digital transformation

"With innovation in our DNA, our future plans include greater adoption of Agile methodology across all business units, so we can embark on a constant ‘test & learn’ methodology to try new things and implement processes," says Pearly Tan, Head of HR Shared Services, Thales, SEA.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, Thales received the silver award for Best HR Digital Transformation Strategy.

In this interview, Pearly Tan, Head of HR Shared Services, Thales, SEA, shares the secrets behind this win - how the organisation leverages technology not just to improve HR processes, but to create a work environment that respects the people experience.

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

With 2,000 employees across four Thales sites in Singapore, and a diverse employee base that ranges from millennials to employees who have been with the company since its inception, HR in Thales focuses on supporting a multigenerational workforce while embarking on a wave of digital transformation.

Digital transformation is not just about advancing technology, but also ensuring that these solutions support our employees—bringing the less tech-savvy ones up-to-speed with digitalisation. Globally, Thales introduces an interactive cloud-based digital HR platform that harmonises employee data from a single source. The platform enables employees to manage their HR-related transactions seamlessly across multiple devices for faster approval on-the-go, providing convenience both for themselves and their managers.

As a mark of continuous improvement and agility, we also focus on streamlining other HR processes and system, including robotic process automation (RPA), digital submissions, and a digital learning platform. These tools enhance the employee experience, provide efficiency, and equip our HR team to better support the diverse employee base.

Despite having to adjust to new ways of working during the pandemic, including working from home by default, we ensure that through digital technology adoption, our employees are well-supported and connected.

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

Change is always accompanied by some resistance, but we adopt various initiatives to encourage technology adoption early. We build awareness internally through publicity campaigns in the lead-up to the launch of the digital platform, as well as provide tailored trainings for different groups of employees. Quick-study guides are made available through short video clips so employees could adopt tips quickly.

The Thales Group refreshed its global leadership model to adapt with the changing times. The leadership model comprises three broad elements: Think Big, Make-it-Happen, and Together.

A key tenet of the model emphasises the importance of accountability, and how Thales expects its leaders and employees to embrace changes in the digital transformation journey.

This model defines behaviours we want our employees to demonstrate in their journey with Thales, and encourages employees to take control of their own careers.

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

There were quite a few digital transformation initiatives implemented, but a successful one to highlight would be the global interactive cloud-based digital HR platform, which integrates many HR processes into one single system. That system saw an adoption rate of close to 90% by the end of 2020.

As a technology leader, Thales also leverages automation in our processes to ensure that our HR teams are truly working on value-added tasks. Using RPA, manual and repetitive tasks, including approval of claims and creation of digitally-signed letters were automated—resulting in time savings of over 50%.

By doing away with manual submissions of hardcopy forms and claims, we were also able to reduce paper printing and filing by 30%, thereby helping HR be a greener and more sustainable partner within Thales.

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

Digital initiatives remain dynamic and ideas that are appropriate and innovative at this moment may quickly become obsolete within a few years. As part of our ongoing journey towards digitalisation and enhancing the overall employee experience, our three takeaways are:

  • To have continuous support from top management;
  • To embrace change, and
  • To encourage an open mindset.

With innovation in our DNA, our future plans include greater adoption of Agile methodology across all business units, so we can embark on a constant ‘test & learn’ methodology to try new things and implement processes.

We also need to continue providing regular communication and trainings to employees to prepare them for future digital initiatives.

Change management is key, so assisting employees through any sort of change, and listening to feedback so we can enhance the user experience will feature high on our priorities.

We encourage all employees at Thales to align with the Thales leadership model to “Think big, make it happen and together”.


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