In order to build the workforce for today’s Digital demands, HR is also going through a transformation. If we do not move ahead, we are already left behind. It is in this respect that “HR Transformation in This Digital Era” was the hot topic at last week’s ChapmanCG HR leaders meeting in Bangkok, hosted by Microsoft’s Thailand HR Director, Chutima Sribumrungsart. ChapmanCG’s Vargin Yeke and Tracy Goh were in attendance, along with HR leaders from Accenture, Agoda, ANZ, Celestica, Jim Thompson, Mondelez, Nissan, Philip Morris International (PMI), Syngenta, Thanachart Bank and True Corporation.

Pillars of Digital Transformation

Who will be the future workforce? What would be the culture and working environment to enable this transformation? HR systems to support a digital era is no longer a “nice-to-have” but a “must-have” as emphasised by Najaya Jotikasthira, Thailand HR Head from PMI. Companies need to empower employees by creating digital environments that optimise operations, which leads to the next challenge: how to provide a “consumer-grade” employee experience.

As such, HR leaders need to develop more robust partnerships with C-Suite officers to create memorable and engaging employee experiences.Technology underpins this shift as administrative HR continues towards automation, innovation will be critical to build a modern corporate culture that uses “live data” to unlock employee’s potential for business impact.

HR leaders in attendance agreed that four of the pillars required to create the digital workplace of the future revolve around:

  • Systems of intelligence – integrate technological platforms in supporting daily worker activities, simplify access and unify relevant data in real time
  • Engage your customers – employees are your ambassadors, be customer-centric, have ongoing dialogues/feedback loops, data accessibility and ownership allows for communication, participation and absorption
  • Transform your products – appeal to new market trends, increased cost pressures require greater efficiencies in providing services, client discussions also change with the sales lines
  • Optimise your operations – simplified work environment and enhance seamless experience, encourage collaboration and innovation

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HR Balancing Act

Amidst the growing expectations from both the business and digital employees in this era, there will be pressure to deliver greater business impact whilst improving productivity and collaboration in this global competition for talent. These days, employees expect flexible work styles, professional development and engagement across geographies.

Companies need to come up with innovative talent solutions that are aligned with the business, coupled with actionable insights from data. However, as Richard Yan, Global Recruitment Operations Head from Agoda puts it, “You can’t build everything for everyone so long as you have the right data and will be comfortable with it.” Take comfort that it becomes easier once you have people’s buy-in and have everyone on the same platform. The trick, he shares, “Is to find a pin-point that resonates and draws people to be part of your company’s journey, getting them to be on the same page as a team.”

Without a doubt, it is certainly challenging to collect, own, protect, manage and analyse huge amounts of data related to the employees and workforce. On top of that, HR must continue with it’s role as a flawless service provider, functional expert and transformation enabler, whilst ensuring people-centric compliance to data security.

But ultimately, it is not just about having these tools and systems. Change management is key. People need to be educated about the change and understand the concept/context of what you are doing in this competitive landscape. It all begins with transformational behaviour and mindset shifts. We need to evolve our perspectives—from activity-oriented to solution-oriented, from reporting out to being data-driven, from accommodating everyone to focusing on needs, from a reactionary to being a change catalyst, from status quo to challenger mindset, from working in silos to One HR. We would then be able to apply the people, place and technology principles in achieving outcomes that encourage productivity, collaboration, innovation and well-being.

This would all be captured in the mission to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more, while being competitive in each location/country. Great people drive success in businesses and will strive to create an environment where employees feel empowered and inspired.

To achieve this, HR leaders need to help build:

  • A Culture – Vibrant, flexible with high levels of engagement and inclusivity
  • A Talent Pool– global and diverse workforce that supports the expanding needs of business with a versatile skillset that can jump onto and off of projects as necessary
  • A Leadership – who influence as much as they lead, who drive the business towards the next generation of success

It was apparent from all those in attendance that the tone from the top and executive buy-in/endorsement is critical. This digital and workforce transformation needs to be made as a business agenda instead of an HR agenda in order to meet the needs of your audience. Leaders need to make it a top priority to foster innovation within the workforce, but also are cautioned against a one-size-fits-all mentality. A solution for one business may not be the right solution for another as it varies from sectors and adaptations to clients and business trends. This digital transformation is a journey that requires persistence and continuous improvement efforts by checking in with your internal and external clients regularly. However, do not forget to celebrate each milestone of success.

We would like to thank Chutima Sribumrungsart, Country HR Director at Microsoft, and her team for hosting the event, and to all the HR Leaders who joined us. It’s always a great pleasure to meet our HR network in Thailand and we are hoping to be back again later in the year

What people had to say:

A huge “thank you” to ChapmanCG for the partnership. It was a great session for our team here (both HR and our Marketing Team) to learn about other organization’s journey through transformation while at the same time sharing Microsoft Strategic Direction in Digital Transformation. We hope all participants enjoyed the time with us and are looking forward to welcoming more HR Folks in the future.

Chutima Sribumrungsart, Country HR Director at Microsoft