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With different generations in the workforce, come different views and preferences towards workplace practices. In this case study, Syukri Sudari, Chief People Officer at AXA Affin General Insurance shares how the company uses this as a strength, thus ensuring high employee engagement.
A compressed working schedule arrangement (CWSA), FWAs, increased parental allocation, and a diverse and inclusive environment – these are some of the key initiatives AXA Affin General Insurance has implemented.
The general insurance company employs a workforce comprising largely of Millennials (53%), while Gen X take up 40%; 6% of its workforce is made up of Baby Boomers, while Gen Z make up the smallest group (1%). Thus, recognising the generational differences and needs, the company turned to customising and innovating its policies to help its employees achieve work-life integration, says Syukri Sudari, Chief People Officer at AXA Affin General Insurance.
First, the CWSA (also known as alternative Fridays) gives employees the option to take two Mondays or Fridays off work each month, by working an extra 45 minutes for nine consecutive days.
Second, under the FWA scheme, employees can choose from staggered working hours, flexible lunch hours, an Employee Social Responsibility Leave (for volunteering causes), and diversified leave for celebrations, examinations, compassionate reasons, and more.
Third, to cater to varied parental needs, parents with newborns are offered a four-month maternity leave scheme, as well as one month of paternity leave. On top of all that, the company makes it a point to organise various engagement activities around diversity, family values, health and wellness, such as International Women’s Day, Corporate Responsibility Week, and Family Day.
Given that different generations may be receptive to different forms of communications, Syukri says: “We believe in reaching out to our multigenerational workforce through their preferred channels – hence, we have multiple communication platforms. Openness is key in the company.
“We have open working spaces and fun meeting rooms to encourage discussions, an open door concept with our C-Suite, Workplace (internal social platform), as well as a relaxing common area, or better known as the chill out area, for our people to relax and mingle.”
Overcoming challenges: Creating more value for each generation
ROIs aside, according to Syukri, the biggest challenge is in being creative in the HR practices to create more value for each generation’s employees.
The team has also faced situations where a particular initiative received different reactions. For example, he explains, when the CWSA was first rolled out, it was very well-received by the Millennials, but was not as popular among Gen X and the Baby Boomers, who preferred shorter working hours each day. To address this, the team introduced staggered working hours for the segments who preferred to work shorter working hours in a day.
Given the above, he believes listening to the people is key to promoting a balance between each generation’s needs and wants.
When people know that we are genuine in helping them, they will be more open to speaking up, and in return, we will be able to find more creative ways to implement initiatives that really matter to them.
Further, on ensuring not too much strain on the HR budget in doing so, he adds: “Implementing a new initiative may not necessarily have to involve extra costs. Let’s take our CWSA as an example. It was an agile approach to allow our people to achieve greater work-life integration and drive higher productivity without incurring an additional HR budget. Based on our survey among our people managers, teamwork and accountability among our people have only increased.”
Despite these initial challenges, the ROI gained from these initiatives has proven worthwhile. At AXA Affin, this ROI is measured and tracked both quantitatively and qualitatively, providing employees with the opportunity to give their feedback either anonymously or in full transparency.
One of the ways this is done is through the tri-monthly Global Pulse Survey, which measures key metrics such as the employee net promoter score and engagement rate to gather feedback on strategic alignment, values, and more. As Syukri says, the survey’s latest results have recorded a high engagement rate from employees, with positive and encouraging trends.
Additionally, there is Amber, an AI chatbot, which acts as the CEO’s virtual assistant, and seeks employees’ feedback throughout their journey with AXA.
“Since its launch in February 2019, Amber has reached out to more than 600 employees, with 81% of those who responded giving positive feedback.”
Concluding this interview, Syukri shares a piece of advice on the pitfalls to avoid when catering to the different the generations’ wants and needs: “Never make assumptions! It is always important to validate your hypothesis in the development of HR policies.
“While we may accumulate better understanding of working with a multigenerational workforce over the years, it is important for us to validate our hypothesis and keep an open mind.”
This interview first appeared as part of a Talent Management feature in the Human Resources magazine Malaysia, Q3 edition. Read the magazine below!
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