The ultimate quality a worker wants from a company is kindness. As humans, we want to be treated right, which among other traits include being paid a reasonable wage and provided safe working conditions. Naturally, a fair employer will do just that with both parties acknowledging the fact that the relationship is a synergy of common interest.

The modern world has increased the pace of better employment terms, in line with how it has helped businesses grow larger and more successful. The internet has been especially effective in highlighting organizations with fair employment practices, in return allowing them to attract the best talents.

That is the situation Philips domestic Appliances (Philips DA) enjoy currently. It’s strong employer brand comes from a long history of nurturing talents for a productive career with the company and ensuring a conducive environment to perform.

HR Asia recently talked with Ipek Akinci, country manager, Philips Domestic Appliances Malaysia, Singapore, and Emerging Markets, to find out her thoughts and strategies behind the company’s people-first approach.

What are the challenges often faced by employees nowadays?
Everyone demands growth, and the pandemic has given people a pause for thought to re-prioritize their goals. However, due to a lack of time to accomplish their goals or lacking a good follow up process, employees tend to face the challenge of learning new skills for self-development. Hence, it is important for employers to put energy and attention into employee development. This brings mutual benefits for both parties which are higher levels of knowledge retention and transfer among employees, higher levels of productivity, job satisfaction and staff engagement.

Also, the pre-COVID-19 concept of work has changed drastically and employees would find it difficult when everything goes back to normal after two years—go back and work in the office with the Monday to Friday, 9-5 work schedule. The inflexibility may lead to higher stress levels and affect employees’ productivity.

Elevated levels of poor mental health and burnout have become one of the biggest challenges faced by employees worldwide—and particularly in Asia, where the burnout rates are higher than the global norm. Therefore, it is important for companies to increase their focus on workplace mental health and put more imperative efforts.

Why is it so important for an employer to embrace people-first approaches as their culture?
Being an employer of choice or a people-centric organization is not easy. It is about taking action through developing employee programs that support growth and well-being – both in the workplace and at home.

It is wonderful when your work and contribution are being recognized and appreciated. When people feel valued, they are motivated and work with a deeper sense of purpose and a greater level of engagement. The team will go the extra mile as they are willing to contribute to the organization that cares about them.

At Philips Domestic Appliances (Philips DA), we recognize and reward the extraordinary individuals/ team for their contributions. One of our many recognition programs is the STARS Award and Initiatives Award, which is an appreciation for outstanding employees who deliver great performance while exemplifying Philips DA culture and behaviors.

What is fundamental for an employer to shape a culture that helps everyone experience a true ease between work and life?
There are always two sides to a coin. Although hybrid work arrangements are here to stay, it has blurred the line between work-life balance for many people too. The lack of work-life balance may affect the employees’ stress levels and may further negatively impact their work performance.

Hence, it is fundamental for employers to give a greater focus on prioritizing physical and mental wellbeing. Elevating our employees’ mental wellbeing will ensure that they feel they are being cared for. In turn, this means that they will be happier, focused and productive.

That being said, Philips DA has also introduced an employee assistance program hotline that runs 24/7 to support employees’ emotional wellbeing, the Mental and Wellness platform – an Intellect app with Coaching Sessions with their personal Behavioral Health Coach and as well as hosting several wellness talks and activities that emphasize both mental and physical well-being.

Apart from that, providing a greater flexibility for employees could help them to manage their time better. While there are benefits to co-workers gathering at the coffee machine to banter and exchange ideas, and coming together for brainstorms, the pandemic has taught us equally that people can be productive and energized by having greater control over their time. A mid-afternoon run, a block-out hour to play with their children or an early morning mindfulness session can often do more to boost performance than back-to-back meetings and calls.

How does Philips Domestic Appliances embrace the people-first approach in their workplace?
At Philips DA, we always listen to our employees and ensure that their needs and expectations are taken into account. We do not just develop and create the employees’ benefits based on our thoughts, but also curate the benefits scheme to address their demands – make sure that we are in place to support and advocate them.

We understand how working from home while juggling a family can be draining. We have therefore enhanced our work model in which the employees are given a greater flexibility in where, when, and how they work – to suit different commitments and needs of our diverse workforce, including flexible workspace, flexible working hours and flexible benefits.

