Digital transformation is a key human resource (HR) imperative today, and it goes beyond just consolidating functions and views on a single platform. With digital maturity, we see potential in making the human resource function more strategic, such as the use of data analytics and artificial intelligence to glean better insights across functions, initiatives, and programmes. These are all digital conveniences that help keep the HR department efficient, employees serviced, and the business competitive.
The insurance industry’s HR function is no exception. For a highly competitive industry, insurance has been impacted by the talent crunch. Insurers need an efficient and effective digital HR system to improve recruitment and retention. The catch, however, is not to make HR automated and clinical, but to use advanced technology to elevate the user experience, identify gaps and monitor solutions. In short, to go digital so that HR can be more people-centric.
Humanising human capital in insurance
I did not follow the typical route of an HR professional. Armed with a Computer Science degree, I started as a programmer in a large manufacturing firm, writing bits and pieces of codes to fit bigger applications on demand. There was little creativity to speak of, and the routine became a daily grind.
Later, I had the opportunity to join a recruitment agency to see what this vocation had to offer. To my surprise, I enjoyed the change. I realised my passion is to deal with people and I love the opportunities to interact with humans in this role. Since I consider myself a peoples’ person, I found my calling in HR.
After a few years in recruitment, I joined Etiqa Insurance Malaysia as the Head of Recruitment and was subsequently transferred to Etiqa Insurance Singapore in 2014 to set up the Singapore office. I was fortunate to have received immense support from colleagues at both local and group offices of Maybank and Etiqa in the first two years.
At Etiqa Insurance, our founding principle is to humanise insurance, which applies to Human Capital as well. Many people often ask me what makes Etiqa Insurance Singapore’s HR strategy successful. I have told them that there is no magic formula, just authenticity and sincerity to meet employees’ needs, such as through hybrid work practices, so that they still have face-to-face engagement while given personal time.
As the Head of Human Capital, I believe in being genuine to the employees. To get through to them and earn trust, I must first lead by example, by treating them as individuals that are running alongside with me, not merely a subordinate. We can have fun together, and when the time comes to deliver on tasks, we deliver them together. Only then can we work in unison to achieve successful business outcomes.
As an organisation, we are 240 employees strong and have built human capital management into our DNA. Beyond camaraderie, we aim to equip them with leadership programmes to help them be more strategic thinkers, with opportunities to work across different roles to maximise their potential, and experience a more agile way of doing things in a safe environment, apart from the usual skills-based learning programmes.
Bridging people and technology
When I first took up this position, my goal was to solve administrative headaches, typical of an HR function. I wanted to minimise human intervention in routine work and governance because, in this aspect, automation of processes can make things more efficient.
Technology is key to simplification, which will not only help my department but all employees we serve. I was grateful for the opportunity to merge both my expertise and passion through ConnecTiQa, an award-winning platform that I architected from scratch and now manage entirely in-house, thanks to the great support of Etiqa’s management for the foresight to invest in innovation to become future ready.
The platform includes employee intranet functions from managing hybrid work arrangements such as booking seats in the office, payment requisitions, employees knowledge library, and performance management, even building a check-in system that captures the health of employees. Should there be a Covid case in the office, the system would trigger an automatic notification to the relevant staff to self-observe and work from home for safety. Much of employee management is now undertaken by ConnectiQa today, which is used across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
Digitalisation made human
Because this system is developed in-house, we are not reliant on external vendor support. It is also customised to our internal processes, internal governance, and so on, so every function is suitable for our needs.
HR digitalisation is indeed a way to help companies and employees, by cutting costs, minimising errors, and ensuring paperless transactions in a 24/7 environment. Our internal system is a prime example of our departments working together to humanise insurance.
Technology has the potential to serve as the key enabler of change between digitalising administrative tasks and fostering human connections. HR teams are continually expected to do more, so technology can help bridge any potential talent gaps, leaving HR professionals time to employ effective talent management strategies in the age of the Great Reset.