"We focus our efforts on talent enrichment platforms designed to create the next generation of innovators, promote a culture of curiosity, and cultivate skills for powerful tomorrows," Jennifer Pickering, Senior Director, Global Learning & Development, GlobalFoundries said.

At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, GlobalFoundries received three awards: bronze for Best In-House Certification, and a gold each for Best Learning and Development, and Best Organisational Upskilling and Reskilling Strategy.

In this interview, Jennifer Pickering, Senior Director, Global Learning & Development, GlobalFoundries shares the secrets behind this win - and how the organisation adapts its internal functions to the current pandemic climate, prioritises the design of multi-faceted programmes and strategies to develop its people, and more.

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

People are at the heart of everything we do. We believe our diverse range of employees is a strategic asset with limitless potential.  We focus our efforts on talent enrichment platforms designed to create the next generation of innovators, promote a culture of curiosity, and cultivate skills for powerful tomorrows. 

This talent philosophy transcends the workplace with enterprise-wide offerings designed not just to enhance skills at work, but also to build better humans for the world.

Our talent strategy features:

  • Cutting edge leadership development;
  • Team engagement and collaboration;
  • Communication and cross-cultural intelligence, and
  • Technical skill refinement. 

We have a relentless focus on talent, harnessing the power of innovation to address the issues of today with the agility to adjust and adapt to an ever-changing volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world. Our offerings are focused on unlocking employee potential, creating leaders of the future, and innovating solutions that are changing the world.

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

Living in a VUCA world requires endless agility and responsiveness to employee feedback and evolving business demands.

Engagement pulse surveys are carried out multiple times every year, allowing us to gather feedback and take fast actions to address issues and concerns. This real-time data provides the keys to address and resolve employee concerns, while helping support evolving business strategies and changing market conditions.

Tremendous efforts were undertaken to design programmes and activities that cater to differences in cultural background and starting points. Programmes were translated, subtitled, adapted, and adjusted to meet employee needs. GlobalFoundries also set up an internal social media platform so that content was more accessible, and delivered in a more engaging way in light of a hybrid workforce.

It is also key to align within HR & the business to build a shared vision. There is a saying: “If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, you go together,” and that is really what the 'One GlobalFoundries' vision is about, everyone in the company moving ahead with a single heart.

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

COVID-19 has been a game-changer on many fronts, it disrupted operations, shifted production, and altered employee lives. Specifically, in L&D, the need for social distancing and isolation has impacted the way training is delivered; in communication, and in how employees can be engaged to learn.

Moving face-to-face training to the virtual platform required new skills and knowledge. The facilitation and familiarity with using virtual training platform and tools are required in revamping learning activities to sustain engagement levels, i.e. polling, chat, annotation, emoticons & reactions, presentation.

As such, the L&D team pivoted from the traditional method of classroom training to virtual facilitation, with the aim to increase blended learning pathways for our employees.

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

L&D plays a key role in enabling the business strategy. For instance, our transformational flagship executive leadership development series, Leading@GF, provides new tools and techniques to motivate leader openness to unlearn old habits and learning new transformational competencies that increase employee engagement and drive business results.

Borderless engagement via virtual learning enabled us to partner senior leaders, including our CEO, Dr. Tom Caufield, and CHRO, Emily Reilly from the US to facilitate learning, and engage leaders from all around the world on their vision to be the company that is changing an industry, that is changing the world.

A fully-equipped, internal studio for media content creation was built to meet evolving trends of social learning, edutainment, and gamification, enabling us to create interesting parodies for a captivating and effective learning experience. This studio allows an engaging employee experience where employees are hungry to learn and continue to elevate, accelerate, and transform their skills.

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

It has been an eye-opener. The HRO awards process and organisation were amazing, and it was a big learning moment right from the start when we wrote the application. There was a slew of strong competitors from different industries across the country and we could only wait in anticipation with a beating heart until the results were announced.

Everyone building better humans is a winner in this race, and we are thankful that we inched ahead in the categories we applied for.

We were humbled by the recognition acknowledging the efforts we put in. We saw the impact we made despite the moments of uncertainty we experienced when we were pushing the envelope with our zany ideas. Winning the award is a strong affirmation that we are moving ahead in the right direction and provides a strong motivation for us to strive to do better in the future.

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

As technology and future trends of learning evolve, we will continue to strive to leverage best practices from the industry, cull the collective wisdom of all the L&D experts from each site, partner with the management team, and most importantly, listen to the voice of our employees to enhance the learning experience for them.

More specifically, in our continuous journey of evolution and growth, plans are on the way to build a learning lab that incorporates escape rooms concepts on problem solving, and out-of-the box thinking to gamify the learning experience, infusing augmented reality/virtual reality elements into training, introduce certification tracks for professional development, redesign and rethink the new employee orientation experience, leverage on diversity and inclusivity and continue the social transformation of learning. It will be an exciting time for everyone.

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.

Be bold and brave. Do not be afraid to try out ideas, fail, learn, and improve for the next round.

Our transformation journey has put us in unchartered waters of innovation. There are multiple moving parts and we needed to manage the risk of trying out new initiatives. For example, we learned to build a better storyboard to express content in interesting ways after multiple retakes.

We are also grateful for the support that the management team has rendered so we can charge ahead fearlessly.

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?

Together, we are changing the industry that is changing the world.

Images / Provided

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

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