According to HR professionals, the top three HR analytics skills include ‘statistical analysis and data mining’ (54%), ‘business analysis’ (52%) and the ability to leverage ‘HR software’ (51%).

Singapore's National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) LearningHub's report, Industry Insights 2021: Human Resources, uncovered how HR plays a pivotal function in organisations as businesses prepare to transition and digitalise their workforce and workplaces for an endemic COVID-19 world.

The report shared that it is therefore crucial HR professionals "embrace digitalisation alongside businesses, to leverage on data-driven insights to better support strategic talent and workplace decisions."

Theresa Soikkeli, Chief Human Resources Officer at NTUC Enterprise, shared, "With the unpredictable business climate, HR must be strategic and develop a workforce that is resilient and agile. This is possible through reskilling and upskilling of the existing workforce towards digitalisation, and hiring the right talent to propel the business."

HR professionals and digitalisation

Approximately nine in ten HR professionals either ‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ that their company recognises the need to digitalise HR processes to meet business objectives. In line with this, the majority of HR professionals (79%) reveal that their company is either ‘very prepared’ or ‘somewhat prepared’ to constantly identify areas that require digitalisation.

HR professionals themselves are also receptive towards HR digitalisation (83%), where a majority say they are either ‘very open’ or ‘somewhat open’ to embracing digitalisation of HR processes.

That said, the adoption of HR digitalisation has been stagnant. More than four in five HR professionals report that their company has digitalised less than 50% of HR processes. According to HR professionals, the top reasons for the lacklustre adoption include ‘lack of budget’ (48%), ‘lack of in-house expertise’ (48%) and ‘lack of required skillset to adapt’ (38%).

Other reasons include: 'don't know which areas of HR to digitalise' and 'don’t know where to start or lack resources to learn about digitalisation'.

HR professionals also attributed the slow adoption to how they might lack the skillsets to adapt to the digital age. Some of their concerns include:

  • Their own adaptability to new and complex digital skills (50%);
  • Their company's lack of agility in upgrading to new digital solutions (46%), and
  • Their company's lack of support to provide digital skills training (43%).

NTUC LHUB's Director of Human Capital, Sean Lim, noted that taking the step to upskill HR professionals is the start of inculcating a culture of continuous learning.

"As the HR function will be at the forefront of digital transformation, HR professionals must also possess complementary competencies in the sociological and behavioural aspects to the function in order to harness the true power of data and technology. These higher-value roles position HR as a more proactive and strategic function."

Digitalisation is key

Nearly all respondents (96%) either ‘strongly agree’ or ‘somewhat agree’ that COVID-19 has fuelled the need to digitalise HR to keep pace with changes in a post-pandemic world. Almost half of HR professionals reveal that COVID-19 has required them to adopt digital tools to improve learning and development programmes (49%); to adapt remote hiring and onboarding processes (47%), and to build agile digital platforms to enable remote working (39%).

On similar note, HR professionals noted that the most important HR function to digitalise is the ‘compensation and benefits’ domain (69%), which entail managing payroll, expense claims and tax filing. Other important functions to digitalise include:

  • On- and off-boarding processes (58%)
  • Performance measurement and rewards (53%)
  • Hiring (i.e., fill in vacancies) (52%)
  • Learning and development (52%)

With regard to which functions lack digitalisation, HR professionals highlighted the following:

  • Talent retention (33%)
  • Performance measurement and rewards (30%)
  • On- and off-boarding process (29%)

Overall, most HR professionals (72%) believe that digitalising HR processes has benefited their company to either a ‘significant’ or ‘moderate’ extent. Most HR professionals perceive the top benefit of digitalising HR relates to improvements in work efficiency (67%); use of time (54%), and workflows (50%), to name a couple.

The future of HR

The report further revealed that businesses are looking to hire HR professionals who possess digital (36%) or analytics capabilities (27%). According to HR professionals, the top three HR analytics skills include ‘statistical analysis and data mining’ (54%), ‘business analysis’ (52%) and the ability to leverage ‘HR software’ (51%).

However, in the face of short supply and high demand for HR professionals with digital and analytics skills, approximately two in five HR professionals reveal that their company plans to use a mix of both hiring and training for existing HR practitioners to prepare them for the digital age.

According to the survey findings, the top most effective ways to build the digital competencies of HR employees include providing ‘on the job training’ (54%), ‘mentoring programmes’ and 'sending employees for training under ‘government-supported training institutions’ (42%)'.

In terms of training delivery, HR professionals find that live courses, whether they are conducted online (61%), face-to-face (61%) or through virtual reality (60%), are the most effective way to prepare.

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Image / NTUC LearningHub

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