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The Evolution of Culture and Engagement in the Workplace

Hosted by: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

ChapmanCG hosted a lively roundtable in Singapore at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML), which was attended by a host of regional HR leaders from DaVita, ED&F Man, JF Hillebrand, Microsoft, Monsanto, Morgan Stanley, RedMart, Schneider Electric, Standard Chartered Bank and Syngenta. The discussion centred on managing cultural change, in the context of the workplace of the future. There were a number of threads explored within this theme, and it was agreed that managing change effectively is critical if organisations are to get the right culture and levels of engagement within a workforce that is constantly evolving.

The Cultural Effect of Increased Financial Regulation

In a banking context, the changes that have resulted from increased regulation have had a significant impact on business strategy, but have also created an opportunity to ‘get the house in order’ internally. From a compensation perspective, banks are now able to put greater emphasis on conduct, rewarding employees for good behaviour, in addition to the more traditionally structured bonuses based on financial performance. Financial companies can indicate their priorities by putting more emphasis on the former when selecting employees for promotion who will become future leaders. BAML has given culture a big push, particularly at the leadership level, with extensive workshops encouraging leadership to drive behavioural changes, and this permeates through all levels of the organisation.

Create an Inclusive Environment and Diversity will Follow

From a diversity perspective, banks are embracing Diversity & Inclusion as a way to further engage employees going forward. BAML have established LBGT networks, corporate community games, bring your children to work days and even elderly care workshops for employees. The company has also implemented initiatives at the Executive Committee level that are tailored to high potential females, and which aim to counter the skewed gender balance within the senior echelons of the organisation. BAML has also hosted a bespoke APAC women’s convention, where male spouses were actively invited, in order to embrace an openness and inclusivity around celebrating women in the workplace.

Whilst these initiatives are not revolutionary, increased regulation has forced the banks to look internally and embrace employee engagement and culture, which are now both important ways to retain a workforce that traditionally has been more motivated by compensation. These increasingly responsible, inclusive and open cultures have been slowly permeating the larger financial organisations, but there is still a long way to go.

The Gamification of Leadership

Engaging leadership is critical when it comes to changing corporate culture. Norbert Modla of JF Hillebrand shared an innovative case study on using gamification to engage and develop leadership. JFH wanted to create a programme that encouraged ‘play at work’ but it needed to have a ‘play seriously’ dynamic. The idea was to create a ‘vibe’ which would touch all leaders across all functions. This ‘vibe’ was fostered through a 12-week simulation game, which could be accessed on mobiles and tablets. Senior management employees were given management scenarios in the game, for which they had to find solutions. They were given access to virtual coaches along the way, as well as being scored and assessed on their performance throughout the game. This programme created a real buzz along with a healthy element of competition and dialogue amongst the leadership. It also allowed internal assessment, which in some cases highlighted areas for further development and coaching.

Using Your EVP to Attract and Retain

For one biotech company, embedding a strong Employee Value Proposition has been a critical way of attracting and retaining the right people. Given the nature of the agricultural chemicals business, this firm felt that having a strong Corporate Social Responsibility strategy would connect the workforce to common values and a ‘greater good’ concept, which straddles the ‘3G’ workforce — spanning geography, gender and generation. From a leadership perspective the organisation has focussed on four key attributes — ambition, empathy, courage and accountability. In addition the company has implemented a leadership effectiveness index around three key pillars; engage and inspire, judgement, execution and results. This has been critical in helping to plot and navigate this organisation’s change journey.

For the SME organisations present, these best practices around culture, D&I and engagement are still aspirational. Particularly for start-ups, the main HR priorities remain hiring and paying people, while building an organisational culture takes time. The rapidly growing RedMart has now created a strong and vibrant culture code. The company has worked hard to thread ‘cultural fit’ into their selection, onboarding and rewarding processes, and has been able to turn their values and culture into tangible attributes that can be assessed during the hiring process.

Conclusion

Culture is important in any organisation, large or small, and the generations of the future do want to work in environments where they feel an emotional connection. Organisations therefore need to develop a unique culture, which differentiates them from the competition. On the flip side, employers need to attract and retain the right people who will champion and celebrate their own culture. Of course, the fit goes both ways, and to be successful employees need to find the right fit for them. Interestingly, 75% of HR professionals we deal with who fall out of organisations highlight ‘cultural fit’ as one of the key reasons for leaving. This could be the culture of the HR function, the leadership or the organisation as a whole, but it certainly impacts the HR profession who understand and feel the cultural connection more than most.

Here’s What People are Saying:

“It was a great opportunity to share experiences around a subject that spans all industries. Change Management was particularly relevant to the current market landscape where regulations are strengthening, competition in local markets is increasing, and local companies are becoming more attractive to our local talent. I look forward to the next meeting!” – Fred Dura, ED&F Man

“I really enjoyed the ChapmanCG event. It was a great opportunity through various formats to hear from my peers, representing a range of companies. I found it engaging and valuable as I had key takeaways from each of the unique experiences shared.” – Stephanie Nash, RedMart

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Graham is a Senior Director with ChapmanCG based in the United Kingdom. He is passionate about building long-term partnerships and his current focus is on European and global search mandates, working with the team to identify high-calibre HR talent across EMEA and internationally.

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