Even before the pandemic started, the emphasis on providing a good employee experience, especially as a competitive advantage for an organisation, was going strong. A couple of years back, People Matters spoke with Helen Snowball, the head of human resources for JLL Asia Pacific, about how the concept of employee experience has changed over time. Now, as we emerge from the wake of COVID-19, it turns out that the need for employee experience hasn't changed much; if anything, it has become even greater amid the war for talent.
We revisit the insights that Helen shared, which remain as relevant as ever.
This story has been updated to reflect changes in the size of JLL's workforce and the spread of diversity since it was originally published.
You’re looking after the engagement, learning and development, well-being, and overall experience of thousands of people from so many different cultures around the region. For someone in your position, what is the most important thing to keep in mind?
We have thousands of employees and six generations in our workforce across APAC. Diversity here is a fact and inclusion is a choice - and I keep that in mind every day.
To help create a truly inclusive culture, I don’t generalise or assume I know best. I seek out regular feedback from our people at all layers within the organisation to help me understand the unique needs of our workforce.
Understanding the “pulse” of the business is key.
I also remain agile in my thinking and approach. In an ever-changing world, the ability to pivot and then pivot again is a requirement for all CHROs.
What are some changes you’ve been seeing in the workforce, and in people’s needs as a result, over the last several years?
1. The concept of careers is changing. No longer are employees joining JLL and wanting a career for life, most employees will now have five careers in a lifetime. In addition the “gig” economy is here. Employees joining the organization are not all looking for full time roles, some are looking for far more flexibility: gap years, freelancing opportunities, etc.
2. Workforce composition has changed. Those six generations we have across our workforce? Each generation needs to be catered for in a different way. While Gen Xers might value flexibility in the workplace, Gen Zers show a strong emphasis on opportunities for growth and development. The differing needs between the different generations in the workplace has really precipitated very significant changes for us as HR leaders.
3. Tools have become smarter. Only a few years ago our organisation was still heavily reliant on email, now Microsoft Teams and other platforms allows users to chat, share and work on files, schedule meetings, join meetings, call others, and more, all in place. While the tools we use today have come a long way, concepts like fluid framework and artificial intelligence are sure to be fully integrated into these tools within the next 10 years.
4. Employees have different values when considering joining a company. While the idea of working for an organisation being more than an economic transaction has been around for some time, more than ever we have noticed an evolution in what employees expect out of their organisations.
In the many links of the employee experience chain, which one do you think most needs change and improvement? Which one is the most challenging to improve?
Regrettably I have to say generating a diverse talent pipeline for future senior leadership roles is challenging.
I am incredibly proud of the inclusive culture we have developed at JLL, I truly believe our employees feel they can be who they are, not who they think they are “supposed” to be. I am also incredibly proud of the focus we have placed on creating diverse workforces.
However, whilst we have made great progress over the years, we still don’t have enough of a diverse pipeline for the future senior leader roles.
It’s so important to have diverse leadership groups and to be able to challenge our leaders at every decision point in the employee lifecycle to ensure we are moving the dial more aggressively, be it on every recruitment decision, reward decision, promotion decision, and so on.
There are no easy answers or silver bullets, many organizations face the same challenge.
To drive the employee experience across the entire organisation, the HR function itself needs to get its own experience right. What are some ways in which you’ve been motivating your team and ensuring they have the capabilities they need?
First of all, acknowledging that the skills required to be a successful HR professional now and in the future have changed is an important first step for any CHRO.
Then, being clear on what we need to prioritise to deliver the best ROI for both the business and our teams is critical, and actually doing something about it!
We are moving from HR to HX – working in a company is no longer just about the people process, we have transitioned into offering an all-rounded people experience. HR can no longer put the needs of the business ahead of its own function.
We have taken a three-pronged approach to keeping our HR teams motivated and relevant:
1. Simply having a HR learning and development workstream has been a huge motivator in itself for our people. Our focus is not on HR technical skills but rather soft skills. We are moving firmly from a Human Resources function to a Human Experience function. At present time we are focusing on pivoting from :
- Being process-driven to Employee Experience-driven
- Data-driven to Insights-driven
- Tech-Shy to Tech-Savvy
- Doing everything to Doing What Matters
- Set and Forget to constantly test and improve
2. We have also embraced Microsoft Teams as a HR learning platform. We share best practices, external reading materials, and papers to help with our self-learning and development and ensure we are taking an outside perspective into view
3. Finally, we have created a new Extended HR Leadership group at the next layer within the function. This team was generated to help us take our HR agenda and ways of working to new heights and give stretch experiences and challenges to our high performers and emerging talent.