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Cracking the Code on Employee Experience

Hosted by: Nike Pfizer WeWork

China ChapmanCG Nike Pfizer WeWork_web

Have you Cracked the Code on Employee Experience?

Recently the APAC based ChapmanCG team, including Steve Brown, Managing Director; Katherine Qu, Senior Director; and Leslie Tang, Associate Director, headed to Shanghai and Beijing to host three roundtable sessions. ChapmanCG, as a global executive search firm specializing in HR, have always been very dedicated to driving thought leadership within the HR community, and therefore run annual roundtable and networking sessions all over the world. We’d like to thank Lilly Liang, VP HR Greater China at Nike; Lily Yang, VP People Greater China at WeWork; and Michelle Zhang, Senior HR Director Greater China at Pfizer for kindly co-hosting us at these events.

Close to one hundred HR leaders came together and shared their thoughts and views on the theme of employee experience. Many different industries and types of organizations were represented at the sessions, including Adidas, Amazon, AstraZeneca, BASF, Baxter, Bosch, Coca-Cola, Danone, Dyson, Ericsson, GE, Gucci, Henkel, IBM, ING, Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, MSD, Nestle, Sanofi, Siemens, Texas Instruments, Unilever and Visa amongst others. Whether the business is B2B or B2C and is either well established or a young start-up, all expressed enthusiasm and focus on the topic of employee experience. A natural question for those who are just starting up was: Why does employee experience matter?

Employee Experience – a business need, rather than an HR need

In the present economic landscape, customer experience has become a crucial factor in developing a successful business. More CEOs are realizing that to become a customer-centric organization, they must provide their employees with consumer-level experience first. Employee experience impacts everything within a business; productivity, retention, workplace culture, and more. With the rising cost of human resources and intense competition both within and across industries, organizations are no longer able to merely attract talent with higher compensations. Understanding/defining critical moments that matter to employees throughout their life cycle – from pre-employment (potential candidates) to post-employment (alumni) – and providing un-replicable experience to them will be critical to ultimately win and retain their talents.

Understanding Your Workforce – the starting point

Employee experience is a comprehensive concept that is key for employee satisfaction. With the workforce becoming multi-generational and more diverse, the first step is to take some time to understand employee demographics and workforce dynamics. Technology and data are enabling organizations to analyse their workforce thoroughly,  and to have an immersive and better-rounded understanding of employee aspirations on both a personal and collective level. Progressive companies are taking a two-way approach when it comes to creating a great employee experience. This approach does not just equate to surveys and questionnaires, but also real action plans and execution after employee voices are heard.

What Does Employee Experience Mean to You

Many different factors contribute to enhanced employee experience including pay/benefits, culture/working environment, career development, leadership, co-worker relationships, and wellbeing. Once employees’ voices and needs have been listened to, the key is to pick a key focus area and put it into action.

For some organizations, this could mean going back to the basics and redefining the culture and values. Cascading this down to all levels and making sure employees are connected with the same purpose and ‘way’ can have a huge impact on employee engagement. Needless to say, communications are key in such initiatives, both internally and externally, as culture and values represent the identity of an organization and how it as seen as a brand. For other organizations, this could mean providing individualized career development paths to its workforce, tailored to various needs in learning preference, mobility, and career aspiration. Again, we are seeing more and more organizations leveraging on AI, technology and data to do a more efficient job when drilling down to individual needs.

There are companies who have realized employee wellbeing is the foundation of everything they do, and are therefore focusing their investment and efforts on addressing this need. That includes dedicating full-time experts on site to continually track and analyse the health and wellbeing of the entire workforce. In addition, facilitated programs help to equip employees at all levels with the appropriate tools and methodology for energy management. There are also companies who deem happiness at work as the ultimate goal, running well-planned campaigns to help employees identify the right roles for them, to do what they love.

Despite the diverse representation from vastly different industries and organizations, a unanimous take-away from these round-table sessions was that nobody has really cracked the code on employee experience yet. Some have taken leaps, others are still moving with baby steps. However, we all understood the importance of addressing this. Treating employees in the same way as treating your customers, and providing them with real consumer-level understanding and experience, are clear directions and we are all on this journey together.  The group are looking forward to meeting again in the near future to share progress, innovations and success stories on enhanced employee experience.

