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An interview with Elaine Liu, Group Associate Director and CHRO of the Hong Kong-based property & real estate developer, on how she pivoted the company's HR strategy, from onboarding to training during the pandemic and the lessons it will take to the future.

Elaine Liu, Group Associate Director and Chief Human Resources Officer, Sino Group, had her “aha” moment around Q3 2020 that the pandemic was going to stick around. The company needed a breakthrough instead of postponing plans as she realised employee training could not be put off indefinitely.

New hires needed onboarding training, while existing employees required new skills or refreshers. Additionally, phone and email could not be the sole avenues for communicating with employees.

“We realised if we keep halting our plans, not only will this affect our colleagues, but also our service to our clients,” she says.

With the pandemic being characterised by its uncertainty, rather than trying to predict the future of COVID-19 and the economy, Liu kept a keen eye for certainty in the present.

“From an HR perspective, to prepare for the post-pandemic future, we enhanced and deepened communication with colleagues to help them better understand our business direction, our progress and how they can contribute,” she says.

“So at least we can bring as much clarity and certainty to the business, and all of us can be as prepared as possible.”

Since Sino has several important hotel and residential property debuts throughout this year, recruiting talent is Sino’s top HR priority.

In May 2021, Sino Group organised a career day to offer 1,000 jobs covering roles in property development, property management, hospitality services, innovative technology, sustainability, and other related sectors. Of these, around 30% of the roles were targeted at young talent and fresh graduates.

The property developer designed three zones where young applicants could receive on-site career consultations with HR, take personality questionnaires, and experience job simulations.

Enhancing communication within the organisation is another strategy by Sino to remain competitive after the pandemic. Liu cites tapping into technology such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams as “an efficiency gain” for the company because colleagues no longer have to travel between offices to attend meetings or training sessions.

Reflecting on the role of HR, she says HR is progressing gradually.

“There is an increasing need for HR to perform marketing tasks. They need to know how to deliver value propositions, and how to communicate on and off social media to their ‘customers’. For HR, our ‘customers’ are employees,” she adds.

Photo / Sino Group