Stephen Tjoa, Group CPO, on the mindset shift, and the various types of strategic and operational interventions, that enabled the restructuring of the People team.
With 14 offices across the Asia-Pacific region, including in Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, and more, BoardRoom has been providing accurate, prompt, and reliable corporate solutions for every element of a business, helping companies stay compliant in every market.
The 11th edition of the HR Excellence Awards, Singapore (2023) saw BoardRoom walking away with the Bronze award for 'Best HR Team (SME)'.
On this milestone, HRO sits down with Stephen Tjoa, Group Chief People Officer, BoardRoom (pictured above) to learn about the mindset shift, and the various types of strategic and operational interventions, that enabled the restructuring of the People team.
Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
Honestly, we’re not on top of our game yet. It’s our first attempt for BoardRoom and it’s a good start. It serves as external professional validation that we’re heading the right direction with our people agenda. I was honoured to lead an existing HR team more than a year ago. There was much to be done. Issues ranged from fundamental ones to more complex ones.
The People team had to be, first and foremost, re-energised and re-purposed for growth and transformation. It was critical that the team was inspired to change and be catalysts for that change. It required a mindset shift and various types of strategic and operational interventions.
I believe that our success is a product of strong leadership endorsement of our refreshed people agenda, management buy-in and general staff support.
Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
Restructuring our People function was key to our own transformation, evolving from a largely process-driven function to one that was driven by thought leadership and partnership with the business. We deployed more people analytics to drive decisions. We took a collaborative approach with the business to deliver the right solutions for the challenges, including how we onboard, develop and retain talent.
One of the more significant initiatives is the introduction of our BoardRoom Academy in 2023 to bring all our learning & development, professional pathways and milestone activities under one roof. It has proven to be a game-changer for us in building a strong EVP and learning culture at BoardRoom.
We have also taken employee experience to new heights with value-adding staff engagement activities as well as having regular feedback channels like our Voice of People Survey and focus groups across our functions and geographies.
Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
I have been in the HR space for well over three decades; most of which as a Big Four Partner in leading the charge on human capital. As any HR person would attest, we are never short of challenges. Attraction, development and retention issues will always be top-of-mind for any HR professional. There are many ways to address these challenges as there is no one-size-fits-all.
My greatest takeaway is that if you wanted to push the envelope on your people agenda, you need leadership support at the highest levels. It is futile to implement anything from a bottoms-up perspective. Selling one’s vision in a coherent and measurable way (i.e., clear articulation of ROIs and desired outcomes) must never be underestimated. Having a good understanding of what’s available in the HR space is inadequate. Making it work at a practical level with real outcomes is the key.
Leaders are not impressed with theory or pipedreams; we need to address issues and challenges with well-defined interventions which can be quantified.
This is how excellence can be achieved in HR. This is how we earn the respect as professionals not mere executors.
Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
There are many ways to measure it. The obvious ones are how initiatives impact staff retention and staff engagement, as a start. Feedback is another way of understanding how we are doing and if there are specific issues with the design which requires rethinking. There are also quantitative (eNPS ratings, high potential attrition, training evaluation surveys, etc.) and qualitative KPIs (informal and formal feedback through Townhalls, 360, etc.) which can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of any programme.
Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
Most obvious trend is greater use of technology, and especially, how we can harness the potential of generative AI to super-charge our capabilities. We are moving towards having a Global Business Services Hub as a new model of client delivery so this will definitely impact how we hire, develop and retain our talent. There will be a significant ramp-up of talent migration and talent repurposing activities as one would expect moving from a traditional client delivery model to shared services.
Change continues to be the order of the day. Our HR team has to be agile and responsive to the massive changes in our environment and business landscape to meet the future needs and challenges of our people.
Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets section!
Lead photo / Provided by BoardRoom