Put HR in the driver’s seat
By SAP Hong Kong

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify and focus on key problem areas for maximum ROI. Keep in mind the evolution path to the full solution. Select solutions that allow flexible modular adoption

  • Be aware of data privacy regulations, such as PIPL in China, and select solution providers and seek professional advice to help minimise compliance risks

  • Change management is crucial for HR transformation, allocate the right internal or external resources accordingly

With all the social distancing and quarantine measures lifted, Hong Kong is back to “normal” again. The pandemic has turned the world upside down in all aspects of life. Businesses around the world have adopted a new way of working since then. Now, the wait is over. It is time for businesses to get back on track and expecting the human resources managers to take the driver’s seat, helping companies to tackle issues arisen in this post-pandemic era.

It is our great pleasure to have collaborated with SAP Hong Kong, an enterprise application software provider of a complete HR solution for different kinds of corporates, in organising a breakfast talk for HR professionals to gain insights into the challenges and solutions for the HR industry in this “new normal”.

Esmond Tong, Managing Director of SAP Hong Kong, reminded HR managers in the opening speech that it was crucial for corporates to be the right size, agile and smart to succeed in this new era to enhance their competitiveness and people are the number one success factor for different companies.

Theresa Lui, Chief People Officer of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery, Duncan Ding, Senior Manager Cybersecurity of PwC, and Francis Chan, Head of HR Center of Excellence of SAP Hong Kong, shared how forward-thinking HR teams are taking the lead in facing the challenges in employee engagement, efficiency and compliance now, inspiring HR managers to increase organizational agility and improve outcomes for their enterprises.

Employee journey matters

Moderated by Kevin Sin, HR solution adviser of SAP Hong Kong, the talk started with the topic about the general challenges the HR industry is facing after the pandemic. Lui thought that the talent war was on again for all industries as many companies lost workers in different positions in the pandemic, but businesses were picking up at the moment.

From the talent management perspective, it is important for us to support the business not only navigate the talent war but stay ahead of it, given the changing attitudes of the new generations towards work,” Lui said. “In the past, compensation benefits were the forefront consideration in attracting talent, but, today’s job seekers are prioritizing factors like company culture, flexible working hours and mode of work, as well as a sense of purpose. While this presents challenge, it is also an opportunity for us.”

Chan added that talent war was a big topic especially with the emigration wave that Hong Kong was facing, and key talents were moving away from Hong Kong. “I think recruitment and retention are both important to different businesses and one of the keyways to manage retention was employee engagement,” Chan shared in the talk.

SAP Hong Kong has a solution to help HR managers to run employee engagement and satisfaction survey, capture the “different moments that matter” in the employee journey, and perform analytics of the employee journey, so that HR managers can find out why candidates choose their companies and what makes their employees to leave. They can then think of ways to improve engagement and retention.

Achieving HR efficiency through technology

As a business with 94 years of history, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery is undergoing transformation in different business aspects, including HR transformation. Lui recognizes the crucial role of HR in enhancing the efficiency of the group. However, accomplish this task has not been easy. “It is a great challenge to change people’s mindsets and their working styles, especially in a long-established organization like us. We aspire to bring about sustainable and positive change to the group and its culture, but achieving that goal takes time,” Lui said.

According to Lui, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery has about 2,500 frontline and back-office staff in Hong Kong. Half of our staff have over 10 years of experience, and of those, half have worked with us for over 20 years. To help our staff focus more on value-added tasks and keep the business running smoothly, Lui is looking to leverage technology. With over 30,000 staff spread across the Mainland and Hong Kong, it is difficult for Lui and her team to have face-to-face communication with all employees. Therefore, she opted for investing in an HR system that will provide the group with insights into  employees’ journeys, and support its business growth.

Regarding the critical success factors for HR transformation, Lui emphasis that top management support was crucial when rolling out a transformation, and win them over with common language and reference points. “For instance, a fruitful employee journey is similar to how we make a ring or necklace in the shop from raw materials. That was easy to relate and things moved a lot quicker,” Lui said.

Chan further shared his observations on how technology improved HR efficiency. With the enhanced mobile phone capability, employees can access to their HR system through mobile phones anytime and anywhere. A well-developed HR system can give good user-experience for HR managers and employees to do their work more efficiently with mobile phones. Chan also saw that some HR managers added some peripheral applications around the core HR system, such as robotic process automation, so as to develop a system that can better support the needs of their business. What was more, as a response to the recent trend of using ChatGPT, besides writing emails, Chan saw some hiring managers make good use of ChatGPT to generate job descriptions for their openings. This definitely can save time for the industry.

Ways to tackle the new regulations about personal data transfers from China

HR information is all about sensitive personal data. All regulations about personal data privacy are something that HR managers are closely monitoring. Recently, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has promulgated the Measures on the Standard Contract for Cross-border Data Transfers of Personal Information (the Measures) to protect the personal data transferred out of the mainland China. The Measures will be effective on 1 June 2023 with a grace period of six months until 1 December 2023. If the conditions stated in the Measures are met, Hong Kong enterprises and organizations with operations in China will need to enter into a standard contract and file the signed contract with a report of personal information impact assessment to respective provincial agency of CAC within ten working days after the transfer initiation date or contract effective date. 

As a cybersecurity expert, Ding reminded HR managers to stay alert of the compliance requirements and knowhow to comply with the rules and prevent their companies from potential breaches of the Measures. Ding said that he was expecting the key challenge in future would be the cross-border data transfer thresholds and he gave tips to companies regarding the new compliance requirements. “The first thing for HR professionals is to make sure that you have a good consent management from your employees because that is required in the Measures and Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL). The second thing would be how you manage your personal information impact assessment, because when you are transferring data out of Mainland China, no matter using a localised system or not, you will still need to have HR management in headquarters in Hong Kong. In this case, you will at least have to manage your HR privacy workflow,” he said.

“Lastly and most importantly, if you have a higher percentage of employees in Mainland China, localisation might be a better approach as you can reduce the privacy risk exposure in cross-border data transfer,” he added. “Various level of localisation could be a better approach to manage your future system, business needs and growth in Mainland China market.” 

In response to the issue raised by Ding, Chan mentioned that SAP SuccessFactors had established a data center in China for almost 10 years and that it could allow data residency in China, meaning that there may not need to be any data transferring out of China. “Some of our existing clients and new clients have immediately decided to host in China as they have a substantial enough employee bases in China, even though they have headquarters in Hong Kong.” he said.

To conclude the breakfast talk, Chan reminded HR professionals to be very specific about their organizational priority to find the right HR solution. They might start with an initiative first, such as Recruiting or Performance Management, and add different HR components to the whole system one by one, with employees’ experience being at the top of their minds, rather than merely streamlining HR processes.

We would like to thank all the above speakers, especially thank SAP Hong Kong to co-host this talk, for bringing us a fruitful morning and we are looking forward to collaborating with different parties in future, giving insights to HR professionals for taking the lead to face all the challenges ahead.

SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite provides cloud-based solutions, such as a human resource management system (HRMS), that connect core HR and payroll, talent management, sales performance management, and people analytics to help you deliver exceptional employee experiences. 

Put HR in the driver’s seat
PR 21 April, 2023