HR Clinic: Culture guardian angels

As “culture guardians” of their organisations, HR can effect change by shaping better employee experiences, writes MoneySmart's Head of Talent.

Ian Jongho Im

Head of Talent, People and Culture, MoneySmart

My first foray into HR started almost 10 years ago in South Korea. I worked at an international conference organiser where I oversaw recruitment and operational training. But it was not till 2009 that I moved to Singapore to pursue an international HR career.

After three years with a recruitment agency, I was appointed as the talent engagement lead at eBay and drove strategic talent sourcing initiatives, university recruitment, and vendor management. This role also provided me with the opportunity to localise global talent acquisition initiatives in South Korea, India, and China. In 2012, I was hired by INSEAD Business School to build recruitment partnerships with key companies in the technology, media, entertainment, and startup sectors.

In my pursuit of a new work challenge, I decided to leave INSEAD to assess an opportunity with MoneySmart where I’m now not just the Head of the People and Culture team, but also a “culture guardian”. As a culture guardian, I am responsible for cultivating a work environment that fosters great employee experiences and hence, enhance organisational impact.

The key ingredients required for such a work environment include a mission statement, a set of values, as well as mutual trust and respect.

Using my understanding of systems and methodologies from my previous multinational corporation stints to add value to MoneySmart (from reshaping the hiring process to be more inclusive, to ensuring objectivity and fairness in all hiring decisions)  has been nothing short of an enriching experience. It is also extremely rewarding as the People and Culture team is actively involved in creating its own positive legacy for the company.

For example, new employees are provided with a detailed onboarding framework well before their official first day. That way they can take some time to familiarise themselves with the wider MoneySmart team and our operations, so their first day or week becomes less daunting or overwhelming. This is usually typical of multinationals, and something that People teams at startup companies can replicate or adapt.

Similarly, there are other learnings from that big corporate world that can be applied to the rest of the HR process chain – from hiring and assimilation, to retention and development. At MoneySmart, we take career progression very seriously. We have worked with the C-suite team to develop a transparent and detailed framework through which employees can chart their progress.

Part of the process includes a two-way feedback session, so they can obtain a fair assessment and evaluation of their performance, and understand the areas that need improvement.

Above all, it’s crucial for the HR function to closely collaborate with the C-suite team. An organisation’s commitment to employees’ careers and their wellbeing, regardless of the size of the company, needs to be driven from the top. Otherwise, it will lack authenticity. To help upskill the department heads on how to be better managers, our CEO, Vinod Nair, recently conducted a series of interactive training sessions based on the concepts in Radical Candour, written by Kim Scott.

As the company’s culture guardian, HR certainly wields the power to effect change. Serving as a conduit for employee voices to be heard and acted upon, the People and Culture team can consequently shape better employee experiences.

It’s fulfilling that I’m able to play a part in influencing where MoneySmart goes as a business.

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