"At Carlsberg, leaders drive a performance-based culture where we deliver today, whilst taking care of tomorrow by creating an inclusive work environment and ensuring a strong pipeline of future leaders," says Pauline Lim, HR Director.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Malaysia, Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia won the following awards:

  • Bronze - Best First-Time Manager Programme
  • Bronze - Best Succession Planning Strategy
  • Gold - Best Crisis Management and Leadership

In this interview, Pauline Lim Maan Heong, Human Resource Director, Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia, shares the secrets behind these wins - and how, the company's purpose which is ‘brewing for a better today and tomorrow’ guides in everything it does for employees.

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

Thank you very much! In Carlsberg, our purpose which is ‘brewing for a better today and tomorrow’ guides us in everything we do, be it for employees, customers, shareholders, or the society. Year on year, the people pillar has always been one of Carlsberg Malaysia’s strategic priorities, of which we continuously drive a high-performing and engaged culture through having the right people, outstanding leadership, and a winning culture.

Our key focuses include accelerating talent development towards a strong building succession pipeline, continuous performance feedback, effective engagement, and communication as well as rewarding and recognising high performance.

​​​​​​​It is crucial that people leaders role model and walk the talk.

At Carlsberg, our leaders drive a performance-based culture where we deliver today, whilst taking care of tomorrow by creating an inclusive work environment and ensuring a strong pipeline of future leaders.

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

The past year-and-a-half have indeed been an unprecedented and challenging time for many organisations including Carlsberg. With the ongoing pandemic situation leading to business uncertainties, concerns over safety and health as well as continuous remote working, it has not been easy for our employees both physically and mentally. Hence just like our production and commercial plans, our people strategy also needed to be agile in line with the situation.

While driving a high-performing and engaged culture stays our aim, we responded quickly to keep the safety and wellbeing of our people at top priority. This includes developing and implementing measures, policies, and interventions to ensure our employees are cared for. At the same time, we found creative and effective ways to ensure continuous engagement and development actions, leveraging substantially on digital platforms which are very much suited to the current workforce generation.

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

Changes are never easy for everyone, and it’s easier when we acknowledge that fact first and foremost. It also did not help that remote working and no dine-ins/gatherings led to employees feeling disconnected from one another.

Not many are able to adapt quickly to virtual or digital platforms, and it can be challenging to get things done with speed while working remotely, especially in ambiguous situations.

Strong leadership has been crucial in helping us overcome the challenges. Our leaders make fast and objective decisions, as well as empower and trust our people. Teamwork, commitment, resilience, and adaptability demonstrated by all our employees have led Carlsberg to continue to thrive throughout the pandemic thus far.    

Clear two-way communication through various platforms is also very important in a time like this. Employees need clarity on the company’s direction and at the same time are encouraged to provide feedback on an ongoing basis.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? 

Our recent 2021 employee engagement survey shows an increase in engagement score despite a challenging year: and very high scores particularly in the dimensions of team leadership, crisis management as well as clarity on the company’s strategic objectives. This is truly a testimony of strong leadership that balances both business and employee needs.

Other successes are reduction of attrition rate including that of key talent, increased internal career movement ratio vs external hires, as well as increased number of learning hours by employees.

Last but definitely not least, I would say that one of our most significant ROI in the past year is in the safety and wellbeing of our people. There have been zero fatalities due to COVID-19 so far and zero lost-time accidents surpassing two years.

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

This is our first time ever joining the Employee Experience Awards, the whole experience is still very surreal to us, can’t believe that we won these amazing awards, especially during this challenging pandemic period where there are a lot of unpredictable situations, and we have had to change, adapt and manage the issues coming our way almost on a daily basis.

Winning these awards is indication to our hard work paying off as HR professionals and as a company that leads with care. 

These awards motivate us to keep doing what we do best for our employees and the society. Times have been tough and yet our efforts being recognised meant a lot to the team and our employees when we are part of this amazing journey alongside other companies who participated in this award.

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

Sustainability will be the key for us to continue to do what we do best and looking into what we can do better to improve. Listening to our employees’ feedback through 2021 employee engagement survey and focus group discussions will be part of this improvement journey. With the ever changing situation, we shall adapt and change for a 'better today and tomorrow'.

We pledge to continue to strive in this period of uncertainty with the promise of our employee value proposition, 'smarter working forces joining, a better you is brewing'.

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

Teamwork makes the dream work, and of course, prioritising what we wanted to achieve. The team came together, to discuss and decide on which categories of the award we would like to share best practices in, have excelled with impactful stories to share, and substantiated them with testimonials and measurable outcomes.

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

Inspiring work, serious play, a happier you is brewing.

Image / Provided

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

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