Creating a great workplace with a people-first approach

Steven Tan, CHRO, City Developments Limited, highlights what it takes for an organisation to be an employer of choice.
By: | August 29, 2022

All about our people: New hires from CDL participating in a dialogue session with senior management.

In today’s candidate-driven market, talents are seeking a holistic employee experience that goes beyond remuneration when choosing to join an organisation.

Specifically, talents are looking for an organisation that values, cares, and provides flexibility and opportunities for growth, said Steven Tan, CHRO, City Developments Limited (CDL). “Both tangible and intangible benefits are equally significant in influencing their decision,” he added.

At CDL, a priority to create progressive people practices for the past five decades has enabled the company to build a team-centric culture that emphasises collaboration, inclusivity, and innovation.

Appreciated by employees, these efforts also saw CDL named as the Employer of Choice at HR Fest Awards 2022, organised by HRM Asia as part of HR Tech Festival Asia 2022.

Expressing his delight at winning the prestigious award, Tan said, “We are incredibly grateful to our senior leadership team for their unwavering support in fostering a culture of success. People with passion and purpose, combined with our unique ‘family-style’ environment, makes CDL a great workplace.”

“We will continue to inspire creativity and excitement by implementing Human Capital initiatives to support talent management and drive business success.”

Tan also emphasised how a people-first culture has allowed CDL to attract and retain the best talent through initiatives such as regular engagement, which is key to gaining deeper insights into the needs, wants, and perceptions of employees.

This is achieved through various platforms, including informal get-togethers, EXCO interaction sessions with new hires, townhalls, and employee engagement surveys. To create an open and transparent environment, feedback received is analysed, prioritised, and met with actioned and tangible changes.

With the intensifying competition for talent, CDL also invite employees to be part of the recruitment process that identifies the best skillsets needed for specific roles.

Tan explained, “Our employees network frequently with professional peers and former colleagues, who may not be active job seekers but would not mind exploring new opportunities. This referral scheme, where our employees help select co-workers who will fit into our culture, brings benefits like lowering overall recruitment costs, a better cultural/job fit, and improved employee morale.”

With more employees looking beyond just compensation and benefits, CDL is also adopting a total rewards and recognition package that is customised, transparent, and equitable. “Features such as Workday’s Reward and Recognition allow our employees to show instant appreciation to their colleagues anytime, providing an all-encompassing view of an individual’s performance during appraisal,” Tan added.

Learning and development opportunities also abound for CDL employees, who are empowered to actively search and enroll for programmes to gain new skills and grow professionally. Employees across all levels are encouraged to participate in programmes and workshops that provide training in technical skills, soft skills, personal management, and professional skills.

For high-performing employees who have been identified as having the potential to grow beyond their current role, job rotations provide opportunities to assess how these employees perform when faced with varied challenges in situations they are unaccustomed to.

This approach, said Tan, is also effective in identifying successors for critical leadership positions. “Job rotation provides these employees with a holistic view of our business, making them better prepared for impending leadership roles. It also provides job variation, increases job satisfaction, and are aligned to the high expectations of employees in terms of career growth and personal development.”

A holistic approach to employee wellbeing also sees CDL focusing on the physical, mental, financial, and social wellbeing of employees, including introducing a monthly programme that allows employees to connect with colleagues, invest in self-care, and improve their quality of life beyond the workplace.

Tan elaborated, “We have been engaging stakeholders through active employee volunteerism to complement our community investments and deliver a more meaningful impact in the public sphere. Our dedicated employee-led volunteering body, City Sunshine Club (CSC), has been actively reaching out to the less fortunate and underprivileged, providing an avenue for CDL employees to serve the community.”