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Best Companies to Work For in Greater China 2015: Though diverse in industry, winners share common goals

Published on Thursday, 17 Dec 2015

A remarkably broad range of sectors across Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan were represented by the 27 organisations recognised on this year’s list of Best Companies to Work For in Greater China. The one thing they all have in common, however, is a commitment to creating the best possible work environment and corporate culture for their employees. 

Elaine Cao, people strategy lead for SapientNitro China, an international marketing and consulting company, sees the way her company treats its employees as inextricably linked to its commercial success. She believes that having great people and a great culture are the two most important factors that help SapientNitro stand out.

“After more than two years of effort to walk the talk on our people and culture strategy, and to treat our people in the way that is congruent with our core values … our voluntary attrition rate fell to 21 per cent by the end of October 2015, from 59 per cent back in October 2013 when we initiated our people and culture strategy in China,” Cao says.

“This accomplishment translates into more than US$500,000 of commercial savings on the implications of attrition to the business bottom line.” 

Cao explains that the company’s people and culture policy aims to cover each stage of an employee’s relationship with the business.

“Along this journey, we’ve taken a result-oriented and human-centric approach, focusing on why people join, why people stay, why people leave and why people rejoin SapientNitro,” she explains. “Ultimately, our people-experience focus allows us to identify, grow and retain our top talent at all career stages, set a high standard for growing and developing people, and be known for routinely ‘achieving the impossible’.”

For Martin Rinck, Asia Pacific president at hospitality giant Hilton Worldwide, loyal and happy employees are the foundation behind the success of the company’s 64 hotels in Greater China.

“Creating a productive and positive working environment for everybody is therefore our priority,” Rinck says. “Our strategy is focused on creating a culture that develops our people so that they can be the best of who they are, work in the best of environments and are recognised and rewarded for their contributions to the company’s success.” 

He adds that Hilton’s progress in implementing this strategy can be seen in the improving levels of engagement and trust among employees, and a reduction in team member turnover of more than 20 per cent in the past three years.

The company provides various training programmes that include the virtual Hilton University and a management development programme which fast-tracks those with high potential. 

“Today, approximately 54 per cent of hotel general manager appointments are internal promotions and this number is constantly rising,” Rinck says.

He explains that Hilton Worldwide is always on the lookout for new ways to acknowledge the work of its staff and give them new benefits. “We are continuously identifying opportunities to recognise their efforts and contributions, in addition to providing a market competitive salary. “[For example] we just launched ‘Go Hilton’, an industry leading travel programme, offering enhanced benefits to our team members and their families, encouraging them to travel more and enjoy our hotels around the world.”

At online payments system provider PayPal, which has almost 1,000 employees in Greater China, the corporate philosophy makes a clear link between the happiness of its staff and its customers.

“We believe if we do the right things for our customers, employees and communities, all the results will follow,” says Simon Zhu, PayPal site leader, global operation, Asia Pacific. 

“Our commercial success is built upon creating trusted communities so our customers can transact and participate in the global marketplace.  “Our culture empowers our team members to be the best customer champions, creating products and services that solve real customer pain points and needs, thereby strengthening trust with our community.”

Susana Wijaya, PayPal’s senior director of risk management, says that the emphasis PayPal places on developing trust within its teams chimes with the spirit of the GPTW awards.

“Over the years, the elements of our culture – servant leadership, empowerment, innovation and diversity, and inclusiveness – have been very well integrated into our daily work. We put a lot of emphasis on, and investment in, growing our people through various career-development programmes and creating opportunities for our team members to build long-term careers in PayPal,” she says.

“At the same time, we are also fostering an environment that is inclusive of everyone, encourages innovation, and recognises those who champion for our customers and who have each other’s backs to ensure we win as a team.” 

Over at medical diagnostics business Roche Diagnostics China, Sophia Gong, attraction, sourcing and hiring director, human resources, believes that her company won its place on the GPTW list because of its employer branding, sustainable talent strategy, and innovative projects.  

As of last month, Roche Diagnostics China had 1,982 employees working in 76 offices across mainland China, with this figure expected to rise to over 2,000 by the end of 2015.

“[Our] culture aims to keep our people engaged and our business sustainable in the long term,” Gong says. “We believe in innovation, efficiency, collaboration, ‘people care’ and ownership as we work towards our future success.” 

To promote these five values, Gong explains, the company conducted a culture campaign this year which involved more than 1,200 employees in nine cities. The “Culture Journey” consisted of management talks, team-building exercises, roadshows and mini-campaigns featuring cooking and debates, among other exciting attractions.

For global nutrition company Herbalife (China), commercial success has been a significant factor in the development of its company culture across its 65 branch offices and 805 employees. 

“Herbalife entered China’s market 10 years [ago] when we were just like a start-up entrepreneur, fighting days and nights to succeed,” says Feng Li, senior director of human resources. “A decade later, people still work as hard as they used to, yet the difference is that the company now invests much more in building a simple, magic and fun workforce.

“In addition, senior management attaches great importance to a healthy and strong workforce in achieving sustainable business growth.”

To maintain and improve best practices, Herbalife (China) employees provide feedback in pre-organised GPTW “working groups”, Li adds. 

“Senior management exhausts all efforts to create an environment which is beneficial to employees’ career advancement, bring care to employees as well as their families, and build open communication and dialogues throughout the company.”

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