Kelly Tay, Head of Talent & Learning, ROPU ASEAN, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Boehringer Ingelheim

In our rapidly changing world, employee skills — such as intrapreneurship, agility, empathy, and collaborative leadership — are fundamental to an institution’s ability to grow into the future, writes Kelly Tay, Head of Talent & Learning, ROPU ASEAN, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, Boehringer Ingelheim.

It can be concerning to see new attitudes such as ‘quiet quitting’ and trends like the Great Resignation among the working population today. Quiet quitting refers to doing the minimum requirement of one’s job and putting in no more time, effort, or enthusiasm than necessary.

But at the core of these trends is the push to work smarter, not harder. The work culture and environment should be positive and well-balanced for employees to thrive. In our rapidly changing world, employee skills — such as intrapreneurship, agility, empathy, and collaborative leadership — are fundamental to an institution’s ability to grow into the future. The pitfalls of ignoring these skills can lead to a loss of opportunity and competitiveness, along with increased redundancy and inefficiency.

The ideal shift for employees is to be a changemaker – someone who takes creative action to solve a social problem. For an employer, creating a culture of changemakers is at the heart of people empowerment and business success. It requires a mindset shift where corporations encourage the co-creation of systems together with their employees and partners.

This requires three fundamentals:

1. Promoting a safe environment for experimentation

Social intrapreneurship is a methodology for sparking, cultivating, advancing, and scaling social innovation within institutions. It involves intrapreneurial employees capitalising on trends such as technology advancement and globalisation, and deploying agile, startup strategies. Social entrepreneurs are often tackling unique problems and have game-changing solutions to serving communities. They see the patterns in the field and often innovate to create solutions that empower society to solve issues. This brings a new perspective into corporations and unleashes new innovation pathways and thinking. These new perspectives can help inspire new ideas and creative solutions to current work problems.

One way to inspire employees to be changemakers is to provide a safe environment where employees feel encouraged to share and refine their ideas, to eventually turn them into reality. Through working with like-minded partners, organisations reinforce the value of co-creation and collaboration and can advance social innovation internally. Boehringer Ingelheim partners with Ashoka, one of the world’s largest networks of social entrepreneurs, to develop intrapreneurial strategies for creating social and business impact in the health and wellness space. In the region, employees participate in our B-Effect employee development programme which exposes them to social responsibility, intrapreneurship, and sustainability topics impacting their local communities.

While it is important that organisations provide opportunities for employees to take these new perspectives and apply them to their work, it is also essential that leaders recognise and nurture employees’ initiative to apply learning in their everyday life.

2. Continuous learning platforms to nurture agile leaders in organisations

Organisations have a responsibility to support employees in reaching their full potential. This includes providing the best conditions for our people, communities, and partners along our value chain to enable them to reach their full potential, to be changemakers, and to impact health and societal challenges.

Aside from online resources and classroom training, corporations need to cater to all learning styles and offer various learning platforms to cater to employee preferences and needs. For example, short-term assignments can empower employees with an immersive and experiential opportunity to apply changemaking skills and practices. Others may prefer more personable, relationship-based learning, and it is therefore important that leaders can also double as mentors and coaches and are equipped with the tools to personalise these experiences.

Working with external partners can also provide more opportunities to co-create sustainable social impact solutions. Boehringer Ingelheim and Ashoka developed a six-week online course as part of the global Making More Health (MMH) initiative to explore innovative pathways to improve access to healthcare for people, animals, and communities around the world. The initiative equips participants with essential skills to push new frontiers within an organisation, such as leveraging shared value and navigating institutional hurdles during the social intrapreneurial journey.

Beyond skills learning, to date, it has also allowed more than 1,000 participants to connect with a network of intrapreneurs and innovators to share their ideas and engage with the global Ashoka network, including Ashoka Fellows, staff, and other innovators, through the MMH Connect digital engagement platform.

3. Developing a diverse and culturally inclusive workforce

Being a changemaker requires empathy and emotional intelligence. These soft skills help individuals analyse problems through different perspectives. In a diverse region like Asia Pacific, it is especially important that we are understanding and respectful of the various cultural elements that can influence aspects of how a business operates within its community.

As an organisation powered by our people, we must ensure these values are reflected in our talent.

Regional exchange programmes can also be a good way to encourage continuous learning and increase exposure to different environments. For example, Boehringer Ingelheim’s Regional Talent Move programme allows employees to take on a stretch assignment in a different country for up to six months to work on a project or business problem. From the company’s perspective, it also ensures a healthy pipeline of talents who are culturally aware, have strong business acumen, and can flexibly adapt and apply learnings where relevant.

Conclusion

While quiet quitting is essentially a loud call for a life beyond work, having a changemaker mindset will enable employees to find purpose in their careers and be a catalyst of change in their lives. In order to instill this mindset, we need to relook at how we can best inspire within employees an intrinsic sense of purpose and passion for changemaking. We should also provide them with the tools to master the relevant skills which can unlock their potential to address internal needs, helping them make a far-reaching impact on people around them and in the broader society.


Photo / Provided [Featuring the author, Kelly Tay]

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