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Whether it’s developing young leaders, globally-relevant leaders or re-skilling senior leaders, employers around Southeast Asia and the world are clear about their biggest talent concern – leadership.

According to findings from Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014 report, leadership is the number one most important human capital issue facing companies today, with 74% and 76% of global and SEA respondents respectively acknowledging this.

However, reskilling the HR function also stands out as a top priority, coming in at 75% in SEA, compared with 67% globally.

Scarily, only 30% of SEA respondents feel their HR function is ready to meet the challenge of today’s business environment, meaning there is a 45% gap between “importance” and “readiness” – double the gap of global respondents (23%).

“This is reflective of the changing expectations that businesses have of their HR functions,” said Nicky Wakefield, Southeast Asia human capital leader at Deloitte Consulting.

“HR teams need to move away from their historical role of being mainly operational. Today’s business environment requires HR strategies and operations to keep pace and align with business imperatives, and today’s HR professionals should understand new practices, technologies, workforce changes along with the differences in culture, language and regulations in order to add value.”

ALSO READ: Why you need to conduct an HR audit

One other big concern is workforce capability, as 74% of SEA respondents identified it as a challenge over the next 18 months, making it the top human capital challenge in the region. Globally, this concerns comes in third on the list.

Wakefield said with industries undergoing so much technological, demographic and regulatory changes, companies need to “change their game”.

“Today’s HR professionals need to rethink their techniques for managing talent and ensure the current and future capability needs are aligned with the strategic objectives of their organisation,” she said.

“Talent management should be looked at in unique and innovative ways so that the employment brand is kept relevant, valued and authentic, with the ability to grow with the organisation as it continues to transform itself to remain competitive in the region.”

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