MTRC builds a caring culture
MTR Corporation (MTRC) was recently voted the Most Attractive Brand to the Hong Kong working-age population in an independent research survey by global talent services provider Randstad. Building its employer brand, however, has never been MTRC’s real ambition.
“Our objective is really to deliver caring customer service to the Hong Kong people. The only way we can do it is if we inspire our staff, engage them and develop them,” says Morris Cheung, HR director at MTRC, who will be speaking at the Employer Branding Conference about how the company has been building its employer brand from the inside out.
“I will focus on explaining what our philosophy is and that what we are really trying to do is to make our people feel proud of being an MTR staff member,” he adds.
When Cheung joined the MTRC in 1983, it was a much smaller organisation and operated only two lines. Today, it employs over 15,000 people in Hong Kong and another 15,000 in six cities around the world.
At MTRC, building the right culture is more important than talking repeatedly about the employer brand, he says. “It is really about what kind of company we are,” Cheung says. “Our culture is about excellent, caring service and respect for individual staff. Of course, we want our staff to create more value, so we encourage them to be more innovative.”
In a survey last year, 88 per cent of MTRC staff said they were proud to be working for the company. “We tell our employees: ‘You should be proud, but you shouldn’t be satisfied.’ We have to strive to improve our customer service and other areas. It is a continuous-improvement culture that we have been trying to cultivate internally,” Cheung says.
It is important for staff to feel proud to be part of MTRC because the organisation treats its employees as ambassadors of its brand.
“We are not talking about the company as an employer, but as a service provider. We’re really putting our people in the centre of the overall customer-service strategy,” Cheung says.
For example, when the Hurricane Signal No 10 was hoisted during the passage of severe typhoon Vicente last year, MTRC staff worked doubly hard to remove fallen trees, restore power and resume service within a couple of hours of the signal being lowered to No 8.
“This showed our staff members’ commitment during a very challenging time. That’s the benefit of having the things that we have been doing, of having a highly committed and motivated workforce,” Cheung says.
MTRC staff enjoy a range of amenities and facilities, including the Metro Credit Union and the Metro Recreation Club. The company strives to build an internal environment where staff feel that they’re working for a caring company.
With the MTRC currently building five line extensions, and with various other projects going on, attracting talent remains the top challenge. “All these projects require many professionals. When we open a new line, we also need to employ frontline staff in stations and people to maintain equipment,” Cheung says.
When it comes to retaining talent, Cheung adds, one of the things the company focuses on is developing its people. “We provide a lot of training and also let our staff know that there are lots of opportunities in the company while we grow our business in Hong Kong and around the world,” he says.
For the past five years, a series of motivational videos, called “MTR People Making a Difference”, has shown inspirational stories of how staff work to provide a caring customer service.
“We want to share stories about out staff – their different roles and functions – with other employees so that they’ll know what’s happening in different parts of the company. It also makes them feel proud of themselves,” Cheung says.