Article: New Relic’s Yenny Wong reveals powerful talent retention strategies for growing organizations

Strategic HR

New Relic’s Yenny Wong reveals powerful talent retention strategies for growing organizations

'Foster inclusivity with unbiased hiring, diverse leadership programs, and ongoing unconscious bias training for an environment where every employee thrives, regardless of background or identity, says Yenny Wong, Director of Talent Acquisition, APJ and EMEA at New Relic.
New Relic’s Yenny Wong reveals powerful talent retention strategies for growing organizations

Employees are invaluable assets for organizations, and losing them in today's evolving landscape, where numerous companies are eager to provide superior compensation and benefits to attract skilled talent, is a nightmare. To retain such talent, organizations must cultivate an engaging and thriving culture that prioritizes learning and development opportunities, as well as well-being initiatives, for the optimal benefit of their employees.

In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Yenny Wong, Director of Talent Acquisition, APJ and EMEA at New Relic, shared valuable insights into making talent retention effective, particularly for a rapidly growing organization in today's competitive landscape.

Here are the edited excerpts: 

How has the organization proactively addressed the mental health and work-life balance of its employees, especially in light of the challenges posed by the evolving work landscape? Can you share specific initiatives or programs that have been particularly successful in fostering a healthy work environment?

The pandemic has brought about a fundamental change in how people view work and work arrangements. Organizations had to pivot and adapt very quickly to new ways of working that continue to drive business results and productivity while maintaining communication, collaboration and connection, and prioritizing the safety and health of employees. The new “norm” of working largely remotely through the use of technology and collaboration tools carried many organizations forward and enabled them to continue to run their businesses during the pandemic. However, increasingly today post-pandemic, we find ourselves hearing more stories of burnout in remote/hybrid work arrangements. Employee mental health and work-life balance post-pandemic are becoming a key focus for many organizations.

Organizations need to exhibit commitment when it comes to prioritizing employee mental health and work-life balance and for New Relic, our commitment to fostering a healthy work environment comes right from the top. Combining that with an authentic, accountable culture and empowerment through data and knowledge, we found that we were able to make a smooth transition during and after the pandemic. 

  • Post-pandemic, we recognised that the ability for everyone to have timely, equal, personalized and confidential accessibility to mental health support was critical. Instead of the regular Employee Assistance Program, we broadened our support by providing all team members with access to the Ginger app, now known as Headspace Care. This platform offers around-the-clock, on-demand mental health services. 
  • In addition, we facilitated engagements with specialists who provided insights and training on key topics, such as mindfulness, meditation, and effective coping strategies during the pandemic, and also aligned a member of the C-Level to provide executive sponsorship of well-being programs and roadmaps. Such initiatives reflect our ongoing dedication to creating a supportive environment for all our employees. This has set a critical foundation for an open, trusted environment where employees have the psychological safety to speak about the support they need.
  • Anchored on sustainable productivity, New Relic also introduced our first week-long company-wide vacation in August 2021 to celebrate our employees’ hard work and dedication during a challenging year. Relic Recharge Week allowed our team to fully disconnect and recharge without needing to take paid time off. It was so well received that we implemented it again in 2022 and 2023.
  • Being a digital-first organization, New Relic supports its team members to thrive in a flexible work environment through our Flex First policy; measuring productivity and performance via outcomes rather than time spent at an office or a desk. Keeping our employees at the heart of this decision-making means that they can choose to work from home, an office or a combination of both, depending on their goals and preferences. Instead of forcing employees to return to a physical office, the flexibility provided takes into account the wants and needs of employees and prioritizes mental health as well as work/life balance.

How does your company prioritize the holistic well-being of its workforce? Are there any unique wellness programs or initiatives that have proven to be effective in promoting both physical health and emotional resilience among employees?

Holistic well-being is a comprehensive approach to health and wellness that considers the interconnectedness of various aspects of a person's life, not only physical health but also mental and emotional well-being, social connections, a sense of purpose, and a balanced lifestyle. Employers must encourage individuals to make choices that promote well-being in all areas of their lives as this allows employees to bring their whole selves to the workplace.

At New Relic, we’re constantly assessing the needs of our employee population and finding ways to meet those needs. One way that we’ve done this is to launch Carrot across our entire workforce last year, with the family planning service supporting Relics who want to start or add to their families. The service supports adoption and infertility, as well as services like surrogacy, egg freezing, and sperm and egg donation, up to $US6,000 per year.

