Felicia Teh is an agile leader with 20 years of extensive HR and generalist experience across multinational companies. She has vast expertise in the areas of organization development, talent acceleration and capability building.
Felicia is currently the HR & Inclusion Director, BAT Malaysia, spearheading the overall people, culture and business transformation agenda. Prior to her current role, she was the Regional HR Director, South East Asia for Carlsberg, where she led the people agenda for Carlsberg Malaysia and oversaw the HR strategy for Singapore, Myanmar and Laos.
Her earlier career experience spans across diverse organizations in different industries such as AstraZeneca, Genting Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she started her career as a management consultant. Felicia is passionate about people growth, building high performing teams to enable strong business results and developing a robust future-fit employee experience. She believes in diversity of thought as a key element to drive a diverse and inclusive culture.
In this exclusive interview with People Matters and ServiceNow, Felicia discussed the need to become a future-fit organization with digital capabilities, enabling cross-functional collaboration with communication tools, and emphasized the importance of employee training and support to make digital transformation seamless.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
As a talent leader, what key factors are shaping your outlook towards the new ways of working in the emerging hybrid workplace?
With global and local working situations proving to be very dynamic, particularly so during this pandemic period, it is vital to strike a balance between the needs of the business and the needs of our employees. The availability of technology has made it possible to attain ways of working that are both conducive for the business as well as cater to employee productivity and creativity in getting things done, without having to be physically present at the workplace.
There has to be an element of flexibility and agility in how we evolve our ways of working to this phenomenon – piloting interventions, measuring and ongoing “stop and review” checkpoints will be key to how we move forward.
Last but not least, workplace culture and a conducive environment of trust and empowerment is a fundamental piece of the puzzle where individuals are held accountable for outcomes whilst being empowered to decide how they want to achieve successful delivery of the business.
How has the renewed focus on communication, engagement, wellness and productivity impacted your employee experience strategy?
In the last 12 months, our employee experience has evolved to one that places employee engagement, wellness and communication at the forefront. We have an Employee Assistance Programme that offers our employees remote holistic support and help for their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Our employees are able to access a wealth of resources such as on-line counselling services via a digital app, on-demand remote therapy sessions, and general health resources, articles and webinars that have been carefully curated and supported by qualified professionals. We also have a very active internal social media platform that allows employees to engage and connect with each other, either on work or socially. We have regular engagements with employees either through departmental huddles or monthly townhalls to both provide key business updates and perform organizational pulse checks on employees’ general well-being. With remote working, constant and consistent communications have proven to be vital in ensuring that all our employees remain well-informed and engaged.
While the focus on upping digital capabilities of employees remains a key focus, how are employers responding to the need to up the digital capabilities of internal processes and systems?
We have already embarked on a data and digital transformation journey to become a future-fit organization. Our focus is on business simplification, creating a digitally-connected organization and inculcating an agile way of working in all layers of the organization.
Through digitalization, we advance and drive business value by streamlining our internal processes and systems, allowing easier and faster decision-making. Most of our work processes are now online/digitalized, and we are automating processes where relevant. This bodes well for employees as it simplifies their ways of working and frees up valuable time for them to focus on other business needs.
How do you see the role of digital workflow solutions in making workplace communication more efficient, especially cross-functional communication? What is British American Tobacco doing differently to enhance cross-functional collaboration for its distributed workforce?
As a global organization, the need to communicate and collaborate across borders and across functions has been vital in ensuring the company’s success. We have been collaborating and communicating cross-functionally on a daily basis and have now upped the ante by putting people from different functions together to create synchronization between the people who create value and those who plan or sell it. For example, today a new product launch in an agile BAT will have employees from the Product, Brands, Trade, Information & Digital Technology teams work together as one team and not as functional silos, supported by the necessary technology and communications tools. This makes internal collaboration seamless and improves the process performance.
What are some ways employers can make business agility and operational excellence a reality for a distributed workforce?
I believe the key is to embrace a digitalized workplace and create enablers to embed this within the organization. We need to embrace technology and all the good things that come with it. Once we are cognizant of this, we can then transform the business. Start small with a few pilot projects and scale from there. Build agile teams to optimize business processes, always evolving the strategy with clear and decisive new business commitments, and quickly adapt to new opportunities to capitalize on these opportunities.
Always provide the needful training and support for employees to ensure they are onboard with the transformation.
More importantly, as technology is ever-evolving, businesses need to be forward thinking, always being 2-3 steps ahead in building capabilities and processes that are future-fit and ready.
If you could offer one piece of advice for leaders in the new world of work to improve workforce and workflow management, what would that be?
Understand your own stakeholders’ needs and requirements. Sometimes we may think that a solution that works for another organization might work for our own, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution for any unique organization. Also, ensure that your leaders in the business foster empowerment and accountability across all layers in the organization.
Empower individuals to make decisions that focus on creating business value. This will result in creating a self-authoring, self-managed team and will ultimately improve the workforce and workflow management.