Shafaq Kamran is the People and Culture lead at Roche Pharmaceuticals Singapore who prides herself with contagious energy and the ability to create ripples of positivity in the people and organization surrounding her. She has strong international HR experience, having worked and lived in Pakistan, Belgium, UAE, and now Singapore. Her proven expertise in defining organizational structure and human capital requirements to align the Human Resources function with business goals has been a key driver to optimize performance, enhance productivity, and add value to the bottom line.
In an interaction with People Matters, she points out the impact of COVID-19 in the healthcare industry and how companies are helping the patients to defeat this crisis.
How do you see the performance management and rewards systems landscape across organizations globally amid this COVID-19 pandemic?
With the global pandemic, many organizations have taken steps to ensure that their employees’ health and safety are of utmost importance. This entails having to evolve the way we work as well as the way performance is managed, and correspondingly how rewards are given to employees. Specific to this area, we see traditional staff evaluation mechanisms transitioning to being more focused on personal development.
At Roche Pharma Singapore, there is a strong focus on sharing timely feedback with employees, with the intention of enabling ongoing progress and development feedback instead of solely focusing on a one-off evaluation in isolation. Feedback is often shared by team members in a candid manner to enhance peer-to-peer learning, and we constantly encourage people to remain hungry for feedback and make it a habitual part of their personal development. We work in a 90-days cycle, which gives employees the flexibility to adapt goals and pivot if required due to the varying circumstances they are faced with.
What are the new elements and metrics HR and business leaders should keep in mind while streamlining the new performance management and rewards strategies? Should employees be judged on their functional responsibilities alone given that the situation at the moment is different?
If there is one thing the current pandemic has taught us, is that humans are such adaptable beings! We have seen how major companies are talking about permanent work-from-home arrangements and that crowded corporate offices may be a thing of the past. Organizations have and will need to continue to be both creative and agile and this includes reimagining performance management and reward strategies.
The company's goal setting approach entails helping employees connect their roles with the company’s purpose and assisting them to understand the impact their work has on the lives of the many patients we serve both locally and globally. It also balances “We” and “Me” by fostering collaboration through team goals and at the same time, giving 20% weightage to individual ‘development’ goals.
Learning new skills, being flexible, building new experiences and embracing a ‘growth mindset’ are some of the key elements that have become differentiating factors now. These elements are getting increasingly embedded in all processes from hiring to talent management. So, functional responsibilities alone are not enough, having a growth mindset and one’s learning agility play crucial parts with regards to performance.
Remote working became the new normal during the pandemic lockdown. How are you embracing remote work and mitigating some of the risks of COVID-19 to their business and employees' welfare?
Prior to the lockdown, we already had a flexible working arrangement policy in place. On the business continuity front, we introduced a suite of virtual tools to replace face-to-face interactions, facilitate deeper collaborations and enhance productivity. Some examples are the use of g+ communities where we encourage sharing of thoughts, ideas, and inspiration so employees feel connected both to the business and with each other.
With regards to employee wellbeing, chapter and squad leads continue to run regular team meetings and one-on-one check-in sessions to get a sense of how employees are coping mentally and emotionally. Moreover, we have introduced funds and programmes such as confidential counselling to cope with possible stress, access to telemedicine and free membership to virtual mindfulness and gym classes.
Through these various channels, we not only get feedback on the business challenges, we keep a pulse on the overall mental health of our employees. Since then, we have implemented further guidelines such as no-meeting-Friday-afternoons, cooling-off week (where teams take a week off from the regular sprint ritual), sending care packages to employees and their families, and we have also created a virtual Well-being Kit.
What have you learned from your employees in terms of their performance assessment and rewards expectations? Do you see a change in terms of their expectation of how the company will reward them?
Our goal setting approach for employees is geared towards the impact of their work on the lives of patients and our employees expect their performance to be assessed based on this, along with the feedback they receive from their peers and manager.
Both continuous feedback and goal-setting exercises on a 90-days cycle enable employees to keep their expectations in line with their contributions given the circumstances we operate in.
We reward our employees fairly and we always aim to deliver on that commitment. Given the shift to taking bolder decisions in the way we operate, employees do expect to be rewarded for making calculated risks with the intention of creating greater impact for patients. This expectation is kept realistic through ongoing, transparent conversations with the management, which further enhances the trust of employees in the organization.