Awards Shine a Light on Excellence
By Chris Davis

The HKIHRM HR Excellence Awards 2021/22 provides a platform that showcases how HR best practices can raise the bar and push the envelope of the profession. 

For a decade, the HKIHRM HR Excellence Awards have heightened awareness of the HR function’s achievements by recognising strategies that positively impact employee wellbeing and business performance.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the HKIHRM HR Excellence Awards 2021/22 recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions HR teams and individuals have made to support their organisations and the workforce during one of the most challenging episodes in recent memory, noted Ian Choy, Chairperson of the 2021/22 HR Excellence Awards Organising Committee. “Throughout this period the HR function has been at the centre of crisis management, risk handling and redeployment of human capital resources, underpinned by a strong empathy for employee welfare,” Choy said.

It is notable that award submissions demonstrate high-quality human capital programmes and strategies that highlight resourcefulness and ingenuity during unprecedented times. Choy added that it is important to pinpoint that in addition to being at the forefront of ensuring the wellbeing and safety of the workforce, the HR function has been at the heart of supporting their companies to recalibrate their business operations with new ways of working, including hybrid work models. “A challenge for the HR function is ensuring the where, when, and how of hybrid working fits with the business objectives of the organisation and the aspirations of the workforce,” Choy noted.

Across the various sectors, Choy said HR practitioners have stepped up and played a pivotal role in steering their organisations towards the future of work. For instance, in response to the increasing awareness of the importance of diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I), led by the HR function, companies are placing more emphasis on incorporating DE&I strategies into their corporate culture values, vision and business objectives. Simultaneously, to ensure organisations remain resilient and sustainable, HR teams need to focus on the critical tasks of talent development strategies, re-skilling initiatives, digitalisation projects, and organisational culture strengthening.

Awards recognise the expanding role of the HR function

Open to organisations of any size or type with operations in Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China or across the Asia-Pacific region, the awards span four categories – Organisational, HR Service Provider, NGO, and Individual. A Grand Award is presented to the top awardee under the Organisational Category which recognises the entry that serves as the most outstanding example of best practice in action and provides inspiration to HR practitioners with new ideas to help them excel in their profession.

To recognise the HR functions' response to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis, a Special Award for COVID-19 Response has been added to the 2021/22 awards programme. The Special Award is presented only to the Finalist(s) under the Organisational Category, in recognition of the organisation's caring and innovative response to the pandemic in their entry initiative or project, which benefited employees and/or their families. “We want to recognise the unsung heroes in the HR profession who have designed and rolled out policies, practices, and programmes that provide safety and wellbeing to the workforces they care about,” Choy explained.

According to Choy, all submissions to the Special Award for COVID-19 Response have one thing in common – their purpose is to de-stress employees’ experience during the pandemic.  Examples run the gamut from the more social distancing friendly policies such as WFH to more proactive employee care through the delivery of essential supplies during the height of COVID-19.

Keeping health and wellbeing at the top of the agenda with numerous competing priorities is an ongoing task.  Especially, Choy said, considering HR teams have had to support employees physically and emotionally, ensuring they have all they need to work efficiently from home, while keeping engagement and morale high. For example, in addition to working closely with senior management to roll out hybrid work strategies, the HR function has taken a lead position in the utilisation of technology. “Award entries indicate that digital platforms and robotic processes automation (RPA) are being deployed to help ‘de-stress’ the work experience while providing opportunity to 'upskill' employees to take on more strategic work by leaving the more routine work  to the RPA" Choy said.

Upskilling comes at a time when in-demand skill sets are scarce and the talent market is tight, making it prudent to retrain current employees instead of hiring new employee. “When employee are able to upskill, it benefits both the individual and the organisation because it means they are capable of taking on higher-value work,” Choy explained. In the new reality of work, a key objective is to elevate the employee experience through engagement practices that foster a sense of purpose and connection with the company. Noting how a number of award entries reflect this trend, he believes the momentum will continue to gather, particularly as organisations realise the traditional concept of employer/employee engagement is no longer effective, especially when it comes to engaging with the digital savvy millennials and generation Z.

Early recognition

To correspond to the responsibilities and job roles designated on the HKIHRM HR Career Ladder — which provides a framework to facilitate HR professionals advancing in the discipline through professional development — the entrant eligibility for the HR Professional and Rising Star awards have been set at one year's experience in this years' awards programme. Previously the entrant eligibility for the two awards was based on five years of experience for Rising Stars and eight years of experience for HR Professionals. Choy explained that the change of entry criteria mirrors the current HR landscape where talents tend to be identified at a younger age and their careers are likely to develop quicker, especially in the start-up and emerging industries.

While the ongoing pandemic and global economic uncertainties are a collective force that drives a reassessment of working practices, Choy believes the HKIHRM HR Excellence Awards 2021/22 provide an ideal opportunity for companies and their HR function to highlight the best of HR responses to emerging trends, and at the same time provide HR practitioners with a platform for sharing insights and best practices. On top of the public recognition in the HR industry and the broader business community, Choy said joining the awards programme is a prime opportunity to promote pride and inspiration while motivating HR teams to achieve higher goals through the recognition of their efforts. “Through showcasing their exemplary HR practices and recounting their successful case studies at various events, our finalists and winners can inspire the HR and business community to help them navigate the uncertain times ahead,” said Choy.

Awards Shine a Light on Excellence
PR 14 July, 2022