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Asia-Pacific HR Leaders Bring a Zeal for Excellence to First HR Tech China Conference

I’ve been proud to be a participant in the growth of ADP’s Asia-Pacific region since I first came here in 2013.  It’s been exciting to watch as our growth has mirrored the strides of other businesses that operate in this fascinating corner of the world.

So when nearly 2,500 HR professionals met in the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai to attend the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, I couldn’t wait to discover what they considered the hottest topics in human capital management (HCM).

global hcm

This was the first time HR Tech, a fixture conference in the United States, was conducted in Asia.  And Zhuhai – a ferryboat ride from Hong Kong – seemed to be the ideal place to hold it.  Transformed into one of China’s first Special Economic Zones in 1980, today Zhuhai is known for modern icons of prosperity like golf resorts and theme parks – and, of course, a growing business community.

China has been growing steadily for more than a decade, recently “slowing” to still rapid rates relative to other large economies.  As China makes a transition from a manufacturing and export economy to one more focused on consumers and services, leadership talent and skills have soared to the top of the checklist for HR departments in local enterprises.

These organizations not only are leading this element of business transformation, they’re embracing it with zeal.  HR Tech China exposed three unique attributes that underscore their progress:

  1. A desire to drive and adapt to change. There was intense interest among attendees in the evolution of work and a desire to understand the rapid pace of change both in their country and the region at large.  Typically, HR organizations in China manage issues like repeated rounds of hiring on a massive scale (potentially 1,000 employees at a time), retaining a workforce willing to change jobs for a bit more pay, and significant compensation increases yearly.  They now view workforce issues through a broader HCM lens that encompasses talent management, skills development and learning, and employee engagement.
  1. A focus on global issues. While the focus of the conference was primarily on China, attendees clearly brought with them a very global view of their HR roles.  The Chinese economy is being driven by exports and other markets.  At the same time, Chinese companies are expanding regionally and globally.  They’ve naturally – and rapidly – reached the juncture where HR has evolved into HCM.  Global challenges for them are a daily occurrence, and include compliance, talent management, geographic expansion, and technology that enables a global approach to business.
  1. A keen interest in creating a future-proof, global HCM strategy. Even the most experienced HR professionals in China have been forced throughout their careers to “weight” certain aspects of HR above others.  Areas such as talent acquisition, HR administration activities, and retention took precedence over other aspects of their roles.  Since it hasn’t been a focal point of success in a high-growth environment, Chinese HR leaders are noticing gaps as they try to create a comprehensive approach to HCM.  As the country transforms with remarkable speed, they are incredibly eager to learn.  This fervor is driven by technology advancements.  Unburdened by legacy technology or on-premises systems, China is one of the foremost proponents of moving into the cloud and driving mobile platforms to be the interface for modern HR.  Knowing how technology will support an HCM strategy and drive its results was a hot topic of the conference.

Asia is one of the fastest growing and most important regions for my ADP colleagues and me.  Our clients in the region have exciting and business-critical challenges facing them.  As their HCM trek unfolds, we’ll continue to help them navigate the obstacles a rapidly developing economy can potentially create.

This article was contributed by Don McGuire, ADP President Asia-Pacific.

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