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Yazad Dalal is the Senior Director of HCM Strategy and Transformation at Oracle Corporation where he is responsible for developing thought leadership and identifying trends in all areas of Human Capital Management.  Following is an in-depth interview with Dalal who works with HR leaders to deliver technology solutions that enable them to transform their organizations and modernize their workforce tools.

Can you tell us more about Oracle’s business in APAC?
Oracle celebrated its 30th anniversary in APAC last year. Having begun operations in the region in 1986 in Australia, we now operate in 25 countries and the region has been a key engine for growth.
We serve 100,000 customers in APAC across private and public sectors, including modern firms that are known for their revolutionary work in creating new business ideas/models and leading with cloud.
Our customers include a number of well-known brands and organizations; from international manufacturer-distributors like Blackmores, to online retailers such as Zalora.com, to technology leaders like PRIMUS and Polycab Wires.

What are the major HR challenges that companies in APAC face? 
One of the major challenges faced by companies in the APAC region is talent shortages. APAC is facing one of the world’s toughest talent gaps with 48 percent employers in the region reporting talent shortages, and are desperate to retain new talent.
With digitization of the world challenging and changing how live, work and how business is conducted, employees are becoming digital consumers first. Especially in APAC, where for example, mobile penetration rates in Hong Kong exceed 200 percent.
The workplace is no longer just a physical space, and employers must offer the right solutions to support employees who increasingly prefer to intertwine their professional and personal lives.
Despite some businesses being successful in finding the right talent, and are eager to retain them, Oracle’s own research has shown that new hires often feel the least empowered and the least valued.
The research noted that of those employees who have been with an organization for less than one year; 33 percent intend to leave within 12 months, 1 in 5 didn’t see a long term future within the organization, less than half felt part of a team, 14 percent felt they were not rewarded based on performance and only 1 in 3 said their last performance review was fair.
What are the main differences between the way businesses operate in APAC vs. other regions?
Among employees in APAC, based on research (as noted above) we’ve found that engagement tends to peak when people have been with their current company between five to 10 years. New hires in their first two years are the least likely to; feel part of a team, feel that they are being fairly rewarded, or see a future with the organization.
While Western businesses need to first switch from a legacy, hardware-driven system, Asian companies, conversely, can skip that step as many local business have not yet adopted any form of HCM technology.
As a result, forward-thinking APAC businesses are already embracing technology, and for instance, some are jumping straight into cloud enterprise solutions and do not have to grapple with any of the shackles legacy and on-premise systems can present. Thus, giving APAC an edge over other regions.
What are the major challenges your customers have in their current roles in APAC? What are the most frequent problems they come to you with?
Turnover is a major concern. I know of one organization with 12,000 employees and every year, 4,000 were leaving. That’s a 30-40% turnover rate, every single year, and a major pain point for this company and others like it in APAC.
As mentioned earlier, talent shortages are also affecting a number of APAC businesses.
Another challenge is meeting employee demands in a digital-first world. Staff is accustomed to instant mobile communications and cutting-edge apps in their personal life, and now expect a similarly tech-enabled experience at work. From collaborating with colleagues to completing administrative tasks, today’s employees want the ability to do it at any time, from any place, on any device.
Oracle has discovered that putting employee experience at the heart of HR is a critical element that needs to be addressed by companies within APAC.
Oracle’s HCM cloud solutions are designed around employee experience. They help offices recruit stronger talent and retain the great talent already on board, through technology that improves and modernizes workplace processes – from initial onboarding, to collaborating with colleagues, to long-term skills development.
Elaborating on putting employee experience first means; efficient onboarding to help new talent feel like part of the team immediately, offering cloud solutions that help everyone work together more closely, data solutions that enable HR to reward employees fairly, and transparently.
Additionally, providing cloud applications that give employees the freedom to work from any place, on any device and importantly modern, streamlined HR processes to minimize administrative headaches for everyone.
What competitive advantages can businesses gain in APAC when they focus on employee experience?
Focusing on employee experience can help businesses streamline and improve the recruiting process. For example, at Oracle, we’re saving approximately 16 years of work every year with our automated recruiting process. Candidates receive an electronic offer, accept with one click, and start the onboarding process immediately. With the time saved, HR staff can support the business’s bottom line by focusing on strategic functions, rather than paperwork.
