An Uncharted Landscape: Changes in the HR Industry


An Uncharted Landscape: Changes in the HR Industry

by Yi Ting
February 20, 2017

Ironically, one of the biggest certainties about business is that nothing is certain. Whether it involves changing client needs, shift in demand or a slew of other factors, Justlogin has learned and adapted to change. Naturally, one of the biggest impacts has been the evolving HR landscape.

Although often jarring, paradigm shifts are not necessarily a bad thing. It is through these alterations that companies improve efficiency, among other things.

Naturally, human resources is an area that clearly followed suit. In Justlogin’s experience, HR progressed in many forms, but three trends in particular stood out from the proverbial crowd. All of them posed their own array of challenges, but in the end, they proved to be beneficial for everyone – staff and management alike.

Increased Regulations

As businesses grew more complex, employee needs became paramount. To that end, the government created tighter HR regulations. Throughout their implementation, it was clear that measures were needed to improve fairness, transparency and staff satisfaction. Pay, of course, was at the top of the list in this respect. According to Justlogin’s founder and CEO, KC Kwa, direct deposit payments recently could be made without any kind of paystub or documented record for the employee’s reference. “Employees did not know whether they were paid the correct amount, especially for their OT work,” he explains. In 2016, however, new government regulations required employers to provide itemised pay slips. The measure was intended to ensure employees could verify that they were paid appropriately. Companies who failed to follow this practice faced significant penalties.

But pay transparency is not the only thing that has changed in recent years. As KC states, “There also have been frequent changes in regulations, such as updates in CPF contribution rates and introduction of new child-related leave policies.”

Since HR departments had become so entrenched in obsolescence, these regulatory changes created serious administrative hurdles for them to overcome. In response, KC used his company’s product to make this transition as easy as possible. “HR [has] to keep pace with these changes to stay compliant, and they need the right software to cope with them.”

Shifting Roles

As business (and government) demands grew, the HR scope increased in some areas, while shrinking in others. KC recalls his experiences with HR departments, where it was common to see administrative staff doing basic – and burdensome – clerical work. Information was generally stored in filing cabinets, while duties were limited to functions like dealing with payroll, handling leave applications and calculating hours, such as overtime and their subsequent payments.

“These days, the HR role has become more strategic,” KC explains. “They spend more time in talent management, working out and implementing strategies to recruit, and retain [talent].” HR departments were able to change their focus through automation. “The administrative work is still necessary, but can be largely managed by software.”

Relegating such functions to software carries more benefits than just efficiency and convenience. By emphasizing things like workforce planning, training, recruitment and retention, companies can ensure that their employees consistently align with corporate goals and are well-prepared for their jobs, while minimizing the chances of turnover.

Using dedicated software also helps to automatically generate detailed records – a “paper trail,” so to speak – while preventing frustrating errors that could affect the staff. Technology programmed for this specific task is much more efficient and accurate than a human.

Technological Improvements

New regulations and changing roles have become powerful driving forces affecting the future of HR. But in KC’s experience, the largest change by far has been “…the advancement in technology.” He recalls how rudimentary things were in the late 20th century compared to now. “In 1999, there was no Facebook, Whatsapp or iPhone. Today almost every working adult has a smart phone and an account on social media.”

Even the mechanics of software have changed. Initially, new versions of the same program had to be purchased separately – a costly and inconvenient situation, to be sure. “All the new software offered today [is] based on software-as-a-service model (SaaS),” KC explains.

When it comes to SaaS, human resources departments enjoy the same convenience. “For HR Software running on SaaS model, all statutory changes are updated automatically without the HR having to worry about them,” according to KC. This frees up valuable time and resources for departments to focus on the key functions mentioned earlier.

Advancements in technology are also critical to accommodate a changing workplace demographic. As KC acknowledges, “The millennials, who are the future of our workforce, expect almost everything to have an App. For HR software, they want to be able to apply [for] leave, view their pay slips and clock in and out on their mobile phones.”  

Furthermore, the SaaS subscription model provides affordable innovation to small and medium-sized businesses who would otherwise be unable to pay large up-front fees. In doing so, they can focus more time and energy on making their companies grow.

But perhaps the most intriguing nature of SaaS is the endless possibilities for innovation. KC says that “…very soon, the employees will be able to chat with an AI engine to get things done; and the HR will be able to predict who is likely to resign using big data analytics provided by cloud-based software.” The former would greatly increase efficiency, while the latter would help reduce turnover rates.

Overall, SaaS carries massive potential. Based on current trends, KC suggests that, eventually, “…all software used by SMEs will be hosted in the cloud, and the employees will be able to access all [the] information they need and perform all [of their] transactions on their mobile phones.”

While his optimistic view appears to be on track, KC freely admits that technology’s trajectory is impossible to anticipate. As he aptly puts it, “We can’t predict the future, but we know where it is heading.”   

This is the final part of a three-part series to commemorate Justlogin’s 17th Anniversary.
Part 1: Read here to find out how Justlogin was founded.
Part 2: Read here to learn about the challenges faced by Justlogin’s founder and the advice he has for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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