Wani Azahar speaks to DBS, Sephora, Bosch, Volvo Trucks, and YOTEL Singapore on trends that are creating waves in training and development.
Companies today devote time, effort and money into corporate training, but such training can drive a competitive advantage only if done effectively. From digital transformation to collaborative learning, Wani Azahar speaks to leaders from DBS, Sephora, Bosch, Volvo Trucks, and YOTEL Singapore to identify trends that are stirring the region's learnscape in this exclusive.
DBS banks on supporting its NSmen staff
Headquartered and listed in Singapore, DBS has more than 280 branches across 18 markets, and a growing presence in the three key Asian axes of growth: Greater China, Southeast Asia and South Asia. As a bank born and bred in Asia, DBS understands the intricacies of doing business in the region’s most dynamic markets. This understanding drives a passion towards building training and development programmes to help employees grow their careers at DBS.
“It is about going beyond education and using the triple E framework (education, experience, exposure) to help employees stay ahead and be future-ready, support lifelong learning and equip them with skill sets for the digital age,” says Theresa Phua, managing director, group business HR, and Singapore HR head of DBS Bank.
For that, the bank has its DBS Academy, a 40,000 square-foot innovative learning centre in Singapore which offers a progressive, integrated and career-based learning curriculum for employees. Going beyond the classroom, it integrates a suite of e-learning programmes to enable employees to learn anytime, anywhere.
In 2017, DBS Horizon was launched – its cloud-based learning management system where staff can take charge of their own training and enrol for training or digital courses of interest.
Additionally, DBS recently launched DigiFY, a digital curriculum designed to take its employees from bankers to digital bankers by developing digital literacy at all levels of employees. Phua says: “Through our internal mobility programme, employees can take on different roles every two to three years across businesses and geographies in the bank.”
On top of this, DBS encourages experiential learning and experimentations through its DBS Xplore programme, where employees have the opportunity to participate in cross-departmental projects to stretch themselves.
Our NSman employees share with their colleagues learning points gained from their NS training that can be brought over to work.
- Theresa Phua, managing director, group business HR, and Singapore HR head of DBS Bank
These programmes and initiatives allow its National Service Man (NSman) employees the opportunity to share their NS training and leverage on the skill sets they have been equipped with from the NS, such as leadership teamwork and problem solving.
Over the years, the bank has observed its programmes have been well-received based on positive feedback. “More employees have come forward to share their experiences on how these programmes have helped them to achieve work-life balance. In addition, good people results and external validation also reinforce our success.”
According to her, going through these training programmes together allows employees to build camaraderie, allowing them to strengthen relationships for more effective collaboration at work.
“Our NSman employees share with their colleagues learning points gained from their NS training that can be brought over to work. Employees without NS commitments at DBS can also have a greater understanding of NS which is an essential institution of our nation’s defence,” she remarked.
Speaking more on its support for NSMen, she revealed that out of 11,077 employees that are based in Singapore, about 10% of its employees are active NSmen and have leveraged their NS leaves. “As an HR business partner, I understand the need for our employees to balance the various roles in their professional and personal lives, as well as contribute to the community. For employees to be the best they can be, it’s important that DBS provides a supportive environment, particularly for our NSmen employees who need to fulfil their NS commitments and sustain work-life NS effectiveness.”
Sephora transforms the way staff learns
Similar to many industries, transformation and disruption is very much prevalent in the retail industry and even more so with the entrance of e-commerce players and how they are changing the way people used to shop.
On that note, globally recognised beauty brand Sephora spent the whole of 2017 working with KPMG on a transformation project to redesign the whole organisation to cater to the needs of shoppers today and in the future.
With a good-45,000 staff worldwide and nearly 1,500 in Southeast Asia, Sephora recognised the need, like other companies, to rapidly shift, and geared this with two questions in mind – how do you (as HR) help organisations transform, and how do you help people with the demands from job roles of the future?
When parent company LVMH Group bought digital start-up Luxola three years ago, it has been a focus for Sephora to have both its e-commerce and brick and mortar working in parallel. Aiming to be more customer-centric (and in this case, customers of the future who look at shopping both online and offline), it has been a three-year transformation journey with a clear aim on how it can reorganise itself for that customer of the future.
Following Sephora’s announcement of its leadership team in January 2018, the brand is currently in stage two of the transformation journey. Dylan Choong, HR VP, SEA, Sephora, comments: “We’re looking at whether we could move the organisation into the design that we spoke of. We have to think: What are the critical capabilities or functions that will need to go first. Especially with country offices and teams, where do we prioritise certain capabilities?”
