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Revisiting HR Priorities in Times of Change

In 2016, we published the much-viewed Five Areas of Interest for Today’s HR Leader. Only five years on, the world of work has drastically changed—and in some ways for the better. With the upcoming May 2021 International HR Day recognising the extraordinary contribution and impact that HR leaders cultivate within their organisations, we revisit the top HR priorities that will shape today’s global workforce.

Employee Well-Being

Employers should prioritise well-being to craft a more resilient workforce and rebuild the economy in 2021 and beyond. According to a McKinsey & Company report (Nov 2020), costs associated with a failure to address employee mental health issues cumulated to a material impact of hundreds of billions of dollars. Prioritising well-being for employees is both the ‘right’ thing to do and the necessary thing to do. Some suggestions to consider:

  • Treat well-being as a tangible skill, a critical business input and a measurable outcome.
  • Embrace well-being not as a vague concept, but as an index of learnable actions and daily behaviours.
  • Train and equip leaders to think about all aspects of the employee experience from culture to well-being to purpose and meaning.
  • Bring it all to life in a personalised way for employees, both in person and through digital channels.

As the concept of well-being at work continues to grow, ChapmanCG Director Nicola Hasling shares her thoughts on the impact of company culture and leadership on the wellness proposition.

Hybrid Work Culture and Workplace Flexibility

Many organisations shifted to remote work suddenly without prior planning. With the ease of social distancing rules and regulations in some countries and regions, some organisations are choosing to offer employees the option of a hybrid work arrangement, maximising the benefits of both working from home and working at an office. However, long-term hybrid work arrangements will not succeed if the core organisational values such as empathy, leadership, transparency and flexibility are not consistent with hybrid work practices. That’s why many organisations are starting to focus on fostering their hybrid work culture to keep employees engaged, improve productivity, enhance collaboration and provide a smooth hybrid working experience. Otherwise, attracting and retaining talent will become challenging. Establishing a healthy hybrid work culture can be difficult in the beginning as employees are isolated in different locations. But with the proper virtual communication tools and interaction protocols in place, companies will be able to thrive in this new form of flexibility.

While an office will still be needed for collaboration, social connection and for those without an effective home office, the physical workplace is rapidly transforming. Many HR leaders indicate that their office footprint will be reduced as progressive employers are embracing a hybrid working model. Some companies may also decide to allocate certain roles as permanent remote working positions, which is opening a whole new world of talent management and diversity.

ChapmanCG has embraced virtual working from our inception. In this previous article, we share some best practices and insights from ourselves and global HR leaders.

Embracing Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

Organisations are increasingly expected to measure and report on their D&I progress to investors, employees, potential talents, and society. As a result, organisations are creating D&I strategies which explore many facets of diversity and are embedded into all aspects of an organisation from recruitment through to values and behaviours. However, ‘Tick the box’ policies are no longer enough. For many organisations this means hiring D&I specialists not just at the global level, but also within individual regions. In addition, companies which take a strong stance on sustainability/environment, and social impact or justice are standing out from the crowd.

In this Conversation with HR Leaders, we talk with Global CHRO of Mercari, Tatsuo Kinoshita about how they focussed on D&I as a top HR initiative to continue to shape the DNA of the company and enable them to globalise quickly and successfully.

Building Essential Skills and Competencies

Organisations will need to continue identifying skills gaps among their employees and help them build the skills and competencies needed to thrive. This will enable organisations to perform better, survive through difficult times and adapt to changing scenarios more easily. Delivering continuous learning and development opportunities through the right learning platform will help employers stay organised and offer training to more employees at once, no matter where they’re working from. As remote work continues, online learning will become more prevalent than ever before. Adopting a step-by-step approach that involves identifying the skills organisations need, defining training goals, and measuring the impact of learning on performance will help.

I spoke with Rita-Marie Harvey, VP Talent Acquisition & Mobility at Schneider Electric about their AI-based internal talent pooling system known as The Open Talent Market.

Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders

Employees want to feel support and encouragement from those who are leading the company. Leaders need to be authentic and honest to ensure trust and build a positive employee experience. Sustaining this authentic style of communication will help get people onboard with reshaped plans to embrace more change to come. 

When asked to identify the necessary traits for leaders, most would propose answers that fall within a wide range of topics. Charisma, purpose, determination, subject matter expertise… these are just a few of the traits that would typically be used to define a leader. However, many CHROs and CEOs around the world are building progressive and modern workplaces by placing a huge emphasis on both developing their current leadership teams and hiring new leaders with strong EQ. Emotional Intelligence is becoming one of the strongest drivers of leadership and personal excellence. An emotionally intelligent leader is good at working with and managing the emotional climate of their team to build trust and develop relationships. Here, Senior Director Katherine Qu and I look deeper into its importance.

Future Skills

A manager’s role critically influences the employee experience. It is the manager’s job to ensure that team members are aligned with the company’s purpose, objectives, and priorities, and to make sure that employees understand how their work relates to the company’s strategy.  Organisations need to enable managers to better support their teams using innovative communication and collaboration technology solutions. This is even more critical now when many employees are physically disconnected.

ChapmanCG hosted a Thought Lab in partnership with Mercer on taking a skills-based approach to Talent Management. In this article, Tim Spriggs summarises the Mercer research and points made by attending HR leaders on this complex and interesting topic.

