The best employers believe in helping employees reach their full potential
Organisations with a strong sense of purpose and identity can achieve remarkable things. They also attract and keep great talent, by having a strongly shared sense of culture that drives extraordinary levels of employee motivation, loyalty and performance.
The Sime Darby Group is undeniably such an organisation. This diversified multinational was recently catapulted into the limelight when it became the first Malaysian company to receive the 2014 Global Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders award.
The recognition was apt and timely; Sime Darby has long been known for its best-in-class talent management practices around the world, having consistently produced strong leaders from within its ranks.
In addition to the global award, the group cemented its position within the region when it beat 180 blue chip companies to clinch a second award, the South East Asia 2014 Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders.
Championing the talent agenda
These triumphs have set the benchmark for all five divisions under the group’s umbrella to further strengthen their human resource (HR) practices and capabilities. By cascading initiatives from the group, Sime Darby has not only improved its position as an employer of choice, but continues to pioneer good leadership practices and expectations across the board.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that Sime Darby Property Bhd, one of the divisions within the group, has continued to ride on this wave of success when it received a prestigious nod as one of Aon Hewitt Best Employers 2015 in Malaysia.
The company’s managing director, Datuk Seri Abd Wahab Maskan, reveals that having 100% commitment to employee development, trust and openness is really at the heart of their operations.
Abd Wahab adds:
“You can judge a company by the people that it keeps. The Best Employer 2015 award is not only a recognition of what we have accomplished, but it is an affirmation that we are on the right track in our HR transformation journey which we started five years ago.”
Attracting and developing talents are central to an organisation’s success and for this Sime Darby Property has put in place various policies covering recruitment, training and development, labour practices, human rights and workplace health and safety.
In 2010, in accordance with the group’s strategic growth plans, Sime Darby Property went one step further. The company identified a clear HR roadmap and embarked on a transformation journey with these primary objectives:
- To foster strong individual and organisational performance.
- To focus on talent and leadership development.
- To effectively identify, attract and retain needed talent.
“We needed to be very clear about the kind of talent we were looking for. Our people are our greatest asset and key to maintaining our competitive advantage,” he declares, adding that the top management, HR fraternity and line managers have been the main force and backbone of championing the talent agenda.
Life at Sime Darby Property has become even more interesting since it was a conscious decision by the group to benchmark themselves against top competitors in terms of being employers of choice for each of the markets/businesses that they operated in.
One of the most critical moves was to make all leaders carry an engagement KPI in their scorecards. This unusual but effective tactic promoted an effective feedback loop and maintained the momentum of driving employer engagement.
At the other end of the spectrum, employees are asked to voice their concerns through regular engagement surveys. According to Ammar Ghazali, head of human resources and administration:
“We had about 1,200 employees taking the survey in 2014, which is an increase in the survey engagement score from the previous year. We believe that employees provide valuable insights which allow our leaders to develop action plans.”
In order to retain professionals of a high calibre, employees are given the opportunity to learn new skill sets.
“We help them grow and move forward in their careers by providing holistic talent development interventions that include action learning programmes, training, coaching, talent rotations and talent exchange/attachment programmes. By developing people, we create an engaging workforce which allows us to compete effectively,” declares Ammar.
A sustainable future
By embracing an inclusive culture that supports diverse talent, Sime Darby Property has become an employer of choice in Malaysia. Its positive brand reputation comes from the way employees are encouraged to learn and grow.
According to Zulkifli Zainal, executive vice-president of Group human resources, “In Sime Darby, we celebrate value creation and nurture continuous improvement. What this means is that we derive great satisfaction when we develop and discover potential leaders just as much as when we find new land in Africa or win a large development project in the UK.
“We have made a lot of progress developing leaders who deliver superior business performances while staying grounded to our values of respect, integrity, enterprise and excellence. Sime Darby will continue to prepare the next generation of leaders to meet the Group’s strategic goals, evolve and stay relevant with the constantly changing global business landscape.”
These sustainable best practices are further defined in the Group’s human capital strategies:
- Leadership development
Sime Darby places a strong emphasis in developing talent across all levels from senior management to junior employees.
High performers and high potentials are identified and provided with developmental opportunities that span beyond classroom trainings e.g. coaching, job rotation and project exposure and overseas assignments to large projects such as Battersea in London.
- Training and development
Sustainability orientation is one of the seven leadership competencies that form part of the leadership training module.
Three years ago, Sime Darby rolled out a mandatory group-wide Core Executive Programme for all employees from executive-level to senior vice presidents.
Sustainability has been embedded as one of the curriculums in the leadership programmes, with the employees embarking on sustainable or corporate social responsibility projects, which are currently scaled to the overseas offices in Indonesia, China, Hong Kong and Thailand.
- Succession management
A rigorous succession management process has been put in place at both at the division-level and at the higher group-level.
A robust and transparent process is in place to in identify and assess talent to ensure that the right leader is deployed to the right position at the right time. This helps to minimise disruption to the business and ensure business continuity into the future.
- Reward and recognition
Sime Darby has repositioned its rewards philosophy where the total rewards/remuneration is at the 75th percentile or near the top end of the market.
Therefore, employees are provided with balanced and competitive rewards designed to drive results and encourage behaviours of high performance.
- Performance management
Sime Darby has put in place a performance management framework titled Ensuring Performance Sustainability (EPS) throughout the entire organisation.
EPS consists of several components; the alignment or linking of KPIs & competencies to strategic business goals, performance calibration to discuss and distribute employees’ performance which is benchmarked against a fixed performance curve, and award differentiated total rewards for top performers.
The purpose of this framework is to improve business result with sustainable performance.
Moving forward together
As an employer of choice, Sime Darby Property is leading the way with its series of people initiatives designed to drive change and improve performance.
These include a new performance management framework and competency model, talent and succession management programmes, a new rewards philosophy, as well as learning and development programmes that address competency gaps and is aligned with the group’s business direction.
Even after receiving accolades for having good people initiatives, Sime Darby Property is not resting on its laurels. Abd Wahab Maskan says:
“We have made commendable progress but our work is far from over. This recognition will no doubt inspire us to work even harder and reinforce our mission to continue developing a high performing workforce.”
Related article: Employees At Sime Darby Property Say…
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Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 21 March 2015