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Three Capabilities CEO’s Want HR to Bring to The Table in 2016

Now that HR has that much coveted "seat at the table", the real question is “what does HR bring to the table”? Here, Managing Consultant Tamara Sigerhall shares three key things HR should be thinking about this year.

1. Enabling Innovation
Nobody likes disruption, not even Elon Musk. But whether a CEO likes it or not, disruption, especially through digitisation is going to be the biggest challenge for your business in the coming years. In fact it was the topic McKinsey chose at this year's World Economic Forum in Davos. Retail banks and insurers, in particular, are under considerable pressure to change the way they engage with customers. Nobody goes to a branch to buy insurance or gold. Consumers ask "Isn't there an app for that?"

What this means for HR: The ways in which we attract, reward and retain talent needs to change. Every employer is now competing with the likes of Google, Visa and Ebay for the smartest and best talent in the market. And that talent may not be interested in their base salary. They are almost definitely not interested in a corporate career that is measured in 9 box terms. At our last Bloomberg People and Performance event, we invited HR thought leaders who shared some original insights into how we need to shift the way we evaluate HiPo talent to create cultures that foster innovation.

Who is already doing it? The Chief Innovation Officer is HR's biggest ally in the war for talent and relevance. DBS has been a front runner in this region in terms of responding to this trend. The Temasek-backed bank hired Steve Monaghan to run their digital lab in 2012 and later Neil Cross both of them partnering with Laurence Smith as DBS' Head of Talent, making DBS the first bank to incorporate hackathons into their talent development programme. Creating a "safe space" to try out new ideas without fear of failure is increasingly becoming a priority for many multinationals that are committed to the region such as DHL and Aviva. Both companies recently set up innovation centres in Singapore.

2. Leverage Big Data
Let's be honest, Big Data is pretty boring. But your CXO loves it when you "talk numbers" to him or her. In fact LinkedIn revealed that "statistical analysis and data mining" was in the top four Hottest Skill Sets across all countries in 2015.

What this means for HR: Hard data is the closest you will get to a crystal ball in predicting the outcome of your talent strategies. The reality is that Big Data is one of many tools HR needs to harness to effectively influence and obtain buy-in for their strategies to win the war for talent.

Who is already doing it? In Singapore, HR is mostly still "stuck in Excel Hell" with 92% of HR surveyed in Asia being "frustrated by their reporting processes". HR in Asia is, sadly, still lagging behind its counterparts in other parts of the world when it comes to leveraging Big Data. But players like MediaCorp are catching up by hiring data scientists and working with HR to enable their restructure from a product- to a customer-focused organisation.

3. Change Management Capability
According to the Wall Street Journal, 2015 was a year that saw some of the largest M&A transactions in history. In Singapore, the value of M&A deals in 2015 doubled in comparison to 2014. Interestingly HR is now intimately involved in pre-and post-deal deliberations.

What this means for HR: Managing the delicate process of change is a key deliverable for HR this year all across Asia. Especially so for HR leaders in hubs like Singapore and HK. Being able to work closely with the internal communications team is a critical skill to have. When post-M&A chaos erupts, engagement falls and HR often takes the fall.

Who is doing it? The most active sectors in M&A activity were driven in the "mega trends" of technology, FMCG and healthcare. The HR folks at Dell will be busy with their integration of EMC Corp, the largest technology acquisition in history. Likewise, the merger of Willis and Towers Watson has also sent ripples through the region. As the merger completes this month, HR leaders will have their hands full in 2016 supporting CEO John Haley, in his vision to lead the newly formed company to "deliver solutions that are driven by data and analytics, and are integrated, innovative and tailored to meet the evolving needs of our clients.”

What do you expect HR to bring to the table in 2016?

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