P&G stock image of their team

Procter & Gamble (P&G) took home the gold award for 'Excellence in Corporate Wellness', and the silver award for 'Excellence in Talent Management' at the HR Excellence Awards 2021, Singapore.

In this interview, Sonali Roychowdhury, Vice President, HR, Singapore Headquarters, and Product Supply Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, P&G, shares how the organisation cares for its people, from the bottom to the top, with various workplace and individual wellbeing strategies.

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

P&G was founded over 180 years ago, and throughout our growth from a small soap company to the largest consumer goods company in the world, we have stood by one belief: the best people build the best brands. This strategy starts with equipping the company with the best talent in the market, then we focus on growing their skills and capabilities to enable the company to win. We also believe in improving the lives of our employees with the best corporate wellness programmes, which have become more critical during the pandemic.

Our campus hiring strategy is designed to attract and recruit the best talents of each generation into our signature internship programmes or graduate roles. As a ‘build from within’ company, we evaluate candidates for their long-term success at P&G, and continually groom them to take on future leadership positions.

Our career and capability development programme allows our employees to take on stretch assignments across different parts of our business to gain well-rounded experience, and to prepare them for leadership roles.

Our employee wellbeing strategy focuses on three core areas:

  • Firstly, 'Healthy Body' embraces holistic self-care, nutrition, and ergonomics, including features like health checks and flu vaccinations.
  • Secondly, 'Happy Minds' builds resilience within our teams and improves our mental wellbeing, with dedicated support, coaching services, and increased flexible working arrangements.
  • Finally, 'Meaningful Heart' fosters a better sense of community within our teams, both internally and externally.

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 believe that a healthy workplace is the foundation of any successful business. A big part of our strategy is in building the capability of our managers and supervisors, so that they can play a big role in developing and taking care of their teams.

Recently we introduced a new annual performance review and recognition programme, which is built around the philosophy of growth mindset. We have evolved how we set priorities, assess progress, and reward individuals, so that they are empowered to create even greater impact.

I’m proud to say that our health and wellness strategy has helped us keep our people safe during the pandemic. We have improved our personal wellbeing and work-life effectiveness feedback scores, as measured by our employee survey.

We raised awareness on employee mental wellbeing through the introduction of mental health first aiders to offer emergency response to anyone in need.

Senior leaders create an open and conducive environment as they talk about mental wellbeing as an imperative, and provide personal anecdotes for employees to relate to.

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?

The COVID-19 pandemic posed a major obstacle in our traditional organisation programmes, but I believe that with challenges come opportunities. During the pandemic, we have had a strong focus on keeping our people and our workplaces safe with superior onsite health and safety practices, virtual work arrangements, and strict adherence to all health and safety management measures as they evolved.

As a company that has always had a work-from-home policy and infrastructure in place, we were able to seamlessly adapt to virtual ways of working, in line with all Ministry of Health (MOH) regulations. We made sure we had comprehensive planning and communication for all our new programmes, to keep our people informed as situations evolved.

The pandemic enabled us to learn much about the way we work, to reset some of our thinking, and to create a better ecosystem for our people with greater flexibility.

Today, we are learning more about hybrid ways of working, embracing a mixture of office and online work. While we are well-equipped for virtual working, we also believe that frequent connections in our offices are critical for culture building, people development, and for the spirited collaboration, problem-solving, and invention to drive our business.

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?

Our goal is to build an empowered, agile, and accountable organisation, to enable us to deliver our priorities all around the world. We continually review our programmes to ensure we are delivering our organisation objectives, through audits, data evaluation, and employee surveys. We are also required to contribute results for our global shareholder report, showing our commitment to employee wellbeing.

Through our intentional efforts to put our employees’ health, wellbeing, and development first, P&G was able to achieve visible results. Employee engagement scores increased and there were positive increases in work-life effectiveness and personal wellbeing scores in our employee survey. Through our strength in digital capabilities, we have been able to maintain a strong internship and recruitment programme even throughout the pandemic and have been able to continue hiring and developing our exceptional talent.

I’m proud that we were also able to support our communities throughout the pandemic, with millions donated in PPE, P&G products and monetary support to various charities and frontline health organisations.

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?

I believe within HR – like with all our teams, we must embrace diversity of leadership styles. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to leadership. Therefore, curiosity and learning agility is a critical skill of any leader now, and even more so for HR, so that we can learn, leverage and grow very diverse organisations, and our own skills.

The second is growth mindset. This is important in a company where we need a spirit of innovation and a mindset of ‘constructive disruption’. We recognise that progress is a journey over time, and we must be flexible and agile to respond to the evolving needs of our business and our people.

Finally, the past two years has taught us the incredible power and importance of resilience. We all experience challenges, the key is how well we respond to those challenges and pick ourselves back up after adversity. I truly believe that a successful and sustainable leader, is a happy and healthy leader, and we need to role model this behaviour and culture within our teams.


Image / Provided by P&G

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

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!