interview with Bureau Veritas about prioritising employees' wellbeing

Bureau Veritas took home the bronze award for 'Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing' at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, Eugene Tan, HR Manager, Bureau Veritas, shares how the organisation, the leadership, and the team prioritise each and every one's wellbeing ahead of everything else, which is something very much appreciated (and valued) by the employees.

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

Our strategy is prioritising our employees’ wellbeing ahead of everything else, especially in this COVID-19 situation, as employees are what makes Bureau Veritas successful.

All aspects were looked at, from mental, physical, to social wellbeing. We are already formulating action plans on the latest Glint BVocal well-being survey, taking into account employee feedback, and are periodically yet systematically allowing our foreign employees to return home to visit their families after this gradual reopening of borders. We are doing all we can to show employees we care, yet still be in line with the ever-changing governmental measures on safe management of employees.

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?

By focusing directly at ensuring our employees’ needs are taken care of, nothing is left to question, as our aim is clear from day one. Leadership has always been supportive in all initiatives proposed as long as they are justified, and our HR team is thankful for this collaborative relationship with the top management/leadership team.

Special thanks have to be given to both Adrian Lo (Director, Country Chief Executive for our CIF Singapore division) and Christina Tan (Vice President of Human Resources for our CIF APM Region division), for their endless support rendered throughout this ongoing process to look after the welfare of our colleagues.

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?

As with every private organisation, profit and loss are the two components crucial to the survival of the firm.

Before every initiative is rolled out or approved, cost is something to be analysed, and potential returns have to be measured. However, measuring the quality of our initiatives before rolling them out is challenging, as something as intangible as wellbeing is not easily quantified or evaluated, but we push these initiatives out after seeking feedback from employees, analyse the cost impact, assess the possible returns, then formalise them.

Many times, it is about convincing how having such programmes can only be good to our employee population despite potential high costs involved, where we can benefit from having more engaged/motivated employees, and also show our colleagues the company is determined to invest in them.

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

With measurement being one of the challenges, we sought to mitigate this by being constantly available to be reached for feedback from colleagues, and ensuring their thoughts are heard and addressed to the best of our ability.

By promoting a two-way communication channel between HR and employees, and also between subordinate and supervisor, we are able to assess the effectiveness or potential benefit when and if we launch our initiatives.

Engagement has increased between the first and second BVocal surveys by around 20 percentage points simply because employees are able to see the actions taken after the first one, and more were willing to participate in the second run to make themselves heard.

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?

Being in HR, it is paramount that we are the bridge between employees and management.

Therefore, having empathy is a definite must for a successful HR professional.

The second important attribute or skill to have is the ability to follow through. Only with that, are we able to see plans formulated come to fruition. The third skill that is pivotal is to be able to communicate effectively, be it when engaging with employees on issues they would like to voice out on, or be it when programmes or initiatives are launched to ensure they reach the target groups properly.

Hence, only by having empathy, are we then able to understand the needs of employees; with excellent follow through, we can then bring plans into action; and finally, with effective communication, we are able to bring the benefits out to the masses to take advantage of.


Image / Provided

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