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Digital Talent a Must to Surmount Covid-19 Crisis

April 15, 2020
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Digital Talent a Must to Surmount Covid-19 Crisis

By Anis Ramli

“Digitalisation is more urgent than ever in this era of Covid-19 which is a compelling reason for all of us to sit up and fast track our digital transformation at all levels.”

Dato’ Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer, CIMB

Covid-19 is not just a pandemic and therefore a social and economic emergency, but it is undoubtedly a gamechanger.

In response to all the preventive measures that governments across the regions have put in place to battle Covid-19, most of us are now working from home via digital devices and conferencing apps. School-going kids are also attending online lessons. “There has been a massive “digital intrusion” into not only our work life but our personal life, from how we do marketing to how we order our meals,” said Dato’ Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer, CIMB.  Businesses that are a step ahead in digital transformation may fare better than those who are less ready. Countries that are digitally advanced, such as South Korea, were able to use innovative technology and AI to fight Covid-19 and flatten the curve.

Dato’ Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer, CIMB

This is an unprecedented challenge all of us are currently facing. “If there is one critical lesson that has been brought to the fore in the face of this global Covid-19 pandemic, it is the urgency of digitalisation with a compelling reason for all of us to sit up and fast track our digital transformation at all levels,” stressed Dato’ Hamidah.

Speaking at MIA’s Corporate Board Leadership Symposium 2020 on appropriately, digital talent, Dato’ Hamidah emphasised that digital talent is critical to supporting organisations’ global and regional competitiveness in a world increasingly reliant on technology. As stewards of talent, how can corporate leaders craft the most effective and compelling strategies for harnessing and developing digital talent who can drive a culture of high performance, innovation and sustainability? Especially now, in the era of Covid-19 which is testing business continuity planning and business sustainability strategies to the max.

Whether at the office or now, working from home, the key is to create the right corporate and/or virtual environment that compels the vision of a future digitalised workplace or, as Dato’ Hamidah put it, “the smell of the place”. In order for the staff to thrive, it is that ‘smell’ you need to have at the workplace. “In this new landscape, employees must walk into an environment that smells of innovation and empowerment, that harnesses agility and allows them to test their creativity. That will create and cultivate a positive digital culture at the workplace.”

Other key points include:

1. Tweaking Branding and Hiring Practices

Re-think hiring strategies. Companies wanting to attract and retain digital talent need to refresh and tweak their branding strategy. “For us, we needed to (do this) to make working in a bank sexy for the millennials who’d prefer to work with companies like Google or start-ups,” said Dato’ Hamidah. Offering alternative modes of employment such as gig work, part time and freelance can attract more talents apart from making an organisation stand out and look more attractive to future hires.

2. Moving Beyond Traditional Talent Pools

Create diversity in your workforce that goes beyond gender, ethnicity and race. Digital talent is not limited to IT graduates. Companies that hire across a diverse field of studies (not just IT) can leverage on a wider talent pool with varying experiences, views and perspectives. This ultimately will drive innovation and results. “We look to engineering and geography graduates for example. We hire them for their experiences and how they work, collaborate and work with the team,” explained Dato’ Hamidah. The cognitive diversity helps progress digital maturity when ideas are generated from varied backgrounds.

3. Investing in Learning and Development

Make learning and development a huge part of the company brand. This is necessary to keep skills up-to-date and relevant, both for existing staff and new hires. Learning that is accessible, experiential and goes beyond the classroom nurtures a culture that breeds digital talent. When employees are agile and are empowered to constantly renew themselves, it allows for faster digital transformation to happen at the workplace.

4. Re-evaluating the Appraisal Process

Appraise digital talents differently. Traditionally, companies do a one-year appraisal and debate about work performed in the past. One of the key factors in making an organisation attractive to millennials is by having more frequent and forward-looking conversations. Regular check-ins and instantaneous feedback provide digital talents with an exhilarating space to feel empowered and to make a difference in the organisation.

5. Encouraging Collaboration

Collaboration and partnerships harness the energy for innovation. Sharing lessons learnt and insights can drive leadership programmes, thinking labs and growth of ideas that is paramount to an effective digital culture. Not only that, working cross-functionally adds to a group’s cohesion to create an inclusive workplace that digital talents value.

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