APAC APAC-JulyAug-2019 CHRO-Focused Article Enabling Technology HR Technology Leadership Magazine Article Tech

Cutting-Edge Change – HRO Today

Cutting-Edge Change - HRO Today

How new applied sciences are revolutionising HR in an Asian icon.

By Michael Switow

Shirley Fong is the vice chairman of human assets at Li & Fung, a buying and selling firm that started from very humble beginnings exporting Chinese language porcelain and silk and which now operates some of the world’s in depth supply chains. The company employs some 17,000 individuals in more than 230 workplaces across 40 markets.

Fong’s career didn’t start within the HR department, although. She utilized her analytical expertise to managing supply chains for a worldwide chemical compounds firm. Nevertheless, when she was introduced with a suggestion for a regional HR leadership position, she forged apart self-doubt and jumped on the alternative.

Since Fong joined Li & Fung 12 years ago, her obligations have grown from HR operations to fostering innovation in the worker expertise and driving the digital transformation of the corporate’s HR perform. Her efforts and ingenuity led HRO Right now to identify Li & Fung the 2019 APAC Talent Acquisition Group of the Yr Award winner.

SharedXpertise CEO Elliot Clark caught up with Fong to study extra.

Elliot Clark: Shirley, your background is sort of totally different from many individuals who work in HR. How would you say that this impacts your strategy to your present position as the quantity two individual in HR at Li & Fung?

Shirley Fong: I was born into an enormous family and love to work together with individuals, so I all the time needed to discover a job where I might handle individuals issues. Once I began my profession in HR, my peers realised that one factor is very totally different from my predecessors. I often start my shows talking concerning the business—wanting at the profit and loss and the main enterprise challenges—earlier than discussing my individuals strategy. I discover that my provide chain experience and business acumen give me a bonus in that I can play the position of an actual strategic associate. Subsequently, my earlier company realised they wanted a extra numerous group. They began to rent people who had risen not simply via the HR division but from other enterprise areas as nicely.

Clark: Li & Fung has a three-year plan focusing on velocity, digitisation, and innovation to create the “way forward for the provide chain.” How has this know-how focus modified what you do in HR?

Fong: Li & Fung is investing quite a bit in automation and digitalisation. We strongly consider these are enablers. They’re not the enemy of the workforce. Automation allows individuals to do their job in a extra efficient approach. We need to give them time to do high quality work and concentrate on human interactions as an alternative of operational and transactional issues.

Let me share a couple of examples of how know-how has changed processes in our organisation. Three years ago, we centralised all of the transactional actions into one shared service centre and we used robotic process automation (RPA) to process these tasks. We’ve also automated contract signage and partnered with DocuSign to make sure a paperless system. This creates a excellent candidate experience. Numerous candidates simply find it so convenient, plus knowledge may be easily accessed from the system. And we’ve introduced HireFit, which helps us display candidates based mostly on Li & Fung’s leadership competency framework. Now our recruiters don’t have to spend too much time doing competency analysis. As an alternative, this AI prediction device comes up with a suggestion.

Without including additional head rely, we get things completed in a more environment friendly, effective and progressive method.

Clark: As you go through this digital transformation, how do you stability Li & Fung’s history and custom with the have to have a contemporary tradition?

Fong: We determine a gaggle of early adopters in our organisation across totally different generations and management ranges. We use them as pioneers and ambassadors to deliver fast wins. These then turn into promoting factors to the remainder of the organisation to embrace the change and take motion.

Clark: Returning to HireFit, it’s a culture evaluation, automation-based software that makes use of language analysis to predict a cultural fit. Inform us more about the way you’re utilizing the system and what the experience has been like.

Fong: Computational linguistics uses language to offer perception into human beings’ considering and intelligence. Language becomes a software to guage candidate performance and predict whether or not they can perform properly in a task.

Candidates have to reply three open-ended questions and their written replies to every one have to be at the least 100 words. Individuals making use of for the same place all answer the identical questions. We developed a type of database as a benchmark. The AI device then compares each candidate’s language with the benchmark. One other enter into HireFit is the character assessment. By putting all this together, we will provide you with a rating to assess whether this candidate will fit our tradition and be capable of perform within the position in response to our competency requirements.