In Summary

As Bhavna Bhaskar, Director, HR for HR, Adidas APAC, nicely summarized:

“Employee experience (EX) is an emerging business function, as organizations shift to a networked, team-based structure, EX becomes both more important and more complex. Companies need a new approach—one that builds on the foundation of culture, technology and engagement to focus on the employee experience holistically. We are seeing  fast-paced, innovative approaches specifically across start-ups; innovation focused organisations which are driving a new way to manage the EX! It’s definitely a path each organization has to cross, the question is how-fast we are able to!”

Thank you, again, to the HR leaders who participated.

Here’s what participants had to say about the ChapmanCG round-table sessions:

“I very much enjoyed the best-practice sharing and the networking with our HR peers. Employee experience is at the core. With all the outside-in perspectives, it can elevate what we’ve been driving on Engagement, Leadership and Skill in this digital transformation era.”
Ann Shen, Vice President, Human Resources, IBM Greater China Group

“This Chapman CG HR Roundtable is one of the high quality HR events which I participated in recently, a good opportunity to meet very experienced senior HR leaders from different industries. Thanks to the presenters for sharing real cases and practices on the hot topic of how to Crack the Code on Employee Experience. This is not an easy question for HR professionals. I am very happy with my learning from this event.”
Simon Xu, HR Director, Newell Brands

“As the future of HR, we all have a strong purpose and mission to elevate Happiness at Work.  This was not just a gathering but more connecting us as a strong community with passion on employee experience. Together we can all be better.”
Lily Yang, VP of People, Greater China, WeWork

“At Ford, we put the employee experience in the center of how we shape our culture for today and tomorrow so that all of our people can continue to learn and thrive. Change is constant in the workplace so we are always re-iterating our employee experience culture and environment. Opportunities such as this Employee Experience workshop coordinated by the ChapmanCG team are invaluable to learn best practices from world class HR leaders with other global employers, broadening my professional network in Asia.”
Steve Majer, Director, Human Resources, China Business Unit, Ford Motor Company

“I found the session very insightful and informative. More importantly it offered a great opportunity for HR leaders to co-create solutions for the similar challenges that we are facing.”
Ronnie Chen,  HR Vice President, Roche Pharma China

“It is exciting to discover from the meeting that we are not lonely in the journey of  ‘Cracking the Code’ of Employee Experience. I gained a lot of insight from the meeting.”
Julia GAO, HR Director APAC – IT and Finance, L’Oreal

“It was a great pleasure to join the roundtable with so many experienced HR senior leaders. I truly enjoyed the meeting, and it was valuable to exchange knowledge and best practices about ‘Cracking the Code’ on Employee Experience. Thanks to ChapmanCG for such fantastic and impactful facilitation.”
Fiona Wu, HR VP, Greater China, Signify

“I learned a lot from different industries’ HR best practice sharing, it inspires me to think differently on how we can innovate HR practice and provide better employee experience, which is very important to engage the new generation!”
Michelle Zhang, Senior HR Director, Greater China, Pfizer

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Key Contributors:

Steve Brown
Steve Brown

Managing Director - APAC & EMEA

Global Management
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Steve Brown
Global Management

Steve Brown

Managing Director - APAC & EMEA

Steve has worked for over two decades in the executive search and talent industry across multiple international markets, including the UK/Europe, Australia, Singapore, the Chinese mainland, and Hong Kong. Throughout his career, he has successfully executed numerous high-profile HR searches at the Chief, EXCO, and regional levels, spanning diverse industry sectors. His true passion lies in fostering lifelong relationships with CHROs, HR Leaders, and CEOs, advocating for a skills-based approach to enable inclusive and connected workplaces.

Steve is responsible for leading our world-class consulting team across APAC and EMEA, helping companies transform and accelerate growth by identifying and placing the best commercially astute CHROs and HR leadership teams who will elevate, drive, and sometimes challenge, the people agenda. By promoting the recognition and utilisation of diverse skill sets, we can drive creativity and exceptional performance.

Steve is a member of the Executive Committee at ChapmanCG.

Expertise: Delivering searches at group, international, regional, and market level for CHROs and their direct reports across HR business partnering; HR COO; talent management; people capability; organisation development; talent acquisition; total rewards; people analytics; diversity and inclusion; well-being; and ESG.

EA Registration Number: R1216206 Licence Number: 08S3543 (SG) EA License 69316 (HK)