the local workforce is well-placed to adapt to digitalization, with more digital and mobile savvy millennials entering the workforce and bringing greater diversity into the mix.”

“Government grants have also allowed mature workers to adapt to the changing landscape, providing them assistance through upskilling programmes and getting them ready for the digital economy.”

Tan’s referring to programmes such as the industry transformation maps (ITMs) in Singapore, the reindustrialization and technology training programme (RTTP) in Hong Kong, and the new Industry 4.0 policy in Malaysia, among several others.

“Through initiatives such as the SkillsFuture programme [in Singapore], jobseekers and incumbents in every sector have a customized framework to guide them as they advance in their careers.”

SHRI too, has launched a new HR-Tech Lab with a software company, dedicated to advancing Singapore’s HR workforce.

Here are some trends that Tan sees in the world of HR. It’s also what he advises professionals at SHRI to watch out for:

# 1 | There’s a digital component to employee engagement

With the wave of digital disruption sweeping across industries and the cost of disengaged employees, employee engagement will continue to be an area of focus for HR professionals not just regionally but also globally.

“Organizations are increasingly realizing that happy employees mean happy customers.”

Hence, HR professionals will need to focus more on culture, professional development, rewards and recognition, and team relationships to ensure high workplace engagement.

However, according to a Gallup survey, only 15 percent of employees globally are engaged in the workplace.

“As this is a problem that cannot be fixed overnight, employee engagement is set to feature greatly in the agendas of HR professionals and organizations looking to build high-performing cultures.”

# 2 | Social media has changed how people apply for jobs

Any Talent Acquisition Manager worth his salt knows that the best talent today doesn’t apply for a job.

“They discover opportunities through their personal and social networks, respond to companies that value them beyond their skills and are more likely to stay in a job that offers value propositions and meaning beyond financial rewards.”

In other words, it is not ‘transactional engagement’ that can attract and retain talent today. Hence, HR professionals must adapt to the changing landscape and respond accordingly in order to continue to attract the best talent for their organization.

# 3 | HR professionals need to embrace digital, not just leverage it

Apart from automating backend processes and HR systems, HR professionals also need to leverage on digital technologies including mobile applications to elevate rewards and recognition programs, create positive employee experiences, and build an appreciative culture before employee attrition becomes a problem.

Technology can also provide the right platform for innovations and be the minimally obtrusive feedback mechanism that most businesses need.

“Today, the role of the HR department has largely been impacted by the growing availability of self-service digital tools, online human resource tracking systems, and automation. This has allowed HR to move on to more strategic roles in some cases whilst enabling others to be more effective with the administrative tasks associated with HR.”

At the end of the day, SHRI’s Tan believes the (digital) tools are here, and the smarter HR professionals must act fast and use technology to their advantage. Now.