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Prioritising employee experience: Challenge, empowerment, growth

Published on Saturday, 15 Oct 2016

AIA Hong Kong and Macau aspires to be a sustained employer of choice and delivers a positive employee experience. Jacky Chan, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Hong Kong and Macau, explains that with the aim to “attract the best talent to work at AIA Hong Kong and Macau without a second thought”, the company offers an employee value proposition that centres around “challenge, empowerment and growth” so that all staff can “be the best they can be”.

Embracing “challenge” means seizing every opportunity in a dynamic environment to engage in performance-driven, meaningful and rewarding work. “Empowerment” is gained through pursuing one’s path to success in life through career ownership, transparent and open dialogue. To pursue “growth” is to equip oneself to excel in life through their career development and mobility opportunities.

As recognition of AIA Hong Kong and Macau’s success in creating such a comprehensive and rewarding employee value proposition, the company won a Best Employer Hong Kong 2016 award organised by global talent solutions business Aon Hewitt. AIA Hong Kong and Macau is the first and only insurer to be honoured with the Best Employer Hong Kong accolade, while it also received an Aon Regional Best Employers for Asia Pacific 2016 award.

“We are glad to have excelled in four key areas: High employee engagement, high performance culture, effective leadership and a compelling employer brand,” says Wei Wei Watson, Chief Human Resources Officer at AIA Hong Kong and Macau. “The reality that 28 per cent of our employees have over 10 years’ service and 80 per cent of senior management positions are filled internally speaks to the commitment that is built between AIA Hong Kong and Macau and its employees. Our strong people and culture are the keys to these magnificent results – it is our entire organisation, at all levels, moving in a unified direction.”

Chan says that the increasing demands of customers will pose new challenges in the future. “To equip our employees to handle the rapid, changing needs of our customers’, AIA Hong Kong and Macau empowers all staff, to make decisions independently, while supplementing them with capability and leadership enhancement programmes and real-time feedback. The result is both personal and professional growth.”

Watson adds that employees own their career growth and they are encouraged to talk to management about where they want to grow to in their careers. “The emphasis is for employees to have clear development plans with support measures to realise their potential. We focus on continual development dialogues during which employees engage in career conversations and on-the-job feedback with their managers,” she says.

A career development plan can include mobility options either within departments in AIA Hong Kong and Macau, between AIA Hong Kong and Macau and the Group Office, or between offices in other Asian countries. These mobility options encompass Project Secondments lasting from 3 to 12 months, Business Assignments of one to two years, and One Way Transfers. “People value these developmental opportunities as mobility helps accelerate their career progressions either horizontally or vertically and they grow their internal networks,” Watson says.

Chan stresses that AIA Hong Kong and Macau fosters an open, non-hierarchical and inclusive culture in which employees can speak their minds, adding that he has regular interaction opportunities with general staff to listen to their needs and concerns. This channel of communication includes a Gallup Engagement survey for all employees, as well as an Aon Hewitt Employee Opinion Survey for a representative sample of employees which are completed annually. Gallup reports that AIA Hong Kong and Macau achieves top-quartile engagement levels within the global financial services industry.

A living example of a non-hierarchical culture is the AIA Playgroup. This Playgroup comprises over 60 employees from different departments and job levels who volunteer their time to drive company-wide engagement activities such as dragon-boating, lion-dancing, blood donation, moon cakes distribution – all from the employee’s perspective. “They think about and act on what they think is best for employee welfare; we support and empower them,” Watson says.

This inclusive culture can extend to a gender diversity front as well. “Half our internal promotions and senior management team involve women,” Watson says. “Our female employees enjoy equal opportunities and good benefits; they are vocal in meetings and are encouraged by female role models in management.” From inviting global female leaders to speak at sharing sessions to providing state-of-the-art nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers, women are empowered every step of the way.

“We believe in a tripartite relationship with employees, customers and partners, in which our employees are at the top of the triangle – indicating their utmost importance,” Chan says. “On the other hand, we are a customer-centric company which delivers a best-in-class customer experience. So, we balance our stakeholder’s needs.” 

 

GROWING FROM WITHIN

 

As CEO of AIA Hong Kong and Macau, Jacky Chan is a prime example of the company’s commitment to internally grooming talent. Having joined its actuarial department almost 30 years ago, he rose through the ranks to hold a number of key positions, including Senior Vice President and Head of Life Profit Centre at AIA Asia (ex-Japan and Korea) and Country Head of AIA China, before taking the helm in AIA Hong Kong and Macau.

“Insurance is a booming industry, with exciting opportunities fuelled by a huge and growing middle class in Asia-Pacific – most notably China – as well as protection gaps worth trillions of US dollars in the region,” Chan says. “AIA Hong Kong and Macau’s vision is to become a pre-eminent life insurance provider and with powerful new business growth and a vast majority of internal promotions, AIA Hong Kong and Macau is where talent can really be the best that they can be.”

Watson explains that AIA Hong Kong and Macau is constantly looking for talented individuals to join the company and grow from within. “We look for talent who are a cultural fit and who embrace our employee value proposition of ‘challenge, empowerment and growth’ on a personal level,” she says.

Chan describes AIA Hong Kong and Macau as one big family, in which all employees are committed to achieving common goals, no matter how challenging. This commitment was evident in the lead up to the introduction of Integral Life, a back-bone system to support all distribution and operations in the company from an end to end perspective. The project, which is the company’s most complex process change in the past 40 years, involved employees of all functions and seniority. With the unrivalled dedication of employees, the new system was introduced with tremendous success in record time, and the company turned over a new leaf with the system running safe and sound.

With robust results and an impressive track record, AIA Hong Kong and Macau has visionary goals for the future. “Sometimes people referred to as the ‘Shaolin Temple’, or nurturing ground, for insurance practitioners in Hong Kong, we at AIA Hong Kong and Macau aim to be the most respected brand in the market, and to further enhance the quality and status of the insurance profession and its practitioners in Hong Kong,” Chan says.

“Insurance is a meaningful industry in which you can help people and their families, and a meaningful job deserves due respect.” 


This article appeared in the Classified Post print edition as Prioritising employee experience: Challenge, empowerment, growth.

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