"Our Learning Academy highlights important topics that are beneficial to our employees’ growth, including subjects such as inclusivity," Christine Koh, Head of HR, Cigna Singapore, says.
At the Employee Experience Awards 2021, Singapore, Cigna Singapore received the bronze awards for Best In-House Learning Academy and Best In-House Career Website.
In this interview, Christine Koh, Head of Human Resources, Cigna Singapore, shares the secrets behind this win - how the organisation caters to its workforce's needs through an environment that allows them to communicate, learn, and grow, and how this in turn, keeps the organisation relevant, innovative, and competitive.
Congratulations on bagging this award! What is your award-winning employee experience strategy that led to this win?
Christine: Being employee-centric focus will be the key for our HR strategy. In addition to our employees’ day-to-day work, we want to ensure that they also grow together with the company. This means that our employees’ professional growth is one of our biggest priorities, as helping each individual to further their career or learning journey will also allow us to stay relevant, innovative and competitive together as a team, which is why these two awards are true testaments to how we are as a company.
Our 200+ years of global industry experience has led us to believe that one of the best ways to do so is by investing in our own people. When our employees have the necessary support for professional growth, they are not only able to further their careers, but they also become the driving force in keeping the organisation relevant, innovative, and competitive.
How did you and your team conceptualise and adapt this strategy to suit evolving workforce needs in the past year?
Christine: In our journey to define and develop an in-house learning system and a career development site that work for our teams, we have experimented with various frameworks to understand what our employees respond to.
The traditional way would be top-down approach. More often, employees feel they are pushed by managers to attend classes or to clock training hours which is not effective and does not cater to the needs of individual employees. This, in turn, reduces their interest in self-learning and removes a key factor of sustainable growth - personal agency.
To tackle this, we have since pivoted our goal towards encouraging self-motivated and self-initiated learning by putting more emphasis on personalised goal-setting.
What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?
Christine: One of the main challenges of achieving this is through communication. In order to provide our employees with the most effective support, we must first identify their unique needs and match them up with possible areas of improvement. This is addressed through our focus of conducting comprehensive employee assessments, which we accomplish in two ways: an annual employee survey and regular one-on-one reviews.
The former allows us to gather employee feedback on a broader level. It also provides us with a big picture view of our employees’ experiences as well as what they need from the company as a whole. These insights help us to create opportunities for company-wide improvements and advance our goal of building a supportive work environment.
The second approach of conducting regular one-on-one reviews provides us with an alternative channel of communication to obtain more in-depth feedback and for managers to conduct career conversation and identify development areas that they can developed in order to support their career goals. They also allow us valuable opportunities to build meaningful relationships via open conversations. This way, our leaders are better equipped to match their team members’ interests and needs to what Cigna has to offer.
How did the strategy add to the overall employee experience in your organisation, in terms of ROI?
Christine: Our Learning Academy highlights important topics that are beneficial to our employees’ growth, including subjects such as inclusivity. Participation rates for these courses are often high as our courses and quizzes are designed to be engaging and fun. It also ensures that our employees will be well-versed in these areas that are critical to Cigna as a global health service provider.
As a result, our employees can tap on their new-found expertise to go above and beyond in order to provide the best possible services to our clients and members.
What is the most exciting and valuable thing about being part of (and winning at!) the debut Employee Experience Awards?
Definitely happy, but mostly we felt a sense of achievement and recognition of our team’s effort in ensuring we support our employees as much as we can. It’s important for our employees to know that they can always make use of these self-help tools or approach any of the management for an open discussion as they’re important assets to us.
Looking ahead, what else do you have planned as you continue to enhance the overall employee experience?
As we continue planning for the future, we are looking at ways in which we can further improve communications with our employees. One such project involves bringing in more automated services to supplement the resources that we have on Iris, Cigna's employee portal.
For a start, we are looking at building an intelligent chatbot that can instantly identify the appropriate resources and recommendations for our employees even when they are on the go. This can go a long way in increasing the accessibility of the platform, as the majority of us have transitioned to more flexible working arrangements since the start of the pandemic.
We believe that tapping into artificial intelligence can offer us more insights on the direction that we should take in our endeavour to successfully implement mixed reality (online and offline) communications, which will then go on to enhance our employees’ professional growth.
Having said that, face-to-face connection will also be a key area for us to strengthen the engagement with our employees, especially most of us have been working from home mostly this year due to COVID-19.
Do share some tips to inspire your peers who are working on their EX strategies and would love to participate in the awards next year.
To be authentic, sincere and genuine. Leaders care about others and invest interest to bringing employees alongside the journey.
In Cigna, we built a culture where trust plays an important role. We aim to create a safe and open working environment for everyone. To ensure two-way communication is also important to keep employees engaged.
Lastly, to end on a fun note – if you could describe the employee experience at your organisation in one sentence, what would that be?
Christine: We play hard, word hard and learn hard together!
This article was originally published by Human Resources Online on 17 September 2021 with supporting content provided by Cigna Singapore.