Balan Krishnan is the Human Resources Director at Dexcom Malaysia. With two and half decades of experience across nine nations as a human resource official, he is an acclaimed senior HR professional. He entails a robust global and regional expertise in championing wide spectrum of HR strategic planning, talent management, and organizational transformation. Presently at Dexcom, he is entitled to talent sourcing and workforce planning, organizational design, large scale project management, and talent development.

What struggles did you face during COVID-19 while hiring for Dexcom's new operational base in Malaysia?

Amidst COVID-19, Dexcom was starting its first operational base in Malaysia. To make the office operational, we were up against a strict schedule for the construction works and some necessary employee hiring requirements—core teams and the right leaders. However, as the pandemic brought in significant irregularities, arrangements could not be done for major career fairs for hiring the employees quickly. Moreover, a major challenge was to bring in necessary help from the US office to conduct induction of new candidates regarding day-to-day operations of the company and its objectives in Malaysia.

How did you engage your employees mentally and physically within the hybrid work environment?

Within the hybrid work environment, I fostered employee engagement by maintaining a personal touch with every employee. Weekly phone calls and emails were made to keep contact on an interpersonal level. I communicated regarding their wellbeing, concerns regarding job security, personal-level queries, and many others. Also, for keeping them well-informed and engaged, constant news-feed about status of the company's new operational set-ups were provided.

“HR executives must treat other employees as they want to be treated themselves.”

To keep the employees abreast of the company's latest developments, bite-sized information on changes in the company's standard operating procedures during lockdowns were communicated via emails. Additionally, new employees starting remote work were issued official letters for seeking police permission while coming down to the office to collect work laptops.

How can Human Resource (HR) executives better understand their employee base?

HR executives must always seek a personal level of engagement with employees. At Dexcom, we meet five new employees every week over a cup of coffee to have a good chat. We bubble-up the most trending topics—like the great resignation drive—to have a candid conversation. During which, we also keep an eye on their body language to get an understanding of their engagement with such topics. This helps us gather insights into their work-psychology and expectations from our company.

What will be your advice to fellow executives and budding entrepreneurs for successful employee engagement and retention?

Actively strategizing for employee retention is the only way to survive in the pandemic-ridden world. Conferences must be set up where great leaders can educate the employees on the ups and downs of a career journey and the importance of constant skill growth. This will motivate the employees to stick to their company and grow skills. However, even with such efforts, some employees will resign. To fill-up the empty roles swiftly with plausible employees, HRs must conduct talent reviews periodically. It will also help the organizations retain top talents by providing a timely promotion to different supervisory and managerial positions and simultaneously benefiting their overall skill-set. 

Employee engagement and retention are also related to organizational culture. HR executives must build a corporate culture with which the employees will be proud to be associated. At the same time, they must propagate workplace flexibility. This will help them to retain employees within current hybrid workplaces. Moreover, to get the most out of the massive talent pool created by remote working scenarios, they must broaden their hiring radius and onboard best-suited candidates from diverse locations. 

Finally, HR executives must treat other employees as they want to be treated themselves. They must always do the right thing, which will help nurture a positive work culture and benefit employee retention actively.