Insights from the Mercer Asia HR Conference 2023: Shaping the future of work

Author Charlotte Matthew
September 19, 2023

I recently had the privilege of attending the Mercer Asia HR Conference at the Conrad Centennial Hotel in Singapore, where I joined Puneet Swani, Senior Partner, International, and an array of esteemed clients and global leaders from top organisations. The two-day event brought together 200 HR and business leaders, as well as CHROs and subject matter experts from various fields. The conference was not only highly informative but also showcased Mercer’s dedication to transforming data into actionable strategies and fostering future-ready and sustainable workforces, all while emphasising the importance of human-centric organisations.

Here are some key takeaways from the conference that left a lasting impression:

  • The APAC growth story: Asia-Pacific (APAC) remains the fastest-growing region globally. To make decisions at the pace required, group headquarters should consider delegating more authority to regional leaders.
  • Talent shortages persist: Despite market uncertainty, global talent shortages are at a 17-year high, with an average voluntary turnover rate of 14.5%. This highlights the importance of talent retention strategies.
  • Inclusive leadership: Successful firms require strong leadership and an inclusive culture where employees can be authentic and human at work. Creating such an environment is essential for organisational success.
  • Know your customer (KYC) internally: Understanding the needs and preferences of employees is crucial for talent attraction and retention. Factors like compensation and work-life balance are top priorities for employees.
  • Invest in learning agility: Career growth and learning agility are vital. Proactive communication and investment in employee development can have a significant impact on workforce productivity.
  • Data-driven decision making: Employers should leverage data alongside employee feedback to inform decision making and shape their operating models. HR should take an anticipative approach and focus on upskilling and reskilling employees.
  • Target Interaction Model (TIM) & Target Operating Model (TOM): To establish an effective target operating model organisations must prioritise a people-centric and anticipative approach. HR should focus on creating meaningful experiences for employees, not just managing processes.
  • Embrace GenAI: Generative AI is here to stay. Organisations should embrace such technology to enhance their operations. Mercer’s GPT demo showcased the potential of GenAI and talent marketplace tools adding that employers must account for the associated data, security and bias risks.
  • Rewards and benefits: In APAC, cash remains king. In Singapore, a 4% pay increase is budgeted for 2024, with a 9.5% increase for promotions. Understanding employee demographics and needs is crucial for benefits design.
  • Pay equity and diversity: Pay equity remains a challenge, with males in APAC earning $1 for every $0.84 earned by females on average. Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are increasingly tied to executive performance and accountability.
  • Hybrid work: The majority of survey respondents (70%) expressed a strong preference for hybrid work arrangements. Inflexible work patterns are considered dealbreakers by many employees.

Note: The data presented is sourced from the Mercer APAC 2023 survey.

The Mercer Asia HR Conference made a strong impression, providing our CHRO community with valuable insights. If any of the themes discussed pique your interest and you’d like to explore them further, I highly recommend reaching out to Puneet and his team.

The future of work is evolving rapidly, and events like these are essential for staying at the forefront of HR and business trends.

If you would like to discuss your career, or chat about the Southeast Asia HR market in general, please reach out to myself or a member of our team today.

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