Voice of the profession - Asia

01 June 2015
Published: June 2015
Early in 2015, the CIPD commissioned a comprehensive research programme to review the current status of the HR/L&D profession across Asia. Using independent researchers, the programme was designed around an online survey for all people working in the profession throughout the region, encompassing all levels of seniority and all specialisms, and including non-members of the CIPD and other professional bodies as well as members.
In total, 255 HR/L&D practitioners took time to participate in the survey – an excellent level of response which has enabled us to develop a robust understanding of what is important to HR/L&D professionals in the region.
The results show what’s important to HR and L&D professionals and how the CIPD can support individuals, organisations and governments to raise HR professionalism and capability across the region in the future.

Survey results

Top HR priorities
Directors/senior executives along with those in manager roles were asked to identify the top three HR priorities for their organisations. By far the biggest priority for the profession in Asia at this point in time is talent planning and management, with more than half selecting this issue in their top three priorities. Leadership development, recruitment and selection and performance management were all selected as key priorities by around three in ten.
When asked what kinds of professional support they most need to address these kinds of priorities, directors/senior executives and managers alike say they need more access to:
  • international best practice insights and guidance, case studies and benchmarking
  • more opportunities to network with other senior professionals from across the Asian region
  • local research and independent guidance with relevant context from the region
  • professional qualifications and training – which are tailored to support region-specific practices and culture within the context of international best practice.
HR strategy alignment and outsourcing
Three in four directors/senior executives and of managers believe that their current HR strategy is well aligned with their organisation’s overall business strategy.
HR-related legislation and policy
The highest-priority HR-related policy issue for HR leaders and managers in the region is talent attraction and retention. Other key HR-related policy issues are seen as diversity and equal opportunities and immigration and expat visa regulations.
Specialist topics
Beyond the group of director/senior executive participants, respondents in other roles place great priority on the issue of talent planning and management, with 36% indicating that this is one of the three areas of research they are most interested in, followed by learning and development and leadership development and executive coaching. For directors/senior executives, talent planning and management is also the area of greatest interest, while leadership development/executive coaching is the second most interesting niche topic of interest, followed by organisation development.
Where events for HR/L&D professionals are held in the region, the kind of topic area that would have most value is felt to be case studies and best practice examples of direct relevance to Asia. HR/L&D professionals would also like events focused around HR/L&D-specific news for the region, market outlook information for Asian countries and updates on employment law in Asia.
Website information
When it comes to information resources available online, HR/L&D professionals in the region as a whole say their key need is for more regional employment law information, followed by information about events/opportunities for networking in the region and links to relevant research focused on Asia.
Licensed HR profession
Most directors/senior executives and managers working in the region favour the notion of HR becoming a ‘licensed’ profession. However, there is considerable variation between the different Asian markets on this matter, ranging from 84% in Malaysia to 58% in Hong Kong.
Professional body membership
Most directors/senior executives and managers feel that it is either important or very important for HR/L&D professionals in their organisation to be members of an international HR professional body, so they can keep up to date with best practice, global standards and relevant insight. Despite this widely held view, more than half (53%) work in firms where fewer than half of the HR/L&D workforce holds a current membership of an HR professional body, while just 13% say that more than half of their HR function hold a professional membership of this kind.
HR competency models
Across the region as a whole, almost half the organisations in the survey have an HR/L&D technical competency framework in place. In the majority of cases, frameworks have been developed in-house or using an external consultant.
HR qualifications are mandatory for specific roles in a quarter of Asian-based organisations. Most directors/senior executives working in the region believe that it is important for HR/L&D colleagues to hold qualifications recognised by a professional institute. Three in five managers also believe this is important.
With regard to the delivery of qualifications to meet the needs of Asian organisations, the majority of directors/senior executives and managers are comfortable for this to be in English, but would like to see delivery in other languages. Non-English delivery is more likely to be required in Hong Kong than Malaysia or Singapore.
Over the next three years, one in four employers are expected to spend US$5,000 or more per person per annum on formal HR/L&D qualifications for employees in the function.
HR skills gaps
Across the region as a whole, directors/senior executives and managers identify business acumen as the area where HR/L&D people currently have the greatest skills gap. There are also noteworthy gaps in skills required for strategy design and execution as well as skills associated with organisation development and talent planning and management.
Training channels
Employers in the region use a mix of approaches to train and develop HR/L&D professionals. The most frequent route is via in-house training. External training providers are also relatively widely used. Many organisations in the region make use of professional qualifications as part of their development strategy.
Training mix
A mix of face-to-face and online teaching is seen as the training format that works best for the region, with 57% also saying purely face-to-face teaching works for their organisation. While 67% are content for short training courses to be delivered in English only, 32% say a mix of English and other languages better meets the needs of their organisation.
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