How Leading Companies in Asia are Rewriting the HR Playbook

Gartner predicted that by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse; machines replacing humans is already a present reality for certain jobs. However, World Economic Forum estimated that AI and automation will create 58 million net new jobs by 2022 and some of those job titles haven't even been invented yet. This is an unprecedented shift that demands new workforce strategies to stay ahead.

How do we have the right people with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time?

How do we help our people develop, up-skill or re-skill with the right contents, in the right way, at the right time?

What would be the implications as Gen Z, the true digital natives, enter the workforce?

So many questions, so many uncertainties, so many opportunities.  The digital era promises unlimited possibilities.

I was thrilled when CDO Trends invited me to chair the inaugural HR & Digital Asia Summit.

Hosted at the stunning Facebook APAC HQ, this exclusive event brought together the HR & Digital Business Leaders from Asia's most influential brands. They shared the behind-the-scene view of their digital and business enablement journey, discussed actual data-driven HR use cases, and explored key trends in the future workplace. The dialogue was rich and insightful.

Here are a few highlights:

Shift from tolerating disruption to embracing disruption

Go after the unknown-unknowns. Future leaders need to be much more broad vs deep and make sense from seemingly disconnected patterns. To do that, we need talent diversity in skillset, experience, and perspective in order to make the most of fast emerging opportunities or challenges.

Dinosaur Leader Vs Digital Leader

Learning from AirAsia's leadership transformation, these are the key leadership traits required for this time of exponential change.

Human-Machine Interaction Design

We were amused by Gardens by the Bay learning with automation where bots/robots were installed to help with transporting the passengers. However, for the robots to move and get to work, they still had to reinstate the human staff to guide visitors to the automated car and manage the curious visitors. It's not just about job replacement; if we're going for human augmentation, we must anticipate and design for how humans and machines will interact.

Talent Availability Trumps Labor Cost

According to WEF's Future of Jobs Survey, talent availability is the #1 factor determining job locations decisions, ahead of labor cost. The importance of proactively up-skilling and re-skilling your current workforce cannot be under estimated.

Our Intentions Vs Our Actions

Once in a while, I still see a physical drop-off box labelled "e-submission" at Finance departments. Yup, a place to drop-off your hardcopy printouts of your "electronic" submission! We've all seen or heard of situations where the actions don't match up with the intentions. "Take risk, but don't miss. Innovate, but don't fail."  It takes courage and humility to examine our actual actions and behaviors to make the uncomfortable, and perhaps inconvenient change that is required to transform.

Importance of Internal Communications

The successful case studies all emphasized transparent, frequent, two-way communication on the vision, goals, progress and lesson learnt. The CEOs all personally championed the new strategy and role-modelled the desired culture. They all took many years to get to where they are today and they still continue to progress and learn everyday.

Transformational change is never easy nor a linear process. As Elon Musk said:

“Focus on signal over noise. Don't waste your time on stuff that doesn't actually make things better.”

About Jacinta Quah

An Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker and Well-being Advocate, Jacinta helps leaders move successfully from fatigue and burnout, to peak productivity and energy, maximizing their performance and potential.  

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