Bold, brave and ambitious - that's CHRO 4.0 for you! This time around, we speak exclusively to Lynda Ong, HR Business Partner APAC, Ripple, who firmly believes building a culture, much like building a company, requires constant innovation and an openness to change.

Q How has the HR function enabled Ripple to navigate an increasingly digital future?

From day one, we worked with a single objective in mind – ensuring inclusiveness and seamless processes across regions. As we aim to stand out from the pack and attract quality talent, this was crucial. Our ‘People’ team (HR) were able to quickly partner with relevant cross-functional teams to transition seamlessly into a remote workforce, and enable employees to reshape their mindset into embracing the new norm of remote work.

Our culture is also one that embraces innovation, and is comfortable with change. This meant Ripplers adapted swimmingly as we shifted into remote work, as though it was another day in the office. Alongside tactical resources and support, this meant our employees could remain connected, safe, and productive while working remotely.

Q Ripple is going through rapid expansion in Singapore – and it has been onboarding new employees who had never stepped foot in the office. How are you communicating and scaling the company culture in this situation where hybrid offices are becoming the norm?

Ripple embraces the challenges of quickly scaling a global startup, and we know building a culture -- like building a company -- requires constant innovation and an openness to change. Our values, ‘LEGGOS’ which stands for: 'live it, enjoy it, go for it, get it done, own it, say it', reflect the global company we’ve grown into and hope to be in the future.

We are dedicated to building a company that is committed to educating the market, and each other. It’s something we have made central to our onboarding process that each employee goes through in San Francisco -- and is now done 100% virtually. As we continue scaling rapidly, we made it a priority to allow new hires to experience this onboarding experience, with add-ons such as a virtual 'welcome wagon'.

Company-wide Q&As are also now virtual, as immediate access to senior executives is of utmost importance, since it creates a culture in which everyone feels comfortable to candidly voice their opinions, concerns and ideas.

Additionally, we wanted to create a safe environment for our talents to continue shining -- a robust managerial development programme was built around “leading remotely”, equipping our managers with the right training.

While we remain remote -- connection is key. In the past six months, we saw a spike in usage on our online 'Fond' platform which allows employees to recognise others by sending points for displaying LEGGOS values, to celebrate success, or simply for a job well done. This is testament to the strong culture we have created, allowing us to continue to celebrate each other while working remotely.

Q Along similar lines, what is the network of systems, technologies and software implemented at Ripple to ensure employees have the tools they need to work from home effectively?

As a global technology company, from the get-go we implemented a very robust set-up with the appropriate technology resources to enable us to work globally, at any location, at any given time. Therefore, by the time the pandemic hit, there wasn’t much of a hurdle we needed to get past in order for the team to work from home (WFH) effectively.

While we already have dedicated video conferencing and communication tools that we’re accustomed to using -- we also pay close attention to hardware. For example, we provide Bose headphones so employees can hear and communicate with crystal clear audio. Each employee is also entitled to a budget to purchase WFH essentials.

We have a 24/7 IT team that offers support for all employees globally -- especially helpful as all our events and conferences are moved online to connect with our teams and customers.

We’ve also been using tools such as Slack, to easily and instantly stay connected. We even developed an in-house app on Slack, allowing new Ripplers to meet with team members virtually and get to know each other as part of their onboarding process.

Q What do you anticipate as the new role of HR in a post-COVID world? What new and unexpected tasks does this add to your job description?

Without a doubt, HR is rapidly evolving into a thought leadership role.

More than ever, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve, particularly in a fast moving industry such as ours. We need our people to constantly learn, and hire talent that are equipped with future-ready skills.

This means a People leader needs to take a more agile and courageous approach (much in line with our values) to develop an engaged workforce that has the ability to make a difference, innovate, and bring value to the ecosystem. We also need a deeper understanding of the business and strong relationships with all stakeholders, to continue driving horizontality across all functions, foster healthy internal communications and motivate our people to embrace our core values. 

Photo / Provided

Excerpts of this interview have been published exclusively in the Jul-Aug 2020 issue of Human Resources. Read this edition of Human Resources, Singapore:

hrsg jul aug20

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