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The new initiatives highlight the great work of HR professionals

As well reflecting the changing landscape of the human resources (HR)function, new elements introduced into the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resource Management (HKIHRM) HR Excellence Awards 2019/20 Awards Programme recognise the impact that HR teams and individuals have on business performance through delivering outstanding people strategies and practices.

Explaining the new and renamed award categories and expanded entry criteria, Andy Luk, chairperson of the HKIHRM HR Excellence Awards 2019/20 organising committee, says the biennial Excellence Awards Programme has been elevated to a new level. “The new initiatives highlight the work being done by HR professionals to achieve exemplary outcomes for the organisations they work for,” notes Luk. To highlight the evolving roles of HR teams and individuals, a total of seven new awards have been added to the Organisational and HR Service Provider Categories. These new awards span five evolving HR areas, namely Change Management, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability, Employer Branding, Family-friendly Practices and Innovation. Furthermore, an additional award category has been introduced to cater solely for non-government organisations (NGOs).

Now in its sixth edition, the new-look Awards Programme will feature 26 awards across five categories — Organisational, HR Service Provider, SME, NGO and Individual. There is also the Grand Award of the Year, which is given to the most impressive entry from the Organisational Category. Open to organisations of any size with operations in Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China and/or across the Asia-Pacific region, since its inception in 2012, the Awards Programme has received continuous recognition and support from Hong Kong’s HR practitioners and the businesses community.

Citing innovation and technology applications as good examples of areas where the HR function continues to expand and develop, Luk says through technology applications such as big data and analytics, the HR function is able to focus on creating a competitive advantage through talent management strategies. With innovation increasingly identified as a “strategic HR imperative”, the HR function contributes to an organisation’s innovation aspirations by attracting, engaging, upskilling and retaining innovative employees. “This is why the Awards Programme Organising Committee decided to put more emphasis on the growing importance of technology application and create a separate award for innovation, while at the same time ensuring the relevance, prestige and integrity of the original awards,” explains Luk. In the past, technology innovation was a combined award. Meanwhile, the new Innovation Award recognises innovative initiatives used to create synergies, deliver insights, increase efficiency and enhance family, community and social values while addressing workforce and organisational challenges — key areas which have become crucial issues for the HR function.

To encourage greater participation from organisations in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), for the first time, the Awards Programme accepts applications in Chinese, and case presentations in Cantonese or Putonghua during panel interviews. Luk says the recent release of the GBA blueprint, which aims to facilitate the flow of goods, talent and business among Hong Kong, Macau and nine other cities in Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta, will create new opportunities and challenges for the HR profession. “The Awards Programme provides an ideal platform for learning, sharing and discovering what is going on around the Greater Bay Area,” Luk says. A good example is the Mainland China e-retailing sector. “Participants will be able to learn about the implications of technology applications and services for the HR profession,” Luk notes.

In addition to recognising and applauding the HR industry’s best and brightest stars, Luk says the benefits of participating in the awards include assessment of HR strategies and initiatives by an independent panel of judges who are business and talent management experts. Drawn from the government, academia, business and broader related sectors, the judging panel, who will interview entrants and determine the winners of the Awards Programme, bring their extensive knowledge and expertise to the judging process. Meanwhile, for the first time, the Hong Kong Productivity Council will act as associate assessor for the Awards Programme.

Luk believes participating in the Awards Programme creates a platform for companies and individuals to network and share best practices across different business sectors. For instance, winners and participants are able to demonstrate the people management skills and tools they utilise to help their organisations remain competitive or overcome a challenging situation. “Sharing, reflecting and learning from the stories behind the HR solutions, and the individuals or teams who have inspired them, can greatly benefit the participants in the Awards Programme,” explains Luk. Furthermore, as role models, winning companies are given opportunities to recount their successful case studies at various HKIHRM events, which is a good opportunity for businesses and organisations to enhance branding and reputation.

Offering advice to Excellence Awards participants, Luk recommends describing successful initiatives and projects in measurable terms. “Participants need to present clear evidence of substance to support their entry to the awards judges,” says Luk, who adds that as experts, the judges can quickly tell when there is a lack of substance. Importantly, participants shortlisted for the final judging rounds need to condense their presentation, but still ensure the key elements are highlighted during the time-controlled presentation. “Participants need to crystallise their presentation by being compelling story tellers,” Luk says. The approach can be likened to the way that HR practitioners articulate initiatives and strategies to internal stakeholders of the organisations they work for.

Luk invites interested parties to the briefing session on 30 April to learn more thoroughly about the Awards Programme.