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Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia
Future of work

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia

Sharon Monteiro
August 30, 2023

Organizations are constantly dealing with change. In South East Asia, transformation and change in business operations can be a little more complicated due to the variety and richness of cultural and social norms, economic systems, business practices, and governmental focus areas. The diversity of cultures within this region means it’s unlikely that a standardised set of tools and practices will be accepted to tackle HR challenges in South East Asia.

In the South East Asian HR arena, digital transformation has been the buzzword for the past four years. But, not all development happened at the same pace. Organizations and industries that embraced AI automation and cloud technology became pioneers in the emergent field of HR technology, while those that didn’t began falling behind.

Fast forward to today, Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation across South East Asia and introduced years' worth of digital transformation in the span of a few months. Organizations have been given the pandemic-push towards modernizing their human capital management processes through digitization to keep up with disruptions from the crisis.

Adopting HR technology can be a positive force for creating a better future in the world of work. In this blog, we will discuss the variety of HR challenges in South East Asia and the steps that can be taken to overcome them.

Overcoming HR challenges in Indonesia

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia | peopleHum

In the HR landscape of Indonesia, the HR challenges in Indonesia faced by HR leaders aren’t very different than other parts of the world. However, due to the slower penetration of technology, the pain points have only intensified. Some of the major HR challenges in South East Asia are the lack of effective technology, the emotional fatigue of working from home, the lack of resources to track productivity and motivation, and getting people to actually adopt and use technology.

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises provides for 97% of the country’s employment. Indonesia has a large workforce population with a total median age of 28.6 years. The effects of Covid-19 has led to a fundamental shift in the way organizations operate, consequently urging employers to focus on workforce restructuring (45%) and active resklling (41%) (Mercer). All this, to make their young and abundant workforce future ready.

With MSMEs being major providers of employment opportunities for a young workforce, the right workforce management tech stack is the need of the hour. With integrated HCM platforms, Indonesia’s employers, HR personnel, and its abundant young workforce can cut through the monotonous administrative work, and instead engage & collaborate with their team and create a company culture that nurtures growth & productivity.

Overcoming HR challenges in Malaysia

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia | peopleHum

In the HR landscape of Malaysia, just 39% of HR executives say that their organization is adapting to the new normal. Furthermore, a 2020 HR Pulse Survey by KPMG revealed three key HR challenges in South East Asia that will may follow the future of work in Malaysia:

  • 13% of the workforce will be made redundant
  • 30% will likely continue to work remotely
  • 47& of the workforce needs to be reskilled or upskilled

In order to overcome HR challenges in Malaysia and make the organizations and workforces more resilient for the future, HR needs to take the digital route in improving processes. Learning and reskilling are urgent needs of the hour. However, since face-to-face training can be difficult with employees working remotely and scattered across different locations, companies need to adopt digital learning tools like Learning Management Systems and customize courses for their employees.

More importantly, HR in Malaysia must harness the power of people analytics. In the current remote work environment, AI-powered employee analytics will give employers a better understanding of talent needs, measure productivity, and design the future workforce.

Overcoming HR challenges in Philippines

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia | peopleHum

HR challenges in Philippines, spanned from talent retention, to learning and development, and remote work arrangements.

Top retention concerns include the absence of a clear career path (49%), low employee morale (32%), and lack of feedback and recognition (31%). It is simply clear that employees are in need of opportunities that promote their development and performance despite the pandemic.

Of course, the pandemic led to some of the most significant changes in HR in Philippines. The most addressed concerns and HR challenges in South East Asia were engaging remote workforces (40%), employee well-being (49%), and remote working arrangements (16%). Organizations are concerned about their employees’ work from home arrangements due to factors such as isolation, communication issues, technology issues, and a myriads we are already familiar with.

In order to build a resilient remote workforce, organizations need to reskill and upskill employees with the use of technology such as an LMS, and implement an. employee-centric human capital management suite that enables employees to engage with their teammates on a digital platform, design goals and objectives and track their progress, and create a dynamic culture of engagement while working remotely.

Overcoming HR challenges in Thailand

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia | peopleHum

A 2020 study by Qualtrics recognized Thailand as the nation with the second most engaged workforce in the world, with the average employee engagement score at 72%. The study titled, 2020 employee experience trends: Thailand revealed that employee engagement rose significantly to 85% when employee feedback was well-received and acted on. In addition to that, the more often feedback was collected and acted on, the higher the engagement.

Thailand has a healthy employee engagement culture and places great importance to feedback, opportunities for learning and development, recognition for good work, and leadership that is transparent and strategic with their objectives & decisions.

