Building an inclusive and inspiring culture for our employees in China

Change Lives

In this article, Gi Group Holding team members Carry Zhu and Tina Wu, HR Managers from our offices in China, address how the local market views businesses’ work culture and the specific efforts their team is making to build an inclusive, inspiring space for employees who wish to change lives.

The Chinese market has a number of specificities that many businesses outside the country, or who are taking their first steps at opening representative offices in the country, might not be familiar with. In many cases, international businesses’ representative offices work with agency services to make hires and manage recruitment processes. This indirect model can sometimes make it more difficult to develop and form initial bonds with employees and help them connect and align with a company’s culture. This connection, however, is something that is very important to companies in today’s economy. That is why, at Gi Group Holding (similar to other businesses), we put extra effort into helping new hires understand our company’s mission and vision and align themselves with our specific business goals.

Carry Zhu – HR Manager at Gi Group & Gi BPO China, explains, “For our employees, the company culture represents the soul of the business. It is the driving force behind sustainable development and likewise helps our teams find personally meaningful value and purpose in their work. This connection to purpose and meaning motivates them to fulfil and achieve the company’s strategic goals.”

As with other markets, Chinese businesses understand the importance of investing time into building a strong corporate identity and organisational culture. They believe that it makes employee teams more cohesive, fosters collaboration and creates a strong team spirit.

A visibly enjoyable and meaningful company culture is not only beneficial for the business internally, it also creates an excellent calling card for potential job candidates who might wish to work for our company. We see that our organisational culture - its strength and deep focus on people’s skills development - serves as a good incentive for individuals to enquire about work with Gi Group Holding. They are inspired by our tight-knit teams and those groups’ readiness to do business. In some ways, our long-term efforts to build a quality company culture is contagious. Our clients increasingly want to work with us because they see our people-first focus and also how much employees enjoy their jobs in our company,

Similar to businesses around the globe, Gi Group Holding China is also navigating its way in a constantly volatile and uncertain global market. The company’s teams have had to look at the organisation’s culture from the perspective of employee needs. Company team members, like their peers in other markets, wish to advance in their careers and invest in personal development. They are likewise faced with opportunities in peripheral markets and external temptation in the form of work offers from other companies. In addressing how to build and articulate an overall organisational culture, businesses need to consider how the principles that make up this philosophy match the personal interests of employees and also job candidates. If conflicts or mismatches arise, then company management teams and HR directors need to consider plans for rectifying potentially problematic situations.

“At Gi Group Holding China, we focus on and emphasise open communications. From the very start, when hiring and onboarding candidates, we explain and share details about the company culture and philosophy. This is so candidates have a good understanding in advance and can easily see if our beliefs, mission and vision as presented are consistent with their own personal philosophy and expectations. On the other hand, these discussions afford us the chance to paint an image of the company and how it operates culture-wise. Employees know up front what they are getting into, and after joining the company, we embark on an intensive onboarding process, full of important training sessions,” adds Carry Zhu.

The Gi Group Holding team focuses its employee training efforts, in this case, on helping new hires understand the company culture in practice. They see how our business operates based on a unified set of standards in offices all over the world, and China is one of them. Training programmes, as they advance, address processes for how employees execute on their daily work and focus on people development. All newly-onboarded hires then pass through a probationary period which culminates in an assessment process: first, a self-assessment, then after that reviews and discussions with our local HR and employment departments. Truly-aligned hires quickly understand the importance of the unified values system at Gi Group Holding and immediately see, through their work activities, the tangible impacts of these common values as a guiding force.


Long-term efforts to build a sustainable company culture

In our Gi Group Holding China offices, our teams have access to a number of tools to build relationships between employees and also among workers and their management teams. Some of these tools are commonly used worldwide, while others are more specific to the Chinese market. “Participating in activities and conventions, for example, is important for our local teams. This is one of the most effective ways to establish cohesive, collaborative teams and to enhance employee happiness. These activities give everyone a better understanding of each other and the company. This narrows any potential work-social distances between colleagues, which then benefits everyone in the organisation. Employees can actively cooperate on their daily work and find ways to share job responsibilities and improve overall performance and work efficiency,” notes Tina Wu. Beyond conventions and various types of face-to-face encounters, the Gi Group Holding China teams shares and advocates for the company’s mission and vision through further training programmes, via email bulletins, in group meetings, through online media and public social platforms, and via various group or team activities. Leadership teams leverage all these tools to help our employees consistently embody and make impact through living the company’s values and culture in their daily work lives.

Future prospects: creating a work culture that resonates with younger generations and the community

Many labour market assessments comment that Gen Z is more values- or purpose-driven and has a stronger orientation toward meaningful achievement in their professional lives. When looking at potential employers and later deciding to remain with a specific company, they factor in issues such as a healthier, more sustainable economy; a fairer social environment; and higher overall education (learning) levels.

When choosing their ideal job, Gen Z candidates place greater value on work-life balance, a comfortable working environment, and solid opportunities for promotion and career advancement. They wish to be treated with equal respect in their work and have high ethical expectations of the companies that employee them. Based on these facts, our team at Gi Group Holding China continuously makes changes and adjustments to the office environment. We promote opportunities for growth and learning; support open internal communications and management methods; and put in place job promotion and career advancement mechanisms to engage better with our Gen Z employees and attract candidates from this age cohort.

Part of our efforts to boost our visibility and reputation as a good corporate citizen, with appealing to next generation candidates and retaining top employees in mind, includes investment of management and employee time in important CSR activities. In China, the Gi Group Holding team collaborates annually with some government departments or relevant institutions. For example, our offices have worked on a project called Giardino where we support local organisations from whom we purchase fresh agricultural products and then distribute them as part of benefit packages to internal employees. While assisting community partners in the agriculture sector through increased sales and by promoting social employment, this programme also enhances employee identification with overarching corporate values and boosts job satisfaction. The indirect benefit here is a higher opinion locally of Gi Group Holding’s employer brand image. That’s why more community-facing activities with Gi Group Holding China involvement will continue into the final months of this year. Tina Wu enumerates, “We are running a number of projects that look to improve the overall employee experience for our team members. We have invested time and funds into the replacement and renovation of several offices, including those in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Suzhou, etc. This has made for a better office environment for employees while also helping attract new talent. Through collaboration with the local government’s Red Cross Society in Ningbo, we organised training sessions for their rescue workers, improved those workers’ first aid skills, helped them prepare for unexpected future situations, and protected people’s lives in general. Inside the company, we have increased the number of internal training programmes in order to support organisational development and further improve our people’s (employees’) professional development through the acquisition of advanced, specialised skills: such as RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) training, BPO (business process outsourcing) training (on our future agenda), ITO (IT outsourcing) training, and presentation delivery. We also offer various external training courses: PRO PAYBACK, and Executive Training Programme – Advanced Management Programme, and key business expansion training (also on our future agenda).”

As you can see, a lot is going on at Gi Group Holding China when it comes to developing a business with a culture that embodies and reflects our global values. We want to continue in our mission to be a people-first employer and are proud of our local team who is helping make this possible. We will continue in coming years to refine and improve our work experience investments to ensure that we attract and retain the best talent the Chinese market has to offer; a commitment that will also translate to the superior quality services we deliver to our clients.

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