“HR not role model for company culture”

PropertyGuru’s HRD believes that HR only exemplifies company culture as employees - and nothing more

“HR not role model for company culture”

Most would associate HR with being the main culture driver in an organisation – but not this prominent HR leader.

Genevieve Godwin, HR director at PropertyGuru Group, shared with HRD that everyone in the organisation is responsible for driving culture.

“I don’t think HR is the role model of culture – everyone is,” Godwin said. “Of ‘cos HR has to exemplify the culture as employees of the business but we’re not the drivers.

“What HR does is provide a good framework…and processes within the business [to support company culture].”

She cited HR’s crucial role in establishing a proper talent acquisition strategy and creating processes that ensure managers hire employees who are the right culture fit for the company.

“Even when you start onboarding people, you can really see whether they are going to be the right fit for the organisation,” she said.

Hiring ‘the right’ employee is especially vital at a company like PropertyGuru, which has built up a strong culture since it first started in 2006 in Singapore.

Godwin herself had joined the company because the company’s values-driven culture resonated with her after it was “very much verbalised” during her hiring experience.

She joined the group early this year and currently leads PropertyGuru’s 450 employees across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. Prior to joining, she had 17 years of international experience in HR across markets like Asia Pacific, US and Europe.

How to avoid culture misfit

As hiring the right candidate, instead of just the best one, is crucial for the organisation, we asked Godwin how HR can avoid making a grave hiring mistake.

She shared that PropertyGuru tries to minimise the issue through the interview and onboarding process. They make sure that people understand what their culture is, what is expected of employees and the different ways staff can embrace its culture.

“However, realistically there are always going to be times when someone comes into the business thinking they can join this type of mindset but end up feeling that they can’t,” she said.

That’s when HR comes in with regular one-on-one sessions with employees and the various teams. She added that PropertyGuru highly values open communication and transparency within the business.

But if an employee is still unable to align with the culture, “you know it goes down to a person’s choice”.

The regular communication sessions are also particularly important as company culture may change over time – or go through a refresh, as did PropertyGuru’s core values which were recently updated.

The check-ins allow HR to ensure that employees constantly embody the company’s culture and are thus driving it throughout the organisation.

“I think culture binds employees. It’s the differentiator and one of the reasons why people work at certain companies,” Godwin said.

“Going forward, as things become more technologically advanced and we talk about automating HR experiences, you can never lose that human element. And I think culture drives the human element within the business.”

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