The Future: Redefining Employee Experience

The role of HR leadership is continuing to rapidly evolve into a true business enabling strategic advisor.

Employee experience strategies will continue to be one of the top focus areas for leading employers. Now is the time to prioritise employee experience, focus on what matters the most to the workforce, and help them navigate hurdles of any kind no matter when they come up. Personalising the employee experience will show workers that the company cares about them as an individual, and they’ll be more likely to stay with the organisation. To do this, you have to listen to employee feedback very carefully and work with their managers. People analytics will also help HR leaders to understand employee preferences better by providing insights gathered from analysing employee data. Furthermore, technology use will play a key role in employee experience strategies due to the increased prevalence of remote work. We will see many organisations investing in technology that helps employees collaborate with their co-workers and create a sense of belonging.

While we continue to pause physical meetings, the ChapmanCG team around the world have been hosting thought-provoking HR Exchanges virtually for the global HR community. These have led to some real and open conversations and we will continue to do these throughout the year.

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Key Contributors:

Katherine Qu

Managing Director

Consulting Team
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Consulting Team

Katherine Qu

Managing Director

Katherine Qu is a Managing Director based in Singapore. Since joining ChapmanCG in 2014, she has worked with the team across APAC and around the world to identify the top HR talent across Greater China, Singapore, SEA and APAC.

Before joining us, Katherine ran her own executive search business in Beijing focusing on senior executive roles for leading Chinese companies in the consumer, healthcare and real estate industries. She has also held positions with Hudson and Charterhouse Partnership leading the Healthcare practice and HR function respectively. Katherine’s corporate experience has spanned many different sectors with global leaders such as PepsiCo, Pfizer and Lenovo.

Born in China and educated in both China and the United States, Katherine achieved her Master of Business Administration from the University of Maryland. She has worked in China, Singapore and the United States and speaks both Mandarin and English fluently.

EA Registration Number: R1220091 Licence Number: 08S3543

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Nicola Hasling

Senior Director

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View more
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Nicola Hasling

Senior Director

Nicola Hasling is a Senior Director with ChapmanCG and is based in Northern Virginia, in the United States. She is responsible for senior level HR searches across all disciplines of HR in the energy, industrial, pharmaceutical, financial and professional services, and consumer goods sectors for major blue chip and private equity backed organizations.

Prior to joining ChapmanCG, Nicola was with Heidrick & Struggles International where she was a core member of the firm’s CHRO, CEO and Board of Directors, Private Equity, and Energy and Natural Resources practices. Originally from the United Kingdom, Nicola has over 20 years of experience in executive search, primarily in the US and has also conducted international searches in Europe and Asia. In her earlier career, Nicola worked in human resources management roles, corporate sales and for the diplomatic service in London and Prague.

She holds an MBA from Henley Management College, England. After spending time in Houston, Texas, she is now located close to Washington, D.C., which allows her the opportunity to spend time with her horse and compete in eventing and continue to try to improve her tennis skills.

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Steve Brown

Regional Managing Director - Asia Pacific

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Steve Brown

Regional Managing Director - Asia Pacific

As the Regional Managing Director – Asia Pacific at ChapmanCG, Steve Brown finds exceptional Chief People Officer level talent (and their direct reports) for a broad range of clients including complex multinationals going through transformation and growth, to smaller and leaner organisations looking for contemporary and innovative people and culture solutions.

Steve has enjoyed an exciting and meaningful career journey of over two decades in the executive search and talent industry, having lived and worked in the UK, Australia, Singapore, mainland China, and Hong Kong SAR. He has a successful track record including delivering multiple high-profile HR searches both at C-level (group and global) and regional, across various industry sectors.

Steve is also a member of the executive committee at ChapmanCG, responsible for leading our world-class consulting team based across Asia Pacific. His team are located in mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Southeast Asia, and Australia.

Professionally, he is passionate about fostering long-term partnerships with HR influencers and CEOs to help organisations build diverse teams and inclusive workplaces, which ultimately drive innovation and high-performance.

EA Registration Number: R1216206 Licence Number: 08S3543 (SG) EA License 69316 (HK)

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Tim Spriggs

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Tim Spriggs is Regional Managing Director, EMEA with ChapmanCG based in the UK where, as part of the executive committee, he leads the EMEA business.

Tim and his team deliver senior retained executive searches for a range of clients from global multinationals to SMEs and has a background in global HR executive search. He is particularly passionate about finding unique and exceptional talent for his clients across the region.

Prior to returning to the UK in 2017, Tim spent five years in Singapore where he was instrumental in building the China business and covered international work out of Asia. Prior to ChapmanCG, Tim worked for JD Haspel, a boutique London-based executive search firm, where he specialised in EMEA HR search assignments across multiple sectors including technology, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, financial services and natural resources.

Before moving into executive search, Tim’s passion for sport led him to his first career in sports marketing and sponsorship with Octagon. He has a BA (Hons) in American Studies from the University of Nottingham, and a CIM Diploma from the London School of Marketing.

In his spare time, Tim enjoys running and cycling in the Chilterns and is known to have the occasional swim in the Thames near his home in Henley.

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