Human Resources in Asia Pacific vs. the Rest of the World

December 11, 20189:19 am
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The Asia Pacific region consists of people with widely-diverse culture, race, ethnicity, and characteristics. Having rich human resources and vast degree of diversity hold out great potential and bright future for the region, recent report from Deloitte in Global Human Capital Trends indicates a rising importance of people and analytics to organisations in Asia Pacific. The data shows that 91 percent of the most important aspect in building a successful workforce is employees’ well-being, experiences, and symphonic C-suite. The other important aspects are longevity and workforce ecosystem which give 75 percent impact.

Michael Arena, PhD Chief Talent Officer and General Motors, added that in today’s dynamic world, leadership frameworks must shift-from a predominantly human capital focus, such as the bias towards competency-based models, a social capital emphasis, focusing on facilitating the movement of ideas across a system through bridging and brokering.

See also: Boosting Engagement and Market Performance with 6 Talent Practices

However, different from Western and other regions, human resources in Asia Pasific face a unique set of challenges as this region is a home to 65 percent of the world’s population. Louis Carter, CEO and Founder of Best Practice Institute, in his study case, has listed three different confrontations that HR in Asia Pacific face, including positive workplace culture, a sense of community, opportunities personal fulfilment, and organisational integrity.

According to Carter, here are 3 differences between HR in Asia Pacific and the rest of the world.  

Kiasu – I am the boss so I am right

The possibly most prominent difference between Asian and Western HR cultures will be communication, both basic and complex ones. In terms of communication, human resources can never give a full story to make the company safe. The incomplete story human resources give to employees is called Kiasu in Asia. It is derived from a corporate hierarchy which means “do not explain things because it is not completely necessary.” Likewise, an anonymous feedback is given so ground-level staff can bring up any concerns.

Yet, according to some researchers, communication is a crucial thing for building a solid team and cooperation. In Western, open and transparent communication is already being applied. Why not here, yet? As communication is the main elements in an environment of inclusion, human resources should implement an open and transparent communication. This type of environment will foster creativity, develop trust, and lead people to better their ways of doing things.

Confronting employee expectations

To identify this issue, Carter analysed HR in Hong Kong. It shows that Hong Kong HR market has seen a distinct shift from a preference for general HR to more experienced functional specialist. Asia, said Steven Yeong, has already faced a large turnover in mid-level executives due to poor succession planning. Compared to Western countries which already see an uptrend of organisations investing in employee retention strategies, Asia is far behind.

To solve this, HR departments in Asia should pay attention to employees’ needs in order to keep employees on the right track and give more opportunities for employees growth.

Solving recruitment crisis

Another difference HR in Asia face is recruitment strategy issue. Carter’s study shows that organisations are expected to provide faster career progression and better reward, whilst also deliver better work-life balance. Likewise, if this issue is added to communication barriers and corporate hierarchy, you will have potential recruiting crisis.

It needs better strategy to increase HR team confidence and visibility while still opening lines of communication to create a consistent way with management’s culture. The study shows that a one week meeting in a boardroom, make unique corporate videos and tally their hits on YouTube will improve HR visibility and confidence.  

“We actually stole most of this (ideas and strategies) from Google – this idea that working for us was a lifestyle, not just a paycheck. This give us an edge over traditional, more recognised companies”, Former head of Asia recruiting for LivingSocial said.  

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