Human Resources

The 5 Best HR Innovations in Asia 2018



All over the world, HR innovations are being implemented to increase the happiness and productivity of workers.

Countries in Asia are really pushing the boat out with new innovations to change the way they work.  

Let’s take a look at the 5 best HR innovations in this area in the last year - you might just get some inspiration for your own workplace!


Xero Implements Wellbeing Leave

We’re now much more aware of the impact that a stressful working environment or lack of leave can have on an employee. Many employees in Singapore choose to use a private service for mental health treatment, rather than an employer-sponsored scheme, as they don’t want their employer to know about these issues.

This idea of dealing with these issues at work still carries a stigma, which many professionals don’t want to address. Stress can mount within the workforce and create a wider epidemic. Stress can even be contagious and travel from worker to worker!




With these key facts in mind, it’s logical that financial software giant Xero has implemented a Wellbeing Leave policy. They launched this on World Mental Health Day to empower their employees to take the time they need for their own wellbeing.

In addition to regular annual leave, their employees in Singapore also receive an additional 14 days of paid Wellbeing Leave. This can be used to cover medical procedures, mental health days and more.

There are fewer conditions placed on this leave than traditional sick leave, as it’s entirely self-certified. This means that the employee can use these days without needing to gain proof from a doctor or delving into personal issues with their line manager.

Executives at Xero are hoping to allow employees to take the time that they need to work on their mental health without any ill effects from stigma surrounding it.


PwC Employees Follow Flexible Dress Code

This multi-national research company has taken Casual Fridays a step further! Their employees are now able to follow a flexible dress code at work every day, wearing whatever they would like to the office.




The dress code is called FlexDress Everyday within the organisation and is part of a much wider initiative to give employees more autonomy. Their only guidelines are for employees to dress responsibly and exercise good judgement – it’s as simple as that!

The idea behind the scheme is that employees will be able to express themselves and be more flexible with their choice in clothing. They want their employees to have one less rule to worry about when it comes to their working lives.

Especially for workers with busy lives and multiple commitments, like childcare or long commutes, this additional flexibility can really make a difference to their working lives. Something as simple as not being restricted to formal clothing can give the employee less stress and discomfort in their day – particularly in a hot and humid climate.

Alongside this initiative, PwC are becoming increasingly flexible with working hours and leave. They want to treat their employees like the responsible adults that they are, for the potential productivity benefits this can bring.


Maternity Matters at Citigroup

To combat the staff turnover of talented female employees, Citigroup are placing a special emphasis on maternity leave. Taking leave and returning to work can be stressful for employees that are expecting. Citigroup are now offering extended leave, flexible working options, and educating their managers to be more helpful to pregnant employees.

The initiative is being led by professional women within their organisation to tackle the difficulties that they have faced during their working lives. Asia Pacific head of corporate equity derivatives, Sue Lee, is spearheading the initiative and has been vocal about the impact of maternity on the professional woman.




She’s stated that better support will be instrumental in retaining talented employees, giving them the opportunity to develop themselves further within the organisation. It’s beneficial for both parties, as the employee is more likely to return to work and stay within the company too.

Preparing for and reacting to new parenthood can be a chaotic. If employers aren’t flexible at this time or make things difficult for the employee, they’ll be more likely to look elsewhere. Small adjustments and sympathetic managers can make all the difference for new parents.


KPMG Shows Off Smart Clubhouse

To coincide with this organisation’s 77th anniversary, they unveiled a smart clubhouse for their staff to relax in. This cutting-edge staff lounge features a virtual assistant and refreshments. The Grab and Go food area uses tech to rival Amazon’s Grocery stores, with RFID components to make for a speedy self-checkout.

The AI assistant uses facial recognition to greet employees and keep track of their purchases. Their Friendly Relatable Engaging Device (also known as FRED) will bring employees news and weather information as they relax with their colleagues. FRED is housed in a 4.3m screen, which sits in the foyer of the area.




FRED also controls the mood of the room, with lighting and music. This means that the clubhouse can change from a simple area for lunch to a party zone, with just a command.

You might not feel that this is an HR directive, but a place to eat, socialise and relax creates an impact on the employee experience. A great workplace breakroom can even be counted as a perk by employees, particularly if there’s innovative technology or a few freebies on offer.

Did you know that 37% of employees would prefer to have free coffee each day than having a Christmas party? This not only gives employees a way to get up and chat with others, it’s also a huge part of the employee experience.

The rise of breakroom culture is an indicator that this is an area that employees appreciate these efforts from an employer. They want a place to enjoy their allotted free time in the day, preferably with others. This even leads to improved teamwork and collaboration which in turn helps projects to run smoothly.

In 2018, KPMG were recognised as one of the best companies to work for ranked by Fortune Magazine, it seems that they aim to hold onto this title with their forward-thinking initiatives.


Micron Offers Pre-Onboarding for New Staff

We all worry when it comes to starting a new job and this can end up being a stressful time. We don’t know what to expect, all too often we end up expecting the worst! Micron hosted a 600-delegate event to onboard new staff, allowing them to meet and work with their new colleagues.

Team building can often be used once all new staff have been recruited, but Micron wanted to focus on this before the first day! This is a bold step from the manufacturer and one that might potentially increase their employee retention in the long term.

Many of their new hires are graduates from the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University. Micron intend to show that they are a caring and personable employer by bringing their new graduates together to make them feel more confident in their choice of employer.




Talented graduates can take their pick when it comes to employers, especially in the engineering field. By onboarding these employees before they even set foot in the door, Micron hope to engrain them in the company culture.

The early days with a company are very important, as a third of employees decide if they want to stay with the company within the first 30 days of employment.


There’s always room for HR innovation in workplaces that truly value their staff. These companies have sent out a clear message to current and future employees: that they’re valued, trusted, and important – and their organisations will reap the benefits in engagement, performance, and retention.


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