Purpose and Employee Experience Take Center Stage at the APAC Top Employers 2023 Certification Celebration in Singapore

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Top Employers from 22 Asia Pacific countries gathered at the ST Regis in Singapore on February 9 to celebrate their Top Employer 2023 Certification. This annual event recognises the commitment of these companies' HR teams to create a world-class HR environment.  

In his keynote talk, Billy Elliott, Regional Director for Asia-Pacific Top Employers Institute, shared that 22 Asia Pacific countries were honoured as Top Employers. These countries, including China, India, South Korea, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar, have companies that have created and implemented best in class HR strategies and practices. This has resulted in a positive impact on the lives of approximately 2,574,089 employees. 

The companies recognised as Regional APAC Top Employers (for having been certified in a minimum of five countries in region) were UST, Sanofi, SABIC, Novartis, Airbus, Worldline, and Ingredion. The companies recognised as Global and Regional Top Employers were Alstom, BAT, Boehringer Ingelheim, CHEP, DHL Express, HCLTech, DHL Global Forwarding, Infosys, JTI, Pepsico, Phillip Morris International, Puma, Saint-Gobain, Takeda, and TCS. 

With both regional and global companies recognised as Top Employers, it is evident that creating a positive employee experience is a top priority for many organizations, which was the focus of the first panel discussion held:  

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Employee Experience becomes Super-Personalised 

The importance of personalising employee experience has become a critical focus area for organizations. To better understand this topic, a panel discussion was held with three leading HR executives - Sanjiv Agarwal, Head of Human Resources at Swiss Re, Satish Kannan, Vice President & Head HR of Global Markets, Europe & MEA at Infosys, and Patricia Lam, HR Director and APAC HR Performance & Integration at Alstom and moderated by Ammara Naeem, Head of Client Success at Top Employers Institute. Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.  

  • Employee experience covers the entire employee journey - During the panel discussion on employee experience, Sanjiv of Swiss RE emphasised that the concept of employee experience and morale is not new, but rather something that has always existed in the workplace. Employee experience encompasses all aspects of the employee's journey, from the moment they apply to the company to their experience during the interview process and throughout their time with the organization. Employee experience should not be solely driven by HR but should be considered a part of the organization's culture.  
  • Three drivers for an employee experience framework - Satish of Infosys discussed three key drivers for their employee experience framework, which include adapting to a hybrid work model, leveraging technology for a unified experience, and creating an inclusive culture. To measure digital maturity of talent, they introduced the "Digital Quotient," which involves building competency, gaining exposure, and delivering value, with scores for each component. This approach allows employees to customize their digital career journey by identifying learning and product opportunities to improve their scores. 
  • The importance of consistency in employee experience - In the discussion, Patricia of Alstom emphasized the importance of consistency in employee experience and how to achieve it through digitalization. They have established a global learning organization and a digital platform that provides various learning opportunities for employees to drive their career development. Patricia also highlights a digital career path portal that allows employees to assess their competencies and match them with available jobs in the organization.  


Purpose, Straight from the Heart 

The second panel, "Purpose, Straight from the Heart," brought together three HR leaders from major multinational corporations to discuss the importance of purpose-driven organizations in today's business landscape. Kelly Tay, Head of Talent Leadership Organization for Southeast Asia and South Korea at Boehringer Ingelheim, Meng Hwee Teoh, Asia Talent Head at Sanofi, and Fred Barou, Senior Vice President of Customer Success Management at Amadeus. Here are the key takeaways. 

During the opening statement of the Purpose, Straight from the Heart panel, the audience was presented with a provocative statement - "Purpose is fluff not much action" - and asked to agree or disagree. The results were unexpected, with 37% of the audience agreeing and the rest disagreeing. The panellists went on to discuss the implications of this divide and how organizations can move beyond seeing purpose as a mere buzzword and translate it into concrete actions. Here are key takeaways of that panel discussion:  


  • Connecting Individual and Organizational Purpose for Employee Engagement - Meng Hwee Teoh from Sanofi discussed how the company's purpose statement, "to chase the miracles of science, to improve the lives of our people, the communities and our own employees," is not just a plaque on the wall, but a rally call for employees to live out in their everyday lives. Before launching the purpose statement, the company identified behaviours that are important to gear towards the purpose and set up a set of "play to win" behaviours. Additionally, the company redefined performance to help employees focus on areas where they could create an impact and linked it closely to the employee's everyday life.  
  • Communicating Purpose to Customers and Employees - Fred, a commercial leader from Amadeus, a B2B travel and tourism company, spoke about the challenge of effectively communicating the company's purpose to customers and ensuring that employees can connect with it daily. The company's original purpose was to "shape the future of travel," which has since been updated to "create better journeys for everyone," reflecting the company's commitment to opening travel to everyone and improving the travel experience. The purpose serves as a guiding principle for employees and creates a sense of connection to the company's mission, particularly during the pandemic when the travel industry was severely impacted.  
  • Purpose is not just a one-time event or training - Kelly from Boehringer Ingelheim believes that purpose is about actions from the past, present, and future, and that it's important to create events and opportunities for reflection in order to connect employees with the company's purpose. As an example, during their "Valued Through Innovation Day," they invited an artist to speak about how she uses her purpose to create art, and employees were given the opportunity to reflect on their own purpose and create artwork representing it as a team. This exercise helped employees connect emotionally with the company's purpose and led to meaningful stories being shared. 

The Top Employer Certification is an important recognition for companies that care about their employees and are dedicated to and are dedicated to creating a better world of work for their people. The celebration of this achievement is a time to reflect on the hard work and dedication that went into achieving the certification, as well as a time to recognise the accomplishments of the HR teams. If you are interested in becoming a Top Employer and and participating in this year's Certification Programme, get in touch with the APAC Top Employers Institute team at 

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Purpose and Employee Experience Take Center Stage at the APAC Top Employers 2023 Certification Celebration in Singapore