We nonetheless rely on people to make the final judgement, though. So, the hiring manager and HR nonetheless play a very necessary position on prime of the HireFit output. We additionally realise some candidates have a high score while others have a low score. These are the 2 groups of individuals we need to research. We won’t say no to all these low rating candidates. We need to understand why they have a high or low score.

It’s been about 16 months since we launched HireFit, focusing first on the leadership degree. Preliminary results show improved retention. Often, the very best fee of attrition is inside the first 12 months, but after introducing HireFit, our attrition fee has dropped. We are having better cultural competency and job matches.

This yr, we launched the system to the subsequent degree: middle management. By the top of this yr, we’ll have the ability to further share whether the system proves successful.

Clark: You’re at the slicing edge of analysis. At one degree, language processing predicts intelligence by evaluating whether a person can coherently make an argument. But most corporations are properly behind you when it comes to the best way you’re making use of it.

As an apart, analysis about to return out within the Harvard Business Evaluate indicates that computer systems are higher at predicting successful hires than human interviewers. A current ballot, in the meantime, indicates that more than half of all candidates have completely no interplay with their hiring supervisor between the date of their final interview and their first day of work. No text, no WeChat, nothing. Shirley, since you took over expertise acquisition at Li & Fung and now own the candidate expertise, how are you approaching this?

Fong: At Li & Fung, I feel our hiring managers are quite keen to help new hires but typically they don’t know easy methods to do it, and there was no structure to help them. So, from the fourth quarter of last yr, we launched LF Journey, a 90-day onboarding expertise based mostly on gamification. There are three parts:

  1. “Buddy programme.” The hiring manager and HR staff invite new group members to be in a buddy pool. We developed an app in-house that uses profiles to match new hires with a buddy on their first day in the company. We additionally need the brand new hire and hiring supervisor to collaborate throughout this 90-day journey, so the app allows the brand new rent, the hiring supervisor, and the buddy to interact collectively.
  1. “Discovery monitor.” The app engages new hires to signal up for firm activities, akin to turning into a member of a operating membership or dragon boat club. They’re additionally required to attend a conference from outdoors their useful area so they can study extra about other roles. Because of the app, new hires know methods to contact these communities they usually turn into more engaged with Li & Fung tradition.
  1. “Treasure hunt.” We require new hires to finish some tasks, resembling finding a landmark, taking a photograph, uploading it on the app, and sharing it with their hiring supervisor. Within the process, they earn factors. For instance, they is perhaps required to seek out the CHRO and take a photograph with him. It’s enjoyable, partaking, and hiring managers are also involved.

On the finish of the 90 days, we organise a commencement to have fun with them and the hiring supervisor. That is how we’re enhancing the entire partnership.

Clark: Let me ask you one last query. This can be a massive one, because I’m going to ask about the whole span of your career in HR. As you look to the way forward for HR, what’s the largest change you’ve seen up to now and what’s the most important change that you simply assume is coming?

Fong: In comparison with many individuals in the business, my expertise shouldn’t be vital enough. But I did see huge modifications within the final 12 years, the most important being automation.

Automation has created an enormous worry within the HR group, but for me, it is a challenge. In the event you strongly consider in yourself, are an open-minded individual, and prepared to study, it is an opportunity. It offers you a space to drop all of the transactional issues and give attention to actual HR from day one.

Wanting ahead, hierarchy is a barrier for innovation and collaboration. Know-how corporations are introducing a new approach of working with an agility-based methodology to vary the organisation structure. So if everyone is going to go in this course, ultimately, HR could have to handle this. The workforce is not sitting within the similar place. Titles are not related. Improvement is not a plan. It is a extra personal sort of association, tailored in response to staff’ potential. These challenges to our HR group pressure us to study and change every single day.


This interview was carried out in entrance of a reside audience at the 2019 HRO Right now Discussion board APAC. It has been edited for size and clarity.

Posted August 23, 2019 in Enabling Know-how


This entry was posted in Enabling Know-how and tagged APAC, APAC-JulyAug-2019, CHRO-Targeted Article, HR Know-how, Management, Journal Article on August 23, 2019 by Audrey Roth.