Loganathan B, Chief Human Resources Officer, Habib Group

The framework includes leveraging business analytics tools that have helped in creating a data-driven culture across the Group, says Loganathan B., CHRO.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Malaysia, Habib Group won Bronze for Best Learning and Development Programme, and emerged as a finalist in two categories, Best Graduate Training Programme, and Best In-House Learning Academy.

In this interview, Loganathan B., Chief Human Resources Officer, Habib Group shares the secrets behind these achievements - and how the team built a framework that not only recognises learning gaps, but also built upon those gaps to make an impact on employees and talent.

Q Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?

One of our core values at HABIB is to encourage personal development, and this essentially means our drive towards unleashing the potential of each and every one of our employees. In line with this, our objective was not just to enhance the training function for the company, but also to be known in the industry as an employer of choice which inculcates lifelong learning for all its employees.

With that objective in mind, the strategy we had was to build the framework that not only recognises gaps but also builds upon those gaps to make an impact on our employees and talent. For instance, the framework included leveraging business analytics tools such as Power Business Intelligence (Power BI) that have since helped in creating a data-driven culture across the entire Group.

Not only that, but we were also able to efficiently analyse man-hours within departments and at a group level. This was something that has been proven to be of major importance, especially with all the operational shifts caused by the pandemic over the past year.

Q How did you and your team adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?

Businesses cannot operate as they have been operating in the past, and the rationale behind business digitalisation is clear – it improves efficiency, competitiveness, and helps companies achieve economies of scale.

It is remarkable to witness how the pandemic has played an integral role in accelerating digital adoption for many traditional businesses, including ours.

With the MCO leading to the new norm of working-from-home (WFH), we have shifted a bulk of our traditional paperwork-based functions and leveraged digital technologies in order to streamline operations and automate manual processes.

Some of these processes include automating employment records, creating HR and training-related dashboards, analysing employees’ skillset and gaps, as well as identifying the right tools or modules to fill in or enhance the identified gaps.

We are proud to note that this shift has successfully resulted in greater productivity, reduced man-hours, and optimised employees’ skillset within the HABIB Group.

Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

One of the challenges we faced was in terms of migrating from traditional software to using automated tools, particularly with us having been accustomed to running the business traditionally over the past many years.

In addition, aside from having all these new tools, we also had to ensure that every employee is adapting and benefiting from the tools themselves. This way, we were able to consistently evaluate the impact of using such tools to determine how they benefit and add to the depths of the skillsets applied by employees on their day-to-day work.

This was where the post-training evaluation and process improvement helped. After a certain period of time from the training session, we would follow up with the trainees to evaluate the impact of what they have learnt from the training to their current job scope and analyse the difference.

An example of the analysis metric from post-training follow-ups included the difference in man-hours or team size it took to complete a certain task prior to and following the training.

Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? 

Overall, standardising practice strategy had shown effectiveness on employees’ work productivity and efficiency. They have become more competent as they have better understanding of their limits and gaps that lead them to put in more effort in order to accomplish duties at the necessary standards of capability.

Employees in our showrooms, in particular, have demonstrated brilliant product knowledge and consistent customer service across all showrooms and managed to generate more loyal customers through standardised practice, in-store processes, and up-to-date product knowledge.

A majority of employees are now fully engaged as they understand the significance of the training.

They have become more appreciative of the learning process, resulting them being involved as stakeholders in their own learning experience, with positive feedback gathered at the end of each session.

Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of the debut Employee Experience Awards (ExA)?

It is very exciting journey for me personally to be participating in an international award. It definitely brings HABIB to the next level. One of our core values is 'world class for less', which means that we strive to achieve everything that we do with world-class standards, parallel to international brands.

Be it in our jewellery line, our craftsmanship, our customer service both at the retail outlet or online, or our trainings - we are keeping that promise. Most importantly, we want to have our presence and participation for benchmarking to international standards.

The exciting thing is we never expected to be a winner. Being a Bronze winner simple means we are there, we are moving on the right track, and we need to continuously improve, which is a big motivation for us. Winning at the ExA is a milestone for HABIB.

As a local homegrown company that was competing for an international-scale award with many other international brands and multinational corporations, winning Bronze for the Best Learning and Development Programme category is certainly a huge accomplishment and this did not come easy.

Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?

We are enhancing to a more robust training methodology for all staff of different from different departments; from process management, supply chain and even information technology.

The training modules will also be customised for different groups of employees across different skillsets. The training session will be designed for employees to not only acquire knowledge in the classroom but be able to internalise it in their lifestyle.

Technology is convenient, portable and ever evolving, hence it will be the best tool for the training programme we are working on.

Q Do share tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX-strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.

This year marks our first year in submitting for the Employee Experience Awards, and I can say we are still a rookie competitor who is eager to learn and win more. However, internally and collectively, we knew that one of the main reasons we want to enter is to highlight the accomplishments we gained on the back of what was an unprecedented and challenging year.

In doing so, firstly, team inclusion is crucial as we can only go far if we go together. By including every team member as part of this experience, we were able to proactively listen and engage with our employees who have voluntarily shared their inputs to fine tune our submission, hence making the learning process a team effort.

Secondly, no matter where your organisation is now and, in the future, always stick to your values as at the end of the day, these values are what define you.

With that said, keep abreast with transformation, We will surely as a team participate in the next edition as well, to share how far we have evolved in making Habib Group a better place to be.

Q Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?

I would say working at HABIB Group, there is never a dull moment.


Image / Provided

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