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How employers can harness digital HR to win the talent war

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SMEs face the same talent challenges as large enterprises, without the luxury of the same bandwidth or budget – here are some ways they can get creative.

Akin to little drops of water that make up the mighty ocean, each economy is made up of numerous but powerful mid-size organisations that not only drive the national income, but also local employment and talent development. Be it Singapore, Malaysia, or the Philippines, SMBs account for more than 90% of a nation’s enterprises, typically employ two-thirds of the workforce, and contribute in the range of 30-50% of the country’s GDP.

Given their prominent contribution despite more conservative bandwidth and budgets than MNCs; attracting, developing and retaining talent are all the more complex for HR leaders in fast-growing organisations in the ASEAN region. Even so, Dr Jaclyn Lee, senior director of human resources, at Singapore University of Technology and Design, affirmed in a SPRING Singapore handbook: “With a good human capital strategy, it is not impossible for SMEs to overcome the challenge of recruiting and retaining good talent in this competitive labour landscape.”

ALSO READ: Forbes Insight Briefing Report: “Competing for talent in the digital age”

Breaking new ground at Newtec

Faced with such realities, emerging companies are resorting to newer HR tools and techniques – in order to compete for talent with both innovative startups as well as established larger businesses. Take the case of Belgium-based Newtec Cy N.V., which specialises in satellite communications. With 400 technical staff on five continents and staff growth expected on the horizon, Newtec knew it needed to streamline its HR processes and expand the size of the candidate pool.

The solution? Replacing a legacy HR record-keeping system and spreadsheets, with an integrated talent platform, which includes modules for recruitment, learning and performance appraisals. Not only did the new system accelerate the job of storing and searching resumes, it brought about other benefits. These included reducing the time Newtec staff spent managing learning activities by 20%, and improving the throughput time for the performance appraisal process by 30%.

The analytics capabilities enable deeper visibility for upper-level managers to know their workers.

Making the right impact at Impax

Another interesting example is that of California-based pharmaceuticals business Impax Laboratories, which is using a talent management platform to bridge the gap connecting its 1,400 employees in the U.S., Taiwan and Ireland. “By automating talent management processes, we have seen more engagement by the employee, by the manager and between the manager and employee,” says Scott Steele, senior director for HR information systems (HRIS).

Additionally, Steele confirms that the analytics capabilities enable deeper visibility for upper-level managers to know their workers. HR information such as job info, compensation and individual performance is also easily accessible, so they can plan better. “Now managers can see their organisations, the ratings and status. They can click on a chart and see where an individual is,” he adds.


So, can SMBs harness digital HR to carve out a competitive edge in the war for talent? Yes, say a number of HR leaders, affirming that investments in technology are not only the domain of deep-pocketed MNCs. Read more case studies from real SMBs that have successfully leveraged digital HR capabilities – download the Forbes Insight Briefing Report, “Competing for talent in the digital age”.

ALSO READ: Case study: How CHROs can leverage technology, AI and data analytics

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