The right frequency: Teledirect Telecommerce
One of HRM Magazine’s cornerstones, the monthly HR Insider series is an in-depth feature exploring the people management teams of some of the region’s most prolific organisations.
It’s late Tuesday afternoon, and the mood at business process outsourcing centre Teledirect Telecommerce resembles that of Sunday brunch. There’s a group huddled together in the middle enjoying a tea-time snack, a few casually-dressed individuals slouched back on giant bean bags, and another team engrossed with their laptops in a corner booth.
This is what the inside of one of the region’s top outsourced contact centres looks like. The Singaporean company has received over 150 industry accolades since it was established in 1995.
The relaxed atmosphere underscores a misconception about call centre operations, which Gaurav Hirey, Group Director of HR and Talent Development, is eager to debunk.
“Past these walls, it is a call centre. But when they step out here, it is a state-of-the-art office with lots of great features, and a cool employee experience,” says Hirey.
The casual exterior also belies some major business transformations that have taken place across the organisation since the start of 2016.
Such is the yin-yang nature of Teledirect Telecommerce’s organisational culture: a uniquely blended identity that has been carefully cultivated through an intricate amalgamation of elaborate engagement activities, meaningful learning interventions, and serious technological adoptions.
As Hirey shares with HRM Magazine Asia, HR was right there at every stage of the company’s technological and cultural metamorphosis, which really started to gain momentum in 2014.
The HR team’s greatest and most impactful contribution has undoubtedly been the employee digital platform, that is simply named Flash.
Here’s one thing you need to know about Flash: Every little activity – whether it’s recruitment, customer relationship management, training and development, performance management, or even sales tracking – is conducted and managed out of this integrative system.
Hirey says having a completely digital internal system has been a crucial component in the company’s ongoing development and transformation journey.
“Today, we have 4,000 people. By 2021, we intend to be over 12,000 employees: that’s the plan. So we have to prepare for that,” says Hirey, adding that the company experienced a 20% growth in headcount in 2017 alone.
With an already-large workforce hailing from over 20 countries, Hirey says the automation of processes is also somewhat self-serving: it helps to ease the pressure on HR.
But for the new innovations to be truly effective, HR has also been forced to improve its own digital literacy. At the start of this year, the company created the role of an HR transformation manager. One of their main responsibilities is specifically to help build digital capability within the HR department.
Every week, the manager spends two days on training for HR, and the remaining time for all other departments.
Hirey says this is only the beginning, as the regional talent management crew is in the midst of preparing an elaborate training calendar within Flash, where “people can just log on and attend sessions”.
Increasing the hours of learning for employees is certainly at the top of the fast-evolving company’s agenda today. In 2016, the company launched its very own online learning platform (called Teledirect University) as a way of preparing employees for the impending digitalisation.
“No transformation can happen if team members are not able to manage the change of work,” Hirey says. “This allows us to power our people’s growth by allowing them to communicate, collaborate, and learn.”
Today, the telecommerce company employs a blended learning approach, in which it combines e-learning, self-learning, and experiential training.
Surprisingly, this capability-building and change management process has mostly been a smooth one, in large part because of the great support that has been shown by the company’s CEO Laurent Junique and Singapore Country Director Angie Tay.
“This is the first organisation where I have experienced complete support for change. Our leaders were, in fact, the ones who initiated this digital transformation two years ago,” says Hirey.
However, with great success comes greater expectations, which Hirey says has been one of the few challenges during this journey. He reveals that there tends to be an overwhelming perception that the pace of change should pick up even further, especially since his team now has some experience under its belt, and the necessary tools and systems are also in place.
However, Hirey is quick to say that this is unrealistic. Every initiative and project is different, he notes, adding that managing expectations becomes key at this stage of development.
“There will be disagreements and there will be challenges, but if we are very open and communicate as much as we can, then we will be able to show results,” he says.