Money Moves

Long-term approach to employee management

by Colette Wong

Leading insurer focuses on staff development as the basis of business success

Jason Sadler, managing director
HSBC Insurance (Asia) Limited
Photos: Johnson Poon

In the competitive finance industry, companies are well aware that in order to retain staff, they must provide them with long-term career prospects and a range of development opportunities.

As part of the company's pursuit of excellence, HSBC Insurance has adopted a series of initiatives to enhance internal communication and overall staff engagement, which the company believes is the basis of business success. "It is therefore a priority to act on employees' needs," says Jason Sadler, managing director, HSBC Insurance (Asia) Limited.

"We've created various communication channels. For example, under the roof of our interactive intranet, there's a senior management blog for managers to discuss about new policies and other current issues in their departments and to encourage staff feedback," Mr Sadler explains. "The senior team and I meet regularly with junior staff in 'skip level meetings' to share news, issues about work and concerns."

Sense of belonging

As some of the employees' questions revolve around their career development within the company, HSBC Insurance has reinforced internal job advertising on its intranet since last year. The company outlines career roadmaps in different departments and encourages employees to apply for vacancies. In addition, the company launched its first internal job fair this month to introduce to staff the many job vacancies within the company and to promote an array of career opportunities and development paths to them.

"These initiatives were a response to results from our annual staff survey," says Polly Yip, head of human resources, HSBC Insurance. "Our employees clearly expressed their desire for varied career options and recognition from management. As our business expands and many new exciting opportunities arise, we hope to see our staff unleash their potential by taking on increased responsibilities or new job roles."

Opportunities for internal transfer are key in retaining senior staff, since many of them tend to seek new direction after holding the same position for a few years, Ms Yip points out. "Some line managers would naturally like to keep high-performing staff on their teams. However it is in staff and the company's best interest if high-performing staff are given the opportunities to take on new challenges and responsibilities. As such, internal transfer and secondment are a key policy in our staff development."

HSBC Insurance has also established a staff recognition programme to increase staff's sense of belonging by publicly recognising major achievements. Senior managers acknowledge their team members' hard work in many ways. These include an electronic "thank-you card", gift coupons and success stories sharing on the company intranet.

Such thoughtful gestures form part of the company's efforts to increase openness and strengthen communications. It also makes HSBC Insurance the ideal workplace.

Motivating factors

Polly Yip, head of human resources, HSBC Insurance (Asia) Limited
Photo: Johnson Poon
Staff members on different job levels are inspired by different factors. This makes it essential to pinpoint their respective needs, says Mr Sadler.

For instance, an informal staff drinks session is organised monthly by different departments. This particular endeavour combines fun and networking with awards presentation in recognition of staff achievements.

Financial incentives and work-life balance remain two important factors in staff motivation. "Our colleagues, particularly the more senior ones, are confident about their accomplishments and expect appropriate rewards from the company. This goes beyond just basic salary, but also additional employee benefits, bonus payments and even share awards for top performers.

"The company's commitment to staff's need for a work-life balance is clear," Ms Yip stresses. "We regularly organise family-focused activities particularly during major public holidays such as Easter and Christmas. Recently we took more than 4,000 staff and their families and friends on a day trip to Ocean Park."

The company even presents flowers and coffee coupons to staff on Valentine's Day. "Male employees were surprised. Some of them took the flowers home and gave them to their wives," Ms Yip says.

Supporting staff development and progression is a key part of staff motivation. HSBC Insurance works closely with the bank's learning and development department and offers a range of programmes for staff of all levels. This may include training sessions for basic product knowledge, communication skills, and a range of different management skills.

"We believe HSBC Insurance is the best career platform," Ms Yip concludes. "From professional training to team building and leisure activities, we aim to look after our employees' growth as individuals, so that they will remain dedicated to their work and go the extra mile to serve our customers."

Taken from Career Times 30 May 2008, p. A2
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