HR Self-Service Model in Korea: Is it Like Internet Banking?

The Chapman Consulting Group hosted two meetings for Korea HR Leaders in Seoul recently, as part of the Asia Pacific Series of HR Leaders Sessions that were held throughout the month of November. The two meetings in Korea were held at Alcatel-Lucent and British American Tobacco, both located in the exclusive Gangnam district of Seoul. Attendees included senior Korea-based HR decision-makers from a wide range of companies across multiple industrial sectors. Two particularly interesting issues took centre stage at these meetings, as follows.

HR Self Service as Internet Banking

One of the key points raised across both meetings was the trend towards a self-service HR model for employees, and the importance of convincing unions in Korea to accept these changes. In one company, an HR Leader was able to convince the unions for the need to change by using the analogy of internet banking. In the past, people could not imagine a time when they did not need to physically enter a bank and speak to a bank manager regarding transaction requests. Nowadays everyone accepts that internet banking is a straight-forward, convenient, and highly effective way to streamline their banking.

The HR service model is going through a similar generational and technological leap. As with internet banking, initially it feels foreign, and it’s very easy for mistakes to happen. Given time and repetition, the process should become more accepted, while improvements in back-end processes further match the users’ requests.


Keeping Confidential

In another case study, an HR Director brought up the issue of data privacy. In Korea there are strict regulations that prohibit the capture of certain personal employee details, such as national ID numbers. In this company’s case, a regional database was developed and held in an offshore location that automatically captured this information. This brought up the interesting issue of regionalisation and standardisation of HR delivery versus the need to be legally compliant in a local market, particularly one as regulation-heavy as Korea.

The issue in this case was resolved by tweaking the general data privacy content message of the company database, to be written so that it covers the company’s legal liabilities across multiple geographies. However, making this happen was quite a task, because even the wording of this disclaimer had previously been centralised at the company’s global HQ. In these situations it’s critical that a Korea HR Head has a voice at a regional and even a global level, as the Korea HR Head would be held personally liable for any infringements locally.

Both meetings reflected the massive changes taking place in the Korean HR market bringing transformation and change management to the forefront for HR Leaders. Many thanks go to our two hosts, and we look forward to reconvening and discussing future market developments.


Here’s What People are Saying…

“It was a good opportunity to gain in-depth insights and learn best practices about HR change and transformation management.” – Jennifer Chang, Korea Head of HR, Schroders

“It was a great opportunity to learn from others’ experiences, specifically on an area that I have not gone through. Special thanks go to The Chapman Consulting Group for organising such a great event.” – Yun-Won Chang, Korea Head of HR, Delphi

“It was a great opportunity to share challenges and opportunities, and to learn from best practices.” – Kay Seol, Korea and Japan Head of HR, Levi Strauss


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