The future of work? Ask many in the know and they say you‘ll find it in South East Asia. Pre-COVID, the vibrant ASEAN region already had a well-earned earned reputation as a global tech growth spot, with HR Tech comprising a significant part of the pie. Then, with the coming of the pandemic, our whole approach to work and the workplace was progressively tech-transformed, with 10 years of digital transformation compressed into 10 months. Right from the very beginning, South East Asian technology companies have played a prominent role in that transformative journey.
Southeast Asia currently has a population of around 655 million people with a median age of 30 years. According to Tech in Asia’s data, investments in the region’s startups grew from US$2.52 billion in 2016 to US$7.7 billion in 2019. (1) Post COVID, more growth is on the horizon, since with the political and societal changes now underway in a shell-shocked and unstable global environment, particularly the frictions between the United States and China, Southeast Asia is more and more coming to be seen as one of the safest emerging markets for global investors, with HR Tech now a big focus. The new reality is that COVID has changed the fundamentals of work for employers and employees all over the world, ushering a new era of remote working, contactless engagement and safety-conscious work days. Along the way, it’s also become a fireball catalyst for investment in the burgeoning world of HR Tech.
As 2021 unfurls, every aspect of the career lifecycle – from recruitment to retention to retirement plan is being technologically re-imagined. For example, experts say that Payroll as we know it will be gone or entirely automated in the next 5 years. Performance reviews and feedback will change drastically from annual reviews to real time, continuous.
In addition, the application of intelligent technology is now impacting nearly every aspect of workforce management, career planning, talent acquisition, L&D, employee engagement, and business intelligence; and HR Tech firms in South East Asia are at the forefront of development. Recruitment and Learning & Development are two big growth areas. Recruitment is already becoming heavily automated and digitised and in future all phases of the recruitment process, including sourcing, onboarding. training and certification will largely happen on-screen.
L&D will be digital and mobile and experts are optimistic about the function evolving at a much faster rate in Southeast Asia, with a focus on providing a continuous learning experience embedded into the employee’s daily workflow, making learning accessible, easy and experiential. Gone are the days of having a clunky learning management system with the primary function of tracking learning data.
In South East Asia, one of the factors driving a lot of investments into the area of L&D is the notion of preparing “the workforce for the future”, and governments in the SEA region, especially Singapore’s, are constantly implementing reforms and initiatives to upskill the workforce to keep up with the dynamics of evolving business needs.
All these initiatives are happening faster in South East Asia in part because the region has a much younger workforce as compared to their European and North American peers. It offers a unique opportunity for leaders in the region to implement a strategic digital culture of work as younger employees, who have been born in the digital age, will adopt new-age tools seamlessly. As many of the day to day HR functions becoming automated, HR staff will re-invent their roles by becoming more involved in operations, talent management, building and protecting culture and ensuring the company’s brand/values as an employer are real and authentic.
In terms of HR Tech, what’s happening now in South East Asia will impact workplaces all over the world in years to come.
The global human resource management market size is anticipated to reach USD 38.17 billion by 2027, registering a CAGR of 11.7% from 2020 to 2027, according to a new report by Grand View Research, Inc. (2) South East Asia, with its relatively young population and fast adoption of the digital world, represents a significant and fast-growing part of that total sum. Watch this space!