HR professionals must create the right balance between the human touch and technology, says Christine Ip, CEO - Greater China, United Overseas Bank.

As with almost any function in an organisation, the use of technology can transform how companies operate and what they can achieve. Professionals in human resources need to understand the potential use of technology, its relevance and be able to adapt it swiftly to help advise the business accordingly and to drive business outcomes.

Take recruitment as an example. Many organisations with an overseas presence are using technology to reduce the cost of hiring.

United Overseas Bank Hong Kong is no exception. The bank makes use of Skype and FaceTime to interview candidates at the preliminary stage of the hiring process. This allows the bank to widen its potential talent pool and is convenient when the bank is interviewing overseas candidates.

Technology is also used for various human resources initiatives within the organisation. Last year, UOB launched a new and interactive intranet portal to strengthen employee engagement in its offices and branches across the world.

In Greater China, the bank also engages its employees through a WeChat enterprise account. This ensures employees obtain timely information while they are on the go.

However, while technology can be used to improve processes and to broaden the reach of employee engagement programmes, it cannot replace entirely the people skills of human resources professionals.

After all, strong communication skills are essential for success in the relationship-driven sector. The bankers should be able to convey complex financial and market information in a way that is easy for clients to understand and apply to their businesses.

Personal interaction still plays an important role in employee engagement and team building. The bank organises regular town halls and interactive face-to-face forums with senior management, as well as team-building exercises and festive celebrations to enhance the connection and trust between employees.

Building trust starts at the individual level. It is like a drop of water in a pond which then has a ripple effect. Through character, competency and consistency, trust is built with others, across teams, in the marketplace and with the community.

By creating the right balance between the human touch and technology, human resources professionals can help a company attract the right people, keep them engaged and be more competitive.

The June 2017 issue of Human Resources magazine is a special edition, bringing you interviews with 12 HR leaders, with their predictions on the future of HR.

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