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Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: DFS Group’s meaningful people programmes
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Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable: DFS Group’s meaningful people programmes


This article is brought to you by DFS Group

By digitalising and streamlining HR processes, HR has been able to focus more on talent development to support the company’s future growth.

Albert Einstein said once: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value”. This quote deeply resonates with DFS Group, the world’s leading luxury travel retailer, part of the Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) Group. The company is committed to delivering true value to its employees through outstanding experience, and believes that HR plays a critical role as a strategic contributor.

“The role of HR has never been so important,” affirms Alex Richardson, Executive Vice President, Human Resources. “HR will play a critical role in designing more agile operating models, building digital capabilities in all employees, and embedding new ways of working.”

To allow HR at DFS to focus deeper on talent development and performance management, it became imperative to improve the function’s overall efficiencies. This came with the launch of ‘Project Genesis’, a multi-phased project to transform HR’s processes, people, and tools.

dfs aug 2022 office

Under the project, a new unified core HR system named ‘HRCONNECT’ was introduced. This new system has digitalised and streamlined HR processes, with added self-service capabilities, providing single-source-of-truth data access to both employees and managers. Through this one-stop gateway, all DFS employees globally are empowered to have greater control over and visibility into their own data, the time to complete HR transactions has been reduced, and access to HR resources has become easier through mobile devices.

The system has integrated additional modules such as recruiting, onboarding, compensation, and other enterprise applications such as claims and active directory. This supports HR dashboarding, analytics and other non-HR processes to provide better insights and flexibility for DFS Group to implement the talent agenda and new initiatives.

Seeing as being able to focus further on talent development was one of the objectives from this project, success in that sphere has also been achieved in tandem.

With the support from its senior leadership team, DFS Group relaunched its Graduate Development Programme in 2021 after a short pause due to the pandemic. This initiative places early-career professionals through an 18 to 24-month job rotation within DFS Group to fast-track their careers, and grow and develop their leadership skills through personalised, hands-on experiential training under the expert guidance of managers, coaches, and mentors. The programme received over 3,500 applications and over 30 high-potential management trainees (MTs) were hired globally.

dfs aug 2022 office 2

New ideas are continuously added to maintain freshness and relevance in the programme, such as revamping the incentive framework to reward MTs every six months based on performance, as well as expanding and creating four new tracks including finance, HR, digital, and data science to help build skills for the future.

Tying people initiatives together holistically, DFS Group went the extra mile to ensure to enhance employee wellbeing and engagement by providing flexible work arrangements, financial support, and building a collaboration platform ‘MyDFS’. A full-time barista, bar facilities, and harbour views can be found in its Hong Kong head office in Quarry Bay, while its employee experience team sets a calendar of employee engagement and wellness events each month.

“HR must continue to step up its impact across businesses to ensure the attraction and retention of talent needed for growth, and steward organisations through the new normal of ongoing change and disruption,” emphasises Richardson. “Post-pandemic, people will be looking for purpose in the work they do and HR will have a role to play in helping employees find meaningful connection.”

Photos / DFS Group

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