Head of Talent Acquisition at Siemens ASEAN, Winnie Chik talks about Siemens’ response to the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies around the globe to quickly adopt new ways of working.
In truth, I was not a fan of working from home, particularly at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown. My spouse was also working from home, and there was a time when my three children were homeschooling too. It took me quite a while to find my rhythm: there’s a tendency to work longer hours, and to never know when to stop checking emails or responding to calls and texts. It requires a change of mindset, and real support from your organisation.
Thankfully I was one of the lucky ones who enjoyed just that. Siemens has done a great job in coming up with solutions and creating a sense of normality in what has been a far from normal year.
Finding bright spots in a dark year
While the challenges presented by 2020 have been great, this year has also brought opportunity.
Making the sudden switch to remote work has accelerated the adoption of technology. Within the Siemens Talent Acquisition team, this has seen us move from physical recruiting to virtual. We’ve conducted interviews via video calls, and participated in virtual campus fairs. We’ve converted our physical, face-to-face new hire orientation programs to online experiences. We’ve also taken the opportunity to work with partners on customized virtual assessment tools for future hires, preparing us for the periods of increased hiring that are no doubt to come.
We’re using this time to continue to engage external candidates with employer branding activities on social media platforms, both attracting external candidates as well as engaging our internal talent as our brand advocates.
Additionally, Siemens has supported government initiatives for recruitment, training and upskilling of professionals who have been affected by the economic impact of COVID-19.
All this helps us build future talent pipelines to ensure we’re prepared for when hiring picks up again.
I’ve been very proud of my team throughout this period. It’s not been easy, but despite the distance we’ve still managed to retain a real sense of togetherness, which has proved invaluable.
I have a weekly team call that I make as much about socializing and bonding as work. We make it a point to switch on the cameras, to be more informal, and besides talking about work, to ask how each other are doing. I think seeing people and speaking with them face-to-face is really important right now.
Extending our remote work opportunities
Working from home is by no means a new concept at Siemens – we’ve proudly offered it across our global offices for years. We pride ourselves on being an innovative company, we trust and empower our employees, and we believe in focusing on the results, rather than how they’re attained.
This has meant that shifting to a more comprehensive work from home program during this pandemic was a natural course of action. We already had the technology and systems in place to enable remote work, and if anything, the pandemic has been a chance to strengthen and enhance these processes and tools, and to work even better than before.
The individual support offered by Siemens during the beginnings of lockdown was both immediate and comprehensive. We set up online courses that guided team members on how to work remotely, and leaders on how to manage, motivate and engage their isolated teams. Senior management sent out regular communications to ensure everyone was aware and engaged, and we set up a crisis management team to regularly review our own response to the situation.
We’re all in this together
The best thing about Siemens’ response, in my opinion, was how it extended far beyond our own four walls. We delivered hampers to 20 hospitals and 18 polyclinics to thank health workers, which included honey purchased from MINDS Social Enterprise, who provide vocational training and employment to adults with intellectual disabilities.
We’ve also raised over $185,000 to help communities affected by COVID-19, and organized activities to donate clothes and essentials to migrant workers in need of support during this difficult time. Additionally, Siemens has fast-tracked production of medical-grade face shields for frontline workers in Singapore.
It’s been a challenging period in endless ways, of that there’s no doubt. But having witnessed Siemens’ response during this difficult time, I have to say that I’ve never been prouder to be a part of the organization.