More and more companies in Việt Nam have shown advancements in the human resources field, and “are on their way to be change agents with disruptive HR management strategies and policies,” according to Edward Foong, an HR expert in the Southeast Asia region.
|More and more companies in Việt Nam have shown advancements in the human resources field, and “are on their way to be change agents with disruptive HR management strategies and policies,” according to Edward Foong, an HR expert in the Southeast Asia region. — Photo tinhte.vn|
Foong, who has been a judge for Việt Nam HR Awards 2014 and 2016, said he has seen great improvements from all participants at the awards competition this year.
“I was impressed with how fast they have progressed, and several participants showed us how they successfully reached out to prospective candidates,” he said.
“What impresses me are also companies in sensitive and controversial industries. They showed us how they swam against the current to successfully attract talent they wanted … Also, the meaningful programmes HR put in place to continue to motivate their current staff impresses me a lot.”
“Singapore may seem to be ahead of Việt Nam, but it is not that many years ahead of Việt Nam as some may think,” he said. “The gap between the two countries is quickly narrowing.”
Colin Blackwell, chairman of the HR committee of the Việt Nam Business Forum, which represents views of the foreign business community to assist the Government in developing labour legislation, said “For over 20 years, the quality of Vietnamese management, staff and human resources has been steadily coming up to international standards.”
“The Vietnamese are naturally creative and inventive. The attitude is, if there is a challenge there will always be a way around it. There is natural motivation and optimism that is missing in most other countries,” he said.
On the positive side, this attitude can results in improvements at all levels in a company, but on the negative side it can be used to get around rules and in some cases fraud, he added.
“Obviously, the trick is to channel creativity as positively as possible. This is the role of HR management,” he said.
He said good policies and processes will enhance the positive side.
The best companies in Việt Nam have multiple sets of systems for organising work, but with very clear performance management to show who is being positively creative.
These performance management systems are not so different to what is used internationally.
He said it is “a matter of clear work structure, good organisational design, aligning company with individual goals, individual target setting, regular performance measurement, training support and very clear linkage to variable rewards”. The latter factor seems to work well in Việt Nam, with bonuses for tasks completed.
Blackwell said that it is not enough just to channel creativity. It also needs to be raised, and the solution of how to motivate Vietnamese is culturally based.
Vietnamese staff like to be respected, listened to, and have their contributions recognised and to feel they are part of a team. The family is an important part of Vietnamese culture and companies that treat employees as family will get the most loyalty and performance in return.
“How can Vietnamese companies make their staff feel like part of a family? It may seem like a “soft” nice-to-have low priority, but it is the “secret ingredient” to top company performance.” The answer is workplace environment.
Good working conditions include a mix of staff benefits, activities and facilities to make the workplace enjoyable. The best companies that have exceeded the global standard all have this in common, he said.
He said that for many years, the Mercer staff surveys in Việt Nam have quantified this – that Vietnamese staff valued an inspiring workplace environment, even more than pay.
Workplace environment initiatives need to be combined with other HR elements of clear organisational structures, good policies, fair pay systems, bonuses, personal development plans and quality training.
These are the foundation upon which a good workplace environment can be built.
For Vietnamese companies that plan to expand their business to region or global, Foong encourages HR professionals and business leaders to continue putting more focus on investment in their people, especially in line with AEC integration.
“Automation is going to replace some people, but humans are still the most intelligent,” he said.