During the opening ceremony of PANGEO, Charles Ferguson, General Manager, Asia- Pacific, Globalization Partners said: “Sixty-four percent of all humans on Earth right now are either millennials or Generation Z. Sixty percent of the world’s population is here in Asia-Pacific, and this youthful workforce is more connected, more educated, and more available than at any other point in history — so I say, come on over!”
The sentiment could not ring more accurately as the APAC session of PANGEO, the largest global employment conference in the world, concluded on October 22, 2021. Industry thought leaders, founders, movers, and shakers across the region gathered to discuss topics ranging from talent mobility trends, talent attraction and retention, dispersed workforce and predicted trends, and fool-proof compliance.
Today’s youth will dominate the global talent pool
An overarching theme throughout the entire day was the unparalleled potential of today’s youth. Dr. Parag Khanna, Managing Partner at FutureMap, kicked off PANGEO 2021 by expounding on just that.
“The countries that are going to be the winners of the 21st century are the ones that are attracting young people today. In other words, as young people vote with their feet, they determine the winners and losers of the future,” said Dr. Khanna.
In fact, According to Dr. Khanna, the world’s population is set to reach 8.5 to 9 billion people in the next 10 to 15 years.
“We talk about an aging world and what a challenge it is in terms of social security, tax base, medical systems, and debt. Yet, millennials, Generation Z, and Generation Alpha — today’s toddlers — comprise almost 60 percent of the world’s population,” continued Dr. Khanna.
The implications of younger people entering the workforce in leadership and management sectors were further discussed throughout the day.
In the panel titled, “The Talent Checklist: How to Attract and Retain Employees in the War for Talent,” Christina S. Ahn, Managing Director at Morgan Philips Korea, believed that younger people are not only entering the workforce but also taking on senior leadership positions.
“Millennials have begun to take on senior management roles in organizations both large and small. And it’s signaling a societal shift towards a very different way of hiring and managing people — and that’s a very different way of doing business in general,” said Ahn.
In the panel titled, “Remote, Hybrid, or Office-Based: Key Trends Shaping the Future of Work in 2022 and Beyond,” Gordon Dudley, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, RDI, discussed how companies will soon prioritize performance over experience in light of the growing number of Gen Z talent.
“Organizations that promote talent and are very performance-driven will simply cultivate the best person for the job. And that doesn’t necessarily mean the person with the most years of experience,” concluded Dudley.
HR teams are doing a disservice by ignoring immigration
The first panel session of the day titled, “Future-Proof Your Business: Scale, and Hire Globally and Compliantly,” covered what companies should know about risk and compliance when expanding to a new country.
Apart from discussing HR teams’ pivotal role as strategic partners to companies, another often overlooked point was raised: what about a company’s immigration policy?
While many companies view immigration as a transactional part of expanding to a new market, retaining that mindset can be problematic given the increased talent mobility in the region.
As Sarah Thapa, Managing Director at The Migration Agency, argued, “It can do an HR team a disservice if they don’t think about immigration a little bit more smartly or strategically. So what we’re starting to see now is the smarter organizations are forward planning and taking into account global talent and immigration into their workforce planning.”
She concluded by suggesting that shifting from a transactional to a more proactive and strategic stance on immigration and workforce planning can give companies a competitive edge, especially when labor laws, compliance, and government policies are increasingly changing.
Diversity and inclusion matter more now than ever before
In the second panel session titled, “The Talent Checklist: How to Attract and Retain Employees in the War for Talent,” speakers shared how to attract and retain top-tier talent via diversity and inclusion strategies.
“The pandemic has exposed all these structural inequalities within our home and work systems, that women have borne the brunt of, combining work and household duties and living out homeschooling duties,” said Reika Phung Dzupinka, VP, APJ Head of Sales Ecosystem and Operations, Ceridian.
The effect can lead to burnout, downsizing careers, and even leaving the workforce entirely. In fact, to Dzupinka, “Professional women are already struggling to be heard.” If women choose to work from home, Dzupinka worries they will have lesser visibility and, hence, chances for promotion than someone physically present in the office.
“This is an issue that needs to be driven top-down, starting with leadership and getting leadership behind that. It’s simple things like, for example, in your hiring process: Do you set a mandate on diverse candidates? Are you ensuring that you have a diverse panel of interviewers?” asked Dzupinka.
For Liliana Kellett, Senior Sales Executive, Culture Amp, the topic hits close to home as she recounts how she was hired without discrimination while being pregnant for six months.
The importance of investing and acting on inclusivity is of utmost importance to Kellett. She credits Culture Amp’s diverse programs, such as Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions, with their CEO in fostering that culture.
A recent initiative is “She Session”, where women freely talk about difficult topics like how they don’t feel empowered to try for more demanding roles because they don’t feel supported by their organizations.
“If you’re a part-time employee because you’re a mother, and you want to have one or two days at home, does that prevent you from having the same career opportunity as a full-time employee? Can you still have a huge impact with fewer days during the week? There are lots of things and practices that you can put into the ways of working that support your employees and make them feel like they can do their job, the way they want to do their job, which empowers them even more,” Kellett explained.
