What makes people ‘stick around’ at Shell?

Recently ranked third in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work 2020, it's no wonder the people at Shell have little reason to leave the company.
By: | February 4, 2020

Royal Dutch Shell, to give it its full name, has more than 80,000 employees spread across the globe. A large chunk of that workforce is based here in Asia, an exciting and rapidly-growing collection of markets for Shell. Singapore is the regional headquarters for the oil company and Leslie Hayward is its head of HR. Here’s Part 2 of our feature interview.

Read Part 1: A firm believer in pushing Asian talent

Read Part 2: Shell’s HR transformation journey

So what is it at Shell that people find so appealing and want to stick around? ‘’For starters, we have a very informal culture. We go by first names and encourage people to speak their mind’’.

It also believes strongly in three core values – Respect, Integrity and Honesty. ‘’They have been my guiding beacon. I really take exception to anyone who doesn’t live up to these values . If you violate those values, you are not deserving of being a Shell employee’’.

Internally and externally Shell is seen as being a very caring company, given the legacy of its paternalistic past. ‘’You can’t rub it off completely. We really like consensus, we want people to engage and bring them together. And this drive for employee engagement is our competitive advantage. I don’t think many companies can replicate it’’.

Looking back

As for his own tenure, three decades have flown by. ‘’As long as I’m creating value and I’m seen doing that then I’m happy to work. Before I knew it 30 years has been clocked up’’. But all good things must come to an end and Hayward will be leaving Shell in July. This presented the perfect opportunity to look back at his long career in human resources.

‘’When I first started it was called personnel and very hierarchical. There were none of the gizmos you have nowadays. I didn’t even have a laptop when I joined back in 1989. Everything was done through the typing pool and you could only view graphs on overhead projectors. It was more physical. ‘’Nowadays, it’s far more digital and you are now practically on standby 24/7’’.

During his time, Hayward has also seen the role of HR at Shell change substantially. ‘’Back in those days we were extremely paternalistic in how we looked after our people. We thought we know what’s best for them’’.

Fast forward to today and HR account managers don’t even exist onsite anymore. ‘’Now we are dealing with a multi-generational workforce. From people who have worked here for over 45 years to new graduates. But you can still create a great place to work to cater for multi-generational workers’’.

While the high Glassdoor ranking was very well received, Shell has never had any problem attracting talent. ‘’Shell has always been a great place to work and we have a strong brand. We are fortunate in that the brand is seen as an employer of choice. We have one of the lowest attrition rates at around  2% while employee engagement has been rising’’.