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COVID-19 accelerating skills gap, raising employee expectations of their employers – IBM

71% of high performing companies surveyed report they are widely deploying a consistent HR technology architecture, compared to only 11% of others.

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As many business leaders look to close the skills gap and cultivate a sustainable workforce amid COVID-19, a new IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) studyreveals less than 4 in 10 human resources (HR) executives surveyed report they have the skills needed to achieve their enterprise strategy.

Pre-pandemic IBM research in 2018 found as many as 120 million workers surveyed in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained or reskilled because of AI and automation in the next three years. That challenge has only been exacerbated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – as many C-suite leaders accelerate digital transformation, they report inadequate skills is one of their biggest hurdles to progress.

Ongoing IBM consumer research also shows surveyed employees’ expectations for their employers have significantly changed during the COVID-19 pandemic but there’s a disconnect in how effective leaders and employees believe companies have been in addressing these gaps. 74% of executives surveyed believe their employers have been helping them learn the skills needed to work in a new way, compared to just 38% of employees surveyed, and 80% of executives surveyed said their company is supporting employees’ physical and emotional health, but only 46% of employees surveyed agreed.

“Today perhaps more than ever, organizations can either fail or thrive based on their ability to enable the agility and resiliency of their greatest competitive advantage – their people,” said Amy Wright, managing partner, IBM Talent & Transformation. “Business leaders should shift to meet new employee expectations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as holistic support for their well-being, development of new skills and a truly personalized employee experience even while working remotely. It’s imperative to bring forward a new era of HR – and those companies who were already on the path are better positioned to succeed amid disruption today and in the future.”

The new IBV study, “Accelerating the journey to HR 3.0,”conducted in partnership with global independent analyst Josh Bersin of the Josh Bersin Academy, includes insights from more than 1,500 global HR executives surveyed in 20 countries and 15 industries. Based on those insights, the study provides a roadmap for the journey to the next era of HR, with practical examples of how HR leaders at surveyed “high-performing companies” – meaning those that outpace all others in profitability, revenue growth and innovation – can reinvent their function to build a more sustainable workforce.

Additional highlights from the study include:

  • Nearly six in 10 high performing companies surveyed report using AI and analytics to make better decisions about their talent, such as skilling programs and compensation decisions. 41% are leveraging AI to identify skills they’ll need for the future, versus 8% of responding peers.
  • 65% of surveyed high performing companies are looking to AI to identify behavioral skills like growth mindset and creativity for building diverse adaptable teams, compared to 16% of peers.
  • More than two thirds of all respondents said agile practices are essential to the future of HR. However, less than half of HR units in participating organizations have capabilities in design thinking and agile practices.
  • 71% of high performing companies surveyed report they are widely deploying a consistent HR technology architecture, compared to only 11% of others.

“In order to gain long-term business alignment between leaders and employees, this moment requires  HR  to operate as a strategic advisor – a new role for many HR organizations,” said Josh Bersin, global independent analyst and dean of the Josh Bersin Academy.  “Many HR departments are looking to technology, such as the cloud and analytics, to support a more cohesive and self-service approach to traditional HR responsibilities.  Offering employee empowerment through holistic support can drive larger strategic change to the greater business.”  

Report findings suggest three core elements to promote lasting change

According to the report, surveyed HR executives from high-performing companies were eight times as likely as their surveyed peers to be driving disruption in their organizations. Among those companies, the following actions are a clear priority:

  • Accelerating the pace of continuous learning and feedback
  • Cultivating empathetic leadership to become a more health-oriented company and support employees’ holistic well-being
  • Reinventing their HR function and technology architecture to make more real-time data-driven decisions

Burger King Brazil is an example of a company who rapidly responded to new employee expectations and needs presented by this moment. Burger King Brazil worked with IBM to create a new virtual assistant based on IBM Watson Assistant, which helped during the pandemic to provide its workforce with self-service support and more transparent communications and connection to each other and company leadership. The solution supports its 16,000 employees, and on average responded to 1,100 questions per day in April alone.

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UPS helps its Phl customers maintain critical infrastructure following typhoon

UPS’s recent expansion of its Worldwide Express Freight (WWEF) shipment service to more postal codes in the Philippines comes as welcome news to West Point Engineering, a long-time customer of UPS.

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Sitting in a tropical storm-prone belt of the Pacific Ocean known as ‘typhoon alley,’ the Philippines experiences an average of 20 tropical storms every year. 

Last year, on top of dealing with the pandemic, the Philippines was hit by Super Typhoon Goni, the most powerful tropical cyclone in the world in 2020. Goni, or Rolly as it’s locally known, ploughed through Luzon and affected 2.7 million people, displacing 31,000 and damaging or destroying 281,000 homes. Sanitation and hygiene become immediate concerns in the aftermath of a storm like this, with essential water infrastructure usually damaged.

West Point Engineering Supplies Incorporated provides specialized products and solutions to essential infrastructures in the Philippines, such as water, energy and meteorology. 

Among its list of projects is a 10-year program with the weather information services company, Earth Networks, and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. They’ll collaborate to use weather monitoring sensors that provide earlier warnings for tropical storms. 

For West Point Engineering, speed and efficiency is essential in installing and maintaining specialized equipment like weather radars, which can save lives and homes. 

