Agnes Wong, HR Director, Southeast Asia & Oceania, Kering shares how the team has created an environment that allows employees to seamlessly blend remote and in-person work.
Today, many companies are still facing a talent war.
While French luxury group Kering is no different, it is adapting to the evolving needs of its colleagues and embracing a hybrid working model. In doing so, it has invested in the necessary infrastructure, technology, and HR policies to ensure a smooth transition.
The Kering team recognises that the role of HR has evolved significantly. Simply being the custodian of policies and procedures is no longer enough, HR is now also the architect of employee experience, a workplace culture champion, and a catalyst of organisation growth, as Agnes Wong, HR Director, Southeast Asia & Oceania, Kering (pictured above), tells us.
With this mindset, Kering achieved a bronze win for 'Excellence in Hybrid Working' at the 11th annual HR Excellence Awards 2023 in Singapore.
Let's learn more about the journey to this achievement, in this interview with Agnes Wong.
Q Congratulations on your top performance at the HR Excellence Awards! How has your HR and people strategy contributed to your success this year?
Thank you Human Resources Online for this recognition! The HR Excellence Award is a testament to the dedication and challenging work of our entire Kering team in Singapore. The recognition highlights our efforts in embracing hybrid working model and adapting to the evolving needs of our colleagues. It also highlights our commitment to fostering work-life balance, enhancing productivity, and promoting employee wellbeing.
The two past years have presented us with unprecedented challenges, forcing us to reimagine and redefine the way we work. The concept of hybrid working has indeed emerged as a powerful response to the need for us to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient in the face of adversity. The future of work lies in creating an environment that allows our employees to seamlessly blend remote and in-person work, harnessing the best of both worlds. This is crucial for our teams that have regional responsibilities and are collaborating with teams in EMEA and USA.
We have also invested in the necessary infrastructure, technology, and HR policies to ensure a smooth transition into hybrid working, as well as in fostering an open culture of trust, communication and collaboration that transcends physical boundaries.
Q Looking back at your achievements, what aspect of your HR initiatives are you most proud of and why?
In luxury retail, which is fast-paced and everchanging, the role of HR has evolved significantly. We are no longer simply the custodian of policies and procedures but also the architects of employee experience, workplace culture champions, and catalysts of organisation growth.
Our team strives to create an environment where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered to reach their potential or goals. Besides hybrid working, we have also implemented initiatives that promote inclusion and diversity, facilitate learning and development, and ensure the wellbeing of our employees. Through these efforts, we hope to foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie that will become the cornerstone of our organisation's success.
Q During your HR journey, what were some significant obstacles you faced, and how did you overcome them to achieve excellence?
Achieving HR excellence does come with its fair share of obstacles. Just to name a few significant - such as managing a diverse workforce and stakeholders’ needs, implementing effective talent acquisition and retention strategies as well as to stay abreast with everchanging regional employment laws and regulations.
It is important to approach these obstacles with a positive, initiative-taking, and strategic approach to achieve excellence. Understand the issues involved and create programmes or policies to promote inclusion and equal opportunities for employees. Often our roles are to collaborate with and support our stakeholders, as well as to challenge the status quo. Today many companies are still in a talent war, and we are no different.
We are looking beyond traditional hiring channels and exploring alternative sources in creating an expanded pool of talent. Hybrid working is our value proposition in attracting talents who wish to have work flexibility. In Kering, we also believe in investing in the development of our employees and promote self-directed learning. This in return fosters a positive and inclusive workplace culture, helping to improve employees’ engagement.
Q How does your organisation measure the success and impact of your HR initiatives?
Employees’ experience and engagement are important to Kering so this would be a yardstick to measure our success and impact. We do regular check-ins with our employees through collecting their feedback and satisfaction, finding out their perspectives, what motivates them at work, and what drives their commitment over a period. Gathering their feedback after we launch our initiatives gives us first-hand information of what we do or do not do well. I believe that when employee engagement is high, it increases their motivation at work. This will indirectly reduce staff turnover.
Improved employees’ performance and their wellbeing, increase in productivity, and reduction of employee turnover are good indicators that the HR initiatives are effective.
Benchmarking these indicators and our initiatives against similar industry standards and best practices give us insights into our performance as well as helps us to identify new areas of improvement.
Signs of an engaged and motivated workforce are when employees are motivated to learn new knowledge and skills on-the-job, willingness to move across markets to accept assignments, or be engaged in self-directed learning.
We track internal mobility cases and training hours, and their completion rates help us evaluate the effectiveness of employees’ programmes.
Q In what direction do you see the HR/people function evolving in the future, considering the emerging trends?
There are a few emerging trends that are shaping the future of HR.
While we are already on hybrid working, more could be done on work-life integration. For example, working from anywhere, through effective communication and performance management tools across different cultures and time zones, and covering our employees with portable flexible benefits.
As the job market continues to evolve, HR will need to prioritise lifelong learning and skills development; as well as staying agile and keep abreasting of the changing world, along with the openness to learning new skills. An example is that HR professionals may need to develop new skills in the use of artificial intelligence and automation to streamline HR processes such as recruitment, onboarding, and learning. Thinking out of the box to learn and to use modern technologies to aid the work of HR will be important.
Empowering employees to strengthen their wellbeing and mental health is another important area. HR will play a crucial role in implementing programmes and policies that aid mental wellbeing, and in providing resources for work-life initiatives and stress management initiatives. These issues are especially critical in today’s highly stressful work environment.
Lastly, companies will experience multi-generations and cultures in the workforce, it is important that HR puts in place strategies and programmes that promote diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. This will foster an inclusive culture that values and respects all employees.
Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets section!
Lead image / Provided