How Best Workplaces across ASEAN maximize human potential

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This is our fourth blog in this series on how Best Workplaces™ in ASEAN build a high-trust workplace culture and covers the topic of Maximizing Human Potential. This is especially important for companies to operate amidst today’s global challenges and geopolitical environment, while building workplace resilience and enabling their workforce to thrive

In recent years, the term “BANI” has emerged to describe today’s reality – Brittle, Anxious, Nonlinear and Incomprehensible (BANI). American anthropologist, author and futurist, Jamais Cascio, states that BANI is a new paradigm and a better way to frame, and respond to, the current state of the world.1 His article asserts that this term articulates the increasingly commonplace situations in which simple volatility or complexity are insufficient lenses through which to understand what is taking place. These are situations in which conditions are not simply unstable, but chaotic or in which outcomes are not simply hard to foresee, but are completely unpredictable. Or, situations where what happens is not simply ambiguous, but incomprehensible.

Maximizing Human Potential

In a BANI environment, employees across different levels in the organization have been required to step up – above, outside and beyond their existing job roles. Those with great workplace cultures immediately put in place processes and practices to ensure that it could cast a wide net to spot and unleash human potential, regardless of age, race, gender, role, or other demographics. Across Best Workplaces™ in ASEAN, leaders demonstrated authentic care for their people, went the extra mile to address individual needs and concerns, offer true flexibility and support them in their continued growth and development. In turn, their people stood together with their leaders through the ups and downs, celebrated small wins and emerged stronger as a team.

At great workplaces, effective leadership is key to creating positive experiences to maximize human potential in the workplace. This includes supporting people processes, such as hiring and facilitating development, being accountable to other leaders, and standing firm on promoting inclusion, equity and leveraging the value of diversity.

Best Workplaces across the region cast a wide net to unleash and maximize human potential, and demonstrate the following leadership practices and behaviors:

  • Ensuring equity
    Leaders are accountable to ensure equity in all business and people processes. People processes cover the different aspects of an employee experience in equitable hiring, pay, promotions, and allocation of development and coaching resources.

  • Building belonging
    This refers to intentional efforts in the company’s practices that target different people and their unique needs, while making each employee feel valued and central in the company’s culture.

  • Understanding value and use uniqueness
    This is when a company understands and values what makes individuals unique, finding ways to meet those unique needs and leverage unique experiences and talents for the betterment of the business.

  • For All leader
    This refers to engaging leadership through systems to hire, develop and hold accountable a range of great leaders, and being able to express a clear stance on what a For All leader means in their organization.

Insights across ASEAN

Based on a statistical analysis of our Trust Index™ Employee Survey data, we compared how different employee demographics across the ASEAN countries responded to the barometer statement: “Taking everything into account, I would say this is a great place to work”. These insights provided a lens through which we could identify demographics with a more/less positive workplace experience, as an indication of how leaders in these companies effectively embraced workforce diversity, built a sense of belonging, ensured fair and equitable practices and successfully maximized their full human potential.

At an ASEAN level, we saw the following trends:

  • Gender
    Across the region, females generally had less positive responses than their male colleagues. Data from female respondents had a wider spread than males, suggesting that they have less consistently positive experiences. Females in Thailand and Vietnam had more positive responses than their female colleagues in other ASEAN countries
  • Age
    For this demographic, we looked at responses across five age bands:

— 25 years & younger

— 26 to 34 years

— 35 to 44 years

— 45 to 54 years

— 55 years & older

Generally, employees aged 25 years & younger and those aged 55 years & older had the most positive responses across the region, whereas employees aged 26 to 34 had the least positive responses. Employees in Thailand and Vietnam aged 25 years & younger had more positive responses as compared with other countries; while employees aged 55 years & older had the most positive response.

  • Managerial level
    For this demographic, we looked at responses across four levels:

    — Employees/Individual Contributors with no people management responsibilities

    — Frontline Managers or Supervisors who were first-tier managers supervising the employees/individual contributors

    — Mid-level Managers who ran major departments/divisions, but were not part of the executive team

    — Executives/C-level Leaders who were the highest level of management including the CEO/President and the C-suite executives who report to the CEO

    Based on our data analysis, we found that employees/individual contributors and frontline managers/supervisors across ASEAN had a less positive response as compared with higher management levels. Employees in Philippines had the most positive responses compared with their peers in other countries, across all four levels.

