This wellbeing-driven organisation tracks all its CSR activities via a portal where employees log in their hours. At the end of each quarter, they measure how much was given back to the society vs the number of hours employees have logged in.

With a bronze win for Excellence in CSR Strategy at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore, the team at Xylem Water Solutions Singapore shares how sustainability goals are ingrained in the organisation’s DNA, evident in the implementation of CSR in employee goals, CEO buy-in, and its watermark portal to track the progress.

In this interview with Priya Veeriah, hear from Koh Chong Hin, Managing Director, SEA, and Jennifer Gillespie, SEA HR Director, Xylem Water Solutions on their winning strategy that links CSR to employee engagement.

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Xylem HR winning strategy is based on our people-centric approach whereby we place importance on our people. Regardless of any initiative taken or implemented by the organisation, the key focus always puts people at the heart. We are also keen to measure how successful our actions are when engaging employees and we carry out monthly employee engagement surveys and we play back to employees what they said and what we did about it.

Some of our mentionable key milestones include:

  • Establishing an HR dashboard, which provides information on a monthly basis to leaders.
  • Employee career mapping exercise - which started off with the competency matrix development, moving towards mapping employee career paths for them.
  • During the current COVID situation, we have also provided avenues for our people to work from home, work flexible hours as well as provided the necessary support in terms of additional pay for those who worked on the front line taking additional personal risk during the pandemic.
  • Launched the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in September 2020 to provide employee counselling services.

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

Employee engagement is an HR priority as well as employee safety and wellbeing. The dashboard gives us real-time data on attrition, gender pay, employee experience data, case management, it allows us to work in a more agile way, and respond to employee sentiments in the moment.

The Xylem leadership team has always supported HR initiatives. When there is a new HR initiative or change, the HR team presents it at the leadership team meeting to get their buy in. Once this is approved we implement with key leadership advocacy.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

The biggest barrier is cost/financial support to implement certain HR initiatives and this is added on with lack of resources to implement any HR initiative.

The way of overcoming them is to implement HR initiatives in stages whereby we normally breakdown HR initiatives by project and by the four quarters in a year. This will not only spread the financial burden over the year for the company but also enable the team to manage the resources efficiently as well.

We have also ventured into the use of technology / automation to enable us to function effectively and this includes the launch of our own sharepoint (HR resources) as well as the use of Workday.

We have implemented CSR in employee goals and have a watermark portal to track and measure the time and effort spent by the company. We also have sustainability goals that the board tracks.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

We track all our CSR activities via a portal where employees log in their hours on the activities they participate in. At the end of each quarter, we measure how much was given back to the community/society vs the number of hours our employees have logged in.

One of the proud achievements is the Xylem branding especially when we hire talent. We also use our CSR activities when we engage with potential customers to inform them that business is not always about each dollar and cent but also about giving back to the society.

Q What’s your secret to gaining stakeholder buy-in for your CSR strategy? What are the three key messages that you communicate to your employees pertaining to your CSR strategy?

To ensure that our internal stakeholders buy in to our CSR strategy, we have our very own CEO who participates in most of the CSR activities and in 2020 he has instilled the need for all employees to contribute 1% of their working time to CSR activities each year and 1% of total Xylem income to water related causes and education.

The key messages we communicate to our employees are that Xylem strives to provide and protect safe water resources because every drop counts, and at the same time we endeavour to educate people about water issues.

Photo / Provided

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