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2017 goals

Top HR resolutions for 2017

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New year, new goals. Jerene Ang speaks to HR leaders from, Pfizer, and PayPal to find out the HR resolutions for 2017.

With a new year comes new resolutions. Apart from personal resolutions such as health and relationships, many individuals also start the year with new goals for their professional lives.

According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 22% of staff revealed they were looking to change their jobs in 2017. In light of the bad economy, unsurprisingly, the top resolution workers said they were making was a financial one, with 49% of respondents saying they would save more of their pay. Other common resolutions included being less stressed (38%), getting a raise (30%), eating healthier at work (28%) and learning something new (26%).

While we now have a rough idea of what employees are looking to achieve professionally in 2017, it made me wonder if HR professionals are also setting goals for the new year – and if they are, what goals are they setting? And why?

Hence, I spoke to HR leaders from, Pfizer, and PayPal to uncover what HR professionals are looking to achieve this year.

Digital is the new literacy

Laurence Smith, head of Asia,, reveals his HR New Year’s resolution for 2017 is to get “digi-savvy!” As to why he wishes for that, he says: “Digital is the new literacy. I think it’s critical for HR leaders to really understand the implications of the digital world and the many new technologies such as AI, big data, agile and lean start-ups, design thinking and virtual reality. “This is the most vital knowledge for HR leaders.”

Innovate yourself

Shazmi Ali, director of human resources at Pfizer, reveals his top HR New Year’s resolution is to continue to innovate himself, his team and their way of delivering the business partnership. “The need is there now more than ever for us as a fraternity to bring in new ideas, get creative and provide innovative solutions in facing the tough challenges ahead,” he says.

Question the standard

Sapna Saxena, director of people operations for APAC at Paypal, reveals: “My top New Year’s resolution is to question the standard.”

While that may sound extremely simple, she feels it is necessary for the global HR community to pause and think – “What are we doing? Do we need to continue doing it, does it need to be modified or completely eliminated?

“We have been talking about rethinking HR; however, we get bound by several things which have been done the same way for decades.

“Of course there are things which are beyond our control, but within our sphere of control there are things that we can modify or eliminate.

“If we do not question the standard we will simply learn it, practise it and master it – never looking at it holistically if it is needed at all.”

Even if the answer may be that there is no need to change a thing, she feels that is also a good thing. “The idea is you have questioned and realised that there is a very fair reason for this to exist the way it is,” she says.

A piece of advice Saxena has for HR leaders is: “Whatever the outcome of your question – be bold, be inquisitive, and really question the standard.”

Listen to and understand employees

Through my conversations with top HR leaders, it is clear that communicating with employees and understanding them is a huge part of the job.

If I was an HR leader, my New Year’s resolution would be to communicate as effectively as possible, and nurture my team to do the same.

Effective communication goes both ways – having your ideas understood by others, and listening and understanding what others want.

Most leaders are able to check the first box of getting their ideas across to others – which comes in handy when communicating new programmes and policies to employees. After all, what good is a policy or programme no one knows about?

However, listening to and understanding employees is just as important because this greatly helps when designing policies and programmes.

For example, when designing a benefits programme to increase employee satisfaction, without understanding what employees really need and want, the programme is bound to be a flop.

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Jerene Ang
Senior Journalist
Human Resources Magazine Singapore
From knowing almost nothing about HR to being able to hold meaningful conversations with industry leaders, Jerene reads, writes and sources for HR stories when not spending her time sleeping or playing with her dog.

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