KPMG Singapore team

"Strong support networks that promote and guide career development is a key strategy for employee engagement," shares Janice Foo, Head of People, KPMG in Singapore.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, KPMG in Singapore received the gold award for Best Global Talent Exchange Programme and the silver award for Best Woman Leadership Programme.

In this interview, Janice Foo, Head of People, KPMG in Singapore, shares the secrets behind this win - how the organisation constantly aligns its work approach with its talent's aspirations, and supports them in reaching their personal as well as professional goals.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

Employee experience at KPMG in Singapore puts focus on building a vibrant, people-centred culture. We’re committed towards supporting the aspirations of our talent throughout their life stages.

The needs of employees will evolve – hence it’s important to ensure they feel supported and cared for when it comes to accelerating their career development and learning and helping them seize opportunities to grow.

These could come through initiatives such as global mobility and women’s leadership programmes, among others. They could also be via cross-border and intra-firm collaboration and innovation opportunities.

Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

We believe in hearing directly from our employees on how they’re doing. Hence we have continuously listened to and gathered feedback from our employees, whether through surveys, focus groups or performance chats, to understand their work experiences and motivations.

These learnings have helped us to shape more people-centred initiatives and strengthen existing communication channels.

Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Our people are highly sought after for their capabilities, skills and global exposure; hence, talent development and engagement are an ongoing commitment. Strong support networks that promote and guide career development is a key strategy for employee engagement.

This hasn’t changed even with the pandemic, except programmes have shifted online – the human touch continues to be critical as we stay in touch with employees to ensure they feel well taken care of.

Beyond staff welfare, it is also vital to create a shared vision and purpose that employees subscribe to and want to be a part of as they continue working in the firm.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?

Our people strategy has certainly paid off. In 2021, KPMG in Singapore made the list of LinkedIn’s top 15 Singapore companies – as a people’s choice of the best workplaces to grow your career in.

Diversity and global talent development have also featured strongly for us. We achieved the gold award for 2021 Best Global Talent Exchange programme at the Human Resources Online 2021 Employee Experience Awards for making diversity key to delivering on our global business.

Fostering a collaborative, positive and open approach to women's empowerment and leadership also led to a silver award for the 2021 Best Women Leadership Programme by Human Resources Online. KPMG in Singapore was also the only Big 4 firm shortlisted for Best Employee Wellness Strategy by Human Resources Online, in recognition of the holistic slew of initiatives dedicated towards boosting the mental, emotional, social, physical, and financial well-being of employees.

What we’re observing is that people-centred talent development strategies are not just leading to happier and self-motivated employees. Our 3,200-strong workforce has indicated that they are proud to be part of an inclusive organisation that recognises their goals and supports them at different stages of their life.

We dare say that KPMG in Singapore has a highly engaged talent pool driven to create quality solutions, and they are motivated with that dedication to deliver excellence and foresight.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?

It is always good to be among strong practitioners of human resources to enculturate best people practices in the industry, while keeping us focused on constantly evolving our strategies and initiatives to be in step with the giants.

Being recognised for our people-centric culture and talent development programmes tells us we are on track in fostering a healthy firm-wide culture – one that creates positive energy and excites talent.

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

The new normal has introduced fresh ways of learning and development, even as we continue to stretch talent via international assignments. We are also giving close attention to raising the bar on our women leadership programmes so that they have focused development opportunities, while scoring achievements alongside the males in the firm.

The partners in the firm are taking an active interest in driving the agenda for leadership development holistically. Our employees do look up to senior leadership for role modelling, so we’re heartened to see management take personal ownership over the talent engagement and development process.

Q Do share some tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

Companies should seek out a nexus between the firm’s values as well as employees’ needs and interests.

Finding this sweet spot can be critical if strategies and initiatives are to resonate with the workforce. It is also crucial to secure the support of senior leadership as they will need to closely steer the agenda, give pivotal direction to shape company values and culture, and set the tone for people development.

Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?

Employees that come here will most certainly grow both in experience and intellectually – simply due to the fact that we are a firm that actively seeks out early trends and emerging technologies to provide the insights that help clients arrive at quality solutions ahead of the market.

Yet even as we push the envelope daily, culturally, we remain close-knit like a family, while being committed to diversity, excellence, never-ending learning, and making a difference to those around us!


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