A new report by the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, finds that more than half (54%) of people professionals in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei are satisfied with their jobs. However, burnout from being at the frontline in helping their organisations deal with the recent pandemic, and new, persistent challenges mean that some people professionals are feeling overwhelmed. To address this, the CIPD recommends a focus on wellbeing, job mobility, building professional networks, and ongoing professional development and long-term skills to boost job satisfaction and build resilience amongst people professionals.

These are some of the key issues discussed in the CIPD’s new report, HR Talent Trends - What’s next for our senior leaders?, which explores the views of people professionals and current talent trends in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei.

According to the CIPD’s research, pandemic-induced trends of mental health prioritisation, equality, diversity and inclusion, shift to hybrid working, and talent retention, and engagement trends like the ‘great resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’, have highlighted the importance of the people profession as a strategic partner in business decisions.

However, the rising cost of living and layoffs in certain sectors are just some of the issues adding to the challenges faced by people professionals. Just under half of the respondents surveyed for the CIPD’s report said their organisation has felt the negative impact of the current economic climate. In particular, many companies are experiencing talent attraction and retention issues as employees pursue more competitive offerings externally. Meanwhile, cost pressures are challenging people professionals to find creative solutions to strengthen the employee experience.

May Leng Kwok, Regional Head APAC, CIPD, said:

“Following the pandemic, we have seen an emergence of shifting workplace trends, causing talent retention challenges across Asia Pacific. The people profession has been on the frontline of these changes, and it’s clear that this has impacted their job satisfaction and work-life balance. We hope this report will shed light on the issues currently faced by people professionals and provide valuable recommendations on how to overcome these. These steps can help keep talent within human resources and the wider organisation and further the strategic importance of the role of the people profession.

“On a positive note, we see that most people professionals are driven to advance in their careers and stay future-proof. An overwhelming majority are placing importance on building their skills, accreditation and professional networks for career progression, with people leaders paying particular attention to blended forms of learning and long-term skill development. As our report shows, practitioners also need to apply strong business acumen alongside soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, conflict resolution and teamwork.”

Key findings from the report, which surveyed 100 people professionals across Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei found that: 

  • Three in four respondents were keen to advance their careers. Senior managers were the most likely to want to advance their career within another organization while those less senior were keen to advance their careers within their current organisation.
  • The top three considerations for people professionals in choosing a job in the next three years are financial remuneration (56%), career progression (51%) and flexible working (39%). 
  • Upskilling, attaining certification and networking are considered key for advancing careers. 86% of respondents felt that upskilling was important, while all respondents working in senior management roles recognised its importance. 
  • The top three skills perceived to support career progression in the people profession are business partnering (51%), learning and development (38%), and organisation design and development (34%).
  • While nearly all respondents (94% in senior management and 86% of respondents in more junior roles) felt that attaining certification/accreditation was important in advancing their career, there was also a preference for a blended approach among HR leaders, through both professional qualifications and informal methods, such as knowledge-sharing across peer groups and networks.
  • To become future-fit, digital HR and enabling digital transformation emerged as key skills, alongside developing agility, taking the lead on strategic developments, building data and analytical capabilities, and championing business sustainability. In particular, people leaders are moving towards a longer-term and more forward-thinking approach to skills development. 

May Leng Kwok concludes:

“The pandemic proved the strategic importance of our function, and our role remains clear now as organisations continue to move through periods of significant challenges and change. In addition to supporting the workforce in these demanding times, it’s also crucial that people professionals take time to support their own needs and build resilience within their own teams to meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities.” 

Notes to editors

  • Report findings were based on pulse surveys and in-depth interviews with 100 people professionals and senior leaders across the three countries. Pulse surveys were conducted online between December 2022 and January 2023 with a sample of 71 people professionals. Three focus groups were conducted online between March and April 2023 with 29 people professionals, ranging from managers and directors to senior leaders.

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