Who are the ‘change champions’ at Samsung?

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The Company has identified formal and informal influencers from amongst its employees, and equipped them with a formal change agenda.

Life is full of action for employees who work out of corporate headquarters. But then there are also employees who work out of small branch offices, at remote locations, who are often alienated. How does an organisation keep such employees engaged?

For a company such as Samsung, with a workforce of 70,000 employees, and with offices— both big and small—spread across the country, it’s not feasible to appoint an HR person in each office. Therefore, it came up with a smart idea.

From among its employees, Samsung identified formal and informal influencers— across the organisation—and equipped them with a formal change agenda. They were trained in techniques, backed by budgetary support, to drive the required transformation. Samsung calls these employees ‘change champions’.

There are around 100 change champions in the organisation, who act as an extension of HR in initiatives supporting the employees, and are sensitive to all employee needs.

“We have been able to reach out to all the employees across the country with the help of these change champions. And this has resulted in building a better culture and enhancing performance,” says Sameer Wadhawan, senior vice-president & head-HR, Samsung India.

Sameer Wadhawan

In many smaller centres, where the HR teams might be small, these change champions act as the voice of the employees, and help create team bonding through different activities. Also, a local person is able to understand the needs of the employees in a much better way, and therefore, drive employee engagement and team-building activities.

The chosen ‘change champions’, are usually young millennials. They are nominated by business heads and are tasked with enhancing engagement levels within their teams. 

Why millennials? “Because they wield both formal and informal influence and are usually the opinion leaders at their workplaces,” opines Wadhawan.

“In many smaller centres, where the HR teams might be small, these change champions act as the voice of the employees, and help create team bonding through different activities. Also, a local person is able to understand the needs of the employees in a much better way, and therefore, drive employee engagement and team-building activities,” Wadhawan adds.

The change champions conducted over 200 activities across the country, covering sports, knowledge-sharing sessions, team-work exercises and multiple health sessions.

D Vedyanayagam, who is part of the mobile team at Samsung in Chennai was made a Change Champion, and his first thought was to improve the level of collaboration at the work place. He wanted to find a way to get people from across teams together, strengthening bonds, bring people closer. Vedyanayagam is the Change Champion for the mobile team but decided along with Change Champions of other teams P Karthik, V Krishna Chaitanya and Balaji Vellanki — that it would be better to include all teams in activities they plan for employees in Chennai.

One of the first activities that they organised as a Change Champion was the stay fit contest. Employees from the mobile team as well as from the consumer electronics, finance, accounts and other teams were invited to participate and were encouraged to lose weight and become a fitter version of themselves.

“Such initiatives help employees in breaking the monotony, facilitate better peer bonding and also boost their morale,” says Wadhawan.

The Company claims that these activities have led to positive outcomes for Samsung India. There is better bonding between teams, between members within teams and with the top leadership.

Employees are also managing work-related stress much better and enjoying positive work–life balance. There is improved team dynamics, higher levels of creativity, more positive outcomes, increased respect for colleagues and stronger bonding with immediate managers.

Wadhawan is quite hopeful when he says, “In the long run we expect the programme to strengthen channels of communication across the organisation and prepare the organisation as well as its people for effective change management on an ongoing basis.”

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