27 Jan 2022 – 2022 HR trends in PH

Published by rudy Date posted on January 27, 2022

By Ernie Cecilia DPM
January 27, 2022

PH’s future of work

On January 21, Executive Director Ebb Hinchliffe of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (AmCham) hosted a discussion among selected industry leaders on the implications of “Future of Work” on American businesses in the Philippines. As chairman of AmCham’s Human Capital Committee and part of the discussion group, I offered my observation that the future of work in the Philippines will be driven by a) technology, b) changing demographics, and c) policy and regulation.

Technology will still determine the success of implementing a hybrid workplace in the Philippines. The new telecommuting law and the creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) have not improved the sad state of internet connectivity in the Philippines. Internet connectivity is a crucial element in the employee experience — from working remotely to online transactions between employers and employees (such as performance appraisal, approval of leaves, requisition for personnel, etc.) to online learning, upskilling and reskilling. In large multinationals, internet connectivity is more crucial as the global virtual teams (GVTs) are the basic employee groups, in lieu of the section or department.

We now have a multigenerational workforce — very few Traditionalists or Silent Generation (born before 1946), mostly in the Boards; the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) in top management/Boards; the Generation X (1965-1976), mostly in managerial posts; the Gen Y or Millennials (1977-1995) in key technical or supervisory and managerial posts; and the Gen Z, or iGen, or Centennials (born 1996-2015), which comprise majority of employees at entry level positions. The Philippines is in a demographic sweet spot, with a young population. The Filipinos’ median age is 25.7 years, versus South-Eastern Asia’s median age of 30.2 years (Worldometer, Jan 24, 2022). Sadly, many of the Gen Zs, especially of Class 2019, 2020 and 2021, are still hunting for jobs in the asphalt jungle.

Hybrid work is here to stay
Policy and regulation will play a major role in employment in the Philippines. For one, if the unvaccinated are not allowed access at workplaces, or if RT-PCR tests will be required every so often in the unvaccinated, the ability to get jobs will be restricted. If job contracting, or contingent forms of employment will be outlawed or restricted, the jobseekers will likely compete for very few regular jobs available. During uncertain times, many businesses would prefer to hire contingent, rather than regular, employees. Government policy should encourage regular employment, but more flexible work arrangements likewise.

The issue of hybrid work will be crucial. If you think Gen Z would prefer to work forever at home, think again. Gen Zs work well in the “anytime, anywhere economy,” but sooner or later they will get bored with purely work-at-home or other remote working arrangements. Mental health issues brought about by the uncertainty of the future must be addressed, too. The current issue in remote working is usually the “where.” After getting the freedom to choose the “where,” employees will likely want to next choose the “when.”

Key HR trends

Mary Baker, director of Public Relations at Gartner, discussed her prognosis on some global HR trends in 2022. From her list, I chose issues that are relevant to the Philippines.

Beyond the horizon: Trends to expect for 2022
– Increase in remote working. I agree that even after the pandemic is gone, some companies will not fully resume the in-person work arrangement. A Gartner poll showed that “48 percent of employees will likely work remotely” after the pandemic. HR must therefore identify and develop the “critical competencies for people to collaborate digitally.” HR must prepare to shift “goal-setting and performance evaluation” in a remote context.

– Need to intensify employee data collection and analytics. In the Philippines, only a few big employers are using technologies to monitor their employees — virtual clocking in and out, tracking work computer usage, monitoring emails, chats, etc., or productivity tracking. If hybrid work will persist over the long haul, companies must learn to use these monitoring technologies, subject to privacy limitations. I suggest that data collected about employees should include health, engagement, and social needs.

– Expansion of contingent workforce. All over the world, the economic uncertainty brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic has caused companies to close and workers to lose their jobs. The gig economy expanded, contract work declined, but in some parts of the world there is a pronounced shift. Due to an uncertain future, organizations will continue and increase the deployment of contingent workers. This arrangement will help companies gain more flexibility in managing their workforce. Job-sharing or talent sharing will likely be explored. Research shows that “32 percent of organizations are poised to replace full-time employees (FTEs) with contingent workers,” said Brian Kropp of Gartner. HR will need to review Company policies on hiring and compensating contingent and gig workers. It’s also time to revisit laws or government policies that restrict flexible work arrangements.

– Employer as a safety net. In the Philippines, the employer has a new role mandated by the government — as a social safety net. Since the onset of the Covid pandemic, expenses in preventing, testing for, fighting and treating the virus are practically passed on to the employers. While this is good for the soul, it’s not good for the bottom line. During these times of difficulties and uncertainties, employers practically bear their employees’ financial, physical, health and mental well-being. In other countries, these are borne by governments.

The 2022 hybrid workplace: From pandemic to endemic
– Organization redesign for resilience. In 2019, Gartner’s survey showed that 55 percent of organizations streamlined roles, supply chains, and workflows to increase efficiency. This also highlighted certain “fragilities” due to some systems’ lack of flexibility to respond to disruptions. Today, more progressive organizations are redesigning structures “around outcomes to increase agility and flexibility.” I suggest that resiliency should be a major consideration for organization redesign, moving forward. Employees’ adaptability must be enhanced, and therefore they should train for and acquire cross-functional knowledge. Since diversity, equity and inclusion are becoming an issue, designs and work systems must ensure that employee background, ethnicity, gender preference and needs are considered.

Relationship consultant Sam Owen published her book, Resilient Me: How to Worry Less and Achieve More in 2017. She said, “Resilience is necessary for our physical survival, for our mental and physical well-being, for our ability to realize our potential, and for the successful achievement of our life.”

Ernie Cecilia is the chairman of the Human Capital Committee and the Publication Committee of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham); co-chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines’ (ECOP’s) TWG on Labor Policy and Social Issues; and past president of the People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP). He can be reached at erniececilia@gmail.com

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