Build a socially responsible workplace through employee development

Dr Virgel C. Binghay, Co-Founding Member, AHDO Philippines, highlights how human development can be improved across organisations.
By: | March 1, 2023

Investing in the professional development of employees is crucial for any organisation looking to achieve long-term success. Employees are developed at work when the management team creates a supportive and empowering learning environment that boosts skills, fosters motivation, and promotes professional and personal aspirations. It is through taking on this social responsibility that organisations can lay the foundation for a sustainable future and drive positive outcomes for both the organisation and its employees.

According to Dr Virgel C. Binghay, a Professor at the University of the Philippines’ School of Labour and Industrial and Co-Founding Member of the ASEAN Human Development Organisation (AHDO) Philippines, a socially responsible organisation has a duty to better society by upholding its promises and acting on ethical principles. All aspects of a business need to be considered, including employee treatment, the way the organisation is managed, the quality of services and products delivered, and the impact the organisation has on the environment. 

Speaking to HRM Magazine Asia, he suggested that leaders who strive to have a strong sense of social responsibility in their organisations should possess two fundamental values: malasakit and workplace spirituality.

“The Filipino value known as malasakit emphasises having a compassionate demeanour towards other people,” Dr Binghay said. “It demands empathy towards individuals inside and outside of the organisation, as well as paying attention to the circumstance in which they find themselves and their needs. Therefore, whenever leaders make malasakit a high priority, they take action to help address the problem of others by actively seeking solutions.”

As for workplace spirituality, it can potentially cultivate social responsibility in the workplace, particularly among employees, as Dr Binghay explained, “In its most basic form, workplace spirituality can be defined as a set of organisational principles mirrored in an organisation’s culture. These guiding principles help contribute to the connection between employees and their organisation and the promotion of a positive experience for employees in their work.”

Redesigning training programmes to meet the needs of employees

To help employees reach their full potential, organisations should develop employee development strategies that include the training and resources employees need to advance their careers and improve their skills.

These should also be based on the three key pillars of, full support from top management, the rigour of the learning process, and support from immediate supervisors, Dr Binghay identified.

Top management support in employee development is important, he emphasised, because a corporate culture that values professional development relies heavily on CEOs and corporate owners who are willing to invest time, money, and effort in their employees.

The rigour of the learning process begins by recognising that conducting a learning needs assessment as being the cornerstone of an effective employee development programme. Organisations can then develop well-organised content that meets identified needs and support pre-determined learning goals, use appropriate learning methods and approaches that takes employees’ interests into account, and finally to evaluate if the programme has met its goals and objectives.

Support from immediate supervisors is also crucial, since they are responsible for implementing the learning and provide guidance, advice, and mentoring to employees. Dr Binghay advised organisations to implement a performance management system that can determine their employees’ learning requirements, while also cultivating a passion for continual learning.

He continued, “An organisation’s management team is primarily responsible for employees’ training and development. Such organisational intervention increases productivity, customer loyalty, competitiveness, and long-term sustainability. This intervention aims to improve employees’ work and life knowledge, skills, and attitudes.”

“The management team is responsible for the organisation’s growth, which is strongly linked to employee engagement and retention. They are responsible for this strategic agenda since any organisation needs competent employees to take on further organisational responsibilities and assume high-level positions.”

Preparing leaders for the future of work

The future of work requires leaders who can anticipate and adapt to change, and who can provide direction and support to their teams in a rapidly evolving business world. Hence, training leadership has become a crucial aspect for the future of work as it equips leaders with the essential skills and knowledge needed to effectively lead and manage their teams.

Nurturing leadership qualities, such as strategic thinking, decision-making, emotional intelligence, and communication, can improve a leader’s potential to drive transformation, promote innovation, and cultivate a positive work environment.

Dr Binghay elaborated, “Leaders must be able to mould and reshape themselves according to the ever-changing conditions of the business environment to be relevant to the organisation. Hence, they should be able to learn new information swiftly.”

“They must possess a strong drive to find innovative solutions to corporate concerns and issues, and be willing and able to impart their expertise, especially to those who report directly to them. Additionally, they must exhibit honesty, integrity, and earn the trust of their employees, inspiring them to reach their full potential and perform at their best.”

To better support leaders in fulfilling their roles within an organisation, he suggested establishing a Management Development Plan (MDP), which focuses on creating successful and efficient managers, help organisations build a talented and motivated leadership team, drive innovation and growth, and secure long-term success. The MDP should also take into account each participant’s career aspiration, as well as the organisation’s career development and succession framework, to ensure a harmonious relationship between organisational and individual goals.

HR influence in the workplace

When it comes to the design of training programmes and employee development initiatives such as a MDP, HR professionals play a critical role by taking into consideration the needs of participants and how these are aligned with the organisation’s goals.

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“HR professionals should look around to identify examples of effective HR practices and incorporate them in brainstorming new methods to transform HR in their respective organisations.”Dr Virgel C. Binghay, Co-Founding Member, ASEAN Human Development Organisation (AHDO) Philippines.

To achieve this, Dr Binghay suggested seeking the mentorship or coaching of an experienced professional and even collaborating with an external consultant. “HR professionals should look around to identify examples of effective HR practices and incorporate them in brainstorming new methods to transform HR in their respective organisations. They should take a strategic approach to HR, complete with a scorecard, and establish measures.”

He also advised HR professionals to maintain a neutral and impartial perspective while considering the needs of both employees and management when carrying out their HR responsibilities. To promote ethical behaviour within the organisation, HR professionals should cultivate professional, friendly relationships with top management and line leaders, as these connections play a crucial role in the success of HR efforts.

“They need to keep a healthy relationship and communication with the workforce characterised by honesty and fairness, and ensure that employees are well cared for,” he concluded.

To gain more insights into how you can improve human development in your organisation, be sure to attend the AHDO Human Development Summit, which is taking place on May 11 as part of HR Tech Festival Asia 2023. With the theme of The Paradigm Shift to Human Development, the second edition of the ADHO Summit will examine how professionals inside and outside organisations are balancing profit with people and purpose.