This aims to improve the productivity and overall wellbeing of employees and encourages them to disconnect for meaningful downtime. Through feedback from our employees across APAC, we have also introduced Oxygen Friday so employees can spend the day to be free from internal meetings and other non-critical work to pause, think, catchup and connect.

Moreover, we noticed that there has been increasing desire from employees as to how they can improve themselves. This is not only related to work but also on a personal basis. Hence, we have launched the Philips DA Success Factors Learning Centre, where employees are in the driver’s seat of their own learning curve. In the new Netflix-like Learning Centre, one will be able to learn anytime, anywhere with unlimited learning at his/her fingertips. Expect an ample collection of courses, more than 23.000 books, more than 8.500 audio books and much more exciting content.

What is the urgency behind the people-first approaches by Philips Domestic Appliances?
The future is very much about people. We must continue listening to all our partners and our staff. At Philips DA, we strongly believe that we are at our best when the employees are at theirs, and every individual of the team should be supported and nurtured to develop them to their fullest potential. For this to happen, we believe in providing our employees with flexibility, upskilling as well as physical and mental health care.

The conditions that allow for that are our unique culture, and all of us live the DA culture and behaviors through our everyday life – grow with our consumers, work with joy and dare with purpose.

What shapes the company culture at Philips Domestic Appliances, especially regarding employee matters?
A company is only as good as the team behind it, and we are aware that it is important to acknowledge the work the team has done by listening to their needs and wants. We care about our team members to provide them with a whole host of solutions that is designed to help them perform at their peak.

Via our initiatives mentioned previously such as flexibility, the Learning Centre, and Recognition Program, just to name a few, we endeavor to help our employees grow amidst the challenges they each face. Moreover, by doing so at the same time, it helps the organization perform better in business matters as our employees are also performing at their best and this exemplifies Philips DA culture and behaviors.

For instance, we aim to empower employees to find what we call ‘Balcony Moments’ at Philips DA: a moment to stand back, reflect, and see the bigger picture of day-to-day operations through Oxygen Friday. Our 3-2 hybrid work model meanwhile, helps curate a sense of readiness to work from anywhere and not be tied down to working from the office 5 days a week.

What is the company’s stand on diversity hiring?
At Philips DA, we provide equal opportunities and treatment for everyone to foster a diverse and inclusive culture for our people. The glass ceiling in this regard continues to be shattered by challenging the norms of society, including having women in powerful leadership roles.

Apart from being the right thing to do, diversity makes business sense. Let me share with you three topline findings in research published in the Harvard Business Review on the benefits of diversity at the workplace:

  • A diverse workforce signals an attractive work environment for talent.
  • When you value diversity, you encourage diverse idea exchange.
  • A diverse workforce signals competent management for investors.

By doing so, it makes us more competitive and more innovative, and these are key drivers for making Philips DA a great place to work for people who share our passion. Furthermore, I am delighted to say that for the countries I oversee, which are Singapore, Malaysia and Emerging Markets, the gender ratio is 60-40 in favour of women.

What are the EVPs which the employees enjoy currently, particularly those which sets Philips Domestic Appliances apart from the rest?
We always go above and beyond for our employees, and we do this by means of some of the points we have already discussed such as the Flexi-benefits scheme.

The We DAre We CAre program is another way we care for our employees by enhancing benefits for Health and Wellness by catering to diverse needs of the workforce including benefits suited for different lifestyles to our employees to further support them and their choices. Furthermore, we also provide several wellness talks and activities that emphasize both mental and physical well-being.

Philips DA is an innovative and progressive company that focuses on producing a positive impact on society, we encourage our employees to give back through the policy of Volunteering Time Off. All Philips DA employees can take up to 5 days leave a year to pursue a volunteer project close to their heart.

Data and researchers have proved that the more gratitude in a company, the better it performs. Recognition from not only supervisors, also from peers is an ideal way to infuse gratitude into company culture. Thus, at Philips DA, apart from delivering awards, we have also created the THANKS platform – a recognition platform for all employees in APAC to use for the recognition and appreciation of their colleagues within the flow of daily work.


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