Human resource professionals need to develop new skillsets in areas like data analytics and talent management in a tech-driven world, and understand the evolving needs of the future workforce, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

He added that this know-hows will allow HR practitioners to better support organisations and people through change, so that they can thrive and maximise their potential.

This comes as new workplace arrangements like remote work and technological innovations such as artificial intelligence change the way people work.

Preparing for change

Heng said that as work evolves, employees and employers alike have been presented with new possibilities as well as paradoxes.

“By preparing ourselves for the future of jobs and skills, keeping pace with the way we manage talent, and upskilling ourselves as HR professionals, the HR community can play a critical role,” he said on Tuesday (May 14).

“With the right support and planning, we can help our people and organisations cope and thrive in a world of rapid changes and frequent disruptions.”

Heng was speaking at the three-day World Human Resource Congress, which brings together more than 1,000 thought leaders, CEOs and practitioners in the HR industry.

During the conference, held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre until Thursday, attendees will be discussing building workplaces that support flexible work arrangements and mental well-being, and ensuring workers are equipped with the relevant skills that companies need.

Heng said there is “great potential” for HR professionals to play a vital role at the leadership table and as the bridge between businesses and workers.

Practitioners will need to establish the right processes to drive workforce and workplace transformation, he noted.

“Driving structural changes requires a range of tools – from vision to metrics, to programmes – to drive alignment and ensure shared outcomes,” he added.

“Crucially, the key is to bring everyone in the organisation along and optimise the deployment of skills and talent to support business growth.”

Flexible work arrangement guidelines can be a chance to improve HR practices in Singapore, say experts.

Support for flexible work, mental well-being

The Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) said HR professionals must be role models for their colleagues.

SHRI president D N Prasad said it is “absolutely critical” for HR as a function to reskill, adapt, and promote the changes within organisations.

“We have a huge functional leadership role to play in any organisation, and also a very critical role in being able to uplift the leadership and the middle management capability,” he added.

“There is no escape for HR as a critical function in everything in the future. So, we need to be the ones who are blazing the trail for the rest of the organisation.”

Alvin Goh, executive director of the SHRI, added that business and HR leaders need to consider what organisations will look like in the future, and how technologies such as AI play a role.

“From that perspective, (we need to) work backwards and ask ourselves how we would, as HR and business leaders, influence the future of work, workplaces and the workforce, and create synergies among these three sub-ecosystems,” he told CNA’s Singapore Tonight on Tuesday.

Goh said that even as businesses look at raising productivity with new technologies, they also have to work on improving the physical and mental well-being of their workforce.

“Because from a productivity perspective, if there’s no trust in the organisation, it’s very hard to move the needle for a lot of us, especially when business leaders, line managers are always second guessing what their employees are up to,” he added.

“It’s important that employers and employees come together and build that relationship (and) build that culture of trust within the organisation.” – CNA


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