New panel to study ways to boost tech use in HR

(From left) Love, Bonito's people executive Goh En Qi, head of business development Cindy Moy, and head of people and culture Brandon Lee. The home-grown company started using HR technologies last year to outsource the processing of medical claims an
(From left) Love, Bonito's people executive Goh En Qi, head of business development Cindy Moy, and head of people and culture Brandon Lee. The home-grown company started using HR technologies last year to outsource the processing of medical claims and provide flexible staff benefits in the form of credits.ST PHOTO: ZHANG XUAN

Integrating new tech with big firms' current systems among issues it wants to tackle

A panel of experts has been convened to come up with ways for human resources (HR) professionals to use more technology as they help workers and businesses transform.

The HR Industry Transformation Advisory Panel will also make recommendations on how to further develop the HR services sector here, Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad announced yesterday.

HR services refer to consultancies, training providers and technology firms that can boost the effectiveness and capacity of companies' in-house HR professionals, Mr Zaqy said at the start of the two-day HR Festival Asia conference at Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre.

HR can go beyond payroll processing and putting up job posts, he said, adding: "In particular, HR tech solutions can minimise many of these transactional HR tasks, and free up your bandwidth as HR professionals to do more high-touch, strategic work.

"This includes engaging employees to better understand their needs, concerns and aspirations, and building a strong organisational culture that supports change."

Technology and analytics can also reveal skills and competency gaps that need to be addressed for successful business transformation, he said.

HR technologies, a US$400 billion (S$545 billion) industry worldwide, is becoming more accessible and affordable, he said, adding that in Singapore, there are close to 200 HR tech firms receiving about US$1.4 billion of funding from private investors.

The new panel, convened by the Manpower Ministry, is co-chaired by the ministry's deputy secretary for workforce Poon Hong Yuen and Singtel's group chief HR officer Aileen Tan.

It includes HR and company leaders and representatives from the unions and the Government.

This builds on the HR Industry Manpower Plan, launched in 2017, under which various initiatives have been implemented over the past two years, such as a skills framework and national certification for HR professionals, and a diagnostic tool which companies can use to evaluate their HR processes.

Panel member Mayank Parekh, who is chief executive of the Institute for Human Resource Professionals, said the group plans to recommend solutions for companies within two years. Some challenges they want to address are how bigger firms can integrate new technologies with existing systems, and how firms new to HR technologies can manage different products at once if they are automating only parts of their processes.

Mr Zaqy said support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt technology is available through the SME Start Digital Pack and the Productivity Solutions Grant.

Some banks, telcos and insurance providers also offer SMEs affordable HR tech solutions, together with other digital products.

He highlighted firms which have started using HR technologies.

One is home-grown clothing label Love, Bonito, which started using HR technologies last year to outsource the processing of employees' medical claims and provide flexible staff benefits in the form of credits.

Mr Brandon Lee, Love, Bonito's head of people and culture, said each staff member has about $330 per year to spend on increasing their insurance coverage, or on other things. They can do so online or via a mobile app.

His team also uses quarterly pulse surveys, and a recruitment chatbot to test the coding skills of software engineers early in the job application process.

The company, which employs 150 full-time staff in the region, is planning to raise its headcount by about 50 per cent this year.

With technology, they can keep the HR team lean, Mr Lee said, adding: "It's part of a concerted effort across the company to be scalable at this stage of rapid growth."

Its head of business development Cindy Moy has used the flexible credit for dental expenses and family travel insurance.

But the real draw is the reduction in administrative work as she no longer has to submit insurance claims."It has really cut down on paperwork, so we can focus on the important things," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'New panel to study ways to boost tech use in HR'. Print Edition | Subscribe