That’s why UPS’s recent expansion of its Worldwide Express Freight (WWEF) shipment service to more postal codes in the Philippines comes as welcome news to West Point Engineering, a long-time customer of UPS.

Businesses like West Point Engineering will benefit from time-guaranteed palletized shipments above 70 kilograms to more areas in Bulacan, Mabalacat, Angeles City, Laguna and Batangas, allowing businesses to more easily and quickly replenish bulk inventories. This helps customers meet urgent, sometimes life-saving, delivery requirements. 

“We have been a partner of UPS for over seven years,” said Dennis Ziganay, president and CEO of West Point Engineering. “Through this pandemic, we’ve been able to meet the demands of these challenging times … thanks to UPS.” 

With businesses needing a more agile and precise process in responding to the needs of the market and its customers, accessibility is key in responding to natural disasters around the globe.

“Exporters, SMEs and long-time partners like West Point Engineering are important contributors to the local economy. As they grow and expand, we listen to their changing supply chain requirements and cater to their needs,” said Chris Buono, managing director of UPS Philippines and Indonesia. 

 “Whether it’s one of the several natural calamities that occurred in the Philippines or an ongoing pandemic, UPS is committed to delivering what matters for our customers as they bounce back from a difficult year,” Buono ended. 

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Community banks a key resource for small businesses when crises arise

Community banks are an important source for small businesses when crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise and business owners need to secure help quickly to continue paying their employees.

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With billions on the table for struggling small businesses, new research from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business finds that community banks are a critical source for helping these businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic through loan access.

“Smaller community banks have traditionally been an important source of funding for small businesses,” said Christopher James, William H. Dial/SunTrust Eminent Scholar and research author. “Community banks tend to be relationship lend­ers, characterized by local ownership, local control and local decision making. Relationship lenders had strong incentives to make… loans in order to preserve small business relationships in the face of the massive economic downturn caused the pandemic.”

In their research, James, Warrington Ph.D. student Jing Lu and Georgetown University Ph.D. student Yangfan Sun, find that community banks were able to respond faster to loan requests from small businesses as compared to larger banks. They also find that community banks made more loans per dollar of deposits than larger banks, particularly during the early stages of the pandemic.

“Community banks tend to specialize in lending based on close personal ties between the loan officer and the small business customer,” James said. “This type of lending requires providing branch managers with greater decision rights in making lending decisions. As a result, lenders at community banks were able to respond faster when the PPP was introduced.”

Consistent with community bank focus on small business lending and their faster implementation of lending, the authors find significantly more loans per small business in counties where community banks had higher market shares. More important, the authors find that higher levels of lending are associated with significantly fewer small business bankruptcies.

Overall, James, Lu and Sun’s research finds that community banks are an important source for small businesses when crises, like the COVID-19 pandemic, arise and business owners need to secure help quickly to continue paying their employees.

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Shopee launches #TatakPinoy virtual trade fair to support Filipino businesses

Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, launches #TatakPinoy, a virtual trade fair geared towards supporting homegrown Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

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Shopee, the leading e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, launches #TatakPinoy, a virtual trade fair geared towards supporting homegrown Filipino brands and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

Shopee consistently advocates for the growth of local businesses. Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, which forced hundreds of Filipino businesses to close physical shops, Shopee supported over 1,000 sellers transitioning online through Shopee’s Seller Masterclasses and its partnerships with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and local government units. The initiatives helped Filipino entrepreneurs gain a basic understanding of e-commerce and digital marketing. Sellers were also able to master Shopee’s marketing tools, helping them achieve their maximum potential in e-commerce. 

To further strengthen support for local entrepreneurs, Shopee and DTI are set to launch the very first #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair, a campaign that aims to promote products from Filipino brands and local MSMEs. From February 19 – 21, shoppers can discover local delicacies and pasalubong items, particularly those from Regions XII and IV-A, on Shopee. They can also buy products from Filipina-owned businesses, championed by Shopee and USAID’s partnership to empower local female entrepreneurs. 

In its statement, DTI’s Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion announced, “The Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Domestic Trade Promotion is proud to be a partner for #TatakPinoy on Shopee. This initiative will connect thousands of consumers to more than a hundred MSMEs on one platform. We invite Filipinos from all over the country to patronize and take pride in products that are certified #TatakPinoy from the National Trade Fair Pop-up Store and Go Lokal! Shopee Mall.”

Martin Yu, Director at Shopee Philippines, said, “We strongly believe in the importance of uplifting homegrown entrepreneurs. From microbusinesses to SMEs, these local brands all contribute to the Philippine economy’s growth as a whole. Considering that most local businesses still can’t promote their products outside of online platforms due to the pandemic, Shopee also wants to create the opportunity to showcase the best Filipino brands. We will continue to spearhead campaigns that help reignite pride and demand for local products and drive the growth of the economy.”

Aside from discovering high-quality local craftsmanship and assisting local businesses in the process, shoppers can enjoy exclusive discounts up to 10% off on participating Filipino brands such as Colourette, Vice Cosmetics, and Human Nature. 

Shoppers can also enjoy more deals when they checkout using ShopeePay. For more information about the #TatakPinoy Virtual Trade Fair, visit https://shopee.ph/m/tatak-pinoy

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