The disruption of the global pandemic has delivered lasting changes to how we think about work. At the forefront of these changes are talent professionals.
As the world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn wanted to understand how the role that Human Resource teams play in organisations was evolving. We surveyed more than 3500 respondents in China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, India and Singapore, to identify the trends shaping our new world of work.
The result was our Future of Talent Report 2021, which offers insights into how organisations will plan, hire, develop, and engage their talent.
The report distills the survey down to four key trends:
1. The evolution in the role and responsibility of HR teams
2. The rise of internal mobility and remote work
3. A greater focus on diversity and skills
4. The importance of a strong employer brand
In this piece we take a deeper dive into these four trends and how they’re unfolding differently across the seven markets in Asia-Pacific.
The role and responsibilities of HR is evolving
In 2020, the need to adapt to new demands elevated the importance of HR. According to 49% of surveyed Asia-Pacific businesses, prior to COVID-19, HR professionals already played a significant role in shaping business strategies, but during the pandemic this rose to 62% of organisations. China (69%), Malaysia (68%) and the Philippines (65%) all outpaced the regional trend.
China respondents particularly highlighted the importance of HR teams in employee training, while workplace safety and employee wellbeing is the focus of companies in Malaysia and the Philippines. Singaporean companies see employee engagement and employee wellbeing as a priority for HR teams.
Talent professionals are likely to remain in the spotlight. 89% of surveyed companies agree HR will continue to play a key role in streamlining business and hiring more efficiently.
With increased roles and responsibilities, all markets cited good communication as the top skill needed for HR professionals. Teamwork and collaboration rank second regionally, followed by flexible/adaptable mindset, ability to empathise with staff, and strategic thinking.
Rise of internal mobility and remote work
Organisations are increasingly looking internally when filling roles. The average rate of internal mobility in Asia-Pacific increased by about 15% in 2020, compared to a year earlier.
Of all surveyed companies, 86% say they’re making an effort to fill roles with existing talent, with the Philippines leading the way, followed by India, Malaysia and Singapore. The Future of Talent report also observed that larger companies are more inclined to tap on internal talent.
This is likely fuelled by limitations that arose as a result of COVID-19. Social distancing and border closures have made it harder for talent to move around, while new demands on organisations, such as a shift to online or telephone-based offerings, have required adaptable talent that already understand internal operations. Australia’s ANZ Bank was able to harness its large network of branch staff to assist in call centres, for example.
Survey respondents from India and the Philippines say their inclination to fill roles with existing talent is primarily driven by the need for insider knowledge, and a desire to give growth opportunities to current employees. For respondents in Australia, China, the Philippines and India, encouraging loyalty is also a feature. LinkedIn’s own data found internal mobility can bolster loyalty and deliver retention, with talent like to stay 41% longer in organisations with robust internal hiring.
But talent teams still face barriers to internal hiring. 65% of companies highlight lack of time and upskilling programs as well as training costs as the biggest hurdles to internal mobility. Respondents from India and the Philippines say gauging employee aspirations is also a critical challenge.
Unsurprisingly, there has been a shift towards more remote work. Across Asia Pacific, 41% of companies are open to hiring remote staff in their own country, while 24% are open to staff in another country. Flexible working and better work-life balance are seen as the top advantages in China, Malaysia and Australia. The Philippines respondents were most inclined to see a range of benefits and advantages to a remote workforce, while respondents in Japan are more comfortable with employees continuing work from the office.
Ultimately, 73% of companies say they want to keep some physical office space, with the ideal split for staff identified as two days of working from home, with the rest of the week in the office.
Asia Pacific is embracing diversity and skills
For some HR teams, hiring freezes gave them more time to consider just how they could make their workplaces more inclusive, and to plot out what strategies are needed to create a more adaptable workforce.
The Future of Talent Report found workforce diversity is a priority in 61% of companies, and it gained importance throughout 2020 for 27% of respondents. India, Malaysia and the Philippines all outpaced the regional trend with workforce diversity cited as a very important priority by organisations in these markets.
78% of organisations say they’ve initiated steps to eradicate the problem of gender inequality - with strong focus coming from respondents in China (85%), India (89%), Malaysia (84%) and the Philippines (87%).
36% of companies have plans to increase female representation, led by India, while 23% of respondents plan to lift the number of people with a disability they employ, with Australia leading the trend at 32%.
Companies are also looking for more diverse backgrounds. 64% say they do not mind hiring candidates from other industries if the skills are right. There is also a rise in hybrid roles, with 82% of companies relying on cross-functional roles. A merging of roles is more common in India (90%), China (87%), Malaysia (86%) and the Philippines (93%).
The rise of hybrid roles reflects a broader shift towards skills - 79% of companies say they look for skills, while 21% look for experience and education. This focus on skills is a significant shift for Asia Pacific, where education has long been highly prized.
The right technical skills are the key aspect looked for in 42% of the Asia Pacific companies. This is even higher in China (57%) and Japan (48%). 26% of the companies are also looking for talent with transferable skills, and this is seen more in Singapore (31%).
Employer branding and employee engagement will play a bigger role
Across Asia Pacific, 86% of companies report they are making efforts to build a good employer brand. The pandemic has no doubt driven this shift, as organisations took on the role of reassuring and informing staff and customers throughout 2020.
The Future of Talent Report found 66% of companies increasing their focus on employer branding in 2020 to attract talent, with India (71%), Malaysia (74%) and the Philippines (75%) all outpacing the regional trend.
Companies highlighted promoting their values and culture, prioritising diversity, focusing on innovation, and training as key ways to boost their employer brand. 73% report a bigger pool of qualified candidates because of their efforts in employer branding, with this particularly prevalent in China (79%), India (80%) and the Philippines (82%).
The majority of companies (77%) say they conduct employee engagement activities, with China (84%), India (85%), Malaysia (81%) and the Philippines (91%) above the regional trend. 71% of companies say they also measure the engagement impact via pulse surveys. Flexible work and encouraging health and wellness are the top two activities, although our survey suggests flexible work is the most effective when it comes to engagement.
How LinkedIn can help HR team seize the moment
With 73% of organisations across Asia Pacific seeing building talent pipelines as a priority - the future of work is all about championing talent. LinkedIn’s Talent Insights can help HR teams benchmark the organisation’s skills and spot any gaps in the talent pool, while the Skills Assessments tool can streamline candidate searches.
It’s expected 54% of the workforce will require significant upskilling by 2022, and talent professionals are no different. To unlock the new strategic potential of an organisation’s HR team, invest in areas where there is increased demand, such as employee safety, wellbeing and training. LinkedIn Learning can help people find courses to keep their skills up to speed.
Meanwhile HR teams looking to engage their workforce can use Glint to gain an insight into existing talent’s goals and unlock how their potential can fit in with future demands.
Published by: Huiling Cheong