The growing usage of technology can help human resource achieve better performance
IT IS often said that managing people is a combination of art and science. But the increasing dominance of technology in workplaces opens up a new perspective and opportunities in how organisations most valuable resource – its human capital – is being employed.
One of the most obvious changes that can be observed among employers, says Accendo HR Solutions group chief executive officer Sharma KSK Lachu, is the realisation that maintaining the traditional functions of the human resource (HR) department – such as processing payroll and employees’ rosters – is not the way forward to excel in the digital age.
New approaches emphasising efficiencies and talent development are needed to excel in people management, he adds.
“The process of recruiting, retaining and developing talents within organisations has to be changed to meet the expectation of both employers and employees, which in turn could help translate into outstanding performance standards,” he says.
Sharma notes that rich data insights are the best tool to help organisations deliver more engaging content and meet growing customer expectations for highly relevant and targeted information in the workplace. He calls it the democratisation of data and information to help workplaces function more efficiently. This could also help employees lead a more satisfactory work life as functions and responsibilities can be streamlined with the help of data, enabling them to focus on higher-level work.
Today’s workforce is different. There needs to be more incentive for employees to stay on in their jobs.
Citing the example of his own father, who stayed with a single company throughout his entire working life, Sharma says it would be a wonder for organisations today to have employees who would dedicate their entire working life to a single entity without asking much in return.
“He never complains about the lack of a pay raise, promotion or other perks from the management. But today’s working adults, especially the gen-Y and -Z, don’t share such values anymore,” he says.
Accendo relies heavily on technology, data and behavioural sciences in its approach to providing the right HR solutions for its clients to manage their manpower. The consultancy company is currently developing several tools, including artificial intelligence (AI) and HR management systems, for its corporate clients.
However, Accendo, which specialises in services such as talent acquisition, performance management, talent analytic and secession planning, puts the human element on the forefront of how organisations’ HR should function.
Technologies and people form the backbone of Accendo. A walk into its corporate office gives you the feel of a tech startup with open spaces and programmers in casual attire. But a reminder that people comes before technology is apparent in the form of a corporate logo, Rén – the Chinese character for ‘people’ – which dominates the entrance to its office.
New HR challenges
There is a need for a sharper and faster decision-making process, and the HR department has to be equipped to handle this. The aim is to help them to understand and grow their employees. This includes helping people who are pursuing career development opportunities at every age and are working longer than ever before.
Individual business leaders as well as business units should be looking at HR to provide support and strategic advice on everything from upskilling, motivating employees and future workforce planning to managing multiple generations of employees under one roof.
Therefore, specific solutions that are tailor-made and offer personalised learning opportunities for employees of all types will become the norm.
“Many organisations today still view manpower as a tool to maximise profit. But our mission is to promote a culture where companies develop the talents of their employees to contribute towards the growth of the company.
“We have turned down projects worth millions of ringgit because of the different viewpoint on how to develop and maximise the potential of employees. For us, our clients have to share our values, which is about organisations allowing their employees to own their career. We developed processes that would enable organisations to understand their people, and help develop their skills,” says Sharma.
Prior to his return from Sydney, Australia, where he had his start in the HR industry, Sharma was exposed to how technology and data science could help in efficient decision-making processes.
One of his motivations to move back home 10 years ago to start his own business here was partly to prove a point that developing technology-based HR solutions using data science can be done successfully in Malaysia.
Founded in 2009, Accendo is majority-owned by Sharma, while his two other co-founders have minority interests in the company. The company has morphed from being a HR solutions provider to an integrated HR consulting company with their own their technology solutions.
It has since recorded an impressive growth rate and is now considering strategic partnership with either a financial or strategic investor as it seeks to scale up its operations internationally and fund its technology research and development.
Sharma says it is also looking at expanding into other Asean countries, as this region could benefit from data science.
As the profile and success of Accendo increase, the company has been attracting potential investors and is receiving an average of about one investor approach per month. It has held talks with one potential strategic investor but has not reached any agreement as yet, he says.
Accendo, however, will only consider an investor who shares the company’s values, in which human capital is considered as an asset to be developed and not as a commodity to be used in achieving corporate financial goals, Sharma adds.
It has not seriously engaged with any party currently, but will do so if the right strategic or financial investor comes along.
The timing of a potential listing will also depend on the company’s capital requirements. Sharma says the company has been preparing for a possible listing by 2020, including making sure its financial reporting standards and company’s organisation structures are in line with that of a public company.
The majority of the company’s tech talents are local, but the company will not shy away from hiring foreign talents if necessary. Accendo currently has around 35 full-time staff members, but this will grow to over 50 by year-end as the company plans to hire more AI and other tech-related personnel, says Sharma.
Accendo is expected to record more than RM20mil of revenue this year. It has recorded an annual growth rate of 40% to 45% since it restructured its business model four years ago.
Its corporate clients include some of the most recognisable brand names in the market such as Astro, Maybank, KPMG, Nestlé, Bursa Malaysia and other financial institutions and large multinational corporations in Malaysia.
In the longer term, Sharma says Accendo aims to be the platform for all things related to work technologies and solutions, from HR staffing technologies to meeting specific needs and reinventing performance in the workplace for optimum efficacy and maximum success.