As the world settles into the new normal for lack of a better phase, Asia Pacific is reconsidering the traditional workplace and the role of Human Resources. As a result, HR leaders are focused on making transformational change. Certain HR trends are emerging and worth recognizing:
More than one-quarter of the world’s companies expect that more than 70% of their staff will work remotely. Three-quarters of organizations expect that 30% or more of their employees will be remote moving forward. Clearly, hybrid work isn’t going anywhere. As long as there are COVID outbreaks or the possibility of future pandemics, employers must be prepared.
“I anticipate the norm in the Asia-Pacific region will be a hybrid model, going forward. The hybrid work model is perceived as the best of both worlds, for both employees and employers,” says Tanie Eio, Vice President, Human Resources Business Partner at UPS Asia Pacific. “Increasingly it is also becoming an expectation from today’s new and younger workers, who seek greater flexibility. It also allows companies to save on office space and explore creative ways to leverage technology and automation to improve productivity.”
Much like in North America, Asia-Pacific is experiencing a shift toward a gig economy. As a result, contingent workers are becoming more ubiquitous. For example, India’s gig center is likely to grow to $455 billion at a CAGR of 17% by 2024, according to ASSOCHAM. Contingent workers have more flexibility and can be the boss of themselves, which is appealing during these uncertain times.
The pandemic forced people to stay in one place, which meant movement and immigration ceased. Australia was strict about closing its borders, for example. As a result, there was little immigration, and this greatly impacted the workforce, says HR thought leader Mofoluwaso Ilevbare, also known as Fofo.
In addition, people are reassessing their lives, caring for their families, and focusing on their health and wellness, she adds, and so there are not enough workers for the job openings available. This may correct itself as pandemic restrictions are lifted. For now, however, it remains a reality in many Asia Pacific countries.
Acqui-hires are mergers and acquisitions in which companies purchase another organization for its talent. North American technology companies have long participated in these kinds of M&As. In the wake of the pandemic and labor shortages, the practice became more popular in Asia Pacific, particularly India. It’s a way to get skilled labor in niche areas without having to find a needle in a haystack.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
People around the world are recognizing the business and moral imperatives of seriously addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Asia Pacific is no different. Finding focus can be a challenge.
“To improve our D&I strategies, I think there are two key points (1) to start thinking about the intersectionality across different D&I pillars, such as women, people with a disability, etc. and (2) to stay focused on a few priorities and move the needle on those,” says Shruti Ganeriwala, HR Director of Foods & Refreshments & Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Unilever Australia & New Zealand. “D&I is a topic for which so much can be done, but teams need to really zoom in on where to best prioritise their efforts before moving on to the next focus area.”
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Mental Health and Wellness
The pandemic and all its consequences, which included isolation, financial stress, parental stress, loss of all kinds, illness, and death took its toll on humanity. As a result, many people are suffering. People are facing challenges big and small, from additional stress to diagnosed mental illness. More and more, employees expect their bosses and the companies for which they work to tend to their mental health and wellness. HR leaders are responding with benefits that include coverage of mental health needs, access to counseling and therapy, and apps and activities to help reduce stress.
HR trends in Asia Pacific reflect the changes in the workplace that are happening as a result of the pandemic. Trends can sometimes end up being a short-lived fad. But these have a weightier feel to them. The pandemic seems to have accerlated transformation, and Asia Pacific – truly the world – will never the be same.
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