In addition to health services, we also foster employees' interests and passions outside of work via an active hobby club across our India team, as well as hosting Brown Bag sessions to support our staff in navigating changes at work and home. The India team has also embraced hybrid work, with our state-of-the-art offices in Hyderabad and Bangalore seeing our employees regularly work remotely or gather for collaboration, camaraderie, and relationship-building in person. On one such occasion, we conducted allyship workshops at both of these offices to ensure that all employees were able to feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work and experience a sense of inclusion.

In 2023, we also introduced Wellable which is a wellness platform that builds engaging employee wellness programs that not only transform employee habits and behavior but also the overall culture and employee experience. Encouraging each other through active fun is a great way to deepen the commitment to holistic well-being.

Employee turnover is a significant concern for many industries. What innovative strategies has your organization implemented to enhance talent retention? Have you observed a correlation between well-being initiatives and employee retention?

An Aon survey found that employee turnover in India was 20.3% for the first half of 2022 and is predicted to grow further. High employee turnover creates a direct loss of culture, talent, productivity and knowledge, which is why striving to maintain a healthy attrition rate is critical to any organization. Creating inclusive workplace strategies, providing training and enablement and growth opportunities, conducting pulse surveys, and offering competitive compensation and benefits are among some retention initiatives that organizations can look to deploy, but more importantly, they need to shift their strategies from siloed programs to employee experience. We believe that employees who can bring their whole selves to work are energized and adopt a more innovative approach.

Focusing on employee experience has enabled New Relic to redesign our retention strategies and focus on connection and belonging, sustainable productivity as well and growth and impact.  Some of these strategies have included holding monthly Ask Me Anything sessions with senior leaders, and our Global Day of Service where Relics are given the day off work to connect locally or virtually, volunteer and give back. In 2022, we also embarked on our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) journey and released our first ESG report to inspire and enable every Relic to ignite positive change where they live, work and play, alongside a continued commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

In the rapid growth of your organization, what specific strategies have proven most effective in cultivating a highly engaged and productive workforce? What key initiatives or approaches have contributed significantly to fostering a culture of engagement and productivity as your organization continues to expand?

The speed of change and transformation are key reasons why employees are not always fully aligned in a hyper-growth organization. Focusing on communicating the vision, mission and expectations of employees, which we call leadership accountabilities, helps bring employees along for the growth journey. Encouraging employee involvement in decision-making processes, implementing robust recognition and rewards systems, and maintaining a diligent focus on performance management contribute significantly to enhancing engagement and productivity. 

Additionally, a commitment to continuous learning and professional development, along with initiatives that promote work-life balance plus diversity and inclusion, serves to bolster employee satisfaction and retention. New Relic promotes a focus on the growth mindset which helps to set the tone for growing together. Securing regular feedback through mechanisms such as pulse surveys and team-connection activities further amplifies workforce productivity and cohesion. By embracing these multifaceted strategies, organizations can cultivate a thriving culture of engagement and productivity even in times of rapid expansion.

As a global organization, can you provide instances where initiatives or training programs have successfully equipped employees with the essential skills to navigate the evolving landscape of future technologies? Additionally, could you share the best examples of initiatives fostering success and inclusivity in a diverse workforce, creating an environment where all employees can excel?

New Relic focuses on the learning journeys of our employees and empowers education through a multi-layered approach of self-learning conducted via our e-learning platform, an instructor-led virtual classroom, curated programs through our leader-led action plans, as well as our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). New Relic Labs also provides employees with the ability to curate their learning topics while mandating some key focus areas such as adopting a growth mindset and allyship for all employees. A strong focus on manager training is also important in fostering success in creating a diverse workforce, as this ensures a top-down approach to drive key actions. Our ERGs have also played a pivotal role in creating a sense of belonging and support for underrepresented groups within the organization; organizing events, mentorship programs, and awareness campaigns that celebrate diversity and encourage inclusivity.

Additionally, New Relic’s unbiased hiring practices, diversity-focused leadership development programs, and ongoing unconscious bias training have been instrumental in creating an environment where all employees feel valued and can excel, irrespective of their background or identity. These initiatives have not only enhanced employee engagement but have also positively impacted our bottom line by promoting diverse perspectives and innovation across the organization.

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Topics: Strategic HR, Talent Management, #HRCommunity, #Retention

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