Learning & Development Asia 2024
Winning Secrets: At Borouge, people excellence is a continuous improvement process, not a one-off occurrence

Winning Secrets: At Borouge, people excellence is a continuous improvement process, not a one-off occurrence

Through its efforts, the HR team has seen a 12% improvement in overall employee engagement score and a high employee retention rate of above 90%.

The integrated talent management framework at Borouge, a provider of polyolefin solutions, covers the full spectrum of the employee life cycle. It utilises multiple touchpoints to constantly benchmark against the market’s best HR practices and processes in many areas such as career development, employee well-being, and people management. As a result, the team enjoys various resulting benefits, such as a 12% improvement in overall employee engagement score and a high employee retention rate of above 90%.

With such strong holistic efforts, it is no surprise that Borouge not only managed to achieve the Overall Winner award at the HR Excellence Awards 2022 in Singapore, but also: 

  • Gold for Excellence in Leadership Development,
  • Gold for Excellence in Talent Management,
  • Gold for Best HR Team (SME),
  • Silver for Excellence in Talent Acquisition, and
  • Bronze for Excellence in Response to COVID-19.

Asmaa Naser Al Kindi, Vice President, Human Capital & Administration (Asia Pacific), Borouge, shares how this sweep was made possible. 

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs and lows of your winning strategy?

At Borouge, our mission is to create value through people and innovation. As a leading petrochemical company, we provide innovative and differentiated polyolefin solutions for the energy, infrastructure, mobility, advanced packaging, healthcare, and agriculture industries, with ‘people excellence’ being integral to our success.

Our greatest strength is our inclusive, diverse, and talented workforce. With strong support from our leadership team, we aspire to be the employer of choice for the most sought-after talents, providing well-rounded experiences for our employees by investing in and supporting them to reach their full potential.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, talent mobility was reduced as the lockdowns caused disruptions to travel, limiting the pool of talents we could tap into for our industry. However, at Borouge, we see an opportunity to embrace technology and digital tools. As we intensified our digital transformation pace, digitalisation became an integral part of Borouge’s journey, implemented across our organisation – from systems, processes, people, technology, and operations.

The pandemic also brought about the new reality of working from home. It became clear that we had to evolve our approach to engage employees and ensure their well-being. With proactive leadership, Borouge stood by employees during these challenging times, advancing our ‘Workplace Well-being Programme’ by adopting a holistic and proactive approach to raise our people’s morale and motivation. The programme is aligned with Borouge’s well-being framework, incorporating five dimensions of wellness, namely health, work, social, intellectual, and emotional.

We constantly strive to keep the programme agile and flexible, and refresh it regularly by adding new activities, benefits, and perks to support employees’ wellness throughout the pandemic. Our relentless commitment towards employee wellbeing was recognised by our people, with employees affirming that they have a positive perception of our workplace wellbeing programmes and activities in our last annual employee engagement survey. The positive feedback we received on these initiatives is heartening.

Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs, and craft this perfect solution?

At Borouge, people excellence is not a one-off occurrence but a continuous improvement process. We have multiple touchpoints to constantly benchmark against the market’s best HR practices, processes, and guidelines, and against our people’s and the organisation’s needs.

As we strive to provide a great place to work that develops and retains the best talent, we are dedicated to delivering a best-in-class employee experience and utilising various channels to understand our people’s needs. This enabled us to capture the employees’ voices and build a genuine connection, which resulted in a 12% improvement in overall employee engagement score in our latest annual employee engagement survey, an encouraging improvement by industry standards.

To ensure business continuity and meet employee development needs, our talent ecosystem is aligned with business strategies. The integrated talent management framework at Borouge covers the full spectrum of the employee life-cycle, with customised interventions at various phases, connecting talent initiatives to develop our people. Employees receive plenty of commercial training opportunities that cultivated a high level of commercial acumen, career mentoring, competency coaching, and leadership training, which empowered them with knowledge and tools to deliver on business outcomes.

In terms of career development, Borouge’s long-term people development strategy supports our employees in their career progression and to achieve their aspirations and goals. Annual talent reviews are conducted to identify internal talents for succession planning. We adopt a two-pronged approach, by conducting leadership analysis and providing customised career roadmaps and career paths for our high-potential talents.

Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered – be it on the business, HR, or people side?

With HR being the enabler and trusted advisor to the business, our people strategy led Borouge to achieve good financial results, exceeding challenging targets. The effort and capabilities of our leaders and employees in diligently executing our people strategy brought about operational excellence and efficiencies in our processes.

Our efforts to drive people manager enablement created a strong coaching culture in Borouge. Aimed at empowering our managers to become great leaders, we provide leadership training programmes to improve people management skills, with an emphasis on coaching mindset and skills.

In terms of the talent pipeline, our talent practices and robust leadership development process enabled successful succession planning, where the majority of our senior management positions are filled by internal talents developed over the years. As we continue building on our leadership development, our people have clarity of their career paths to envision a long-term career with Borouge, resulting in a consistently high employee retention rate of above 90%, which is above the industry average.

Q What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?

To our employees, you are the most important stakeholder, and thank you for opening up and sharing feedback, and being patient while we work on the delivery of services, new systems, or operational matters.

It is truly reassuring to witness how united our people can be through the pandemic, where we came together to build camaraderie and develop new ways of working to deliver on our goals. I am grateful for your trust and collaboration, and excited for us to continue growing together.

To our customers and partners, we have worked hard to strengthen our processes and systems in the past few years, and I am thankful for your unwavering support and patience during transition periods.

To the local tertiary institutions that Borouge gets to partner with, such as the Nanyang Technological University, I am appreciative that our partnership enabled Borouge to contribute back to the community and society by helping to build and grow the talent pool in the trading industry, and shape Singapore’s future success as an international trading hub.

Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?

We are excited to pioneer best practices and people excellence journeys not just for the HR function or Borouge, but also for the petrochemical industry. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of HR in the new normal. We are seeing that the HR function is stepping up, taking on the roles of strategy enabler and catalyst to transformational change.

In the future of HR, we strive to continue driving initiatives and build an exemplary organisation filled with innovators and problem solvers. And we look forward to embracing positive disruptions to push the boundaries of what is possible, for Borouge to grow into a recognised leader in innovative polyolefin solutions that have a positive impact on society today and tomorrow.


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Lead image / Provided

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets section! 

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