engagement, productivity, winning secrets

In the era of digital disruption, the HR leader should be able to take on the role of a project manager in managing non-routine work, says Sukawat Penpokai – Head of P&O Strategy, Total Rewards, and Analytics, True Corporation. HR leaders should also be able to work with data and be equipped with consulting capabilities. 

True Corporation took home three Silver and two Gold awards at the inaugural HR Excellence Awards 2021, Thailand:

  • Excellence in HR Change Management - Silver
  • Excellence in Graduate Recruitment and Development - Silver
  • Excellence in Workplace Wellbeing - Silver
  • Excellence in Innovative Use of HR Tech - Gold
  • Excellence in Talent Management - Gold

In this interview, Sukawat, shares the journey that brought the company to these wins — from re-profiling, reskilling and upskilling employees, to developing young talent, and more — resulting in increased productivity and engagement.

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

The vision of our organisation is to transform ourselves into a fully-integrated digital service provider. Human Resources is one of the most critical success factors in achieving so. Along this journey, we have developed and accomplished many strategic initiatives in people transformation, for example, re-profiling, reskilling, upskilling, and young talent development.

In addition, we also changed our way of work to become more agile so that smaller pieces of success, built from various cross-functional project teams around the organisation, come together as a bigger achievement. This people transformation is in fact conducted as part of our organisation's digital transformation strategy. Through these, we expect our organisation to be filled with more and more digital leaders who are well-equipped with the right skills and mindset to help drive the achievement of our vision.

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?

The right people play important roles in driving the organisation toward better productivity. Having said that, productivity implies higher revenue, lower costs, and better customer satisfaction, for example. As HRs, we take full responsibility for driving our people's productivity to meet the organisation’s objectives. We also ensure that these right people or “talents” are taken good care of, both financially and non-financially, through total rewards management.

In addition, our organisational leaders also play an important role in making people transformation a success. In this era of digital disruption, where technology is the key enabler to winning over our competitors, our leaders see the same alignment and thus show their full support for investments in HR technology. This resulted in having a very advanced and innovative HR system, such as an employee self-service application, employee analytics platform, and a performance management & rewarding system.

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?

Similar to other organisations, considering this period of time, the COVID-19 pandemic has been the major challenge we are facing in this transformation journey. Given the fact that the people transformation involves reacting and participating among various stakeholders throughout the organisation; blocking physical appearance makes this transformation even more difficult.

We were lucky enough that part of what we have planned as a long-term strategy was to prepare for the future workplace preparation, where the workforce is ensured of their readiness to be able to work in the new mode of a working environment. With pre-preparation before the COVID-19 pandemic, our employees are prepped with a digital mindset and skills along this people transformation journey. Thus, it helped us to take a very short time to adjust to running this transformation via a virtual environment.

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?

To continuously improve our performance, there are two key metrics that we put very strong focus on.

The first, is productivity. This is measured in the unit of EBITDA per head to reflect how effective workforce management (both quality and quantity) results in a better financial impact on the organisation.

Second, is employee engagement, a metric to measure the overall pulse of our employees as a reflection of how they are being managed. As HRs, our job is to ensure that the employees work happily with us while striving for their maximum productivity at the same time.

These two indicators are displayed in the executive dashboard that we monitor closely at all times, as a people pulse. As a result of transformation, we were able to achieve a 12% increase in productivity and a 5% increase in our employee engagement, in the past few years.

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?

As the business needs to be managed under digital disruption, it is necessary that the leader of HR will also need to be reshaped. In alignment to the digital and people transformation strategy, we see the necessary characters of HR heads to consist of three capabilities, namely, project management, analytical thinking, and consulting. Specifically, the HR head should be able to perform the role of a project manager in managing non-routine works, which tend to increase as the organisation moves toward more agile management.

Additionally, the HR head should be able to comfortably understand and work with data to analyse and provide suggestions and recommendations to other leaders in regards to human resources management aspects.

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Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

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