Bruce Harkness is currently the Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Customer Experience and Brand Communications for Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific. He has worked internationally and in Australia with a number of globally recognised brands and he is the author of Performance Matters: The Ultimate Career Survival Guide. Bruce has a passion for talent and leadership development and believes the potential of any organisation is ultimately realised through its people.

1. In your opinion, how has the HR Tech landscape evolved over the years? What are some of the advantages of the current technological evolution?

The HR tech landscape has made quantum leaps in recent years. Here at Wyndham Destinations Asia Pacific, we have certainly experienced a digital transformation across all aspects of HR management, from onboarding and employee experience to our payroll and merit system, our rewards and recognition program to enhanced recruiting tools. Across our global organisation we use advanced financial and human capital management technology, which we have found to be both user-friendly and comprehensive.

Efficiencies have improved and data collection is more sophisticated. Time tracking and scheduling is also far more automated, which saves time and provides us with easily accessible information. Email distribution lists and organisational charts, can now be generated directly from the people management system, which ensures they are always up to date. Much of the monotonous work that used to be necessary is no longer manual. This has increased the efficiency and effectiveness of our work.

“The importance of inclusion initiatives continues to grow, as does supporting employee wellness, both physical and mental”

We also have more sophisticated technology around measuring performance in terms of customer experience, which has proven to be empowering for staff. Thanks to the technology available to us, additionally we have experienced advancements in our health and safety reporting processes.

At the onset of the pandemic, we had to transition rapidly to a hybrid work model, which would not have been possible without the technology available to us today.

With business operations across nine countries, we had already been using virtual meeting technology, so the transition to remote work was surprisingly smooth. We just needed to expand our VPN access and deploy more laptops.

2. What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing the HR Tech landscape and how can they be effectively mitigated?

We are seeing more remote work than ever before, so employers will be looking for more ways to see deskless workers engage with their organisation, keep up to date with training and company news via mobile technology. Many of our employees are based at hotels and resorts, so providing teams with better ways to connect while ‘on the go’ has been a big focus.

While remote enabling tools have come along way, the virtual conferencing and events space still has room for advancement. Virtual events can present challenges when it comes to integrating media. While the technology is strong in many ways and offers screen sharing, chat and live video. It is difficult to stream media in large virtual meetings of 400+attendees without experiencing lag. I look forward to seeing technology advance in this space.

We are starting to see the successful deployment of AI technologies for real-time language translation. This is another area where we would welcome innovation.
As a multinational organisation, rapid, affordable and accurate translation is a constant need.

Recruitment tools are getting smarter. The pandemic pushed us into an environment of virtual recruiting and interviews, which has made the hiring process faster in many cases. This is definitely positive, as we are in a candidates’ market. We don’t have the luxury of time if we want to attract top talent.

3. Which are a few technological trends influencing HR Tech today? What are some of the best practices businesses should adopt today to steer ahead of competitors?

New ways to navigate hybrid work, vaccine mandates, health/hygiene and recruitment are some of the key issues influencing HR tech today. As just some examples, in 2020 we introduced bio scanners at our offices and resorts to assist with detecting possible symptoms of COVID-19. Our resorts also now offer contactless transactions via an app.

The importance of inclusion initiatives continues to grow, as does supporting employee wellness, both physical and mental.

Candidates are looking for companies that look after their people, offer genuine inclusivity and gender equality, flexible work, and sophisticated processes to support their development and well-being. Good technology can help with analytics to support the creation of this culture.

4. Do you have any advice for industry veterans or budding entrepreneurs from the HR Tech space?

People data will need to provide more in terms of recruitment. HR leaders and hiring managers will be looking for more than just work experience and salary expectations. They will be interested in productivity, engagement, skills, performance and exit risk in order to make better informed decisions. When choosing any technology to assist with HR needs, teams will be looking for efficient, long-lasting solutions that combine automation with human authenticity. Good HR tech removes the risk of human error, and by eliminating mundane tasks, makes more room for creativity, innovation and customisation.