Amid a global pandemic, digital technologies have captured our imagination for their potential to support us and our businesses. Technology has kept us all together and enabled many businesses to continue work as usual. It has also helped teams collaborate with each other and keep their well-being in check. The pandemic has showcased the value of digital operating models and is likely to urge many companies to speed up their digital innovation and transformation.
In a recent interview, we discuss with Norida Hamid, Chief HR Officer at Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad how the insurance company has been battling the COVID-19 crisis with digital innovation.
How has digital innovation been beneficial? How has it helped you better manage the current crisis?
In the past recent years, PAMB has taken numerous major steps to drive innovation and propel its business forward which includes technology transformation; our recent move to the new state-of-the-art office at TRX (Malaysia’s upcoming International Financial District); and the implementation of agile working. We are fortunate that these changes have made our business more agile and efficient, positioning us well for the lockdown period. On the first day of the lockdown on 18 March, we were already 85 percent Work From Home (WFH) without compromising the provision of our essential services to our customers and business.
Through digitization, we’ve adopted minimal use of physical paper as we move towards primarily using digital documents. This has greatly reduced the use of paper in the workplace and because of this, we are able to continue processes and documentation virtually without being affected by the restrictions that were in place.
Moving forward as one of our targets post-lockdown, we want to eventually shift to ZERO printing.
With the move to Digitalization, we continue to assess our current technology with the ultimate aim to develop a culture of utilising modern systems to run our HR processes, thereby having a seamless and consistent experience across all touchpoints.
With each employee equipped with a laptop and VPN access, business processes can be carried on digitally while employees can constantly stay connected with each other.
Utilising Culture Amp’s technology has also helped us in our journey to build a better organization for our people. This was achieved by unlocking and gaining better insights into improving the performance and engagement of our people - diagnostic, deep dive and pulse surveys with powerful analytics and action planning; as well as creating solutions to further empower our people managers to gain better understanding of their people and their needs.
What new technologies have you incorporated in the recent three months to operate in the new reality of work?
For Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad (PAMB), on top of focusing on scenario planning and necessary operational responses to ensure business continuity, we are also focused on engaging with our employees, gauging their emotions to ensure productivity level and employee experience is not affected. These have been achieved by leveraging on new technologies to Connect and Engage, from Yammer to Microsoft Teams.
In our journey to build a richer experience for our people, we used the data from our recently completed engagement survey through Culture Amp to unlock deeper insights into the performance and engagement levels of our people. The analytics gleaned allowed us to run and develop customised diagnostics and action planning to create customized solutions to further empower our people managers to have a better understanding of their people.
Through our communities of interest such as our Sports and Recreation Club, we focused on conducting virtual wellness programmes and activities. This focused on communicating uplifting messages and continuous engagement virtually with our people to help each other maintain social connections while we were WFH. We used Virtual Toastmasters meetings to help members adjust to virtual presentations. To understand and amplify employee’s feedback; learning and molding the company culture to the best it can be with the new normal we used Mobile-based work-from-home (WFH) survey which led to a quicker response time.
A great focus has also been on learning and development. We implemented online self-paced Platforms such as LinkedIn Learn and Knolskape Digital Learning Platform to drive self-paced learning, allowing employees to develop critical current and future skill-sets.
Virtual instructor-led training via Microsoft Teams to conduct workshops and trainings, which could be reflective assignment, role plays, webinars, etc. was also encouraged. Some of the other ways in which we leveraged technology include:
- Blended e-Learning: Integrating online learning with virtual instructor-led training for internal driven programmes and new hires programmes
- Having online simulations to encourage learning through an online simulated environment, testing and growing cognitive, social intelligence and digital leadership skills
- In order to seek feedback on how we are performing in the various aspects of our leadership behaviors, we are using the TellMe App, Prudential’s own feedback application developed for its people in Asia, to obtain clarity on areas of development, tracking on their self-progress by seeking for continuous feedback from their peers support
- To simplify and make it more convenient for employees, we are using Workday Assistant’s Chatbot to assist with basic enquiries among our people such as requesting for time-off, viewing their leave balance, etc.
Which of the HR processes has seen more digitization in recent months
In fact, prior to the last few months, PAMB’s digital journey has led the company to another level of transformation, with digital HR processes such as e-Leave, e-Payslip and Tax Forms, e-Overtime, e-New Hire Onboarding, etc. being introduced and utilized.
Our advanced technology infrastructure has also supported us in working remotely and carrying out our duties as usual during the entire duration of the lockdown.
Our journey so far has included extensive research and implementation the following processes:
- Recruitment: e-recruitment, e.g.: sourcing, CV analysis, video interviewing, assessment, applicant tracking and overall candidate experience, e-Onboarding, virtual career fairs
- Rewards and Benefits: e-Benchmarking, e-Goal Setting and Performance Management, e-Personal Improvement Plan
- HR Operations: e-Correspondence, e-Personal File, Employee Self-Service–Personal
- Information Update
- Engagement: e-Townhall communications, e-engagement activities
- Learning and Development: online self-paced learning, Virtual Instructor Led Training, webinars, industry roundtable discussions
- Talent Management: Virtual Assessment Centres
Are you looking to further accelerate digital innovation as you now operate in a more virtual/physical hybrid work environment? Share your plans.
The spirit of innovation has always been ingrained in Prudential’s culture. As we enter into the new normal, we aim to continuously promote and integrate a seamless working environment for our employees to drive productivity and engagement. This also aligns with our 2020 plan to deliver a distinctive and consistent people experience across all touchpoints - and technology and data are key enablers.
Another focus of ours this year is to drive HR Transformation through digitisation. While cutting-edge technology and talent are certainly needed. It is equally important to us that our people continuously upskill and have a growth mindset that enables them to embrace innovation and change. This along with the new ways of working forms part of our journey to support and accelerate digital innovation.