Delane Lim, Executive Director, Formwerkz

Formwerkz brought home the bronze award for 'Excellence in Crisis Management and Recovery' at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, Delane Lim, Executive Director, Formwerkz, tells us about the intense focus on people which helped overcome challenges and provide a segue into both cultural change as well as HR transformation 2.0.    

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Our winning HR strategy was to focus out. What that means is that instead of focusing on the challenges and uncertainty that we were facing inside the organisation during the pandemic, we focused our energies on our people, and people in our community. Looking back at what we have achieved, the pandemic actually became a strong anchor for us to build our new cultural narratives and stories, and trust among the staff. Formwerkz values and cares for every one of our members.

It would have taken us much longer time and effort to build the new cultural narratives without the crisis.

Other than shaping the new corporate culture, we have also managed to accelerate the implementation of HR transformation 2.0.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

I feel that the strategy enabled us to show our sincere and committed care for our staff. Looking back, the pandemic and the strategy sees to come together as a catalytic sealant or glue of some sort, that enabled us to bring consistent and coherent messages to our staff. Messages that are aligned with our (new) values and our desired culture.

The leadership team’s commitment to walk the talk, to uphold the values, and to build the desired culture became more evident during this trying time. The willingness of the leadership to be the first to take the cut, and to dive into the increased spending with no promise of ROIs really sent a strong message that it's not about the top surviving the pandemic. It's about surviving it together. Without their strong support, willingness, risk, and commitment, the strategy would have fallen through, probably as a narrative around throwing staff overboard to keep the ship alive.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

Interestingly, the key roadblocks were outside of the organisation. And I think it's because we chose to focus out on the people instead. So challenges were around the limited supply of masks and sanitisers for our staff, as well as community work. 

We overcame these with adaptability, resourcefulness, and commitment to our people.

If challenges in crafting the messages and initiatives that exemplify our desired culture can be considered, these might actually be the roadblock within the organisation. This is because our HR team lacked the experience and expertise in this area, yet they managed to craft thoughtful and meaningful messages that exemplify and embodied our desired values and culture, both explicitly and implicitly. I can only say they amazed me with their tenacity and commitment.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

Unfortunately, we did not set out to measure any ROI in the beginning. We didn’t set out looking at how many hearts we have warmed nor how much sales we targeted to close. But, after seeing how impactful our HR team was, we are planning to do an engagement & climate survey and focus group of sorts to gather information about the perception of the current culture in the perspectives of our staff. This will give us an indication of where we are at in terms of our desired culture.

Staff satisfaction is above 80% for all business units. Despite COVID-19, we have been conferred the title of 'Great Place To Work' by external validators. With this win, we are even more convinced that our processes, policies, and engagement are considerably unique and proven in our sector.

A future-ready workforce is not about being futuristic but about building a credible and future-proof workforce that continuously builds on our existing human capital & capacity, develops better competencies, and encourages commitment to succeed together as a company. 

Q We’re now seeing HR manage portfolios that were previously considered far from their job description. In your view, what are the top three skills and attributes of today’s successful CHRO?

Humanity, being purpose-driven, and understanding the value of meaning.

The ability to 'see far, look deep, and scale high' is pivotal in today’s workforce.

Photo / Provided by Formwerkz

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