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Stepping up to HR challenges

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Stepping up to HR challenges

Organisations and people have changed dramatically, and HR needs to stay ahead of the curve

Thailand’s human resources practitioners have had a tough 2021. We’ve all had to adapt and change how we work, but HR departments have faced tough new challenges inside and outside their organisations.

I saw it in my own organisation, as requirements changed with the ongoing uncertainty, as did the required capabilities for success. Despite everything HR professionals learned this year, I believe we now face another, more urgent need to evolve current practices.

Why? Because the HR landscape is very different from the pre-crisis situation. So many new requirements have quickly become accepted essentials, and so many new approaches have replaced accepted HR wisdom. How we recruit, who we recruit, how we train and how we retain our people have all seen rapid change. Even the way HR carries out its duties is changing for the virtual world.

Unlike before, the crisis has taught us these changes can’t be part of natural, gradual evolution. HR leaders need to rapidly rethink the nature of HR work for the post-pandemic workplace. 

We haven’t been in this position before. Never have the technology, uncertainty, changing expectations and exposed underlying assumptions come together to create so many challenges. We are entering a new land without a guidebook.

Much of the hard-earned HR wisdom and innovation of 2020-21 won’t help us. Our updated practices were stop-gap measures, and we need to replace or refine them. However, change always brings opportunity, and we have to play, with or without a guidebook. Where can we start?

Find “New” Talent. In many companies, the people who survived the last two years have learned a lot. They have developed formally and informally a whole range of new capabilities. Even in my organisation, I would be surprised if HR knew half of the new capabilities available for the future.

Similarly, many departments reached outside the organisation to buy or borrow capabilities. I believe this gig economy, although nascent here in Thailand, will continue to grow post-pandemic. 

The above trends provide us with new opportunities for sourcing talent. I believe HR needs to rethink talent approaches and match them with ways to provide opportunities for our people’s careers. Identifying future opportunities is now a priority before our talent thinks about walking out the door. HR departments also need to plan for a new class of employees — someone who is only with you some of the time — and how to maximise the value they can provide.

Expectations and Experiences. There was a lot of people turnover in Covid. In my organisation, I lost some senior, long-time colleagues. Additionally, many who joined didn’t stay long in high-pressure conditions or found other opportunities for themselves. The complexion of the organisation changed. I have many new colleagues I have yet to meet in person or speak to one on one. I imagine most leaders face similar situations.

HR must be very clear on what the organisation is now, and plan to manage a very different and significantly more diverse workforce. This is not just young Gen Z workers taking up their first roles, but older staff who have seen their expectations and desires transformed by a tough two years. HR needs to be very clear and make sure the value proposition matches their needs.

Join the Skills “Arms” Race. Without the right workforce capabilities, your employees will struggle to adapt to disruptions and transformations in the future workplace. HR leaders need to address the skills gap by offering rapid reskilling/upskilling opportunities to their people.

I don’t believe this can wait. The modern workforce expects change and can adapt and learn to be future-ready. HR’s challenge is to ensure that the awareness, expectations, effort and resources are in place for development success.

I am optimistic for the future of Thai HR because most Thai HR practitioners are among the most caring people. They are also willing to listen to good ideas, whatever the source. They are willing to share what is working for their company to help others.

HR practitioners at all levels now need to step up in terms of proactivity. They need to understand the new problems other departments are facing before the problems are brought to HR. HR must have support and solutions in place before a mini crisis becomes a tragedy. 

They must also prepare the way for all their people to develop at speed. HR can’t go back to a centralised, prescriptive approach. Instead, HR needs to be agile and to make it easy for people to find capability development resources in their moment of need, and to reimagine how learning gets done and shared in the organisation.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or https://www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa. Talk to us about how SEAC can help your business during times of uncertainty at https://forms.gle/wf8upGdmwprxC6Ey9

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