CY Chan, Co-Owner & Chief Talent and Purpose Officer, HKBN
For many working professionals, their experiences with the HR (Human Resources) department are often described as a love-hate relationship. For me, as an HR practitioner, it is easy to understand the reason. We are often in between the organization and its employees to process sensitive information, like remuneration packages, and handle tricky situations, like performance appraisals and restructure.
These core roles of HR pretty much remain the same for many organizations. But at Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN), with the use of HR-related technologies (HR Tech), the role of HR has changed tremendously in the past decade—from focusing on clunky data governance like staff payroll management into a culture changing agent that focuses on talent engagement and development.
Employees vs Talents
In fact, our HR department is called Talent Management(TM) and we never address our colleagues as staff or employees. Our colleagues are addressed as “Talents”, because we believe only Talents, not employees, can empower our business to grow and thrive.
Colleagues addressed as employees would behave as one, meaning they treat working as a job—simply complete the assigned tasks for a monthly salary in return. But when they are addressed and treated as a Talent, HKBN becomes a platform for them to shine and showcase their capabilities. Talents are also more committed to their roles within the organization.
In this case, we also hold a very different attitude towards technologies. HR Tech becomes an important prop or costume for our Talent to shine, instead of a tool to simply make the HR’s job easier.
HR Tech as a Costume for Talents to Shine
One great example of our transformation journey is the adoption of the Talent Engagement Management System (TEMS). For many organizations, TEMS is equivalent to HR Implementation System (HRIS), a tool to collect and process employees’ data.
Some organizations take one step further and use it as a self-service tool for employees to check and apply annual leaves.
Our Colleagues Are Addressed As “Talents”, Because We Believe Only Talents, Not Employees, Can Empower Our Business to Grow and Thrive
At HKBN, we also benefit from TEMS replacing the tedious tasks for our TM team. But, more importantly, TEMS is part of a transformation journey at HKBN with an ultimate goal to help our Talents shine and grow. TEMS is a foundation for us to expand HR Tech in enabling and managing talent development. It allows us to monitor our Talent’s skillsets and qualifications to develop better workforce planning.
Empowering Talents and Protecting them from Infection
Technology is also an important tool for HKBN to protect and empower our Talents. Supported by the adoption of collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams, and a robust security practice, HKBN in January introduced the pilot “4+1” arrangement to our Talents, meaning they are entitled to work from home one day per week, upon confirmation with their team head.
The original purpose of this arrangement was to empower Talents with more flexibility, encourage a LIFE-work priority, and foster a trusting relationship across the organization. But we are experiencing additional benefits from this arrangement recently.
While many organizations were struggling to handle the risk from the coronavirus outbreak, we reacted quickly to enable Work-from-Home (WFH) arrangement for all our backend Talents. Since the end of January, many of our Talents have been working from home, protecting them from potential infection, and allowing HKBN to mitigate the risk of operational disruption. Technology plays an important role for our Talents to share and shine their ideas during the WFH arrangement.
Transformation Starts with People
These recent achievements are the result of our people-oriented attitude. As an integrated telecom and technology company, we understand that all new technologies require a change in habits. Hence, HR Tech implementation should never be treated as an IT project, but a “change management” initiative.
The success of any change management initiative requires two major factors: transparency and leadership. For any new initiatives, there is always an adaptation period that is painful and chaotic. But with the transparency and clarity, we share our rationale for these changes with the Talents, and this practice goes a long way to keep everyone on board.
Leadership is another important factor. Leaders who proactively and effectively listen to their teams are more capable to adapt to a rapidly changing world. Transformation is about people, not technology. The ability to listen will enable leaders to make rapid decisions based on people, not technology.
Our journey of HR Tech transformation is far from the end. As a Talent-obsessed organization, HKBN continues to seek opportunities to bring a LIFE-workpriority for our Talents, both within and outside the TM team. The ultimate goal is to enable our Talents to shine and empower the business to thrive.