Christina S. Ahn, Managing Director, Morgan Philips Korea, agreed with both but shifted the conversation to female employees based in South Korea.
“During these times of remote and hybrid work, because of the smaller, cramped spaces that we’re faced with in Asia, with densely populated cities, I’m finding that women actually want to go back to the office. It’s almost like a vacation away from all the work that they had to do at home,” said Ahn.
Companies must factor this into their strategy and planning for 2022 and beyond. For example, dedicated office spaces in the form of co-working hubs could be a good alternative for employees who still need a physical office from time to time.
Enter new markets the smarter way
The third panel of the day was titled, “Make It Happen: Effective and Efficient International Expansion in Asia,” and featured a full panel from Big Four accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY).
Apart from focusing on how companies can better structure their international expansion in Asia, the panel also discussed the best places to achieve tax incentives and government grants.
One way to align with commercial goals and tax efficiency strategies is to take full advantage of incentives to reduce costs.
In fact, governments are increasingly starting to respond even more with incentives in the hopes that it can accelerate direct and ongoing economic recovery, manage sovereign risk, and redesign the way the economy operates.
“The key to remember is that using both tax and non-tax incentives can sometimes subsidize anywhere from 5 to 25 percent of your project cost. So it certainly is a cost reduction method that companies are taking on,” advised Joseph Christofanelli, Asia Pacific Tax Centre – Global Incentives, Innovation & Location Services.
Furthermore, companies in APAC are actively competing with the Americas and the European Union in what is essentially a global competition for incentives. But leveraging such opportunities and fighting to procure these incentives prove highly beneficial for companies entering into new regions.
“These incentives and grants can help you save a lot of money, as well as facilitate a soft landing into an ecosystem when setting up in a new country,” said Sam Barrett, Associate Partner, APAC Operating Model Effectiveness.
There is no such thing as overcommunication
The last panel of the day titled, “Remote, Hybrid, or Office-Based: Key Trends Shaping the Future of Work in 2022 and Beyond,” discussed future trends and how to master growth strategies for the next decade and beyond.
While companies are still deciding if they should go completely remote, partially remote with multiple hubs, or entirely on-site, one thing remains unchanged: dispersed workforces in some shape, way, or form will continue to be the norm.
One way companies can successfully manage their teams is through overcommunication.
“You take it for granted that you can walk around the floors of your office and tap someone on the back and go for a coffee. We’ve made three acquisitions from a kitchen table; we’ve onboarded 250 people from maybe a dining table. You need to keep that engagement and communication up,” said Sachin Goklaney, Chief Commercial Officer, PayGroup.
While Zoom fatigue plagues workforces, companies must find genuine ways to communicate with their employees.
“Overcommunicate and treat everybody equally like there is no difference in an employee wherever they live, wherever you hire them from. It doesn’t mean a person in Thailand doesn’t expect and shouldn’t have the same cool leave app as somebody in Melbourne,” continued Goklaney.
Overcommunicating is something that resonated with Casey Abel, Executive Director at HCCR. Abel shared how he started to make a conscious effort on reaching out to employees outside of scheduled meetings to check up on their wellbeing.
“The other thing that I found is that while completely functional remotely, communication tends to be very asynchronous and extremely transactional. So consciously building time to ask questions and make sure people’s lives are going okay, and if they do have stuff going on, ask about it. Just that kind of empathy that would naturally come out over a coffee or a lunch, but we’re all missing right now,” said Abel.
The same sentiment was echoed by the third panellist, Gordon Dudley, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of RDI. Dudley stressed the unique relationships that current employees have with each other, something newly onboarded staff do not.
“Those of us who were in the organization before the pandemic have relationships, and we maybe take that knowledge about the person and those personal relationships for granted. I think we have to pay extra care and attention to those who have come onboard since and haven’t had that chance. So I’m trying to share, and I’m trying to share about others so that others can be able to build on those relationships as well,” concluded Dudley.
Dispersed teams does not equate to a loss in human-centric connections
As the conference came to a close, Ferguson once again took the stage to round off his key learning points from all three days at PANGEO 2021.
Although vital topics like the future of migration, data privacy, and agility during international and remote hiring were discussed at length, the need to maintain and enhance human-centric connections in the workplace remained the most salient to Ferguson.
A company’s success in 2022 and beyond lies in its ability to remain agile, forward-thinking, and human with its workforce. As critical is the hunger to embrace change, adapt, and evolve alongside the new world order.
“I encourage you to embrace the change we are all experiencing right now, to seek out and exploit the opportunity that is inherent in the new models and technologies that are coming through the fore. Connect with Globalization Partners to explore successful practices, and work with us to help you win the war for talent and thrive in the global remote era of work,” concluded Ferguson.
Learn more about Pangeo, The Largest Global Employment Conference in the World, here.