Pushing Towards Proactivity
The following is an excerpt from The 50: HR Leaders Reimagining the Filipino Organization. Authored by Emee Dy, this chapter is titled, “Pushing Towards Proactivity” In it, Wowee Sanchez, the Senior Manager of Human Resources Operations of EON is interviewed about how the organization executes its strategy in proactivity in HR.
As a proudly Filipino organization, the EON Group (EON) placed the greatest importance on their core value: malasakit. Wowee Sanchez, EON’s Senior Manager for Human Resources (HR), noticed the organization’s commitment to developing a close-knit community the minute he joined the team. Members of the organization were referred to as “EONites.” Such a bond between EONites was surprising to Sanchez. While his experience before joining the organization involved strict hours and a formal dress code, it’s quite the opposite at EON.
Other heads of HR may view such as ineffective, but Sanchez disagreed. He shared that the absence of a routine and having the freedom to express oneself through clothing has fostered creative thought within the organization. Within six months, Sanchez has built great trust with the EONites. Guided by the vision “great work builds trust,” Sanchez said that at EON, they “accept and recognize individual differences,” acknowledging that each member of the team “has a multitude of talents that results in great work.”
The HR team at EON played a significant role in shaping such a distinct culture. In an industry with infamously high turnover rates and low employee satisfaction, Sanchez spearheaded the company’s emphasis on proactivity that has formed strong employee engagement, which to him, meant staying connected with employees.
“As an HR professional, you need to proactively reach out regardless of the situation you are in,” he said, giving advice to other HR leaders who may be faced with a similar challenge.
To be proactive in a rapidly changing environment meant EON must also find the right people. Sanchez shared that he would want future EONites’ personal values align with that of EON.
EON, with Sanchez’s push towards proactivity, makes sure that employees are always engaged. For example, the company hosts monthly agency meetings, in which each meeting has a core value as its theme. They discuss business wins, highlight successful projects, greet individuals celebrating birthdays and anniversaries at EON, games, and even salu-salo’s. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, these meetings are done online. Sanchez said that they trusted “employees will maintain these core values as they build client relationships, even online.”
In Sanchez’s case, it wasn’t easy to be proactive right away. Sanchez said that when he joined EON, it wasn't easy to push for initiatives right away. Being new to the organization, he had to integrate himself first to understand the company culture. Essentially what the EONites needed and wanted. "In order to effectively engage your employees, you need to know them on a personal level." he said.
Sanchez proactively got to know each individual in the organization, getting every opportunity to reach out to every employee. He knew how important each employees’ role was in creating the bigger picture: every individual is like a “peg in a machine, wherein if the individual fails to function to his/her full capability, the machine would not work as well.”
Onboarding is not limited to HR at EON. Sanchez highlighted how important he believed providing new employees with a positive experience is. As soon as they join the firm, the positive experience they first encounter will shape how much they enjoy the rest of their time in the organization. A positive onboarding experience does not only mean providing employees with adequate equipment, introducing them to essential individuals within the office, or endorsing them to receiving units to help them succeed in their roles. It’s more about building trust that they, their careers, were in good hands the moment they step foot in the office.
Through his leadership, Sanchez broke through the stereotype of individuals being scared of the HR department. From the stereotype of HR being all about disciplinary actions and watching out for violations of the code of conduct, Sanchez reeled away from being a reactive department.
“Even before employees have any concerns, you must proactively reach out to each of the employees to make sure they’re doing well. Especially during these challenging times, it is crucial to keep employees fully informed about what’s happening within the organization,” Sanchez added. Even if the information may be discouraging then—like losing a client or an important bid that they’ve been looking forward to service—EONites now use it to motivate them to strive harder.
This transparency detached HR from being seen as a mere “police station” where individuals would report violations. Sanchez knew he had to be different. He shared: “Even when things weren’t asked of me, I would provide them, like status reports. I developed the habit of being proactive, which has helped make people appreciate all the things we do in HR.” These status reports are now extremely valuable at EON.
EONites, as reflected by Sanchez himself, embody a positive and motivated attitude. Management cared about their fellow EONites, and they continually kept them engaged through different activities. For instance, management knew that EONites looked forward to Christmas. With that in mind, they launched uniquely EON activities leading up to their company Christmas party.
EON’s distinct culture today goes beyond what’s on the surface. With leaders like Wowee Sanchez breaking the boundaries of the advertising space by pushing towards proactivity—we can expect even greater success for EON.
To get more insights from other HR leaders like Wowee Sanchez, please check out the full book, available for purchase here.
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