Times flies and it has been three years since the outbreak of COVID-19. Looking back, COVID-19 has changed the way we work, live, think and behave in the past three years from 2020 to 2022, and has taught us and may continue to teach us many lessons.
The pandemic has resulted in many challenges and triggered people to re-evaluate their priorities in life. As a father of two young children, it was definitely challenging to manage work and care for my family at the same time during the Circuit Breaker. While it may be tiring at times, I’m grateful that I have had the opportunities and a supportive work environment to allow me to spend more time with my daughters at home, witness some of their growing-up milestones, and foster a stronger bond with them.
Around the world, we have also seen how the pandemic may have accelerated the employee turnover rate which led to a change in employees’ attitudes and behaviours towards work. As a result, new trends such as “Great Resignation” or “Great Reshuffle”, and “Quiet Quitting” developed.
Nonetheless, these trends are not totally new as the current workforce demographics do look beyond compensation when taking on a job. In my recent meet-up with my friends, I realised that some of them have changed jobs three to four times within the past three years. This definitely came as a surprise to me as I thought many would prefer to stay on a job during the pandemic and economic turndown for security and stability. While some indicated a higher pay jump as one of their reasons, many also shared that there were other reasons like taking on bigger roles, joining a more established company, leaving due to poor culture, long working hours, or pursuing their interest or entrepreneurship, etc. Thus, it is common these days for employees to focus on various non-monetary aspects like sense of purpose, alignment of their values with the organisation’s values, brand, culture, work-life harmony, feedback and development to evaluate the suitability of the job.
Herzberg’s Motivator-Hygiene factors offer us insights into why people may be dissatisfied or not motivated with their job and leave their organisation eventually. The theory suggests that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are not opposites. The opposite of job dissatisfaction is no job dissatisfaction and a lack of hygiene factors such as less competitive salary and poor working conditions increase one’s job dissatisfaction. In contrast, the opposite of job satisfaction is no job satisfaction and to increase job satisfaction, organisations need to focus on motivators such as personal growth, recognition, and the nature of work.
As such, this is not a matter of whether motivators are more important than hygiene factors, or vice versa. Rather, both hygiene factors and motivators are essential in engaging employees to eliminate unhappiness and increase motivation. In order for hygiene factors and motivators to exist, organisational culture is key as it has significant influence over everything we do.
Management guru, Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and this highlights the importance of culture and human element in any organisation as it would be a key determinant for the success or failure of strategies and plans. More importantly, with the world constantly evolving and facing different threats and crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, building a resilient organisational culture and workforce is paramount to thrive in the future.
Being a company with 36 headcounts, our people is, without a doubt, our key asset. Not only do our people drive business performance but they also play a crucial role in shaping our culture. Hence, if we are not intentional about hiring the ‘right’ people to foster the culture we want, a wrong culture may evolve and the right people may leave, and this can be detrimental to the firm.
While we all agree that organisational culture exists, its importance to any organisation, and the potential benefits that it may bring about, the main question is, what is organisational culture? Without a proper definition or good understanding of what organisational culture is, we would not be able to differentiate between good and bad culture, diagnose and analyse the root causes of poor culture, and design interventions to improve the culture.
There are many definitions of organisational culture that one could find online and one definition by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is as follows:
“Organizational culture sets the context for everything a company does and defines the proper way to behave within the organization. It consists of shared beliefs and values established by leaders and communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.”
During our Annual Retreat last year, our CEO, Christopher Tan, simplified the relationship between Vision, Core Values, Purpose and Mission and put them into an equation to help us better understand how they are related:
From the definition and equation above, it becomes apparent that there are two key elements that shape the organisation culture – the mindset and behaviours of our people, namely shared beliefs/purpose and values.
Recruitment has become one of our key activities in ensuring we get the right people who are aligned with the company’s beliefs and values. This is especially important to us as we want to ensure that the new hires do not join with the wrong intent and would be able to serve our clients with honest, independent and competent advice.
In my recent years of interviews with candidates for the role of Associate Adviser, we are also heartened to hear that they support our fee-only, conflict-free wealth advisory model, understand its importance (often through their personal bad experiences) and hope to play their part to help others in achieving their financial and life goals. This is very encouraging for us as we hope that we could get more like-minded individuals to join us as we expand so that we could continue to make an impact on our clients and the industry.
Enabling our people to achieve their life purpose at Providend
As a wealth advisory firm that aims to serve our families of clients to help them fulfil their dreams and achieve their life purpose, we also hope that we could inspire and support our employees to find out what truly matters to them and achieve their life purpose while working with us.
We understand that people have different needs and wants at various life stages. Challenges in our daily lives may affect our work performance, vice versa and it is important for us to manage these challenges so that our total well-being will not be compromised.
Quarterly Performance Enablement Check-In
We introduced a quarterly Performance Enablement Check-in last year which focuses not only on improving work performance but also aims to understand our employees’ personal and family goals as well as their family obligations. Through such check-ins, we strive to constantly support our employees so that they can effectively deal with the challenges they face, be it at work or at home. In addition, constant check-ins with our employees would allow them to understand what their strengths are, and how they can better contribute to Providend’s vision and continue to grow together with the firm.
Providend Active Learning
In relation to helping our staff to attain their personal life goals, we have started Providend Active Learning (PAL) programme last year, providing our staff with $200 each year to encourage them to pursue and learn something of their interests and this need not be related to their role. Many of us enjoyed our lessons and shared photos of our learning with the entire company. There were many interesting courses that our colleagues attended such as perfume making, singing and tea appreciation, and some even encouraged their loved ones to join them.
Work from Anywhere
We also launched the Work from Anywhere initiative last year, allowing interested staff to partake in this initiative so as to experience the life of a digital nomad.
SPIRIT of Providend
Apart from the aforementioned HR programmes, we have also a culture champion and two fitness champions, whom we called Captain Providend and Captain Fitness respectively, organising activities for us with the intention to inculcate Providend core values and to promote healthy living.
At Providend, we live out our core values through the SPIRIT of Providend:
Inspiring one another,
yet as a Team.
Many of the activities organised by the Captains involve everyone in the company and we get to learn new things together. This helps to build stronger trust and closer relationships amongst the team, reinforcing our purpose and core values.
The above-mentioned initiatives are some ways we employ to instil our core values in our people to align our purposes so as to build a strong culture. The initiatives have in turn provided the ”hygiene factors” and ”motivators” that constantly help to develop and engage our people.
We pride ourselves on our strong culture at Providend and this is a collective effort by everyone in the company, from the past and present, in building it. As the company grows, we hope that we can continue to preserve or even develop a stronger culture to live out our purpose and core values and inspire our clients and colleagues to first make life purpose decisions before making financial decisions.
This is an original article written by Lee Kang Hui, Head of Finance & People at Providend, Singapore’s First Fee-Only Wealth Advisory Firm.
For more related resources, check out:
1. About Providend and Our Purpose
2. I Hate My Job but Don’t Know What to Do Next
3. Story of Eleanor: Why She Does Not See Herself Retiring
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