The future of work in the Asia-Pacific region is poised to undergo significant changes, including placing a renewed focus on upskilling, health and wellness, and the promotion of a healthy and positive workplace culture by Human Resources professionals.
Emphasis on Health and Wellness
Employee mental health in the Asia-Pacific region has been a notable cause for concern for several years as more workers exhibit signs of stress and burnout. As a result, companies are placing a greater emphasis on promoting health and wellness in the workplace. Insurance company AIA provides employees across Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia with fitness classes and healthy food options, while Aetna International Asia Pacific (APAC) launched a Corporate Wellness Resource Hub to assist employers with their employee wellness needs.
In Japan, financial services firm Mizuho Financial Group offers stress-management workshops and mindfulness training.
“We believe that the physical and mental health of all Mizuho employees around the world is indispensable and that taking responsibility for maintaining and improving employee health is tied to the company’s continued growth,” says Nobuhiro Kaminoyama, Group Chief Human Resources Officer.
Upskilling and Reskilling of the Workforce
As people are at risk of being replaced by AI and other emerging technologies, firms are investing in the development of their existing employees so that they can stay competitive in a rapidly changing job market.
In India, Tata Consultancy Services has launched a reskilling initiative to help its employees stay up-to-date with the latest technology and skills. CEO Rajesh Gopinathan says that the way the company hires and runs its workforce is akin to a “living experiment.” “We are continuously exploring what the best we can do with this size of our workforce is. The question is how we structure ourselves in a dynamic, changing world. Typically, a professional’s life spans over 40 years, within which she has to be prepared to go through about five to six tech cycles. Having an organization that thinks about its upskilling and reskilling is an important aspect for a professional.”
Use of Virtual Reality in HR
Virtual reality and augmented reality, offering new and innovative ways to train and engage employees, are becoming more prevalent in HR. In Singapore, DBS Bank has started using VR simulations to train customer service representatives, while in South Korea, Samsung has used AR to create an interactive employee handbook.
“We have never believed in limiting digital expertise to a small team,” says Paul Cobban, Chief Data and Transformation Officer at DBS. “Instead, we passionately believe in democratizing technology skill sets among all employees so that they can run alongside the company as we advance on our digital transformation together.”
Increased Emphasis on Workplace Culture
According to Accenture, Asia-Pacific employees scored significantly lower than their global peers when it came to feeling a sense of belonging at work, while 68% of Japanese employees said they felt unhappy at work. Companies in the APAC region recognize the importance of a positive and supportive workplace culture in attracting and retaining employees.
Many are actively working on improving their workplace culture. In Australia, Commonwealth Bank has launched a cultural transformation program to promote collaboration, innovation, and inclusiveness, while in New Zealand, consulting firm Deloitte has introduced flexible working arrangements and a range of employee benefits to support work-life balance.
An article on the Commonwealth Bank website says that the firm is actively and continuously “a culture of equality, inclusion, and respect that embraces diversity.” The company uses six employee-led networks to champion transformation across the firm.
“Through these networks, we celebrate everything that makes our people unique and provides them with platforms to grow personally and professionally. We’re a thriving community with empowering networks that help us drive awareness and meaningful change,” according to the site.
Positioning HR for the Future
Sixty percent of the world’s workforce resides in the APAC region – and work is rapidly changing. Employees need to adapt to new roles and responsibilities and develop new skills to remain competitive, and HR professionals need to ensure that they meet changing employee demands to attract and retain talent in 2023 and beyond.
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