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5 Things I Learned at HR Festival Asia 2019

Updated: Sep 20



I recently presented a talk in Singapore at HR Festival Asia - Asia Pacific's leading HR and Technology event, where over 5000 people attended, and some of the world's most prominent speakers, thought leaders and leading organisations came together in Singapore to explore the future of HR, technology and the new world of work.


Here are 5 things that I learned from the conference.


1. How DBS Bank won "Best Bank in the World" in 2018


 Aside from codifying behaviours that lead to "target state" and agile / design thinking, other ingredients of DBS Bank's successful digital transformation were:

  • Data and transformation were joined at the hip with Paul Cobban leading in his dual role of Chief Data and Transformation officer

  • Move curiosity from implicit to explicit through hiring strategy & talent management to ensure the right talent is in place to transform the organisation

  • Outside in learning - employees were given $1000 to learn ANYTHING they wanted (even if it wasn't work related) provided they share what they learned with their team.

  • Once you've eliminated customer pain point, use customer science to prevent problems from occurring in the first place.

2. Are you aged 40+? Maybe it's time for a "skill refresh".


Part of OCBC's $20m investment in uplifting the capability of their 30,000 employees was a segmented capability programs involving re-skilling employees aged 40+.  

If you define millenials as those born after 1980, then millenials will be turning 40 in no time & joining prior generations in the need to reskill for the future.

See the slide OCBC shared on their workforce transformation strategy here.


3. It's 2019… but what year is it inside of work?


 Shift from thinking about digital transformation to digital maturity.

 Help your employees adapt to rapid change by creating "frictionless employee experiences".

Friction = Referring people to a portal or intranet with a bunch of links. 

 Frictionless = delivering the right product to the right people through the right channels. (Importance of Vision, Personas & Design Thinking and focusing on experience vs. transaction analytics)

Presented by Jason Averbrook


4. Top 5 HR Technology Trends with Josh Bersin.

  • Every major company now building HR tech & focusing on designing employee experiences.

  • It's about talent experience, not management. Design employee experiences based on moments that matter.

  • Wellbeing delivers proven ROI and should be part of talent strategy

  • We've shifted from yearly engagement surveys (benchmark) to pulse checks (feedback). But it's time move onto "intelligent nudges" that focus on behaviour change.

  • Learning tech is moving into the flow of work. What's the difference between LMS vs. LXP? LMS is for macro learning (I want to learn something new). LXP is for micro learning (I need help now)

  • If you don't have a people analytics team, you should.

  • And finally.. ask yourself - is HR tech delivering on promises. If not, why not?

5. Optimise how you learn.


 Everyone learns and shares learning differently. 


 Micro-blogging live at the event is my way of learning with agility.  I know that if I don't summarise whilst I'm listening, I'm never going to get around to doing it afterwards. It also serves a secondary purpose of sharing what I learned with my network to spark conversations that encourage further learning.


Sharing what you learn like the building the habit of storytelling. I have a soft spot for digital communications, so I'm always finding ways to re-purpose what I learned by framing it into "content pillars" that are extensions of an overarching story tailored to the channel / audience.  



Finally, here are two of my favourite quotes at the conference…

 “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” - Jack Welch.
 "What I realise more than ever now is that my job is curation of our culture. If you don't focus on creating a culture that allows people to do their best work, then you've created nothing." - Satya Nadella (CEO Microsoft)
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© 2020 Yishan Chan