“This year, it’s really about how we can move to our target operating model. At the same time, when it comes to the learning needs – how do we upskill our people for the transformation over time? The customer is evolving, and we are also moving in tandem.”
We cannot run a business and say that both sides operate in parallel. The e-commerce staff need to understand the complexities of running a brick and mortar store, while in-store staff simply can’t just have a store event and hope for customers to come.
– Dylan Choong, HR VP, SEA, Sephora
Elaborating more on the capabilities required, the staff in Sephora stores will have the expertise on driving a real-life interactive customer experience, while its staff on the digital side are trained to read and analyse data.
Additionally, with store-based employees making up nearly 80% of its employees, he explains it’s more than just about greeting customers. It’s about understanding whether they’ve had prior interaction – and this is where office-based staff come in as they are more insights-driven.
“We cannot run a business and say that both sides operate in parallel. The e-commerce staff need to understand the complexities of running a brick and mortar store, while in-store staff simply can’t just have a store event and hope for customers to come,” he says.
“In-store staff need to know what are the conversion rates, or what type of customers are coming in. This learning from each other helps them aim at the right customers to predict the highest level of turn-up in-store. They need to understand how customers operate not only in a singular or multi-channel, but also across various channels when they shop.”
Taking its Beauty Advisor app as an example, he sheds light on how such technology-based training helps both staff and company. In fact, Sephora found that staff who used the app saw a higher conversion rate (72%) compared with staff who didn’t (14%).
Done via controlled-testing, he reaffirms how data supports measuring the success of the brand’s campaigns.
Speaking more on his personal mantra when it comes to T&D, he says: “Be an advocate of what you preach. For me, it’s to go through it yourself. Proper certification for yourself, and encourage employees to go through it too. It’s about lifelong learning and getting upskilled throughout your professional journey.”
Bosch connects learners through collaboration
With a global headcount of 40,200, Bosch is an internationally recognised electrical and engineering company with offices in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and more. Leading its 850-strong regional headquarters in Singapore is Jane Tham, HR director of Bosch Southeast Asia, who draws attention to digital knowledge-sharing at the company.
“The biggest trend, honestly, is going digital. It might be overused, but it’s a fact. It’s really on how you materialise it. Here at Bosch, we start it at the very first step of the employee life cycle; during onboarding – or as we like to call it i-boarding,” she says.
“Putting fun in learning is also important; which is why gamification is huge here at Bosch. And, of course, we believe in bite-sized and mobile learning – and this is where our e-university plays its part.”
How all of us learn is different. From a T&D perspective, what’s important is to provide different avenues of learning for staff.
- Jane Tham, HR director of Bosch Southeast Asia
Open to all staff, the Bosch e-university offers staff exclusive modules and programmes that are delivered via an online platform. According to Tham, the next two years will see the company driving awareness and utilisation of its digital learning platforms.
“We’re looking at many ways to drive awareness. It could be drastic measures such as stopping all classroom learning, or something more subtle such as a learning day where we’ll shut our computers for 15 minutes and be fed nuggets of information. Such micro-learning helps to keep productivity at its optimum and yet cater to the short attention (spans) that we have now.”
Furthermore, Bosch understands the effectiveness of knowledge-sharing or collaborative learning.
“Everyone’s target at Bosch is simple – which is to bring in revenue for the company. With that in mind, our cross-selling campaigns allow staff to bid for a project. For this, they need to work together with different business units to attain the campaign goals, and hence, drive collaboration,” she says.
“You not only get to know how other business units operate, but also share the knowledge you have in your field.”
In fact, Bosch has an employee who was in corporate communications, and is now doing product communications after being in his previous role for almost five years.
“How all of us learn is different. From a T&D perspective, what’s important is to provide different avenues of learning for staff.”
Volvo Trucks drives a competitive edge through engagement
Volvo Trucks strongly believes that engagement plays a huge role in developing the competency of employees for future roles. Lending his expertise, Lars-Erik Forsbergh, managing director at Volvo Trucks (Southeast Asia and Japan), says: “Disruptive change driven by digital technology is ongoing and companies should invest in motivating their employees to be continuously learning, pushing for skills development and being innovative.”
The evolution of technology, increasing customer demands and growing competition are urging the group to focus on developing the competence of frontline staff as a regional priority. In his view, the frontline staff is imperative to customer satisfaction, making them key to the company’s success.
