Imperative Need to Modernise HR and People Functions for Today’s Evolving World

Shaun McLagan, Group Vice President and General Manager for APJ at DocuSign

By Verghese V Joseph –

For organizations, abandoning paper records and conventional methods of operation to digital workflow can be a daunting experience. This is a notion that many people, even C-suite executives, frequently ignore or misinterpret. For example, certain indicators suggest that a department, business, or group of people are not operating at their best. How does one go about doing this? On a different note, how can companies begin utilizing process automation tools to eliminate obstacles in the hiring-to-retirement process? Alternatively put, how can a leader modify their approach to better fit the digital requirements of their company?

Shaun McLagan, General Manager for APJ at DocuSign Group Vice President, answers these and much more in an interview with AsiaBizToday that relieves business executives of some of the strain and enables organizations that use digital capabilities to report greater employee satisfaction rates. Take-outs:

Q. As the small business community continues to navigate uncharted waters and as rules and restrictions keep evolving, what do you think are the new issues that are top of mind for business leaders?

A: Businesses are currently grappling with ongoing global economic uncertainty and talent shortage concerns. Referring to the recently released ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, more than 8 in 10 employers reported facing a shortage in talent. Despite this, numerous companies continue to attract and retain talent the same old ways – jeopardising their bottom line. People are the most valuable assets for any organisation. As the pace of transformation accelerates, investing in people remains an imperative for companies to enhance their resilience moving forward.

Additionally, there’s a need to modernise HR and People functions for today’s evolving world. This is particularly relevant for two significant groups: millennials, who now constitute the majority of the workforce, and Gen Zers, who are rapidly entering the job market. They expect their work environments to mirror the hyper-connected world we live in. Yet, what we observe is that many companies are still burdened with manual and cumbersome processes, or are not fully optimising their internal workflows, presenting a challenge in recruitment and retention.

Q:. Employees have already adapted to the digital world of work, so it’s time for companies to rethink their people strategy. What suggestions do you have to help people perform at optimal level?

A: Firstly, remote and hybrid work are here to stay. Employees are expecting flexibility at work, with 85% of employees in Singapore expressing this desire, significantly higher than the global average of 66%. It is crucial for HR and business leaders to shift away from viewing this strictly as an IT challenge but a long-term strategy for employee satisfaction and performance efficiency.

Next, in the midst of our current economic landscape, HR teams are not alone in having to do more with fewer resources. Leaders need to think about new ways to drive efficiency. However, for some companies, document management still takes more than 25% of HR teams’ time.

Weeding out inefficiencies in internal processes and turning to digital tools can help employees free up their time on unnecessary manual and paperwork to focus more on other more valuable tasks.

Finally, in an ever-changing landscape, employers should maintain their commitment to investing in employee training and upskilling, especially in areas related to disruptive technologies that will be sought after in a technology-driven economy.

Q:. Why companies that adopt digital capabilities are more likely to report higher levels of employee satisfaction?

A: The biggest moments in an employee’s career are arguably powered by paperwork and digital forms. There is an agreement to sign every time an employee starts a new role, gets promoted, receives a raise or takes on a new opportunity. Businesses set themselves up for success when they make these moments easy for the employee to navigate and manage.

By adopting digital tools, businesses can accelerate workflow and lighten employees’ workloads. For instance, using e-signatures can expedite the hiring process by eliminating the need for printing, scanning, and mailing paper documents. This is especially important for organisations that rely on contingent talent (i.e. contractors and freelancers) to fill labour gaps and rely heavily on quick turnaround in terms of hiring and onboarding.

Plus, many e-signatures seamlessly integrate with existing HRIS or identity tools, like Sign with Singpass which enable employees to securely add their digital signature to electronic documents. These digital signatures are identifiable, cryptographically tied to the signer, and automatically verified upon signing.

Organisations that are slow to embrace digital technology also make themselves vulnerable to uman errors, such as document duplication. Incorporating digital tools can automate data integration into shared documents and establish a centralised repository for easy document access by employees. Another effective method is the use of pre-built templates to maintain consistent field formatting, mitigating the likelihood of errors.

Q: In today’s anywhere-anytime economy, enabling teams to get contract work done digitally has become critical. What does this mean for enterprises?

A: Enterprises need to codify and standardise experience parity, to ensure all employees can securely interact with corporate resources and people regardless of locations. This can be supplemented with the right digital tools, such as DocuSign eSignature for contracts which helps ensure that people can securely send, sign and manage agreements from almost anywhere–helping to optimise workflows for hybrid and remote work.

Moreover, digital tools enable enterprises to more easily manage the contract lifecycle by offering features like version control and audit trails. This ensures the secure and accurate upkeep of records and allows employees to have the data and contracts they need at their fingertips rather than combing through cabinets and physical files. This also simplifies document retrieval during audits or regulatory inquiries, thereby enhancing compliance.

Enhanced data security is another advantage of investing in digital tools, which often come equipped with multiple layers of security and authentication. Therefore, the selection of a tech partner becomes critically important, as it’s imperative to opt for tools that prioritise maintaining certifications across regulatory and industry standards.

Q:. How to get started with process automation solutions to address bottlenecks across the hire-to-retire process?

A: Leaders first need to assess their organisation’s current processes and digital tools, identifying any existing gaps. Adopting and switching to tools that integrate well into the overall HR workflow will help reduce unnecessary set up time and training, while reaping the benefits of digital.

Furthermore, by improving flexibility in recruitment processes, such as being open to remote/hybrid ways of working, organisations can access a broader pool of candidates, irrespective of geographic locations or time zones.

Other straightforward steps to expedite recruitment and offboarding processes through technology include pre-digitising documents, employing e-signature technology for agreement routing and signing, and facilitating mobile signing.

By implementing more intelligent systems, HR professionals can allocate more time to using their people skills to attract new talent and optimise staffing — and less time worrying whether they’ve ticked the right boxes on the right forms.

Q:. How can you adapt your leadership style to better suit the business digital needs?

A: Leaders should zero in on the outcome they are trying to achieve, aligning these with larger corporate objectives, such as your company’s mission. In the realm of customer service, optimising internal processes becomes pivotal, as it directly impacts the end user’s experience and incidentally the bottom line.

It’s equally essential for leaders to be transparent and communicate impending changes in a clear, jargon-free manner to employees. This should be backed up with real-world case studies and examples that showcase impact and successful transformations. These discussions with employees should precede any significant change to enable a platform for ongoing feedback and continuous improvement.

Lastly, assume nothing. Leaders need to be open to trying and adopting new solutions in order to advance with the times. The utility of digital tools extends beyond the tech sector, benefiting everyone. For Mexican cuisine specialist Guzman Y Gomez, for example, turning to electronic agreements to ease the administrative burden on its HR team has led to a remarkable reduction in document turnaround time to just 2 hours and a significant shift toward a 90% paperless operation. Leaders can initiate this transition by dedicating a small portion of resources to research new solutions in the market, study what competitors are doing and give employees time to try our new processes