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Case study: How Grey Group Singapore achieved 87% staff satisfaction

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– With inputs from Aditi Sharma Kalra

Rossana Quagliana, HR head, Grey Group Singapore, and Rumki Fernandes, regional director – talent and HR, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Grey Group, reflect on how implementing benefits in line with staff values helped turn around the perception and culture of the agency.

Today, Millennials make up the bulk of the workforce. Knowing that Millennials are much more concerned about benefits that are in line with their values and stereotype norms that traditional workplaces have may not be as relevant to them, Grey Group Singapore introduced various programmes to turn around the perception and culture of the agency.

Rossana Quagliana, HR head, Grey Group Singapore, explained: “We’ve seen a trend over the last few years in terms of huge level of interest that employees have in health and wellness. As such, we introduced more health-centred programmes, such as health and safety talks, Grey for Run every Wednesdays and Grey Active with yoga and zumba classes every Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“The benefits of a healthy workforce are much more than just the health of an individual. It’s the general positive attitude that comes from employee programmes.”

Apart from the health-centred programmes, the global advertising and marketing agency also organises various other programmes for employees including training programmes, and an exchange programme.

“Grey employees get various opportunities to continuously grow. Workshops and trainings are conducted in partnership with third party companies like Facebook and Google to help hone the employees’ skills. E-learning is considered part of everyday life at Grey. The parent company WPP regularly conducts training and workshops to zone in on job-related and leadership skills,” Quagliana shared, adding that employees are also regularly sent to other offices for learning and cultural diversity.

The benefits of a healthy workforce are much more than just the health of an individual. It’s the general positive attitude that comes from employee programmes.
– Rossana Quagliana, HR head, Grey Group Singapore

With fun@work being Grey’s mantra, the firm has numerous fun activities for employees including an overseas annual company trip, monthly movie nights, weekly Grey For Run Club and yoga and zumba classes.

“Grey makes everyday life at work a lot of fun, while also encouraging staff to stay healthy,” Quagliana said.

The programmes are initiated by HR and run by the Grey Cray team, which is made up of employees from different departments, nationalities and background.

Quagliana said: “Grey Cray is a great way to engage and involve our employees in planning activities that drive our culture, enabling them to have a role in the building of the company’s culture and also to share their different cultures and practices with the rest of the company.”

Asked if the firm had external help in rolling out the programmes, Quagliana shared that the majority of the events are discussed and arranged internally by the Grey Cray group. As for the Grey Fitness Club, which includes the yoga and zumba classes, the firm works with VP Sports which it sourced via a list of similar providers in Singapore.

“The Grey Cray social club gets together on a weekly basis to discuss about the upcoming events. We often run employee surveys to get a flavor of what our people’s preferences are. In some of our events, we also ensure that prizes are announced and awarded to employees to motivate them to participate,” Quagliana said.

Grey Cray is a great way to engage and involve our employees in planning activities that drive our culture, enabling them to have a role in the building of the company’s culture.
– Rossana Quagliana, HR head, Grey Group Singapore

As the firm believes in the welfare of its employees, the process of getting funding and buy-in from managers was a smooth one.

“In our company, HR is not only a business function which executes the strategic plan of the top management but very much a strategic partner of the business and an integral part of the management committee,” Quagliana explained, adding that the firm sets aside some budget for staff welfare every year.

As a result of these initiatives, in the 2017 Grey Singapore employee satisfaction survey, a majority of employees (87%) revealed that they were satisfied and happy at work. The bulk of the firms employees also expressed that Grey Group Singapore is a fun place to work with an open culture where they feel empowered to do their best. As an added bonus, Grey Group Singapore was listed as one of the best companies to work for in Asia in 2017.

Asked if the firm will roll out these programmes throughout the region, Rumki Fernandes, regional director – talent and HR, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Grey Group, said: “As Singapore remains our regional head office, we tend to ‘test market’ a lot of our thinking here, with the idea to roll them out to the other markets – across Asia, Middle East and Africa. No doubt we are conscious of the cultural diversities of the huge geographic region where our footprint lies, and hence will always evaluate the appropriateness of any new initiatives, before launching them.”

She added that like many global organisations, decision making in Grey is quite decentralised which means, buy-in of the leadership team and key stakeholders is key to the success of any programme.

“Towards that, we spend a lot of time communicating with the local management on the initiatives to be launched and ensure that they have complete understanding of the program. This also allows them to make better use of their knowledge and experience and makes the implementation a joint responsibility,” Fernandes added.

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