Top hiring trends in Southeast Asia


Businesses in Southeast Asia are transforming and adopting newer working realities everyday, giving space for the world of work to create newer trends and functionalities for HR business processes. Read this article by Ajay Trehan, CEO & Founder, AuthBridge Research Services as he writes about the emerging collaboration of the digital evolution with HR processes.

By Ajay Trehan, CEO & Founder, AuthBridge Research Services

Businesses in Southeast Asia are bouncing back to life. As per IMF World Economic Outlook, the economies in this region are projected to see a rebound of 6.2 percent compared to 4.8 percent in the US and the UK. This has led to hiring getting back on track and if early signs are anything to go by, the recruitment function is finally undergoing the promised digital transformation.

Moreover, Southeast Asia is home to 35% of world’s unicorns that have created tech hubs in countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Consequently, a significant portion of hiring across these countries is happening for technology roles in artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber security, analytics, and other emerging technologies. Earlier this year, PwC said it was planning to invest up to ₹1,600 crores in tech roles whereas EY said it was looking to hire 9000 tech professionals in India. While monumental tech adaptation remains the highlight of the emerging hiring trends post pandemic, let’s look at how that will affect HR’s future in the region.


Business experience with COVID-19 across the world has one common theme — HR saved the day. What saved the day for HR, however, was the digital transformation of processes, platforms and systems that took several leaps at once. Stacey Harris, Chief Research Officer for the Sapient Insights Group, rightly noted “The world got bigger for HR technology this year.” TeamLease, a staffing solutions company, reported a 30% increase in demand for technologies that are related to HR whereas Darwinbox, a cloud-based HR Technology company based in India with offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, raised 15MN USD in funding through Salesforce Ventures. Singapore, Southeast Asia’s investment hub has more companies in HR Tech than ever as per the Singapore HR Tech Market Map 2021. Around $200-250 million have been raised by HR Tech companies since the beginning of this year in just India (an ET report)

In the aftermath of pandemic, HR is finally moving away from day-to-day execution to assume more strategic roles centered around drawing actionable insights from employee data to drive better hiring, onboarding and retention decisions. With increased investment in HR tech and the adoption of technologies like AI, machine learning, and deep learning across Asia, where two-thirds of the world population lives, the HR function is bound to see an unprecedented transformation to support future business growth.

What underlines the increasing importance of talent analytics for hiring in the region is that some of the early adopters are now appointing leaders who are cultural champions in Southeast Asia. These leaders are being tasked with navigating challenges around data creation, data collection, data analytics and consumption of analytics in the Asian context where there is so much cultural diversity and where social communities are tighter. Owing to regional diversity, varying levels of economic maturity and multiple human capital management systems, any successful talent analytics strategy in this region should account for these complexities and post pandemic, that is exactly what has started happening.

Gig economy will bounce back

The number of gig workers in countries like Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia has been at an all-time high in the recent years. The gig economy in Southeast Asia was on its way to an unprecedented growth when the pandemic hit hard and led to mass unemployment across the sector. But early post-pandemic trends are suggesting that a reckoning for digital transformation and increased digital literacy will enable gig platforms like Grab in Singapore, Gojek in Indonesia, and Zomato in India to lead the way to recovery. These platforms, and more like them, will increasingly employ gig workers from the largely unorganised and extremely vast informal sector in the region— More than 87.8 percent informal workers in Southeast Asia, as per a report by International Labour Organisation — also extending the scope of app-based, on-demand work to less traditional areas like agriculture and manufacturing. As per a report by Boston Consulting Group and Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, gig economy can create up to 90 million jobs in India alone.

Employees will demand a better employer brand

The pandemic, like most events of this scale, has made a dent on the collective consciousness of the world. As per a report by Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking, and solutions company, nine in ten APAC employers believe enhanced employee experience will be a top priority over the next three years. It is interesting to not that only 52 percent indicated it as important prior to the pandemic. Moreover, a Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey has made it clear that the new generation of employees has two top priorities – social change and accountability. To attract such employees, organisations are redesigning workplaces to be inclusive, equal, and focused on holistic employee well-being. In an employee-centric job market of today, where we have entered the era of ‘the Great Resignation’ (The Microsoft 2021 Work Trend Index showed 41% of the global workforce are considering resigning this year), attracting top talent is directly related to building a better employer brand that puts employees first.


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