AFTER a year’s worth of hard work, it cannot be denied that a company’s year-end bonus will uplift and inspire employees to continue to work hard.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic prompted employees, particularly the younger cohorts who are seeking to gain a healthier work-life balance, to rethink their careers, work conditions and long-term goals.
The talent revolution is in full swing as employees want fulfilment from work and life.
Today, the stakes on employee satisfaction have risen and companies are under new pressure to deliver a better experience in new ways.
Unlocking power of intrinsic benefits
PKT Logistics group chief executive and managing director Datuk Seri Dr Michael Tio looks far ahead from a higher position, poised towards a new direction — he does so by starting a trend for a new generation of employees.
From his perspective, monetary benefits no longer motivate new talents.
“In today’s talent war, it is essential that employees feel valued and appreciated”, Tio said.
“What attracts them? It’s the quality of the job and working environment, money and bonus is not everything to them.
“As an employer, we need to mix and match them so that we get to retain the new generation,” he added.
Serving the employees
Tio made himself the first CEO in the country who planned company retreats and turned himself into a tour guide.
He mapped out the travel routes and flight hours, pre- ordered meals at recommended restaurants, hotel bookings and even wrote a packing list before the trip.
When a leader serves his team with passion and purpose, they will serve the organisation well and, most importantly, its customers with even more enthusiasm.
“Many people came to me and asked what is my secret to retain my employees, I told them about the company retreats,” Tio generously shared where his success stems from.
“When you use money to buy rewards, they don’t treasure it. They think this is part and parcel of their entitlement,” he added.
Tio planned the retreat with his employees to strike that perfect balance of work and fun.
There is no hierarchy, rank or title in PKT’s retreat and each employee will be engaged every step of the way.
Keeping an employee engaged directly impacts their results and performance at work.
Tio cannot deny that managing people is hard work.
However, he strongly believes that doing so effectively starts with putting employee development and needs first, then business results will follow.
He said the approach ensures that your company will have long-term business success, while also improving the lives of the people you work with.
Tio said PKT revived the annual retreat immediately after the travel restrictions eased in 2022.
“Corporate retreats encourage close bonding, which increases trust and communication between employees,” he stressed.
“Jam-packed work days reduce the chances to communicate with the employees and the engagement during a retreat will be greatly beneficial in making the workforce feel connected, involved and valued,” he added.
He spent 30% of his time thinking about how to motivate his management and the 17-day trip to Iceland and Norway (#norlandlight2023) was PKT’s 17th management retreat.
Tio, who held the title of “Best CEO”, assumed the tour guide role for the biggest management retreat to date with 38 top management employees.
Throughout the trip, they faced challenges and overcame them together with positive solutions, proving teamwork can do wonders.
The team was also blessed to witness the phenomenally beautiful aurora borealis in Iceland and on the final day during its Norway trip.
“Many lessons learned, many life-long memories created, many bucket lists ticked. I’m not just talking, all actions, and this is the real succession plan,” he said.
“They get to travel, eat and sleep with me during the retreat. You will never know a person well unless you have travelled, eaten and slept with them.
“And during our daily sharing sessions is how we realign ourselves and chart our goals,” he added.
In February he served a 80-pax workforce from the mid-tier management during the trip to Danang and Hoian, Vietnam.
PKT retreats have now covered every continent except Antarctica.
Succession plan in place
Tio added that nobody, including himself, is indispensable in PKT.
The mid-tier management will take over the top management during the retreat and vice versa.
“No phone calls come to me, no messages”, he said.
“The whole company manages itself automatically.”
Tio who has over a million followers on Facebook opined that many companies decided to cut positions due to financial realities following the previous lockdown.
Although seeming like a quick fix, such cuts can also be impulsive and misaligned with the company’s purpose and values, he said.
Strong company culture
Tio constantly propagates that the company’s policies are always rooted in its 5H working culture, which stood for being healthy, happy, honest, hardworking and humble.
Given this, PKT decided to roll out the Voluntary Salary Deferment Programme (VSDP), whereby employees defer part of their salary and earn a 5% interest per annum instead of launching mass layoffs and cost-cutting measures.
Tio added that a people-centric culture will bring growth, learning and a sense of purpose into the employee experience.
“PKT is a socially responsible company.
“We believe that VSDP can keep the company afloat. Instead of cutting employees, we paid hardship allowances to those who came back to work,” he added.
He stressed that a company should focus more on internal corporate social responsibility rather than external.
He said that the governance pillar in a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) refers not only to a focus on productivity, but also the need to ensure the employees’ health is taken care of.