How HR Leaders Can Help Organisations Stay Agile In VUCA Environment

Jul 25, 2016 1 Min Read
HR Leaders and Their Roles in Helping Organisations and Business Stay Agile

Like it or not, the world around us is facing uncertain times. Some refer to it as VUCA, which stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Organisations, big or small, are feeling the heat from global and regional economic pressures, and many are left feeling anxious about the future of employment.

Read More: How To Increase Your Corporate Agility

In a recent joint initiative by Leaderonomics and Robert Walters Malaysia, we hosted an intimate networking session attended by many human resources (HR) leaders from various industries to start the ball rolling on organisational agility and talent management in turbulent times. In particular, how should HR people position themselves as business leaders to steer an organisation through the storm and create value to key stakeholders?

1. Help people see cause over cost

Beyond HR as administrators, functional experts, strategists and business leaders, HR leaders need to see their role as the ‘heart’ that keeps the organisational pulse running. As we know, HR is the first point of contact for the organisation’s greatest asset – its people, and the bridge between senior leaders and employees. By genuinely loving people and the business, HR leaders hold the key in helping talents see the cause of their contribution at work to the organisation’s purpose. They are the ones who sound the rallying cry to engage every stakeholder to work together toward the same destiny through challenging times.

2. Communicate confidence to diffuse anxiety

In the midst of organisational anxiety, it is always better to overcommunicate than to withhold information from people. When times are tough, employees look for leaders who can provide a clear direction. This is where HR leaders can rise to the occasion in the boardroom to convey what they know, and what they do not know honestly. HR can exercise their influence at the table, work with senior leaders, mobilise the workforce to recapture hearts and minds of the people to take immediate action, and transform the business at the management level. Peter Ling, chief organisational development officer from Mah Sing who was one of the event’s panelists, states that the best time to be in HR is now.

Read Next: How to Keep Your Team Engaged and Innovative Through L&D

3. Remove blindfolds of ignorance and arrogance

It is easy for organisations to be immersed in their past glories that they forget we are entering the age of disruption. Business is just not ‘business as usual’ anymore. Being the connector between the business core and the pulse of the people, HR leaders can act as a gatekeeper to keep the organisation in the right path of innovation. HR leaders create value for the business when they keep themselves abreast with the latest insights on global business trends before they make any strategic move at the organisational level (referred to as HR outside in). By proactively addressing change and adapting to disruption, HR leaders position themselves as truly accelerators of reinvention.

Essentially, with their continuous learning spirit and forward-thinking mindset, HR leaders greatly help to keep organisations in reality check from time to time so that once-great organisations don’t fall into the trap of complacency.

In conclusion

There are always blessings in disguise in challenging times. It is on rocky grounds that HR innovation and human capital can thrive at its best to gain competitive advantage. The Futures journal (June 2008) from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development once quoted Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford University:

The fact of the matter is that when times are good, even idiots can be successful. It is when times are tough that the best get separated from the rest.

In this trying season, will you as people in the HR fraternity, be the ‘wheat’ and not the ‘weed’?

Leaderonomics wish to thank all delegates who attended the HR networking session. We hope you gained great insights on what you can do for your organisation as a business partner doing HR to remain agile in turbulent times. Send us your feedback or suggestions on how we can serve you better at To engage our in-house culture guru Joseph Tan to help you transform your organisational culture, email

Check out the video below about the digital platform Happily to keep your people engaged and revolutionise your business!

Happily (or Budaya for those from Indonesia) is an amazing engagement app built for organisation to drive engagement amongst employees. It has amazing analytics and also provides activities for employees to be fully immersed in the organisation's culture and values. To find out more, click here or email

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Lay Hsuan was part of the content curation team for, playing the role of a content gatekeeper as well as ensuring the integrity of stories that came in. She was an occasional writer for the team and was previously the caretaker for Leaderonomics social media channels. She is still happiest when you leave comments on the website, or subscribe to Leader's Digest, or share Leaderonomics content on social media.

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