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Economic Slowdown is More Opportunity Than Threat, According to Hewitt Best Employers in Asia

2009-04-07 18:09 1044

30 organizations in Asia Pacific named as Hewitt Best Employers

HONG KONG, April 7 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting and outsourcing company, revealed main findings in its annual Hewitt Best Employers in Asia 2009 study today, and named 30 organizations in the Asia Pacific region that have made it to the 2009 regional "Best" list as determined by an independent judging panel in February in Hong Kong. The Hewitt Best Employers in Asia 2009 study was conducted by Hewitt in partnership with Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal Asia.

Smita Anand, Regional Director, Asia Pacific Consulting at Hewitt, said: "All organizations in the region face similar external factors. What our study revealed is that Hewitt Best Employers have learned that creating and maintaining an environment that is focused on key human capital elements and making minor adjustments without losing sight of the goal allows them to sustain their strong position and prosper -- or be set to prosper when the economy improves.

"Hewitt Best Employers demonstrate remarkable consistency on a day-to-day basis -- and when they respond to difficult times. Best Employers continue to reap the benefits from this course through an increase in productivity and profits over time."

For example, this year's study research revealed that none of the Best have reduced their workforce, compared to 33 percent of rest and 40 percent of worst. CEOs at Hewitt Best Employers indicated that they are taking direct actions to retain talent by making other cost concessions.

The region's "Best" organizations

The regional Hewitt Best Employers in Asia judging panel identified 25 Best Employers from across Asia and five Best Employers-Hotels.

The 25 Hewitt Best Employers in Asia are:

Organization Name Market

Agilent Technologies Malaysia

American Express (M) Sdn Bhd Malaysia

AVIVA-COFCO Life Insurance Co., Ltd. China

Becton Dickinson India Pvt. Ltd India

Cisco Systems India

Convoy Financial Services Limited Hong Kong

Domino's Pizza India Ltd India

Dow Corning Korea Ltd. Korea

Eureka Forbes Limited India

Federal Express (Singapore) Pte Ltd Singapore

Federal Express Services (M) Sdn Bhd Malaysia

Godrej Consumer Products Ltd India

HCL Technologies India

Hindustan Zinc Limited India

Intelenet Global Services India

Intuit Technology Services Pvt Ltd India

Johnson & Johnson Medical (China) Ltd. China

LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd. India

McDonald's (China) Company Limited China

McDonald's Restaurants Pte Ltd Singapore

Samsung Tesco Co., Ltd Korea

SEEK Limited Australia/New Zealand

SHENZHEN CATIC GROUP China

Thai Auto Works Co., Ltd. Thailand

VCustomer Corporation India

Note: List in alphabetical order, unranked.

This year's judging panel also identified a separate list of Hewitt Best Employers from the hotel industry sector. The hotel sector has featured strongly as part of the list of Hewitt Best Employers in the past. One factor that many of the local panels considered this year was organizational complexity. When this factor was considered, hotels did not feature as strongly in the local lists as in previous years. The regional judges decided that the hotel sector warranted recognition for their people practices and Best Employer characteristics. The list of Hewitt Best Employers in Asia 2009-Hotels recognizes this sector.

The five Hewitt Best Employers in Asia 2009-Hotels are:

Organization Name Market

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi, Malaysia Malaysia

ITC Welcom Group (A Division of ITC Ltd) India

JW Marriott Hotel Bangkok Thailand

The Conrad Bangkok Thailand

The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore Singapore

Note: List in alphabetical order, unranked.

How these organizations are facing the economic crisis

When interviewed in January as a follow up to the surveying conducted by Hewitt in late 2008, CEOs from the Hewitt Best Employers overwhelmingly viewed the economic crisis as an opportunity rather than a threat. They said it is the right time to find and retain good talent.

Jo Reinhard, Project Lead, Hewitt Best Employers in Asia, said: "Most CEOs feel that employees can work harder to achieve better results in the economic downturn and it is the right moment for them to win over their competitors. In terms of their participation in a study such as the Hewitt Best Employers, this comment was typical of many CEOs -- undoubtedly, becoming a Hewitt Best Employer has gained greater meaning."

HR directors reported that the focus on cost-cutting was in non-human capital areas such as travel and other expenses. Most organizations are trying not to have large scale layoffs, but are being creative in how they manage their human capital.