Thailand is evolving into a digital economy. The country records some of the lowest rates of attrition globally. However, a high level of engagement also points towards the imminent changes in employee expectations. Businesses must prepare themselves in delivering superior employee experiences.

To overcome the HR challenges in Thailand of delivering superior employee experiences, HR in Thailand need only sustain their engagement efforts by continuously optimising their digital and talent strategy with the changing trends.

Overcoming HR challenges in Singapore

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia | peopleHum

On the opposite side, the same study in Singapore revealed that the nation’s workforce are some of the least engaged globally. The Qualtrics study, 2020 Employee Experience Trends: Singapore, placed the employee engagement score at 47%.

Singapore is home to a demographically diverse workforce, where employees across different age groups have different expectations from their employers. When Covid-19 hit, the role of HR was thrown into the spotlight. Today, they work closely with top leadership and employees for workplace transformation. Amidst this crisis, employees are uncertain how much the companies would invest in developing their skills and ensuring their well being. Leaders and managers need to uplift the confidence and engagement among employees by investing in their career development, resolve workplace issues, and understand what matters most to teams at different stages of the employee lifecycle.

In order to overcome HR challenges in Singapore, Integrating Learning Management Systems into an organization’s processes can be incredibly advantageous to employees, across demographical and geographical areas. Companies can curate learning modules relevant to employees’ existing skills and skills that are highly desirable in the current market, and give employees the opportunity to explore diverse materials on a digital platform.

In order to understand the pulse of employees, engagement tools like surveys can be utilized to gather their perspective on organizational developments. With ready-to-use survey templates integrated within HCM platforms, employers can use it to easily mobilise employee engagement.

Overcoming HR challenges in Vietnam

Overcoming HR challenges in a diverse South East Asia | peopleHum

HR challenges in Vietnam, from the pandemic have put the spotlight on corporate practices, and provided opportunities for businesses to utilise technology and digital tools to strengthen workplace processes. Some of the greatest HR challenges in South East Asia were figuring out how to enable entire workforces to work from remote locations and applying AI and machine learning to modernise recruitment practices.

Apart from technology, HR professionals that possess a business mindset and have the acumen to balance employee benefits and the profit and productivity requirements of a company were the most sought after professionals in the booming business centres of Vietnam.

As a rapidly developing and attractive hub for developing businesses, it is important for Vietnamese HR to buy into tech stacks that can benefit employees and fulfil the requirements of the business. Affordable and AI-driven solutions like peopleHum’s provides an end-to-end recruitment platform right from job posting to onboarding. It simplifies each step into comprehensible tasks, and its user-friendly application makes the recruitment process less burdensome.

Last words

Amongst the diversity of HR challenges in South East Asia, the most common thread was the eventual shift to digitization of HR process. Whether it’s learning and skill development, engagement needs, productivity during remote work, recruitment, or talent retention measures, digitization is the way ahead for overcoming these HR challenges in the new normal.

The peopleHum one-view integrated Human Capital Management suite is the end-to-end solution for small and mid-sized organizations’ workforce management requirements. The peopleHum Package is integrated with recruitment, HRIS, performance management, HR analytics, and LMS - tools that any organization would need to restructure and reskill their employees.

1. Hire Module

peopleHum's intelligent recruitment system automates the exhaustive candidate cycle from sourcing, scheduling interviews, resume parsing, feedback & scoring, to presenting the offer letter and onboarding the new employees.

2. Core HR

Core HR consists of a fully automated and user-friendly HRIS, leave and attendance tracking, with biometric and GPS integration. HR workflows consequently becomes more streamlined and efficient.

3. Perform

With a people-focused performance management platform, move beyond simply monitoring employee progress to building a culture of continuous learning and growth. Convert business plans into organizational, team, and individual goals. Offer self, leadership and 360-degree feedback flexibility, and engage with employees through our integrated 1-on-1s.

4. Analytics

Insights into critical people processes, like recruitment, employee engagement, and performance. Use customisable graphs to get better insights on company trends. With the power of surveys, measure employee pulse and develop an organizational pulse cloud.

5. Self Service

peopleHum’s user-friendly platform is intuitive and easy to use. Available on web and on iOS & Android apps, employees, managers and HR can have access to management functions in their homes, office, or even on the go.

With peopleHum’s full-fledged, AI-driven HCM platform, organizations can automate and streamline HR processes and challenges. To learn more about our HR suite or individual modules, click the link and book a free demo.

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