At the inaugural Employee Experience Awards 2021, Malaysia, Orsted Services Malaysia won the gold for 'Best Diversity & Inclusion Strategy', and was a finalist in the category of 'Most Inspiring Leader'.
In this interview, Benny Jakobsen and Kenneth Theilgaard Roslind, Previous Country Manager and Current/New Country Manager respectively, Orsted Services Malaysia, talk about their ambitious growth journey since 2018, and how they overcame the hurdles that COVID posed while growing the team (and culture) strongly.
Q Congratulations on becoming a finalist at this inaugural edition of the award! What is your employee experience strategy that led to this achievement?
In 2018, we had the ambition of creating a workplace culture where people could grow, feel safe, and included. We believe if we make the workplace one that allows employees to express themselves, we will not only have a strong culture but also achieve better employee performance and retention because we create an environment that everyone can thrive in.
We have a big focus on diversity and inclusion as part of the company's growth. In the big picture, we believe that the more diverse an organisation is, the more important inclusion becomes. The better we are at including people, the better we are at attracting diverse talents.
Q How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?
In 2018, we had a decision and ambition to grow the office in the coming years. To be successful in this growth, mature leadership was a key element, in terms of capacity, structure, and finding the right leaders. Part of this journey was not to find experienced leaders, but finding leaders with the right mindset who could support the culture from a leadership and working culture perspective.
Over the years, we have spent numerous hours on building strong leadership in an Orsted context and integrating them to our company values and policies.
We have also included diversity and inclusivity targets for our leadership, and are well on track to reaching those ambitious targets.
Other than leadership, many of our employees are strong company ambassadors for our culture. Having them play role models to instill the good working culture that we intend is key to inclusivity. Through consistency, these ambassadors show every day how to instill Orsted values. The part is not just for leadership to play, but equally for employees as role models to help cultivate this culture.
Q What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?
The main challenge was COVID. Heavy recruitment underway (where we tripled our workforce), virtual hiring processes, many new joiners who have never been to the office due to closure, and lack of employee integration as people were working from home, were a few of the biggest challenges. We had a strong culture before the pandemic, and we continued to be successful by onboarding 100+ employees over the last year as a result of that culture.
A potential challenge we foresee is the kind of culture we would have once the pandemic ends, and employees start coming back to the office. If we don’t take an active stand on the culture that we want to have, then we will get a different culture by coincidence. One way to overcome this is to re-onboard the culture that we had pre-COVID times. This also comes back to the importance of leadership and ambassadors during these times to ensure a strong feeling of inclusion among our employees.
Q How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI? Any achievements you’d like to show off?
When comparing turnover rates, we had the lowest turnover rate in 2019 compared to 2017.
With a low turnover comes with significant cost savings such as reduced recruitment expenditure, and employees delivering better because they have been here a longer time.
We are a small company in Malaysia, so we don’t have a big budget on employer branding. However, we do have a strong group of ambassadors and a strong social brand whereby employees share positive feedback about the company, culture, and leadership through their social media or job platforms. That is a significant return of investment on employer branding. Instead of spending a lot of money on branding to get the same publicity, which is not come out as strongly, we have our own employees telling their friends, families, and old colleagues through sharing their stories about Orsted on social media, thus attracting talent to our company.
Q What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of the debut Employee Experience Awards?
The most exciting thing is being acknowledged for the efforts put in over the past three years to build a diverse & inclusive organisation, and sharing our story even though we’re not picture-perfect or a large company in Malaysia.
The most valuable thing is recognising the accomplishment of every employee’s journey in making this happen and this would hopefully build more energy and motivation for new and existing employees to continue their story at Orsted Services Malaysia.
Q Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?
The four big plans to enhance the overall employee experience are:
- Orsted annual games,
- Flexible workplace,
- Converting the physical layout in the office, and
- Focusing on reboarding.
Orsted annual games are multiple friendly matches across the entire organisation, bringing employees from different genders, cultures, departments, experiences, nationality, ethnicity, and ages to participate together. With this, we want to create a more inclusive culture in the organisation.
We intend to create an experience for embracing flexibility, hence, a flexible workplace. Employees will be given the flexibility to put themselves in the best setting to perform. They will be given four options; namely, work from home, work from office, work from home (60%)/office (40%), or work from office (60%)/home (40%).
Moreover, changing the physical layout in the office will enhance the employee experience to support a more flexible workplace setting and agile IT structure. By doing so, we will create a culture for employees to network more often and break them out from their normal setting to feel more inclusive.
Last but not the least, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the onboarding experience has been dampened, therefore, we are planning to intensify the re-boarding experience. We want our employees to experience an amazing first day so that they yearn for that experience every day.
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.
First and foremost, always dare to be ambitious, set ambitious targets, and measure them. This will be the beginning for your journey.
Secondly, invest time in leadership culture because it does not come by itself. It needs to be actively role-modelled by your employees. Listen and involve your employees, and gather their opinions and feedback to create a healthier inclusive culture.
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?
When I come to office, I come home and when I meet with my colleagues, I meet with my family.
Image / Provided
Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!