More use is being made of part-time work, employees are being asked to take accrued leave, and to be more flexible in their approaches to work. Many organizations are limiting future hires in an attempt to protect current hires. The HR budget is still being spent on learning and development with many of the Hewitt Best Employers saying this is the right time to invest in the people who will help them ride through the economic crisis.

Reinhard added: "Employees at the Best told us that they are being kept informed of decisions their employers are making in response to the economic crisis. There was a very positive response from employees to those organizations that were effectively communicating to employees and keeping them informed on a regular basis."

Three major key findings

Understanding what drives employee behavior during these economically difficult times is critical to business success. This year's study results highlight three major areas that are common among Best companies with differences compared with the Rest.

Key finding #1: Relentless execution of programs

Key differences emerge between The Best and The Rest when examining the results on how programs are implemented. Hewitt Best Employers more often balance goals and targets across financial and non-financial measures, set the bar higher in terms of performance ratings, better equip managers to review performance, and review performance more frequently.

The differences between The Best and The Rest continue as the focus shifts to execution and results. Employees at The Best see more sharply differentiated pay for high performers and believe that the way their organization rewards and recognizes people helps produce the results the organization wants.

Hewitt Best Employers are better able to reach the 'tipping point' where the business payback on human capital programs rises dramatically.

Key finding #2: Persistent empowerment of managers

The Best achieve greater execution payback through 'persistent empowerment of managers'. This takes three main forms:

1. Focusing leaders on leading so that managers can manage

2. Better equipping managers to do their job

3. Creating self-sustaining reinforcement.

Managers at The Best are more involved in communication of reward programs and structures than their counterparts at The Rest.

Reinhard said: "Hewitt Best Employers do more than just clarify expectations. They empower managers by defining roles for leaders that get them out of the way so that managers can manage. They also make sure managers are given the tools, skills, and incentives to effectively manage their people and drive performance outcomes."

The Best focus a larger portion of their training budget on developing the management skills of people managers.

The third area of differentiation in empowering managers centres on how Hewitt Best Employers manage to put self-sustaining reinforcement mechanisms in place. Leaders and HR work together in these organizations to set the organization into a virtuous cycle where strength leads to strength. This is accomplished largely through efforts directed at vision, structure, culture, metrics, and rewards.

Key finding #3: Highly efficient HR functions

Hewitt Best Employers are able to efficiently deliver HR services and processes with fewer resources, raising questions about whether the HR function at The Best is using a fundamentally different operating model.

In fact, Hewitt's 2008-2009 Global HR study shows that, in HR functions around the globe, significant progress has been made to drive efficiencies in service delivery. Furthermore, in the current climate, many organisations are taking a renewed interest in outsourcing as a cost-savings solution in response to the recent economic situation.

In the Asia Pacific region, results find that local or regional governance is a top priority, and the building of clearer decision-making and accountability processes for HR is also very important. Finally, there is increasing emphasis on service delivery effectiveness, including consolidation of services and self-service capabilities.

Hewitt researched companies in eight markets including Australia/New Zealand, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

More than 900 organizations registered to participate in the 2009 Hewitt Best Employers in Asia study. The study received input from more than 180,000 employees representing a workforce of over two million people -- making it the largest single source of employee and human capital research across the region.

The study was conducted in partnership with Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal Asia on a regional basis, along with media partners in the local markets.

For a full report on the findings of Hewitt's Best Employers in Asia 2009 study, please visit http://www.hewitt.com/bestemployersasia .

About Hewitt Associates

Hewitt Associates (NYSE: HEW) provides leading organizations around the world with expert human resources consulting and outsourcing solutions to help them anticipate and solve their most complex benefits, talent, and related financial challenges. Hewitt consults with companies to design and implement a wide range of human resources, retirement, investment management, health management, compensation, and talent management strategies. As a leading outsourcing provider, Hewitt administers health care, retirement, payroll, and other HR programs to millions of employees, their families, and retirees. With a history of exceptional client service since 1940, Hewitt has offices in 33 countries and employs approximately 23,000 associates who are helping make the world a better place to work. For more information, please visit http://www.hewitt.com .

Source: Hewitt Associates
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