Shaping your future people policy

Shaping your future people policy

It’s obvious that change and disruption are here to stay. We can no longer guess what’s around the corner. Nor can we possibly know what is going to happen tomorrow, let alone next month and the coming year. Your only response is to either disrupt yourself, your work or your organisation before others do, or just simply let the tide sweep you away and be disrupted in the process.

In order to get your organisation future-proof for whatever unexpected circumstances confront you, I’d suggest you pay attention to your people, your policy, your system as well as your structure.

To do this, you must ensure that you incorporate the right and most effective future-fit Human Resources strategies that can lead to your organisation to a win in this disruptive world. First and foremost, it has always been known that HR must be agile but the demand and the need for agility will become even more critical.

When the business landscape changes, strategies that worked in the past will not work today, and only organisations that can adapt to changing business conditions will survive. But who will make the change happen in an organisation? Aside from the obvious fact that leaders will need to lead the change, it is HR that will need to reshape itself to become the critical driver of agility, as HR practitioners will be called upon to develop a meaningful strategy that meets a company’s ever-evolving needs.

Although agility isn’t a high-profile feature of many organisations, it is rapidly becoming clear that it is going to be a required feature for future success. It is essentially the ability to adapt to surprises, survive them and flourish in the ever-changing present at all levels of a company. At the highest levels, strategic planning for plausible future risks and obstacles will help a company build plans that will survive and help it bounce back from adversity.

The question is, what can we do to drive HR agility? What is the capability of the HR function to respond more quickly and effectively to changing employee expectations, workplace disruptions and business requirements? There are several answers but essentially I think there should be at least these three constituents to HR agility:

Critical Thinking: With social listening, sentiment analysis, pulse surveys and analytics, it becomes much easier to identify issues in real time that may have an adverse impact on your organisation. For this, HR needs to quickly identify issues that need to be addressed before it’s too late. However, keep in mind gathering the data is the easier part. Doing something with it is much harder.

Managing Change: As the world we’re living in is constantly being changed, you don’t always have the luxury of waiting to create perfect responses. Nor can you wait for the next employee survey to act. Likewise, it’s the job of HR to change outdated activities. For instance, conversations on performance appraisal can no longer happen annually at year-end. I’m not saying that organisations have to eliminate the performance evaluation; instead, make sure that it aligns with the needs of today’s workforce.

Design Thinking: It’s no surprise that Design Thinking has penetrated into virtually every business practice now, and HR is no exception. Incorporating analytics and Design Thinking to predict, design and then target programmes with the highest probability of being successful can and surely will become crucial. HR needs to understand employees’ needs and come up with more individualised approaches to generate a better employee experience that will lead to impactful change at the organisational level.

After all, the secret to becoming more agile as an HR is to demonstrate that you can be focused yet flexible, even in unsettled circumstances. To do that, you need to start off and anticipate change by conducting an HR agility process audit. This will help you assess your current HR operating model and eventually develop appropriate strategies.

Then, generate confidence in the changes you have identified as necessary, be it through training, policy changes or reengineered processes in order to move forward and thrive. The next step is to initiate action to change the policies or the processes.

Moreover, it is essential to create the environment for HR to think creatively about how to redesign processes and policies supportive of the disruptive era. Lastly, don’t forget to evaluate results by conducting after-action reviews of the changes made.

Disruption has many implications for HR policies and processes. For organisations to become truly change-capable, HR must become agile first. Practitioners must evolve and reform to be able to create significant values for their businesses, be they efficiency, consistency or risk deduction derived from being nimble.

The bottom line is, do you think your organisation’s current HR models will work and can they really lead it to become agile enough to deal with any uncertainties that might arise in the future?


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia's leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at or

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