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Nurturing an innovative culture the key to the future of work



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A panel of HR experts has revealed that it is essential to rethink the current approach to best practices when it comes to hiring and developing employees.

And the way to do this? Through innovation in the workplace. This will enable employees to be more fluid in adopting changes in the business environment and help to evolve an organisation faster.

This was the key takeaway from an in-depth panel discussion by seasoned HR pros as part of Human Resources’ HR Innovation Asia 2019 conference, held on the 24 October at the Mira Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Antonio Ng, director of innovation for Greater China at AECOM, Ming Chen, chief culture officer at EF Education First, Carmen Chong, director of people at Lalamove, and Seria Lam, director of HR at Maxim’s Caterers, engaged in robust debate about how best to engage employees to maximise the potential of innovation in the workplace.

Lam made the telling point that “continuous improvement is innovation” and that HR needs to help employees to embrace “digital disruption” to capitalise on change in the workplace.

Chen was in concurrence, adding that “incremental innovation” was the way to go – in other words, evolution not revolution.

Chen was perhaps the most provocative of the panelists saying that one of the pitfalls of embracing innovation too willingly in the workplace could lead to a time-wasting “Bozo explosion of dumb ideas” and that “innovation can (simply) be used as a buzzword to attract Millennials”.

AECOM’s Ng then made the salient point that businesses that did not innovate quickly enough would go the way of the way of the dinosaur. He cited Kodak, Blackberry and even Encyclopedia Britannica – supplanted by Wikipedia – as examples of businesses that did not innovate quickly enough and lost out.

Chong from Lalamove – a great example of a successful Hong Kong start-up – outlined some of the innovations that her company was embracing. One of the game-changers that she spoke of was the willingness of employees at the start-up to embrace facial recognition technology as a means of office access.

Some eyebrows were raised by this revelation, as concerns over privacy and surveillance could be an issue for some of the more traditional companies. It was a poignant moment – particularly as the Mira Hotel was the location where US whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to the world’s press that his country was undertaking mass surveillance of its citizens.

The panel discussion was one of many highlights at the day’s event, which also included a fascinating keynote address on driving real change by Deniz Guven, CEO at Virtual Bank by Standard Chartered and a closing keynote from Dr Bradley W. Hall that included insights into the workplace cultures he had observed during his time at IBM and as senior advisor to the CHRO at Huawei.

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