Janice Wong, Director, HR, shares how a 'diverse wealth of talent' allows for cross fertilisation of ideas across locations, ignites innovative thinking, nurtures curiosity, and more in employees.
Cultivating a growth mindset is an integral part of Monash University Malaysia’s institutional DNA and cultural ethos. In prioritising continuous learning, the organisation is also acutely aware members of its professional staff have had limited exposure to international mobility opportunities.
With its staff mobility programme, the organisation aims to pave the way for a multitude of development opportunities available to staff. The mobility programme leverages the organisation's diverse wealth of talent to facilitate the cross fertilisation of idea, ignite innovative thinking, encourage robust collaboration, and champion the sharing of best practices.
As a result, the university nearly doubled its engagement of professional colleagues from various departments and the enhancement in the success rate for professional applications.
All these efforts have culminated in Monash University Malaysia emerging champion with a gold award for 'Excellence in Workforce Mobility' at the HR Excellence Awards 2023, Malaysia.
Janice Wong, Director, Human Resources, shares how Monash University Malaysia executed its successful mobility programme, to yield tangible and substantial outcomes.
Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
Monash University Malaysia’s remarkable success in the staff mobility programme is deeply rooted in our commitment to our motto, Ancora Imparo, which means 'I am still learning'. Our unwavering dedication to a culture of continuous learning has paved the way for a multitude of development opportunities available to staff. These opportunities encompass external study programmes, speaking and participation in international conferences, pursuit of professional qualifications and certifications, engaging in face-to-face workshops, online training, coaching and mentoring, as well as involvement in project and consulting assignments.
We firmly acknowledge the formidable strength of Monash University's global presence, spanning across 11 campuses and international locations. Our mobility programme strategically leverages this diverse wealth of talent to facilitate the cross fertilisation of ideas across the various locations, ignite innovative thinking, nurture curiosity, encourage robust collaboration, and champion the sharing of best practices.
It is this dynamic synergy of talents and diverse perspectives that empowers us to execute a highly successful mobility programme, yielding tangible and substantial outcomes.
Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
The cultivation of a growth mindset is an integral part of our institutional DNA and cultural ethos. The relentless pursuit of development lies at the core of our academic endeavour. Yet, we are acutely aware that specific members of our professional staff, entrusted with critical roles in academic support and central administrative services, have had limited exposure to international mobility opportunities.
In adherence to our resolute commitment to inclusivity, Monash University Malaysia has taken proactive measures to extend equitable international mobility opportunities to our professional staff, irrespective of their career stage. It brings me immense pride to witness the increased engagement of professional colleagues from various departments and the notable enhancement in the success rate for professional applications, surging from 46% to an impressive 80%.
Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
In the initial stages of our pilot programme, the number of applications from professional staff was notably low, with only five submissions. Recognising this as an opportunity for improvement, we conducted a thorough analysis of the situation. It became apparent that professional staff members were not familiar with composing a business case. In response, we implemented a series of strategic interventions including organising comprehensive briefings for our professional staff to provide guidance on the art of crafting a business case, as well as offering individualised reviews and specific feedback to those who had already submitted their applications, aimed at helping them enhance their proposals.
We also prepared step-by-step guides and FAQs to further support our staff in the application process. Moreover, we bolstered our communication efforts, featuring the success stories of those who had previously participated in the program to inspire and encourage greater participation.
The results of these interventions were nothing short of remarkable. In the second round of applications, we saw a substantial increase to 28 submissions, and in the third cycle, this number surged to an impressive 36.
What is even more encouraging is the fact that the percentage of applications from our professional staff witnessed a steady ascent, rising from 38% to 64% in the last two cycles and reaching an impressive 71% in the most recent cycle.
These accomplishments stand as a testament to our commitment to enhancing opportunities for our professional staff and fostering a culture of learning and development.
Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
The success of the SMP is meticulously assessed through a multi-faceted approach. We have implemented a robust reporting mechanism that empowers participants to evaluate the outcomes vis-à-vis their anticipated deliverables from the mobility programme, as defined during the application process. Staff members are further expected to engage in comprehensive discussions with their supervisors and department heads to ensure that these outcomes are duly acknowledged and acted upon. Additionally, we have instituted a feedback mechanism, enabling both staff and their supervisors to rate the effectiveness of the mobility experience and provide valuable suggestions for continual improvement.
The mobility initiative has undeniably yielded tangible successes and left a remarkable impact across various domains. Notably, it has paved the way for the creation of numerous collaboration opportunities, enhanced alignment of policy and processes, initiated exploration into the adoption of advanced technology, spaces, and equipment, and instilled a profound sense of belonging to the concept of "One University."
Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
The future of generative AI and robotics promises an unprecedented wave of disruption, one that will likely render many traditional job roles obsolete. This transformative landscape demands a new breed of HR professionals with a multifaceted skill set.
In this evolving landscape, HR professionals must assume the role of organisational diagnosticians, adept at identifying and addressing issues affecting workplace well-being. This includes management of psychosocial work-related challenges such as conflicts, grievances, and work-related stress, employing a nurturing and supportive approach.
Furthermore, HR professionals need to be skillful educators, co-designing customised development interventions that cater to diverse learning styles and abilities, ensuring that staff receive the support they require to thrive in a fast-changing environment. Simultaneously, they should embrace an entrepreneurial mindset to be able to identify workplace culture gaps and innovative solutions to bring to life new opportunities that may disrupt the business in alignment with the organisation’s strategic direction.
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