HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Hong Kong
Dion Groeneweg

How the age of digital disruption is transforming the employment landscape in Asia


According to a recent IDC survey commissioned by Workday, only 28% of Hong Kong workers said they found their work engaging and satisfactory. That compares with 59% in the Philippines and India, and 42% in Australia.

In today's climate of readily accessible information, employees expect more than just a download of information. Instead, they want to have a personalised and honest conversation with business leaders. For instance, instead of pay calculation explanations, they want to know pay ranges, what different career moves might yield in monetary terms over the longer term and how they can get there. This is where digital HR can play a role.

Digital HR has been the panacea for HR's future for a number of years. Tomorrow's HR landscape of cloud-based solutions, mobile devices, social collaboration, and employee-centric technologies are resulting in major disruption in organisations.

Workforce analytics continues to be fuelled by the increase of "Big Data" becoming available from these technologies. Workforce analytics is changing the employment landscape, not only in Asia but globally. An increasing number of companies in Hong Kong are tackling workforce issues by leveraging data and analytics. They constantly collect, analyse, and interpret data to add value via their recruitment process in terms of improvement and effectiveness. 

One of the big data applications for HR is the integration of Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS) with job matching apps. This allows companies to identify jobseekers' unique traits, personality, and career aptitude through a series of short and fun neuroscience games. The results can then be used internally to identify opportunities for existing employees or externally to locate suitable talent who wouldn't otherwise have applied.

Recently a financial services client used Gamification as an engaging and insightful selection tool to obtain information from candidates to solve a problem of high turnover in frontline sales staff. This will change the way things are done in HR.

Another use of big data technology for HR would be predictive analytics. More companies in Hong Kong are starting to forecast their critical workforce requirements for the next five to ten years to ensure a strong talent pipeline is built.

With the understanding of talent challenges in critical workforce segments (challenges include high turnover rates within the first few months of joining as well as insufficient numbers of people with the right skills), the business (together with HR) are able to provide insights into build, buy, and borrow strategies to address them. The rise of data and technology allows business to make informed decisions and actions across all recruitment activities, as well as provide feedback into people and business goals.

The desire to use workforce analytics as a key input to an organisation talent strategy is growing in Hong Kong, as the most effective strategies are based on the analysis of HR issues and their causes. However, companies need to plan if they want to embrace digital. Here are a few steps:

1. Work out exactly what they need, consider precisely what HR services they (and the users) want and what employee information they will need now and in future. For example, are they looking to move into predicting hiring and attrition patterns of employees?
2. Spend time to have a conversation with vendors and existing users to understand which system fits best and gain feedback from former users before deciding which system to go for.
3. Identify other bolt-on technologies, (some additional capabilities. Eg Strategic Workforce planning capability) that might not be included in the chosen system.
4. Get assurance on security and privacy – e.g. mobile interfaces or data offshoring.
5. Most importantly, keep employees informed and excited! The fundamental meaning of HR transformation today is transforming the way people think, connect, and collaborate — hence, a new system needs a new mindset and this requires full communication to overcome any scepticism or reluctance.

Multinational organisations continue to set their sights on expansion and growth in Asia. To do this, they need to understand the nuances of the different markets – including the specific talent concerns.

According to our previous research, career advancement is the main reason motivating employees to leave their organisation among Chinese and Indian workers while base pay heavily impacts attrition rates in advanced economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong. Using workforce analytics can better equip organisations with internal and external factors such as country demographics, compensations, and training opportunities to manage and enhance their talent decisions which indirectly impact business' bottom line.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Dion Groeneweg

Dion Groeneweg

Dion Groeneweg is Head of HR Transformation & Workforce Analytics, Growth Markets at Mercer.

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