Country Insights

Best Workplaces intentionally design policies, processes and structures to ensure that all their employees could reach their full potential. Programs and practices are comprehensive and show how diversity and inclusion have been deeply ingrained into their core company culture, and how they effectively care for the diverse needs of their people.

At Boston Scientific (BSC), its mission of transforming lives includes investing in the future and well-being of its employees, and it strives to make the company a place where employees are valued and feel they belong — and where diversity of thought, skills and life experience leads to breakthroughs.

BSC believes that it is defined by the talent and collective passion of its people. As such, much emphasis is placed on nurturing its talent, including aspirational 3Up by 2023 goals to increase the representation of women and multicultural talent. It has removed “preferred candidate” in job ads to eliminate potential biases and limitations, reviewed global compensation practices to ensure pay equity, and ensured fair promotions based on business needs and position requirements.

Recognizing that flexibility is key to employee well-being and productivity, BSC strongly advocates life-work integration. Even before work from home and mental well-being became hot topics in Singapore, BSC had taken the steps to provide flexible work arrangements and benefits to support the diverse and unique needs of its employees. These pre-pandemic head-starts have allowed BSC to adopt New Ways of Working seamlessly with 6% of Singapore employees working onsite, 74% in hybrid modes and 20% working primarily from remote locations.

BSC also leverages a range of formal and informal programs to care for its employees, including on-site health screening services, ergonomic furniture and standing desks, health food pantries, as well as ad-hoc acts of service by leaders such as preparing vitamins or pastries for team members. Care is also extended to family members through comprehensive medical coverage and 50% BSC product discounts for parents and dependents. These actions demonstrate to employees that they are truly valued and cared for.

At Mastercard, the “Mastercard Way” is a proud statement of its culture, and from this foundational ethos, the company shapes inspirational leaders, creates inclusive programs and designs benefits that meet the needs of a highly diverse workforce.

Mastercard believes that being an inspirational leader and being inclusive are intrinsically linked, therefore all leadership development programs include DE&I in its curriculum. Through this commitment and shared accountability of its leaders, Mastercard has achieved commendable outcomes in gender pay equity, with the company’s female employees globally earning equal pay for equal work – $1 for every $1 male employees earn. The company also aspires to achieve 50-50 gender representation across career levels by 2023, and is edging very closely towards this in Singapore with a 49:51 female to male ratio.

A number of talent programs further embrace the concept of diversity and a true sense of fairness. Their “Diversity Slate” requires at least one female candidate to be interviewed for any position; whilst various development initiatives ensure young professionals, women in leadership roles, return-to-work parents, early career professionals and interns all have an opportunity to grow and excel within the company.

When it comes to employee benefits, Mastercard delivers on its promise. While maintaining standard offerings of exercise and wellness programs, the company goes above expectations with comprehensive medical cover for employees and their dependents, including maternity benefits for their employees or spouse. Making sure that all employees are truly looked after, the company also supports employees transitioning to retirement with pension contributions and International Savings & Investment Plan, allowing opportunities to invest in a broad selection of investment funds for their future.

Across ASEAN, leaders at Best Workplaces have successfully navigated today’s BANI environment by building a high-trust, resilient workplace culture, and maximizing human potential across diverse employee demographics, job functions and managerial levels. They have created positive employee experiences for all their people, regardless of who they are and where they work in the organization. How do we know this? Their employees have told us that “taking everything into account, I would say that this is a great place to work”.

Next up… Watch for our blog in the new year covering the topic of Innovation By All. Missed the earlier blogs in this series? Check them out here:
Leadership Effectiveness


1 Facing the Age of Chaos, 2020, Apr 30. Jamais Cascio.

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To be eligible for the World’s Best Workplaces list, a company must apply and be named to a minimum of 5 national Best Workplaces lists within our current 58 countries, have 5,000 employees or more worldwide, and at least 40% of the company’s workforce (or 5,000 employees) must be based outside of the home country. Extra points are given based on the number of countries where a company surveys employees with the Great Place to Work Trust Index©, and the percentage of a company’s workforce represented by all Great Place to Work surveys globally. Candidates for the 2017 Worlds Best Workplaces list will have appeared on national workplaces lists published in September 2016 through August 2017.