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Engaging the Workforce

Rekha Weerasooriya, vice president of HR transformation at Dialog Axiata PLC, shares ways HR leaders can keep employees happy and productive.

By Maggie Mancini

As companies search for stability following the challenges and global uncertainty of the last several years, one thing remains clear: Employee engagement is paramount. Ensuring that employees feel supported and championed in the workplace is a hallmark of any HR strategy, as the consequences of disengagement include reduced profitability, increased turnover, and depleted productivity. Rekha Weerasooriya, vice president of HR transformation at Dialog Axiata PLC, talks to HRO Today APAC about ways that HR leaders can improve employee engagement and, in turn, boost productivity in the workplace.  

HRO Today APAC: What strategies can HR leaders leverage to boost employee engagement and keep people energized about their work? 

Weerasooriya: Today, employees seek purpose in their work. The challenge lies in managing a multigenerational workforce with diverse interests and work styles. Organizations must identify these segments and tailor engagement strategies accordingly. What motivates one generation might not resonate with another. However, a strong company vision, mission, and core values can unite everyone. 

In our case, as Sri Lanka’s premier communications service provider, our vision is to enrich and empower Sri Lankan lives and enterprises. We’ve consistently been the most valued brand for years. Additionally, we uphold three group core values of our parent company, Axiata Group Berhad: obsession for customers, courage for change, and passion for collaboration. These values are further complemented by seven other values at our organisation, our first value being “service from the heart,” a value we actively live and breathe throughout the organization for both internal and external customers with a “yes we can” attitude.  

Having just celebrated 10 years of living these values, the key now is to leverage them for employee engagement. This means understanding your workforce, equipping leaders with engagement tools and techniques, and aligning individual efforts with the organization’s larger vision. 

HRO Today APAC: Research from Gallup has found that high rates of engagement can lead to increased profitability, reduced turnover, and increased productivity. Why do you think engagement is so important when it comes to profitability and productivity, and what do you think HR leaders can do to improve engagement without compromising business needs?  

Weerasooriya: At Dialog, we prioritize employee engagement, recognizing it as a cornerstone of our success. Our core value of “service from the heart” thrives in a collaborative environment. That’s why we emphasize teamwork, and a key factor driving engagement is manager effectiveness. Through employee surveys, we gauge how well managers support their team members’ well-being, progress, and growth. In response, we’ve implemented leadership development programs like PLDP—People Leadership Development Programme—to equip managers at all levels with the skills to effectively guide and inspire their teams. We’ve observed a strong correlation between effective leadership and employee retention, especially during economic downturns. This reinforces our belief that investment in leadership development fosters a positive work environment, teamwork, and ultimately, better business results. 

HRO Today APAC: How can flexible work arrangements—including remote work and hybrid work—support employee engagement and culture?  

Weerasooriya: While remote work offered flexibility, it also challenged team engagement and productivity in our fast-paced environment. To address this, we implemented a hybrid model with one work-from-home day per week. This fosters collaboration while still offering remote work benefits. We understand the need for a balanced approach that considers employee preferences, industry needs, and overall business objectives. Leaders should find what works best for their teams to maintain engagement and productivity.  

HRO Today APAC: What are some examples of ways that Dialog Axiata PLC fosters engagement among its employees? 

Weerasooriya: At Dialog, we prioritize employee engagement, recognizing it as crucial for reducing turnover and fostering a collaborative environment. We understand the needs of different generations and address their well-being through financial literacy programs, mental health initiatives, and physical activity events. We actively promote teamwork through company-wide sports carnivals, cultural celebrations, hackathons etc. all designed to break down silos and build camaraderie. We believe these multifaceted efforts contribute to a strong sense of belonging and purpose, ultimately driving business success.  

Tags: APAC April 2024, APAC News, Current Features

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