Organizational innovation is also achieved by driving employee experience through socially collaborative technologies. Giving everyone the digital tools they need to share knowledge and work effectively, from inside and outside the office is necessary. Employees can pool their expertise and develop innovative ideas that are essential for success in business today.
Moreover, through connected digital experiences, business leaders gain access to a wealth of data about everything from performance, to progress in individual development plans. This data can fuel powerful analytics to help you learn more about your employees and tailor experiences to their needs. Data also contributes to more accurate, transparent performance reviews, and helps employees self-manage their own skills development.
What are the key steps in rolling out a more employee experience-focused HR strategy?
Putting employee experience at the heart of HR means a shift in focus. Instead of concentrating on how to manage people, businesses must consider how to provide their people with the best possible experience at work.
In order to put employee experience at the heart of HR, investing in innovative HCM technology is essential. This method is quick, easy and cost effective. It no longer takes two years to purchase and install a suite of enterprise technology. Instead, Oracle’s HCM technology sits in the cloud, so it’s quick to install and affordable for every business, big or small.
An HR strategy with employee experience at its heart should also begin with the recruiting process. By automating this process, new hires can accept their offer with one click and start the onboarding process well before their first day in the office – setting them up for a highly satisfying, intuitive and digitally-enabled tenure with the company.
Focusing on employee experience also means making the office a better place to work, which in turn can attract new talent.
Today’s digital-first work force expect cloud solutions that promote collaboration and the pooling of innovative ideas; accurate and transparent performance reviews, modern, streamlined HR processes that minimise administrative headaches and mobility solutions that offer the freedom to work at any time, from any place, on any device.
What does it take to truly make the shift from managing people to focusing on employee experience?
The shift from managing people to focusing on employee experience requires buy-in from the whole C-suite. Everyone must commit to a new kind of company objective, which would mean re-evaluating KPIs to provide more weight to employee satisfaction and engagement.
Can you share any examples of how you’ve helped customers overcome their biggest HR challenges?
Genpac, a leading provider of business process management, is based in India but has 73,000 employees worldwide. Genpac is working with Oracle to ensure a consistent experience for every employee; one that matches the experience that Genpac provides to customers.
The company went from seven disparate recruitment tools across the world to now having one global standard platform – making data more visible and allowing for global analytics.
Other benefits of Oracle’s HCM solutions for Genpac include shortening the onboarding process from one day to one hour in India, using automated, consistent compliance processes around the globe and significantly improved reporting capabilities
Another customer, Kovaion Consulting India streamlined its HR operations unifying its global workforce data with Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud. The organisation reduced staff workload by 30 percent, and cut total HR operating costs by 33 percent. Oracle’s self-service capabilities also helped boost employee engagement from 50 percent to 80 percent.
Which areas of HR will technology (and specifically cloud solutions) change by the end of this decade?
I expect big advances in the recruiting process. Cloud solutions can give HR managers more data, and therefore more insight into what kind of candidates they should look at when recruiting.  HR staff can then capitalize on the cloud to make an offer to new recruits and get them on board quickly.
Of course, keeping employee experience at the heart of HR also means that a great workplace experience is already in place, giving high-value recruits another reason to say yes to the offer. I also think we will see more HR solutions that enhance mobility for the new generation of employees who want the freedom to work at any time, from any place, on any device. Whether it’s collaborating with colleagues from home or doing HR administration on the go, improving employee experience will necessitate modern and responsive mobile applications.
Are there are any major trends you expect to see in this area in APAC this year?
I expect more companies to focus on employee experience, and to invest in technologies that support this. These technologies will naturally be built on cloud computing as HCM cloud solutions are the most powerful, efficient and cost-effective on the market today. I also predict that more startups and smaller organizations will turn to cloud to grow their HR capabilities.
HCM cloud solutions mean that enterprise technology is no longer reserved for big companies with big capital to spend. At Oracle, we believe that you should be able to think big without paying big.
For example, a textile manufacturer in Dhaka, Bangladesh is able to use the exact same software as CITI. Cloud technology has introduced democratization of software where all companies have access to cost-effective, easy-to-install technology that can improve employee experience and deliver competitive advantage.

 

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