In 2023, human resource (HR) management in Korea underwent significant changes, driven by a landscape shaped by declining birthrates, aging demographics, and shifts in workforce structure. Corporate HR managers identified key trends that reshaped the way organizations approached work and talent recruitment.
We spoke to David, McGee, the Managing Director of our Korea office about how the landscape for this next year is forecast, and how companies can align with these trends to find success in their hiring plans.
Hybrid Work System
In 2023, there was a focus on the traditional notion of daily office attendance, and how it evolved into a more flexible approach. The pandemic prompted companies to explore diverse work environments, including remote work, shift schedules, and base office setups. A survey revealed that 62.7% of office workers practiced hybrid work after experiencing full-time remote work. Job seekers increasingly prioritize work flexibility, with 22.6% considering work type a crucial factor in job selection. Establishing a hybrid work environment is seen as crucial for companies to thrive in the talent competition.
In 2024, it appears companies are expected to continue with this hybrid work trend. David said noted a “disparity with foreign headquartered companies being more flexible than Korean companies. Industries such as IT and Technology—as well as front office functions—will continue to lead the way in having more flexibility on working style and hybrid work”.
Employee Experience Era
The concept of “Employee Experience” has gained prominence in HR. It encompasses all interactions an employee has within the company. Similar to customer experience theory, a well-designed employee experience enhances engagement, productivity, and profitability.
David notes that “companies excelling in employee engagement show higher productivity, retention rates, and profitability. As the MZ generation views the workplace as a space for collaboration and experience, rather than just a resume builder, the importance of positive employee experiences is expected to continue to rise throughout this next year.”
Talent Acquisition with AI
Technology, including AI and big data, is transforming talent acquisition. While HR analytics adoption is not widespread in Korea, some companies are leveraging cloud-based HR systems for data analysis in recruitment, attendance management, and personnel evaluation.
As work environments evolve—incorporating technological advancements—companies are enhancing their competitiveness through the implementation of various HR systems and solutions, David explained.
“2023 saw a widespread utilization of generative AI tools, such as Chat GPT, and this will continue throughout 2024. This could potentially present companies with the challenge of figuring out how to regulate its utilization in the workplace.”
This AI utilization has also contributed to Talent Acquisition. Until now, AI has mostly been used for routine admin tasks, however this will continue to evolve, offering more complex support over the course of this year.
UPskilling & REskilling for Organizational Strength
In Korea, employees growth and opportunities to enhance their skills are considered important factors when searching for jobs. A Gartner survey indicates that three-quarters of workers desire different job experiences within their current roles. To address this, companies are focusing on upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Upskilling involves providing opportunities for employees to acquire skills relevant to their current roles through seminars, online learning, and conferences.
Reskilling, on the other hand, involves learning new skills to perform a different job. In the rapidly changing landscape of technology and business models, companies are investing in upskilling and reskilling to strengthen organizational capabilities and adapt to the evolving business environment.
In a study posted by Qualtrics XM Insitute, it was revealed that in South Korea, a number of areas showed slight, positive improvements in regards to employee engagement over the course of 2023.
According to a recent survey of 313 HR managers, conducted by a Korean job platform, Job Korea, 58.8% of organizations have plans to increase up hiring initiatives throughout 2024. In order to improve employee engagement and strengthen their employer branding, organizations need to focus on managing employee stress, reducing the risks of burnout at work, and provide positive working environments to bolster their employee’s intent to stay.
David summarized, saying that “HR management is expected to pivot towards sustained flexible work structures, an intensified focus on employee well-being and experience, increased integration of advanced technologies, such as AI, in talent acquisition, and a growing commitment to upskilling initiatives. Organizations that embrace these trends are likely to enhance agility and performance in response to the evolving demands of the business landscape”.