“Our frontline staff are key assets, and we aim to increase their performance engagement index.” Volvo Trucks has been investing in innovative training designs to provide learning solutions for all its employees through the Volvo Group University.
A new concept that was introduced includes group talks – a session similar to “Ted Talk” experiences – where employees share their experiences and knowledge with one another on an open platform. Additionally, it also holds the VISTA (Volvo International Service Training Award). An ongoing biennial competition that was started in 1957, it is the world’s largest competition for service market personnel – designed to demonstrate, develop and reward staff’s exceptional knowledge and skills.
Disruptive change driven by digital technology is ongoing and companies should invest in motivating their employees to be continuously learning, pushing for skills development and being innovative.
– Lars-Erik Forsbergh, managing director at Volvo Trucks (Southeast Asia and Japan)
VISTA is targeted towards its aftermarket retail roles such as technicians, parts personnel, service advisors and foremen. VISTA is a mass training activity that helps technicians expand their knowledge and maximise their competence on customer satisfaction and teamwork. According to Forsbergh, the popularity of the programme is testament to its success. In fact, the latest edition of VISTA recorded the largest number of participants, with more than 5,200 employees being part of the programme.
“One of our measures of success of VISTA is through the numbers in participation. This year, 231 teams were represented in Gothenburg, Sweden for the semi-finals – of which the top 40 teams progressed to the finals,” he says.
Regionally, Volvo Trucks is happy to have demonstrated achievements in the areas of talent management, leadership development, performance management and competence development. In addition, Volvo Malaysia was awarded “Employer of Choice – Silver Level” for in 2015 and 2017.
“This is a recognition for us as it demonstrates achievements in the areas of talent management, leadership development, performance management and competence development. As part of the Volvo Trucks culture, the firm continues to promote open and honest dialogue among employees and leaders,” he concludes.
YOTEL prioritises on housing digital natives
Tech-forward hotel, YOTEL’s HR strategy centres on attracting those who are open to different platforms of learning. Jillian Cheong, director of human resources at YOTEL Singapore, highlights how housekeeping is one of the roles often shunned by job seekers in the hospitality industry. However, it is also one of the crucial components that contribute to the hotel’s success, particularly through guest satisfaction.
She says: “We truly value our cabin crew (housekeeping department) at YOTEL, and therefore our rooms are designed to facilitate housekeeping. Meanwhile, we leverage robotics and technology to simplify and ease their workload, as well as strengthen efficiency.”
She believes that virtual reality and augmented reality will be adopted to provide real-world experiential training scenarios this year. “Through these myriad of simulation scenarios, Millennial employees will be more engaged in participating in T&D schemes to build up their confidence.”
The journey for all our crew members starts right from the day they join. They are each given a training itinerary, which comprises both developmental and technology system training.
- Jillian Cheong, director of human resources at YOTEL Singapore
With an aim to create a vibrant working environment at YOTEL Singapore, job scopes are designed to speak to the heart of the hospitality industry’s future, while in line with the brand’s DNA.
“The journey for all our crew members starts right from the day they join. They are each given a training itinerary, which comprises both developmental and technology system training.”
As YOTEL advocates team spirit, it enforces the idea that it takes different departments to manage and operate a successful hotel.
In the near future, it is looking to provide its team with opportunities to work across different markets, exposing them to various work departments. A firm believer in curating holistic learning pathways for crew members, YOTEL also recognises that soft skills are necessary to stay relevant. As these skills are trained on the job, the hotel crafts innovative training strategies to ensure its crew members remain nimble and flexible to respond to ever-changing needs.
“Communicating and instilling our values helps to supplement our technical skills. We are constantly emphasising our 31 practices – which translates our values into practical actions and behaviours in our daily activities,” she explains.
As a digital brand functioning with an online business model, YOTEL looks out for those who are digital natives at heart.
According to Cheong, embracing digital means that one is open to the adoption of the Internet of Things and analytics to maximise efficiency, providing an unparalleled experience to the YOTEL guest.
“YOTEL’s guests are independent, tech-savvy, value-conscious and no-frills types of travellers of the 21st century, and we are looking for like-minded individuals to join our team. Our crew has to be comfortable to be in a digital-first environment to resolve issues and are unafraid to break conventions to add value,” she says.
“Keeping true to our brand ethos of ‘everything you need and nothing you don’t’, we are focused on efficiency and productivity. With this, we would very much like to build a team of highly versatile and adaptable crew.”
To address these priorities, crew members are trained to stretch their capabilities and explore an area of expertise or interest in which they can develop a life skill.