"We don’t micromanage our people; instead, we trust them, train, and support them. We give them autonomy to get creative and develop new ideas, but always in the service of getting the desired results," says Yong Siew Mee, MD & Chief People Officer, 2X.
Founded in 2017, by three former B2B CMOs, 2X is a B2B-focused Marketing as a Service firm that enables marketing to operate with greater impact and at significantly lower cost. Headquartered in the US, the company's delivery operations reside in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with a growing workforce of 650 people.
The team in Malaysia achieved two awards at the Employee Experience Awards 2023, Malaysia – Silver for 'Best Campus Recruitment Strategy', and bronze for 'Best First-Time Manager Programme'. In lieu of these wins, HRO catches up with Yong Siew Mee, Managing Director & Chief People Officer, 2X, to learn more about how the company assimilates newcomers into the workplace, programmes in place to equip new and existing managers with the right skills to engage their people, and more.
Q How do you ensure your employee experience initiatives are aligned with your business objectives?
At 2X, we live by our core values. We’re focused on outcomes, so everyone knows that the work they do has a purpose, and its impact can be measured in a meaningful metric. We look at the result of the work, and the benefits of the effort. We don’t micromanage our people; instead, we trust them, train, and support them. We give them autonomy to get creative and develop new ideas, but always in the service of getting with desired results.
This approach has significantly increased employee confidence and motivation, as they have a clear understanding of how their work contributes to the overall success of our clients, the company, and the employees themselves.
Q Can you provide examples of how the organisation has invested in the employee experience?
Three main aspects we focused on to enrich employee experience:
New employee orientation
Our aim is to give newcomers a good head start through a comprehensive onboarding programme in the first three months.
On day one, newcomers receive orientation on all HR-related matters. However, we know that one day isn’t enough, which is why we also conduct a half-day culture orientation, where I host an interactive Q&A session where we talk about the purpose of the company, what problems we are solving, the learning culture, and where are we heading as a company.
To further enhance our DEI efforts and create a safe workplace for all, new hires attend an awareness talk on anti-sexual harassment.
Employees are given function-specific training in the first three months, aside from building core skills and mentorship, they are also given exposure to client work. During this period, they get regular check-ins and coaching, and their skills are regularly assessed, and feedback is given.
We have a robust employee recognition programme that acknowledges outstanding performance and contributions. So much so, we announce promotions monthly – meaning, each month deserving employees who have achieved milestones are rewarded. Due to our culture of recognising performance and contribution, 60% of our employees have had a promotion to a high level in their first year, and 80% have had a promotion to a higher level by their second year in 2X.
To support our people's growth, we established various Centres of Excellence (COE), with the purpose of developing and delivering best-in-class marketing services and know-how. This knowledge is distilled into training, best practice playbooks, and guides that are shared with everyone in the company. The COEs conduct various programmes to elevate employees' skills through regular workshops, training, and cross-function projects and initiatives.
We also invested in management and soft-skills training, for example, our new first-time manager programme was designed to help managers build communication skills that would enable them to engage and enhance team performance.
Q What are some of the key challenges that you faced in implementing your EX initiatives, and how did you overcome them?
As an organisation operating in hybrid mode and hiring over 128 in the past 4 months, our top priorities include effectively training and developing our workforce, and ensuring they remain engaged.
Our training and development programme consists of several parts, some courses are delivered through a self-service online learning platform, where over 800 modules are available covering various aspect of skills development. These modules are based on previous client work, collection of some of our best practices in campaigns, design, content, data, marketing operations etc. We also complemented online training with in-person and virtual workshops that are conducted by in-house experts.
To further enhance employee engagement, we organise a range of events to suit everyone's interests. These include badminton and ping-pong tournaments, coffee chats, wellbeing and financial talks, festive celebrations, company dinners, health screenings as well as fundraising and CSR initiatives. These initiatives have a high 60% participation rate from employees.
Q Do you have processes to measure the effectiveness of your EX initiatives, and what metrics do you use to evaluate success?
We conduct the Employee Satisfaction Smiley Survey weekly, which has an overall satisfaction rate of 80% and above. Through just the click of an icon, employees can inform us of how their week was. Those who provide less-than-desired responses are contacted by their respective managers for a check-in.
Our internal support team receives feedback from employees through the Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. We leverage the feedback and insights gained from NPS to pinpoint areas for improvement and implement changes to enhance the employee experience.
To ensure employee engagement, we conduct a survey to gather employee preferences for activities. We prioritise activities that are highly requested, as well as activities that check the criteria of being highly beneficial and needed.
Q Finally, what role do leaders and managers play in driving a beautiful employee experience, and how are they held accountable for the success of these initiatives?
Our leaders are deeply invested in moulding the employee experience – we are present and we participate. Team principals craft workshops for respective functions, co-founders conduct orientations for newcomers, and new managers undergo training to make them better people leaders.
The commitment shown by our leaders has set a good example, resulting in a participation rate of over 60% for all physical events in the office and an employee retention rate at 90%.