Learning & Development Asia 2024 Singapore
Winning Secrets: How happy employees create happy guests at Sands China

Winning Secrets: How happy employees create happy guests at Sands China

Wen HongYan, SVP HR, Sands China, on the investment in employees’ wellbeing and happiness through the 'Happy 360' initiative for physical and mental health awareness.

Sands China is a leading developer, owner, and operator of multi-use integrated resorts and casinos in Macao. A subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp., which is the parent company of Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Sands China owns Sands® Macao, The Venetian® Macao, The Plaza® Macao, The Parisian Macao, and The Londoner® Macao.

At the third annual edition of Employee Experience Awards - Singapore in 2023, Sands China won the bronze award for 'Best Management Training Programme'.

To celebrate this milestone, we catch up with Wen HongYan, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Sands China on how the team ensured a smooth implementation of its initiatives across its large and diverse organisation through a 3Cs approach, as part of making the best possible employee experience for all teams.

Q How do you ensure your employee experience initiatives are aligned with your business objectives?

One of our key business objectives is to provide an entertaining and memorable experience for our guests. We strongly believe that happy employees create happy guests, and happy guests are more likely to return and recommend us to others. This is why we invest in our employees’ wellbeing and happiness through various initiatives and programmes. One example is our Happy 360 wellbeing initiative, which was launched to promote awareness of physical and mental health among our employees. It offered a wide range of activities, such as seminars, forums, lectures, roadshows, and wellness and parent-child activities that aimed to educate, inspire, and support our employees in achieving a healthy and balanced lifestyle. By launching initiatives like this, we ensure that our employees are happy, motivated, and loyal, which in turn creates happy guests who keep coming back to us.

Q Can you provide examples of how the organisation has invested in the employee experience?

Despite the challenges and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, we invested over 10mn patacas to upgrade the heart-of-house area of the Londoner Macao to create a comfortable and inviting place for our employees to relax. We also understood the stress and uncertainty that our employees faced during the pandemic, and we supported them by offering them training to enhance their confidence and job security. We have been offering diverse career pathways for our employees to thrive through both vertical and horizontal development. The average training hours per employee in 2022 was 93.3, which was an increase of 46% from the year before and over 1.8 times higher than the standard of 32.9 hours established by the Association for Talent Development (ATD). 

Our goal is to promote a fellowship spirit that fosters collaboration, support and growth across all departments, and it is all the more important during times of difficulty. Even though the pandemic is over, upholding this fellowship spirit continues to be an integral part of our business objectives.

Q What are some of the key challenges that you faced in implementing your EX initiatives, and how did you overcome them?

One of our key challenges is to make sure our EX initiatives are implemented with the same/similar spirit across our large and diverse organisation with over 25,000 employees and 48 departments. We have adopted the 3Cs approach to overcome this challenge. 

Sharing about our fellowship campaign, as an example of our most recent EX initiatives:

  • Communication: To ensure our message can be communicated properly and understood with common language from the very beginning, we designed funny cartoon character stickers with emojis and catchy slogans to convey common values. We have shared them widely through chat groups to spread this fellowship spirit in a fun and creative manner.
  • Collaboration: We inspire departments to collaborate through regular fellowship exercises, during which departments take turns to seek a “fellowship moment” for an issue that can be solved when every one of us works together. For example, the F&B department has invited non-F&B employees to help them put away empty glasses while they are passing by public guest areas.
  • Cohesion: This initiative is designed for all employees to be part of it, which ensures the fellowship spirit is spread regardless of their roles within the company.

Q Do you have processes to measure the effectiveness of your EX initiatives, and what metrics do you use to evaluate success?

We use the following metrics when evaluating the effectiveness of our initiatives:

  • Employee engagement survey: We provide company-wide employee engagement surveys regularly to better understand employees’ needs and expectations. We analyse the feedback and use it to improve our policies and practices in a timely manner.
  • Benchmark: We benchmark ourselves against our competitors to identify areas for improvement. We find out our strengths and weaknesses through comparison and act accordingly to enhance our strategies.
  • Guest satisfaction: Research has shown that employee satisfaction and guest satisfaction are positively correlated and high guest satisfaction is likely to be indicative of high employee satisfaction.

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 and managers have a crucial responsibility in implementing and executing the initiatives that we have set out to improve our employee experience. As I have just mentioned, there is a strong positive relationship between employee satisfaction and guest satisfaction, and we use the latter as one of the key indicators to measure how well we are doing in creating a positive and supportive work environment for our employees. In addition, we also rely on other methods such as surveys and the number of complaints to assess the level of satisfaction and engagement among our employees.

We value both qualitative and quantitative data during our evaluation process.

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

Lead photo / Provided by Sands China

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